Turn your knitting on its side!

Sometimes I want a knitting project that's a challenge to knit paired with a really interesting looking finished product. Mathew Gnagy's designs fit that bill to a T. But, P.S., by "a challenge" I don't necessarily mean that they're hard to knit, but that they need some attention to the pattern and to the knitting, so not TV knitting, as many easy projects are called. That also doesn't mean that I won't be watching TV while I knit the project, but I probably won't be paying too much attention to the program that's on, at least at the beginning of the project.

The Jesse Pullover by Mathew Gnagy

Anyway, back to Mathew. In his book, Knitting Off the Axis, Mathew presents his fabulous designs, all based on his technique of knitting sideways and all interesting and beautiful. He's also just finished taping a Knitting Daily workshop, Sideways Knits with Mathew Gnagy, which takes you through his designing and knitting techniques.

Here's Mathew's philosophy on sideways knitting:

In earlier days, sideways knitting was usually confined to a dolmen-style garment or a shapeless T. I have never subscribed to such one-dimensional thinking. Instead, I like to create nicely shaped underarms that will fit well against the body. In the garments that do have a dolman styling, I have updated the look. In other cases, I have done away with traditional sweater shaping altogether and gone with geometric styles that seem prevalent in today's fashions.

I like to knit sideways because there are interesting variations on shapes that are easier to create with sideways knitting. With the use of cables, it is easier to use a cable panel as a hem rather than knitting it first and then picking up or sewing it on later. That said, several of the patterns in this book combine both horizontal and vertical cable panels, which makes it necessary to pick up stitches or apply a cable at the end of the knitting to achieve the desired effect.

To facilitate great shaping, I have tinkered with commonly accepted modes of shaping. For example, many sleeve increases are made in the interior of the sleeve, either centered over a couple of stitches or on each side of a central cable motif. These central increases force the active knitting edge into a curve, which results in a better fit and more streamlined finishing.

In some of my patterns, I ask you to bind off, only to pick up stitches on your bound-off edge later on in the work. Though it is possible to leave the stitches live until they're needed again, I would advise against it. Sideways knitting aligns the greater stretch of the fabric vertically along the body when worn. Gravity and wear will lengthen the garment. By binding off the edge stitches and then picking up through them, you will create a much firmer edge that has less tendency to stretch out of shape overtime.

So, if a sideways knitting technique seems odd or deviates from traditional knitting, I suggest you just go with it—I have given much thought to when and where each technique is used to prevent the sideways knits from stretching in unexpected ways.

—Mathew Gnagy

Sideways Knits features the Jesse Pullover by Mathew, a sweater pattern that is worked from side to side, beginning with the left sleeve. After binding off stitches for the underarm, the front and back are begun separately, and then all stitches are placed on the same needle. After working the body, the right sleeve is worked down to the cuff.

It's such an interesting way to knit a sweater! Plus, the stitch patterns are wonderfully rich in texture—something else that Mathew is known for. And the Jesse Pullover is a free download that comes with the DVD!

Here's a preview of the workshop:

Pretty neat-o, yes? Pre-order your Sideways Knits DVD now, or download it and watch it today!


P.S. What do you think of Mathew's sideways knitting technique? Let us know in the comments!

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