Today's how to is about wrapping floats when working a colourwork pattern. You can use this technique with pretty much any kind of colourwork pattern, but I find it particularly useful when working a wide pattern repeat.
Aside from keeping the floats in place, this technique also helps with keeping them well tensioned. Once the unused strand is caught in place it becomes easier to gauge how long you'd want to make your float and can practically eliminate puckering, again this is more important when working with wider stitch pattern repeats.
So, how do you determine whether a repeat is too wide for a single float?
- The red/green swatch here was worked in some sort of an alpaca fibre and although I can't see from the swatch how long the floats were made, they are obviously crazy loose and aren't sticking to the back of the fabric. I'd certainly advise to catch, or wrap, them in this case.
- The navy/tan swatch was worked in a sticky 100% Shetland wool with floats of about 3 or 4 stitches long that look perfect to me and don't need any wrapping.
- The duck egg/bottle swatch was worked in a smooth 100% merino; the stitch pattern has a 12 stitch repeat, with the longest float of 11 stitches. The floats were caught here creating a very neat wrong side.
Step 1: First of all, you need to examine your stitch pattern and decide how often you want to wrap your floats. The following row in the swatch below can potentially have a float that's 11 stitches wide; I like things to be symmetrical and have an option of either one wrapped float in the centre (stitch #6) or two wrapped floats spaced evenly (stitches #4 and #8). I'm going with the second option for this particular row, mostly because majority of the floats in this stitch pattern are 3 stitches wide and I want to keep this pattern throughout. [ack, just noticed that it says 'stitch' when it should really say 'float']
Step 2: Work to the place just before where you're going to wrap the float.
Step 3: Take your unused strand across to the left, keeping it parallel to your needle. I am not bothered that its tail is hanging to the front of my knitting as long as the actual working part is just behind the needles. Because the float comes from the strand that's in my right hand and above I am going to work the following stitch above it.
Step 2, the view from the back.
Here is what it looks from the back once the float has been wrapped. The float sits almost inside the fabric but is not visible from the front.
I've highlighted some of the wrapped floats in this swatch so that you can see which stitches exactly they were.
Same photo without the highlights.
Similarly, if you need to wrap a float that's coming from your left hand, or the one that you carry below, once you reached the 'wrapping' point keep the strand close to your needle, insert the right needle into the following stitch below the float to work that stitch, then take the float back to its original place.
Basically to wrap a float that comes from above (right) you need to take it down and work the following stitch above it.
And if the float is coming from below (left), you need to take it up and work the following stitch below it to wrap it.
It's important to take the unused strand of yarn back after catching it within your fabric.