Correcting for the Jog in Stranded Knitting
There are advantages to working stranded knitting in the round: The right side of the work is always facing you, so it’s easy to see the patterning (and make sure that it’s correct), and you don’t have to purl while managing two yarns. However, one problem with working in the round is the jog in the pattern that occurs where the beginning and end of the round meets.
What Causes the Jog?
When working stranded knitting in the round, we often imagine that the beginning and end of each round will match up just as they do on the chart, with the last stitch on the same level as the first stitch. On the What We Imagine chart (Figure 1), the small diamond motif that spans the beginning of the round (circled in gold) looks exactly the same as a diamond motif (circled in green) that is worked several stitches away from the beginning of the round.
But when knitting is worked circularly, it actually creates a spiral, which means that the stitch at the end of the round ends up adjacent to the first stitch of the next round. In other words, the last stitch of Round 1 is beside the first stitch of Round 2, not the first stitch of Round 1 (Figure 2).
This causes the entire pattern to shift up a round at this point, and the pattern becomes distorted. This distortion is called a “jog.”
On the What Actually Happens chart (Figure 3), you can see that the diamond that is circled in gold actually looks more like a misshapen blob than a diamond.
This is visible in the knitting in Photo 1.
Methods for Hiding the Jog
Knitters use various methods to compensate for the jog, such as slipping a stitch to visually bring a color up from the round below (which leaves you with elongated slipped stitches in your pretty stockinette). Another method shifts the beginning of the round backward or forward so that it moves around the edge of an isolated motif, but constantly shifting the round marker can be somewhat cumbersome.
One of the easiest (and neatest) methods for hiding the jog is to adjust motifs that span the beginning of the round so that the motif is aligned across the beginning of the round. This works particularly well when you have isolated motifs—individual blocks of pattern that are separated from their neighbors by at least one background-color stitch—because part of the motif can be shifted up or down without being noticeable. If the motif is not isolated (if it isn’t completely surrounded by background stitches), there is sometimes a convenient place to adjust the design by adding pattern or background stitches so that the jog is less obvious. Charting the design on graph paper and playing with it is a good way to figure out the changes that are needed to minimize the problem.
The method described here for isolated motifs consists of drawing part of a motif to the right or left of the chart, then knitting from the revised chart.
Shifting a Motif Down
Our goal is to make the misshapen diamond motif circled in gold look like the diamond circled in green. We do this by shifting the half of the motif that falls at the end of the round (the right half of the motif, shown in red below) down a row so that it aligns correctly with the half of the motif at the beginning of the round. Fill in the motif to the right of the chart so that the motif looks correct (not distorted).
On the Motif Shifted Down chart (Figure 4), I’ve drawn the adjusted first half of the motif in green to the right of the “beg of rnd” line. The diamond is no longer misshapen.
Shifting a Motif Up
The small diamond on Rounds 13–17 of the chart will also be distorted. In this case, if we shifted the right half of the motif down, it would run into the larger diamond below it, so we need to shift the left half of the motif up instead. These stitches—shown in red on the Motif Shifted Up chart (Figure 5)—fall at the beginning of the round, instead of the end.
As you might expect, the technique is similar but opposite to shifting the motif down. Instead of drawing the shifted motif to the right of the chart, we’ll draw it to the left. On the chart, the adjusted second half of the motif is shown in green to the left of the “beg of rnd” line.
Following the Revised Chart
When working the chart, we only need to think about the changes when we’re near the beginning or end of round; the rest of the repeats are worked as usual. The Corrected Jog chart (Figure 6) shows how motif stitches can be added to the right or left of the chart.
As you are knitting, replace the original motif stitches (shown in red) at the beginning or end of the round with the revised motif stitches (shown in green).
For the lower motif, the numbers to the left of the chart are the original round numbers and the ones to the right indicate the round that is ending (i.e., “5” on the right indicates the end of Round 5 and the beginning of Round 6). Work Round 5 of the chart until you’re a few stitches from the end of the round. The original end of Round 5 says to work five stitches as background stitches. But if you look to the right of the chart beside the round marked “5,” you see that the very last stitch of the round (shown in green) should be a pattern stitch, not a background stitch, in order for the motif to look correct. So the final stitch of Round 5 should be worked as a pattern stitch.
Round 6 is similar: In this case, the original chart (shown in red) says that only the last stitch of the round should be a pattern stitch, but the revision to the right of the chart says that the last two stitches should be pattern stitches.
The idea is the same with Round 7, but sometimes it throws people because in this case there are fewer pattern stitches than in the original chart. As you’re nearing the end of Round 7, you see that the original chart says to work two pattern stitches, but if you look to the right of the chart, the end of Round 7 should only have one pattern stitch. So the last five stitches of Round 7 will be two pattern stitches, two background stitches, and one pattern stitch.
On Round 8, the original last stitch is a pattern stitch, but the revised chart shows a background stitch (i.e., the last four stitches are two pattern stitches, then two background stitches).
In the knitted sample (Photo 2), you can see that the right edge of this motif has two background stitches between it and the large diamond, rather than just one.
The stitches at the beginning of Rounds 13–17 (shown in red) must be replaced by the stitches that have been drawn in to the left of the chart (shown in green) in order for the motif to appear without a jog. For this motif, the round numbers to the right of the chart are the original round numbers and the ones to the left are the numbers for the next round.
Work Round 12 of the chart to the end as written. To the left of the chart after Round 12, you’ll see that there are no pattern stitches drawn in. So the first four stitches of Round 13 should be two background stitches, then two pattern stitches.
Finish Round 13 of the chart as written. To the left of the chart, the start of Round 14 shows one pattern stitch, so when working Round 14, make sure that it begins with one pattern stitch and two background stitches.
The beginning of Round 15 is similar: Rather than working one background stitch and two pattern stitches, work two pattern stitches, then two background stitches. Read the chart in the same way for the beginning of Rounds 16–18. Note that Round 18 begins with one pattern stitch, then there are no more pattern stitches for the rest of the round.
You can see in the circled section on the sample (Photo 2) that there are two background stitches along the left edge, rather than just one.
As we have seen, isolated motifs can usually shift up or down as needed to avoid a jog. But continuous motifs—ones that are connected for the entire round, such as the large diamonds at the center of the chart—can’t be shifted because there is no place to stop the shifting. If you tried to shift a continuous motif, you would shift for the entire round and still have the same problem (just one round higher).
For continuous motifs, I try to add pattern or background stitches to disguise the jog. This is more of an art than a science. In the knitted sample, I’ve added a pattern stitch or two where the points of the diamonds meet to disguise the jog.
I hope you find this method to be a relatively simple way to compensate for the jog so that your pieces will be beautiful from every angle!
Fair Isle Headband and Hat
Finished Size 18″ circumference and 5½ (8½)” tall.
Yarn Brown Sheep Company Nature Spun Worsted (100% wool; 245 yd [224 m]/3½ oz [100 g]): #N85 Peruvian Pink (MC for headband; CC for hat) and #N62 Amethyst (CC for headband; MC for hat), 1 skein each.
Needles Size 7 (4.5 mm): 16″ circular (cir) and set of double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions Marker (m); tapestry needle.
Gauge 24 sts and 28 rnds = 4″ in stranded patt.
Notes This headband and hat are worked in the round from the bottom up. Instructions for the hat are in parentheses.
Headband and Hat
With MC and 16″ cir needle, CO 96 sts. Place marker (pm) and join in the rnd. Work in k1, p1 rib for 1 (1½)”. Change to St st.
Inc rnd K2, k1f&b, [k7, k1f&b] 11 times, k5—108 sts.
Knit 1 rnd. Work Rnds 1–21 of Corrected Jog chart. Break CC and cont with MC only. Knit 2 rnds.
Note: Change to dpn when necessary.
Dec rnd [K7, k2tog] 12 times—96 sts rem.
Work in k1, p1 rib for 1″. Loosely BO all sts in patt.
Knit 4 rnds.
Dec rnd [K6, k2tog] 12 times—84 sts rem.
Knit 4 rnds.
Dec rnd [K5, k2tog] 12 times—72 sts rem.
Knit 3 rnds.
Dec rnd [K4, k2tog] 12 times—60 sts rem.
Knit 3 rnds.
Dec rnd [K3, k2tog] 12 times—48 sts rem.
Knit 2 rnds.
Dec rnd [K2, k2tog] 12 times—36 sts rem.
Knit 1 rnd.
Dec rnd [K1, k2tog] 12 times—24 sts rem.
Dec rnd [K2tog] 12 times—12 sts rem. Break yarn and draw tail through rem sts. Pull tight to gather sts and fasten off on WS.
Weave in ends. Block to measurements.
Karen Frisa is a technical editor for Interweave Knits, knitscene, Wool Studio, Spin Off, and other publications. This article originally appeared in Interweave Knits Winter 2020.