Tuesday, January 19, 2010

September 09 Program: Garter Bar Tips & Techniques by Judy Snyder

We all own garter bars, but may not exactly know how to maximize on their potential.

The first, and perhaps, most obvious, use for the garter bar is to aid in creating the garter stitch. In hand knitting, the garter stitch is popular for new knitters as only 1 stitch, the knit stitch, is ever used. While the garter stitch is easy to produce in hand knitting, it cannot be done simply on a knitting machine. Using the garter bar is one way to do so. In short, the garter bar is hooked onto the main bed needles and the fabric is pulled off the machine and onto the needles of the garter bar. The bar is then removed and flipped, so that the knit side is now facing, and the fabric is returned to the machine. You will notice that if you are using the garter bar to turn several rows, the process can be rather slow. You may find "Double Garter Stitch" a little quicker, as the work is turned every 2 rows.

Say you have finished your knitting project, and it's time to bind off. Instead of sitting at your machine, you can remove it onto your garter bar and make your bind off technique portable! The first is the Quick Garter Bar Bind Off, which is simply a running stitch through every loop. This creates a nice loose edge, which matches a woven cast on. It is best for finishing off knit swatches or other edges which will be enclosed or hidden.

Garter Bar Bind Off

The second bind off you might enjoy is the Regular Garter Bar Bind Off. The technique is simply a backstitch through the loops. The finished result is similar to an e-wrap cast-on and has the same stretch, flexibility, and appearance. The technique is as follows: Thread your needle and yarn up through the 1st loop, up through the 2nd loop, and back through the 1st loop. Skip the 2nd loop, and thread you needle up through the 3rd loop, and then back through the 2nd. Continue cross until all stitches are complete.

Garter Bar Bind Off

The garter bar is also an excellent tool to increase stitches at the center of your work (such as for a dart) or evenly throughout a row. Remove all the stitches onto the garter bar, but do not turn the fabric over. As you replace the stitches onto the needles, skip a needle wherever you need to make an increase. When all of the stitches have been returned to the main bed, fill the empty needles by picking up the purl bar from an adjacent stitch to prevent forming holes (aka eyelets).

Similarly, the garter bar also aids in decreasing at the center (such as a dart) or evening through a row. First make your transfers on the main bed, which will result in empty needles. Now remove all stitches onto the garter bar. Return the stitches to the main bed, transferring a few stitches at a time. Replace only the first group of stitches, up to the empty needle, lift the garter bar slightly and shift it over one needle so that the next group of stitches can be returned to the main bed, leaving no empty stitches.

Use the garter bar instead of holding position to divide necklines. Remove the stitches for one side of the neckline onto the garter bar and you should be able to hook the eyes of the garter bar onto the sinker posts. Please press down gently until the garter bar hangs down from the base of the sinker posts so that the carriage can safely pass over it.

Garter Bar Neckline

The garter bar is also handy in place of scrap knitting to remove shoulder stitches from the machine. You can hang two sets of stitches on the garter bar with right sides facing and then bind them off together in a smooth seam.

Garter Bar SeamingGarter Bar Seaming

The garter bar has so much potential! You can use it to remove work from your machine, to hold stitches for partial knitting, to aid in shaping necklines and shoulders, to create picot edges, eyelets, and cables to name a few.

Garter Bar Cables

For more techniques on how to use your garter bar, be sure to check out Diana Natters Garter Bar video tutorials. Her step-by-step instruction will make learning these techniques a breeze!

Don't have a garter bar? You could always try making your own, although results may vary.

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