Introduction: Warp Knitting on a Knitting Loom
I started knitting very recently, and I've been curious to learn more about warp knitting.
I don't have access to a warp knitting machine. Neither I couldn't find instructions for warp knitting by hand, apart from comparisons made between hand crochet and crochet (warp knitting) machines. Even then, hand and machine crocheting seemed to have important differences, namely the use of a separate weft inlay yarn in crochet machines to connect adjacent chains.
Therefore, I experimented with using a knitting loom to create a faux warp knit. If you have experience with warp knitting, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my hand knitted faux warp knit!
Step 1: Understanding Warp Knitting
Weft knitting is the type of knitting that hand knitters are familiar with. In weft knitting, a yarn forms loops horizontally along a row (course), and an entire piece of fabric can be knitted from a continuous strand of yarn.
In contrast, in warp knitting, multiple strands of yarn are knitted simultaneously, with each strand of yarn forming a vertical or zigzag column (wale) of loops. Most commonly, every loop in a row is knitted from a different strand of yarn. Typically, warp knitting is said to be exclusively or almost exclusively done by machines.
In warp knitting, loops are called laps. They are made up of overlaps (the part that looks like a loop) and underlaps (the part that stretches between the loops). Laps can be closed or open. Closed laps look as if the loop is twisted, while open laps look untwisted. Closed laps are more common in warp knitted fabrics.
Step 2: Supplies
You will need:
- Knitting loom
- Loom hook or pick
- Measuring tape or ruler (optional)
Step 3: Prepare Yarn
Warp knitting uses almost as many yarns as there are stitches in a row. I wanted to use 12 strands of yarn for this project, and since I didn't have 12 balls of yarn on hand, I cut 12 strands of yarn.
For this project, I used 4-ply acrylic yarns with 1.75-3mm (1/16 to 1/8") diameters. To estimate how much yarn I need for future projects, I marked 1m (39 3/8") lengths of the 3mm diameter white yarns and measured the dimensions of the resulting fabric:
- 1x1 closed lap fabric dimensions (LxW): 13.5-17cm x 9cm (~6" x 3 9/16")
- 1x1 open lap fabric dimensions (LxW): 15-16cm x 7cm (~6" x 2 3/4")
The dimensions vary because it is difficult to measure and mark consistent 1m lengths on the stretchy yarn, and also because my tension varied during knitting. To get an accurate estimate for your own yarn and tension, knit test swatches before knitting an actual project.
Step 4: Cast on for Flat Panel
Start by casting on the yarn.
In the photos, the working yarns (i.e. the yarns that you will manipulate), stretch towards the back, while the yarn tails and the knitted fabric stretch towards the front.
For all yarns except the right-most yarn, u-wrap each strand of yarn around a knitting peg. Starting with the left-most yarn, dangle a 10-20cm (4-5") tail of yarn underneath the loom, wrap the working yarn around a peg from right to left around the front/outside of the peg (i.e. clockwise), then put down the working yarn so that it stretches to the back. Looking from the top, the yarn will wrap the peg in a u-shape around the front/outside of the peg, with the working yarn exiting on the left side of the peg.
Repeat with every other yarn until you reach the right-most yarn.
For the right-most yarn, u-wrap the yarn around two pegs instead. Dangle a 10-20cm (4-5") tail of yarn underneath the loom, then wrap the working yarn around two pegs from right to left around the front/outside of the peg (i.e. clockwise).
Push down all of the loops so that they are aligned with the bottom of the pegs. Since I am knitting a flat panel with 12 strands of yarn, I should now have 13 pegs that are wrapped.
Things might look loose and unstable now, but don't worry; it's time to start knitting!
Step 5: Knit 1x1 Closed Lap
1x1 closed lap is a warp knitting stitch where yarn zigzags one step to the right, then one step to the left, and the loops are twisted. The left and right edges of 1x1 closed lap fabric curl strongly towards the technical back of the fabric.
To knit closed laps, the working yarn is wrapped around the peg with a u-wrap, where the yarn forms a u-shape around the front or outside of the peg.
To knit the right-going stitch, grab the right-most working yarn, u-wrap the yarn counter-clockwise (CCW) around the right-most peg, then put down the working yarn so that it stretches to the back. The newly wrapped peg will now have two loops, with the upper loop being wrapped in a u-shape around the outside of the peg.
Next, u-wrap the working yarn that is second-to-the-right CCW around the peg that is second-to-the-right. Repeat this with every working yarn. When you have finished wrapping every yarn, the left-most peg should have only one loop on the peg, while every peg to its right should have two loops on each peg.
Then, use the loom hook to pick up the bottom loop and lift it over the top loop, so that only one loop remains on the peg. This is a hook over. Repeat this for every peg except for the left-most peg, which should only have one loop.
Now, every peg should have only one loop. Push all of the loops to the bottom of the pegs to prepare for the next row.
To knit the left-going stitch, hold the left-most working yarn and u-wrap it clockwise (CW) around the left-most peg. Repeat with every working yarn. When you have finished wrapping every yarn, the right-most peg should have only one loop on the peg, while every peg to its left should have two loops on each peg. Hook over.
Repeat the right-going and left-going stitches to form the knitted fabric.
Step 6: Knit 1x1 Open Lap
1x1 open lap also zigzags one step to the right, then one step to the left, but the loops are untwisted.
To knit open laps, the working yarn is wrapped around the peg with an e-wrap; instead of forming a u-shape around the front or outside of the peg, the yarn wraps one complete circle around the peg.
To knit the right-going stitch, hold the right-most working yarn, e-wrap the yarn CW around the right-most peg, then put down the working yarn so that it stretches to the back. Looking from the top, the upper loop of the newly wrapped peg will form a complete circle around the peg.
Next, e-wrap the working yarn that is second-to-the-right CW around the peg that is second-to-the-right. Repeat this with every working yarn. Hook over every peg with two loops.
To knit the left-going stitch, hold the left-most working yarn and e-wrap it CCW around the left-most peg. Repeat with every working yarn. Hook over.
Repeat the right-going and left-going stitches to form the knitted fabric.
E-wrapping the yarn to form an untwisted loop may seem counter-intuitive, since in typical loom (weft) knitting, an e-wrap results in a twisted stitch. However, in warp knitting, e-wrapping does result in an untwisted stitch. Try it for yourself!
Step 7: Bind Off (Fringe)
To finish the knit, bind off to create a stable edge that doesn't unravel. I used a bind off that left a fringe.
Since I have 12 strands of yarn and 13 stitches, I decreased by one stitch so that I have an equal number of stitches and yarns. To do this, move the right-most stitch to the peg on its left, then hook the bottom loop over the top.
Then, for every alternate peg, move the stitch to its neighbouring peg, then hook over. Now, only every alternate peg will have a stitch.
Trim the remaining yarns to the desired length of your fringe. Carefully remove one stitch from its peg, then thread the two strands of yarn that connect to that stitch through the loop. Pull to tighten. Repeat for every other stitch to complete the fringe.
For the edge that was cast on, tie every two yarns together to form a fringe, then trim the fringe to an even length.
Your faux warp knit is done. Yay!
Step 8: Knitting Efficiently: Creating a Guide Bar
To speed things up, I hacked together a guide bar to hold the working yarns so that I can wrap all of the yarns around the pegs simultaneously.
My first guide bar was made from food saver clips that clipped a few strands of yarn at a time. It worked, but because the clips clamped the yarn very tightly, I found it troublesome to repeatedly open and close the clips to feed in more yarn.
My second guide bar was made from two straight knitting boards held together with rubber bands. To keep the yarns organised, the yarns were laid between the pegs of one board. Then, a second board was placed in front of the first board, facing down, and the two boards were secured with rubber bands at the sides. In normal use, the guide bar gripped the yarns, though the yarns could still be tugged through. When I needed to loosen the yarns dramatically, I could squeeze both rows of pegs so that the boards separate and the yarns can be pulled through easily.
My second guide bar was more user-friendly but seemed a bit too loose. Also, the yarn tension on one side of the knitted fabric was tighter than the other side. When I have time, I'll work on improving the guide bar to hold the yarns more firmly and knit with an even tension.
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