Reed dyed yarn, Estonian ribbing, Advent MKAL and laddering.

I’ve casted on for cuffs with the reed dyed yarn:

I’m going for some colourwork that only requires to change colour every 5 rows yet still gives stacked diamond shapes. (The yarn is a bit sticky to knit with, this darkest green. Perhaps it’s the alum?)

The colourwork is a new-to-me technique, called Estonian Rib or Estonian Spiral. It’s a way to make diamond shaped colours stack up without the need for short rows, entrelac, stranding or purl stitches.

I found inspiration on this wonderful blog by a Swedish knitting teacher and designer who loves to preserve the rich knitting traditions from Europe: Eva-Lotta Staffas.
She used Estonian Rib in this wonderful pattern that features 5 knitting techniques from North-east Europe:

Fingerless mittens pattern Alva, by Eva-Lotta Staffas

The Estonian rib is at the bottom, changing to a new colour after a few rows, cutting the previous colour. No stranding. So easy! Here’s another picture:

 pic by Staffas

It’s all knit stitches! Interspersed with k2tog and Yarn Over and suddenly there are slanting columns and checker board colours.

As an aside: Eva-Lota Staffas runs free Advent knit-a-longs on her other blog Jultalamod, in two languages, English and Swedish.

The advent designs are free and the one from last year were gloves featuring some of these wonderful traditional techniques. I asked and she runs a MKAL this year again.
But only in Swedish this year. But I think we can decipher that just fine because she uses lots of pictures and charts and it’s fun to read knitting notation in another language.
Reading and knitting Swedish in the weeks leading up to Christmas gives a wonderful atmosphere for that time of the year.

Last year it was gloves, the year before a knitted mouse and before that Christmas stockings. The patterns are free.
I wonder what this year will be… a table runner? A shawl? I’d love it if it were mittens!

As another aside, do you know Bloglovin‘? It’s a sort of online index where you can collect blogs you like and then it keeps score for you to see if there are any new blogposts and gathers them in one place.
This is where I added the Advent-blog from Eva-Lotta Staffas and when she posts there in October or November it will show up on the Bloglovin-button that’s now on my browser and I don’t have to go check out the blog all the time to see if the MKAL has started yet.
Bloglovin is the site that has that awful logo you see on some sites:
bloglovin logo
Brrrr! I don’t like art to be all artsy and in my face.
Or nude. I don’t need nude when it brings nothing to the table. What’s this nipple doing on people’s homepage? Why does a blog index need a prominent nipple? I’ve got questions.

I’ve also got knitting questions. We must prioritize.

I casted on 30 stitches and did the colours, thinking it would be a cuff or wristwarmers (love those, wear them all the time too!).
But this technique tightens the circumference of the work and my coloured cuff was too tight. 30 stitches gave barely 12 cm, not 20 cm. I did proceed to knit through all the colours because Estonian Rib is great fun to knit:

Nice diamond shapes without short rows, stranding or purl stitches. Hmm, that yellow green (ammonia afterbath!) might not contrast enough with the dark and the lighter geen,,,

I do have more pressing problems though:

Terrible laddering and a drunk stitch!
There’s laddering going on between 2 K stitches and the SSK.
In the middle column, going from right below to top left, and reading the stitches from right to left there’s one regular K stitch, one drunk K stitch and one SSK who doesn’t want anything to do with it’s cousins.

Left from the SSK is the magic part of Estonian rib: 2 K’s and one YO. This part “dives under” the k2, ssk part, allowing that part to look like a solid square of colour.
(Since I’m such a loose knitter I exchanged the YO for a “pick up strand and knit it” on the next row.)

The main problem is the laddering. I tried to pull it more tight as I progressed through the colours but it didn’t really help.

I spend half a day knitting up another swatch, over more stitches this time and on a bigger needle:

Hooking needle inserted in ladder.
It’s no good. That’s supposed to be a neat square of k stitches that shows off the colour of the yarn.
I tried different techniques to get rid of the ladder: pulling the ssk tighter; pulling the previous stitch tighter; knitting the front stitch of the ssk through the back loop; knitting the previous (drunk) k stitch through the back loop; swapping the ssk for a k2tog (right where the hook is).
Nothing worked.

I did get the drunk stitch to behave, once I knitted it through the back loop. But then I loose the uniform look of the 3 k stitches (a.k.a. k2, 1 decrease).

This morning I went onto Ravelry to consult the collective knowledge there. Having access to knitting database is marvellous!
I’ve looked at all the Estonian Rib patterns and projects and at all the ones for Estonian Spiral, seeing if anyone might have the same problem.
No one.

Then I looked at the forum posts, looking for “laddering” and “ssk”, and bingo. More people have this problem: laddering between knitted stitches and a decrease.
(this concerns a ladder at regular knit stitches before a decrease, not the ones after it or the ones around the gap between sock needles.)

It’s all loose knitters that have this problem and it’s all in the tension.

My laddering is caused loose gauge. I’ve always had a loose gauge, had to go down two needle sizes to any size recommended. Since my shoulder impingement I’m knitting even more loose, I now go down several millimeters at a time.

For solutions about tension and this kind of laddering I found this thread + photo tutorial by La Maison Rililie very helpful. She explains how the way you knit a decrease makes the stitch lying on top of the decrease bigger or smaller than the one at the bottom. This influences the look. Makes decreases every other row look like stepping stones (if you don’t resolve for this).

One knitter suggests that loose knitters might have to combine several solutions in one go:
“I think that the looser you knit, the more tricks you’ll have to combine to get a good ssk. The methods I’ve found are to yank the back loop; to slip the second loop purlwise; to put a full twist in the back loop; and to enter the stitches from the other direction (your way). A tighter knitter might only need to use one of these tricks, but a looser knitter may need to combine two or even three of these.” wise words by Earthnut

In the thread are discussion why and how the various solutions work. I love when things get all technical until a problem makes sense. Than you can apply sensible solutions and perhaps think up some of your own.

By the way, La Maison Rililie has several more photo tutorials on her site and an interesting blog about refined knitting (problems and) techniques called

Now that I understand my problem I have a choice:
A. knit a new swatch and try out the different solutions until I find the right combination that solves for my tension
B. do something else.

Looking at all the projects with Estonian rib I’m now fed up with stacked diamonds… My head is filled with too bright colours and jokers:


Let’s see in what other way I can combine the colours of my reed dyed yarns. Estonian ribbing I’m keeping in my toolbox, for another day. Glad to have found it.


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