Sunday October 22nd 2017

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Matching Yarnovers

eyeletsYarnovers: how big are yours? In knitting, often it’s the tiny little details that make a huge difference in whether the end product looks hand-made or home-made. Being able to adjust the size of your eyelets within your lace or other knitting can be key to beautiful knitting; elementary, perhaps, but often not even considered by many.

You might want your eyelets to all be the same size, or you might want others within a pattern to be larger or smaller–it’s all up to you! These are the decisions that call for opinion and artistic expression by the knitter, and part of what makes your knitting yours.

Public Service Announcement: I’ve noticed that some of the searches done that lead people to this post are something along the lines of “why are my yarnovers so big?” In the interests of being perfectly clear: a yarnover’s size ultimately depends on how much yarn is in the yarnover. The more yarn in the yarnover, the bigger the eyelet is after you’ve knitted into it on the next row. The less yarn is in the yarnover, the smaller the eyelet is. The first thing to try to tighten up your eyelet is to yarnover more tightly. After that, Sidney’s advice given below takes over.

In a recent discussion on Ravelry, Sidney (from Omaha, NE, USA) gave a run-down of the different yarnovers (between the combos of knit and purl) and a short discussion of how much yarn goes into each one. So if you’re unhappy with the look of your yarnovers, you can play with the size of the eyelets, making for a better look to your lace or eyelet pattern.

Here’s the info, lifted from the thread (with Sidney’s permission, of course!):

Traditional yarnovers move the yarn counter-clock-wise (western style knitting) around the needle (or clockwise in eastern style knitting) and are worked in the following row so as to keep the loop as open as possible. I’m describing western style here.

  • K, yo, k means knit one, take the yarn between the tips of the needles to the front, then knit the next stitch. The yarn will go over the top of the needle, making the yarnover.
  • k, yo, p means knit one, bring the yarn between the tips of the needles to the front, over the needle to the back, and between the needle tips again to the front and purl the next stitch.
  • p, yo, p means purl one, take the yarn over the needle to the back, then between the tips of the needles to the front, and purl the next stitch.
  • p, yo, k means purl one, don’t move the yarn to the back, just knit the next stitch, and the yarn will go over the needle all by itself. Or you can purl one, take the yarn over the top of the needle to the back and knit the next stitch. Same thing, just one looks cooler at the knitting group.

Clearly, some of these methods take up more yarn than others and make a bigger hole. Yarnovers followed by a purl stitch make big holes, those followed by a knit stitch make smaller ones when you’re wrapping counter-clockwise.

So the other way to do yarnovers sets them up so instead of sitting on the needle the same way regular stitches do, this sets them up so they sit with the “back leg” first, so if you work them like usual, you will twist them, which closes them up even more. So you need to work these off through the back loop.

These are all worked with the yarn going clockwise around the needle.

  • K, yo, k means knit one, take the yarn over the needle to the front, then between the tips of the two needles to the back, knit the next stitch.
  • k, yo, p means knit one, bring the yarn over the needle to the front and purl the next stitch.
  • p, yo, p means purl one, take the yarn between the tips of the needles to the back, then purl the next stitch. The yarn will go over the top of the needle, making the next stitch.
  • p, yo, k means purl one, take the yarn between the needles to the back, over the top of the needle to the front, then back between the needles and knit one.

Yarnovers followed by a knit stitch make big holes, those followed by a purl stitch make smaller ones when you’re wrapping clockwise.

So, which ones match?

k, yo, k counterclockwise makes a small loop. 
p, yo, k counterclockwise makes a small loop. 
k, yo, p clockwise makes a small loop. 
p, yo, p clockwise makes a small loop.

k, yo, k clockwise makes a big loop. 
p, yo, k clockwise makes a big loop. 
k, yo, p counterclockwise makes a big loop. 
p, yo, p counterclockwise makes a big loop.

The loop size here is controlled by how far around the needle the yarn is traveling. Front, over the needle to the back and between the needles to the front again is going to make a longer loop than over the needle to the front between the needles to the back will.

You can close up any yo hole a bit more by twisting it when you work it off on the following row.

Sidney’s suggestion is to make a sampler of all your different yarnovers, write down what each eyelet was, and pin the paper to the sampler, just as our grandmothers once did, so you have a record of what each one looks like in your knitting. Then you have a reference swatch so you can easily decide which yarnover to use on any future projects.

Thanks, Sidney! Eyelet fanciers around the world (or at least the ones who read this blog) are grateful.

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2 Responses to “Matching Yarnovers”

  1. Catarry says:

    What a lovely, simple, clear rundown of how to vary eyelets. Great work…thank you so much! And for the reminder that making labeled sample swatches is ultimately a great reminder and shortcut…so double thanks!

  2. Kirstin says:

    Thank you!
    I’ve had an incredibly frustrating evening trying to make my yarnovers and eyelet holes match on both sides of the shawl I started. This should make all the difference!

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