Thursday, 4 August 2016

Moebius knitting

Moebius knitting is where maths geometry and knitting meet in quite an extraordinary way.
Happily for knitters you don’t need to be a maths genius but it is worth understanding a little about what a moebius loop is so let’s get the “science bit” out of the way and then we can move on to the knitting.
A moebius loop only has one surface and one edge. Before you all go mad trying to imagine this, cut a narrow strip of paper. If you put the short ends together, you will form a loop but if you twist one short end through 180 degrees before taping the ends together you will create a moebius loop like the one pictured.

If you run a sharpie round the edge you will colour all of the edge (what you see here as the top and bottom) before your return to the starting point and drawing a line along the flat surface will go round both sides before you reach your starting point.
This mathematical phenomenon is a great shape for cowls because of the twist.

Your First Moebius by Cat Bordhi; Harmonia’s Rings by Siva Harding;
Brio Mio Cowl
by Diane L Augustin; Samhain Fires by La PurplePenguin

You could make a moebius cowl by knitting a strip and then making a twist and joining the ends but thanks to knitters like Cat Bordhi and the existence of circular needles, there is a way to knit a moebius loop where all your stitches are on that continuous edge the whole way through the pattern.
This is fun (and addictive form of knitting) and as well as making lovely accessories, it is a great technique for kids cowls because they will spend ages following the edge and trying to figure out the shape.
To help you get started, here we share our take on casting on for a moebius cowl.
The first thing to say is that although we mentioned the maths, that when you start your first moebius project it is best not to think too much about the science but rather to work one stitch at a time and let the magic happen.
It is worth practising the cast on a few times before starting a project.

Step 1

Using a long circular needles, make a slip knot in your yarn and slide to the middle of your cable.
Coil the circular needle into a double loop so that the tips of your needles are above the slip knot. The cable should only cross once.

Step 2

Hold the yarn in your left hand, along with the left hand needle tip and the cable, the right hand needle tip should be in your right and along with part of the cable loop. The slip knot starts off on the loop of cable between your two hands.
**To make the first stitch, insert the right hand needle over the cable and under the yarn, so that the yarn is over the needle.

Step 3

Keeping the yarn over the needle, draw the right hand needle under cable from front to back, and over the yarn. Use the needles tip to draw a loop of yarn back under the cable. 

Step 4

Draw the yarn up to form another stitch. You will now have stitches on the needle separated by a loop round the cable.

Step 5

Repeat step 2-4 from **until you have the desired number of stitches.
Note, you should only count the loops on the top of the needle and cable as stitches at this stage.

Step 6

Slide the stitches round the looped cable so that the slip knot and the last cast on stitch meet. There should only be one place where the cable crosses (top left in this case).
Place marker and on the first row work into each loop from the front or back as is easiest. 

Note when you are half way through the round you will meet you stitch marker hanging from the cable below your stitches (see pic above). This NOT the end of the round. You have only reached the end of the round when you can slip the marker between needles.

Continuing the cowl

Once the first round is complete, continue in rounds as set by your pattern. For a simple garter stitch cowl, alternate rounds of knit and purl until your cowl is deep enough and then cast off.
Because you are always working on the edge of the cowl the rows will appear between the needle tips and loop of the cable. If you are using interchangeable tips and cable, you may want to extend your cable after a while to give your stitches more room.
You will only be able to properly see the size and twist of your cowl once it is cast off.

To really understand Moebius knitting, the only way is to try it – thinking about it without trying it is very difficult, so start with a simple pattern like this free pattern from Haley Waxberg pictured, pick up your yarn and needles and get going. You might have a couple of false starts but once it clicks, we can promise great results.

1 comment:

  1. I created a moebius knit scarf for a friend and she would like her husband to have one with the opposite twist! So, I know I didn't pay attention to how I crossed cable and needle the first time, I do know I ended up with a counterclockwise twist. (when flat and folded in front, the right hand side (as you are wearing it) is on top)

    Is there a known method for insuring clockwise vs counterclockwise twists? Just hoping someone else out there has figured this out. Thanks! Alice (