The Boost Your Knitting series is underway, and March’s technique is tuck stitches. At the outset of this project I did not fully understand what a tuck stitch was. The pattern and accompanying tutorials for the Bramen Cowl, by Nancy Marchant, starts with a brief explanation of how a tuck stitch is usually performed:
Tuck stitches can be worked either by knitting into a row below the current row, or by working a series of stitches where you both slip the stitch and add a yarn over, followed by knitting (or purling) the stitch with its yarn over(s)From The Bramen Cowl, Boost Your Knitting: Another Year of Techniques
This description… I kind of recognised. I’d knit some simple brioche once or twice before, and the steps were similar to those, and indeed, these are some of the applications of tuck stitches: when stacked in columns they can form the basis for Brioche stitches, or Fisherman’s Rib, so I am hopeful that the knitting learned here will help settle me with familiarity the next time I attempt brioche.
When knit, the tucked stitches used in the Bramen Cowl produce a thick, smooshy, bouncy fabric that’s extra warm and snug. The stitch compresses the rows somewhat to make a fabric that works almost in two layers, with the foreground stitches sitting in short checkerboard columns, forward of the background stitches.
Knit in Schoppel Wolle Gradient yarn, a wonderful, slightly felted single ply yarn with a long colour repeat gradient, the foreground and background stitches each shift through the colour transitions independently. The effect can be quite subtle with some of the colourways that move through the shades of a single hue (such as the reds of the Cranberries colourway, or the blues of Stonewashed) or quite striking when the yarn incorporates two or more contrasting colours. My Bramen Cowl is knit using a single ball of the Parrot colourway. The pattern gives great detail on how to split your yarn into two correctly sized balls before knitting, but as I am lucky enough to have a ball winder, I wound my skein into a centre-pull ball and knit from the outside and inside ends simultaneously. I didn’t colour-manage the ball, instead just knitting the yarn as it had been spun, and the result was background of dark emerald through to a yellow-spring green, as the foreground moved from emerald, through white, into red. The whole effect reminded me of a slice of fresh watermelon.
Or does it look like a field of tulips? Because, although both sides of the stitch pattern are different, both are beautiful. Here, on what would have originally been the reverse of the stitch pattern, the background colour has a bit more prominence, allowing the foreground colour to pop it’s little jewels through like the blooms on a flowerbed. It’s so pleasing.
I knit the Bramen cowl as the pattern directed. My only very small changes were in knitting from both ends of the re-wound centre-pull ball of yarn, and (as both yarn ends started with the same colour of emerald green) not doing the two-colour long tailed cast on.
The finished cowl is full of bounce and pillowy smooshiness, whilst still being stable and structured, all thanks to those clever little tuck stitches. The rhythm of the knitting is addictive and comforting, and you can lose yourself in the ‘just one more row’ promise, whilst learning or perfecting the humble tuck trick.