July 24th, 2012

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Preventing Ladders

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Thanks to Kirsten Hipsky, our Design Manager, for offering us some great tips on how to avoid ladders. Ladders are gaps created in your knitting when using double pointed needles. They can be prevented using one of a few simple tricks.

“Laddering” is definitely a common dreaded foe when working with double pointed needles. They’re essentially caused by the distance between the two needles, which is greater than the distance between the other pairs of stitches. If you purl looser than you knit, that could also result in more yarn in the gap between needles when working reverse stockinette. Here are some tips for minimizing or eliminating ladders.

- Tighten up your stitches when moving from one needle to the next by giving the yarn a little extra tug after working the first and second stitches.

- Using a set of 5 needles rather than 4 will divide tension more evenly, keeping strain off of the stitches themselves.

- If you’re still having trouble, try knitting a couple of stitches forward from the next needle onto the one you’ve just finished. This will shift the point of tension and help keep a vertical line from forming.

 - I myself have had luck eliminating ladders entirely by knitting in the round on one long circular needle using the Magic Loop method. The circular cord is usually thinner than the needle, so instead of using extra yarn at the gap between needle and cord, it just borrows some yarn from the stitch on the cord. When it comes time to knit that stitch, it expands again to fit the needle, taking up the slack. Others have also had luck using two circular needles instead of Magic Loop.

How do you avoid creating ladders in your knitting? Do you have a trick, or have you stopped using double pointed needles all together?

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Grace

Customer Service Liaison at WEBS - America's Yarn Store
I started working at WEBS in September 2010. I learned how to knit 5 years ago and have been crocheting since childhood. When I'm not knitting, I love to be outside with my Black Lab, Ellie.
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  • Jessica

    Magic loop works best for me when working on big things. However, sometimes with stocks, using a set of 5 DPN’s and pulling the end stitches extra tight work well as well.

  • Lauren

    For me, laddering sometimes happens because I an pulling the first stitch too tightly rather than too loosely. I have been trying not to tug on the first stitch at all, and then pull harder on the second stitch to even things up. This still isn’t perfect, but it is much better–the small tension difference usually blocks out.

  • Christi

    I’m like Lauren…..I tug the second or third stitch. I get ladders when I go from knit to purl….my ribbing and my cable patterns tend to look really goofy!!

  • Michele Bernstein

    Sometimes I have ladders, and sometimes I don’t. I don’t know why. But I don’t like magic loop or 2 circulars, so I stick with my dpns and do the “knit ahead a few stitches” as I finish each needle routine. 

  • Melissa A.

    I use magic loop as well but I still get laddering if not careful. I tug on the second stitch of the next needle, works better than tugging the first stitch.

  • http://twitter.com/vtknitboy chris

    yup. 2nd/3rd stitch tugging works for me. i gave up on DPNs years ago. i use  ML for everything: hats, sleeves/socks (2 atta time). no ladders

  • http://twitter.com/vtknitboy chris

    yup. i tug on 2nd/3rd sts. also gave up on DPNs years ago. ML for everything: hats, sleeves/socks (2 atta time). no ladders

  • Jeanne

    I love my double pointed needles and don’t generally have issues with laddering. Not sure why but one trick I learned that may or may not be related is when joining the stitches into a circle I take the stitches on either ends and flip them onto the opposite needles. This helps to bring the two ends tighter together righgt at the start and it may eliminate the looseness that would otherwise occur at the point where the stitches are joined in the circle?

  • Ann at KFI

    Good tips!
    I used to get ladders when I first learned to knit in the round. But I found that after knitting dozens and dozens of pairs of socks they just magically went a way. phew!

    I’m accustomed to DPNs and find two circs or magic loop fiddly. That is a great thing about knitting, we can all do what is comfortable for us and get the same (or similar!) results.

  • Rowena

    I’ve used all 3 of your suggestions but usually I am just being extra paranoid trying to avoid ladders.  My problem has always been knitting too tightly, so I don’t tend to get ladders.

    I’ve never understood the appeal of the Clapotis shawl and other patterns that insert ladders on purpose.  I don’t think it is any more attractive than getting a ladder in your stocking!

  • Vannabanana2001

    I really hate using DPNs and try to use circular needles at all costs. Still trying to figure out how to knit small things like socks with a circular needle….. still not really sure how is done, but have found some tutorials that I intend to memorize before my next small project.  8)
     

  • Dee

    I like to use Addi 12″ CN instead of DPs. They take some getting used to as they are more finger tip type needles. The tips are not long enough to put your whole hand on.

  • Claudiaarlette

    they now make a 6 inch circular for creating small things. Clover is the brand I think.

  • http://twitter.com/WWCHATROOM Weight Watcher Chat

    I tighten up first and last stitches between DPN and loosen up the remaining stitches on the DPN

  • RottieMomKnitter

    I’ve tried all the tips for avoiding ladders and I still get them.  I even tried combining two of the tips, tugging on the stitch and knitting a couple of stitches forward.  What I end up with is a spiral of bad stitches going around my work! :(  I have to say though that I do not particularly like knitting on double pointed, and I can’t stand magic loop, they just don’t work well for me.  ::Sigh::  I’ll just keep knitting on straights which makes me happy anyway! :)

  • Vicki Michalski

    Elizabeth Zimmerman addressed uneven stitches in “Knitting without Tears” when she said that through wearing and washing, the stitches would even up and the holes would go away.  When I used to use DPN’s (now I use a long circ or two circs for circular knitting) I found that the ladders would go away on their own, no effort needed.

  • Cumayata

    I actually use the “try knitting a couple of stitches forward from the next needle onto the one you’ve just finished” approach all the time.  It definitely takes away the ladders and I adopted the idea when I started using the needles out of paranoia.  I also try to use 5 needles instead of 4 whenever possible.

  • BabaeLaraw

     Hi Jeanne – thanks for your post!  Do you mean to actually criss-cross those stitches?  I can’t quite picture what you’re describing here.  Do you know of a post or video anywhere that would have actual pictures of this?  I’m all for ANYTHING that Xs out those ladders!  I love all the wonderful designs that USE the DPNs, but hate USING them!!

    Also – anybody – know of any links for the 2 other techniques listed here (the Magic Loop and knitting on Circulars for working in the round)? Thanks!

  • Paula

    Magic loop is my favorite method. I’m still at that “experienced novice” stage and feel much more at ease with magic loop than dpn’s. I’m going to try the two circular method next.

  • Jenniferhix

    Knittinghelp.com has great technique videos, I think that is where I learned magic loop. I think Jeanne means when joining the first round she literally switches the first stitch with the last stitch on the needles. If you were marking the end of your rounds the stitch marker would go between them then. It’s a good way to join when working in the round.

  • Ardosa Carboni

    I’m a 2 circular girl. I’ve stopped having ladders and issues since using this method.

  • Jkelly11

    I really prefer my DPNs when knitting socks and mittens and have never had a problem with ladders.  I think is is because I knit continental/picker style, Using circular needles seems to involve too much need to push and pull on the item. I do use 2 circulars when knitting socks on an airplane. Less chance of a needle dropping and rolling to the back of the plane. I also use circular never straight  needles for every other kind of knitting.

  • Jeanne

    Found a video that might help you visualize ths technique!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNlOY407S3M&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Darnise

    I like using 2 circular needles

  • Sewmchmr

    I really enjoy double pointed needles my “trick” is to always start the next needle with a knit stitch. I adjust my stitches so I can do this and I never have ladder trouble anymore!

  • BabaeLaraw

     Thanks so much, Jeanne!  Will check that out at my first opportunity! =D

  • BabaeLaraw

     Looking forward to checking out this resource!  Thanks so much! =D

  • NM in MN

    I use two circs and give an extra tug with the first stitch on the next needle. 

  • KnuttinButYarn

    I do get ladders and I like really like magic loop. Honestly I dread double points all together and try to find any way I can to not have to use them.

  • mammabear

    What I learnt at school: at the end of the needle, put the two last stitches you just knitted on the free needle. Than knit the next needle.

  • Mltande

    I use one circular, Magic Loop method. Even on decreasing, you can decrease all the way to 2 stitches if you want and still use Magic Loop. 

  • Bonny Racca

    The book by Cat Bordhi “Socks Soar on Circular Needles” is a fabulous book to learn how to knit a sock using the 2 circular needle method. Years ago when I first learned to knit socks I learned on DPNs. I was okay at it but hated the extra needles. So I learned the circular method from this book. Made life so much simpler :)

    Her method of joining in the round is exactly the one described by Jeanne. The book has black and white photos and is easy to follow. Essentially 2 stitches change places on the ends of 2 facing needles (point to point). The stitches form an X over each other.

    P.S.: now I use DPns, circular needles

  • Terri

    I tried tightening up my stitches but that didn’t quite get rid of the problem. I solved it by starting the next row by inserting my needle “over” the previous needle instead of under it.

  • SarahinDC

    I have been using 2 circulars for a few months now and this is the first time I have gotten ladders. I am hoping in the blocking they won’t be so noticeable.