Knitting on the bias
Try a new slant on your knitting and follow Amy Kaspar’s instructions for knitting diagonally!
If plain old garter or stocking stitch bores you, why not add a bit of slant to it? Knitting on the bias, or the diagonal, is one of the more simple techniques for making plain knitting interesting, making panels a bit stronger, and breaking up the monotony of “knit, turn, knit, turn…”
Knitting on the bias means that you are orienting your stitches so they form diagonal rows, instead of the rows going from left to right and then just orienting the entire piece, either square or rectangle, on an angle. This can be accomplished by increasing one stitch on one end, and decreasing one stitch on the other end. You can either do this increase/decrease pair on the same row and just knit or purl the wrong-side row with no increases or decreases, or you can do one stitch manipulation on each row.
The method I used for the demonstration is as follows:
- Kfb, K to end
- K1, SSK, K to end
“Kfb” means “knit into the front and back of the stitch.” It causes a left-leaning increase with a purl bump on that second stitch. “SSK” stands for “slip, slip, knit,” and it causes a left-leaning decrease. By doing it on the wrong side, the stitches lean to the right. The “kfb” stitch actually will look as though the first stitch leans to the right, and the second stitch is upright with the rest of the row. Magic! This is what “SSK” looks like on the needles.
If you would prefer to do the stitch manipulations on the same row, use this stitch pattern instead:
- Kfb, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, K
- K to end
“K2tog,” or “knit two together,” causes a right-leaning decrease, so if it is paired with the “kfb” on the same row, the stitches will cause both seams to lean in the same direction. Then, the second row is just straight knit. It will take a few inches of pattern before you will be able to see just how pronounced the bias stitch really is…keep knitting so it does not just look like a random strip.
Knitting on the bias is not restricted to garter stitch. If you change the wrong side rows to purl instead of knit, then you end up with stocking stitch. As long as you prepare for how the increases and decreases fall into any stitch pattern, you can knit on the bias no matter what else is going on between stitches. Something to keep in mind: the angle will be slightly less pronounced in other stitch patterns, because stocking stitches are longer from top to bottom than garter stitches.
Speaking of changing the angle, you can alter the angle of the side edges by altering how often you do your increases and decreases. For instance, you can turn it into a three-row pattern and knit one row with an increase and a decrease, and two rows straight. You can also do an increase/decrease row on every row and make a severe angle for your knitting. This is knitting in the front and back of each stitch.
When measuring gauge, remember that you are measuring an angle. When making a swatch, use the increases and decreases you will use in the pattern, and measure across from seam to seam, upright so that you are measuring diagonally across the rows. You can get an estimated gauge by knitting in garter stitch, and using the old triangle equation you used in school. Remember a(2) + b(2) = c(2)? Garter stitch tends to be a pretty square stitch, so with the garter row being the diagonal side, you are measuring the diagonal and having to estimate how wide your item will be from side to side using algebra. Blah. (Just kidding…math is sometimes what makes knitting so awesome.)
So, why would you want to knit on the bias? Well, it makes garter and stocking stitch more interesting, for one. It also prevents garter stitch from stretching so much; garter stitch tends to be pretty bouncy, so this will eliminate some of the bounce. Finally, the shape it takes on a body of a garment with zero or negative ease (meaning the item either fits exactly to measurements, or it is slightly smaller so it will stretch to fit) tends to be flattering on many body types.
This is a great stitch for self-striping yarn, becauuse it tips the stripes in a new direction. This is also a great stitch for scarves, because the number of stitches stays the same throughout the pattern. You increase one, you decrease one.
Easy, right? Try it and let me know how it goes.
Last updated: February 19th, 2015.