Rowing Out Solution #1,849,113

Christmas-time, 2003. I was on a flight from New York to San Francisco and there was a lot of turbulence, way more than I like for a 5 hour flight. The cute gal sitting next to me with the awesome name that only a parent of the 70's could give, taught me how to knit as a way to get me to stop clenching at the barrier between my seat and her's, or at least I like to think that's why. For 2 years after, I knit the way she taught me, I was a thrower. Then one night in a moment of too-much-to-knit-not-enough-time-angst I decided to learn continental. I can't tell you what a good decision that was for me, my knitting time improved and I was able to start even more projects than before when I was knitting english style (note how I didn't say finish).

Anyways, this post is not about styles of knitting but about rowing out. In my euphoria of having learned how to knit faster, I caught the dreaded rowing out disease! Suddenly, my calm-me-during-turbulence knitting turned into ARG()#()@#*! -knitting. I tried combined knitting but I just couldn't get used to having to watch how my loops were situated on the needle before I knit the proceeding row. I tried going down one needle size on the purl rows, I tried Cat Bordhi's method on how to tighten up your purl rows. I tried everything. Nothing out there was a practical solution for me.

So, I swatched and played around and realized that rowing out happens because there is just too much yarn going around that darn needle when you purl. I studied the way the knit stitch is formed and I came up with something (this might actually not be a unique solution as maybe someone already thought of this) that helped me and just might help you.


This is a picture of how I used to purl. Stick the right needle into the first loop on the left needle, wrap the yarn and then just pull the loop off the left needle.


This is how I purl to fix my rowing out issues. The first two steps are the same as before, stick the right needle into the first loop on the left needle and wrap the yarn. But instead of just pulling the loop off the left needle as before, deliberately make the right needle go under the left needle, forming perpendicular lines with the two needles and then pull the loop off the left needle.

You might be thinking, "Huh? What's the difference?" I thought that too in the beginning because I could have sworn that's I was doing the second method all along, but the truth is I wasn't. That little extra step tightens up the yarn on the needle immensely and does wonders for your flat stockinette stitch.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe this. This is the most straightforward solution that I've seen and this blog has been around since 2007 and no one else has commented??? This absolutely works for me. The next best solution for me was to switch to a smaller needle for the purl rows which has disadvantages. With this solution you just change the angle of your needles. I cannot thank you enough.

Loni said...

Hooray - perhaps I will fix my rowing out problem! I have also tried combination knitting, using 2 different needle sizes; I even tried to learn how to be a "thrower" and tension in my right hand, but that just came out way ugly. Thank you so much for sharing this info and pictures!!

Anonymous said...

I have to second the first comment; why is no one else trying or mentioning this?! This is genius! It makes complete sense why it would work since you are essentially performing the same movement making the purl stitch as you would the knit stitch - just in the opposite direction. I still have a couple places where I am noticing some rowing out, but it's mainly a tensioning issue on my part with performing this new movement with the needles. With a little practice, this can easily become second nature and remove the problem all together.

Mary said...

Oh my word! I've been reading about how to fix my rowing out for the last hour, and this has been the only thing has worked for me! THANK YOU!!!! (My cardigan knit in reverse stockinette on straight needles thanks you!) Thank you thank you thank you!