What Is Knitting on the Bias Anyway?
When I first tried to teach myself knitting from a library book, I couldn't even knit and purl in the same row. I would look forlornly at all the brilliant fair isle hats, cabled sweaters, and intricate beadwork thinking that I would never amount to anything. Fortunately, I stuck with it. To build the foundation for any type of knitting project, using any technique, for any yarn, all you have to learn is to knit and purl. From there, you're on your way to learning a million new things that are all just one easy step farther than you were yesterday.
Knitting on the bias is simply knitting on the diagonal. The technique itself is very simple and relies only on decreases along one side of your pattern and increases on the other. It is one of my favorite ways to show off variegated yarn without giant blocks of horizontal color. It's also a great way to make anything you make look fancy without needing any special skills or extra work.
I hope you enjoy this lens. If you have your own techniques or think I should add something, be sure to tell me in the comments.
How to use increases and decreases to bias knit.
Bias knitting is nothing more than working your increases and decreases to their fullest advantage. You can use your favorite increase and decrease stitches to achieve the effect you want, but for simplicity I will demonstrate using Kfb (knit in the front and back) and K2tog (knit two together).
Sharp slant to right:
Row 1 (RS): Kfb, k to last two stitches, k2tog
Row 2 (WS): K2tog, k to last stitch, kfb
This will create a sharply slanted piece because you are increasing and decreasing on all rows.
Slant to left:
Row 1 (RS): K2tog, k to end.
Row 2 (WS): Kfb, k to end.
This will create a left slant that is not as sharp.
The more often you increase and decrease, the more dramatic the bias will be. However, don't be afraid to experiment with a softer diagonal. Play with it to see how much you want for the pattern you are creating.
To create a diamond:
Row 1 (RS): Cast on 1 stitch. Kfb.
Row 2: (WS): Kfb in both stitches
Row 3: Kfb,k to last stitch, kfb
Repeat row 3 until the piece is as tall as you want. Then decrease using the following method.
Row 1 (RS decrease row): K2tog, knit to last two stitches, ktog
Repeat this row until you decrease your last stitch and bind off.
You can use these techniques in a number of ways to create sharp slants, gentle curves, zig zags, and diamond patterns. Go wild.
Where Do I Start? Here's a List of Some Free Patterns to Get You on Your Way
Still Confused? Check Out This Video to Help You on Your Increases and Decreases
Short rows are a hot little number that not only give you another option of how to knit on the bias, but they can also be used to create interesting color patterns for variegated yarn and for shaping to create the perfect fit. They also make a great addition to your knitting repertoire because they make make anything look fancy with virtually no skill needed!
The basic idea of a short row is to "interrupt" a row of knitting by turning before you finish and start creating an additional row. If you add multiple rows at even intervals, you will create a wedge shape. You can also start them at uneven intervals to create curves, patterns, or any other tailoring you want. When working with short rows, you will see a big debate on people who "wrap and turn" and those who don't. The idea is that once you turn your work, you can wrap your working yarn around the last stitch so turning doesn't create a hole. It's up to you whether you decide to wrap or not depending on the look you like and the garment you are creating. The instructions below do not include the wraps in parenthesis so you can try both and decide what you like.
Basic Short Row Recipe:
Cast on 20 stitches and knit a few rows in stockinette, ending on a purled row. Turn to the right side with knit stitches facing.
Row 1: Knit 10 stitches. This will leave half of your stitches unknit. Don't panic.
Row 2: (Wrap and) Turn your knitting so the purl side is facing you. There are 10 stitches on both needles. Purl 10 stitches.
Row 3: Knit 9 stitches. (Wrap and) Turn.
Row 4: Purl 9 stitches.
Row 5: Knit 8 stitches. (Wrap and) Turn.
Row 6: Purl 8 stitches.
Continue in this way until you have worked all short rows down to one stitch and turn work so the right side is face. Now knit across all 20 stitches.
You have just created a short row wedge shape on the right half of your work. Adjust the size of your short rows to your project.
How to wrap and turn:
Let's use the same example above. If you are knitting in stockinette with knit side facing, knit your first ten stitches. Now bring your yarn forward as if to purl. Slip the next stitch knitwise and bring your yarn to the back as if to knit again. Now turn your work and slip this unknit stitch back to your right needle. This is wrapping your yarn to prevent gaps in the work. It is commonly abbreviated as w&t, w+t, or wt.
For a great visual example, follow this link in the next module to The Purl Bee where they give you a great visual example of the wrap and turn tutorial above.
Where Do I Start? Here's Some Patterns to Get You on the Short Row Train
- Wrap and Turn Visual Tutorial
The Purl Bee shows you visually how to complete the wrap and turn instructions written in the above module.
- Short Row Class
Free class from Craftsy that teaches you the art of the short row.
- Short Row Wavy Hat
Free pdf download for this hat pattern.
Still Confused? - Check Out a Video to Help You With Those Wrap and Turns
Cat Bordhi is the Houdini of the knitting world and here she gives you tips on how to prevent holes with your short rows.
Method 3 - Entrelac: Using Short Rows to "Weave"
Entrelac is a bias knitting technique that allows you to create a woven look for your piece by knitting one block at a time. Don't be fooled by the intricate fabric, entrelac is actually easy one you get the hang of it. You simply start by creating a few triangles. By working short rows back and forth to create small slanted blocks, you can pick up stitches on the sides to start another block slanting in the opposite direction.
Here is an example of a basic stockinette entrelac pattern repeat.
CO 24 stitches (8 stitch pattern repeat)
To create your base triangles:
Knit first 2 stitches (RS)
Turn work, purl 1, slip 1 purlwise
Turn back to right side, knit 3 stitches
Turn work, then purl 2 and slip the final stitch
Knit 4 and turn, purl 3 and slip 1
Knit 5 and turn, purl 4, slip 1
Knit 6, turn, purl 5, slip 1
Knit 7, turn, purl 6, slip 1
Knit 8. Do not turn. The first triangle is complete.
For this example, you will have 3 triangles (24 stitches with 8 stitch pattern repeats).
You have just created the base for your entrelac knitting.
To knit the entrelac squares.
First side triangle:
Purl the first 2 stitches
Turn work, knit 2 stitches
Purl into the front and back of the first stitch (Pfb), purl 2 together (P2tog)
Turn work, knit 3 stitches.
Pfb, purl 1, p2tog, turn, knit 4, turn.
Pfb, purl 2, p2tog, turn, knit 5, turn.
Pfb, purl 3, p2tog, turn, knit 6, turn.
Pfb, purl 4, p2tog, turn, knit 7, turn.
Pfb, purl 5, p2tog. Your side triangle is complete, but do not turn.
To finish the rest of the blocks for the row:
With purl-side facing, use right-hand needle to pick up and purl 8 stitches along the side of the base triangle.
Turn work, knit 7 stitches, slip the last stitch as if to purl.
Turn work, purl 7 stitches, p2tog.
Repeat last two rows, slipping the last stitch on the knit side and purling 2 together each purl-side.
To finish the square, knit 7 stitches, slip the last stitch again.
Turn work, purl 7 and purl 2 together.
You are now done with the first half of the squares and have completely knit across this side. Now finish the blocks going back across the row as follows:
With purl-side facing, pick up and purl 8 stitches from the base triangle.
Knit 6, slip 1, turn purl 5, p2tog
Knit 5, slip 1, turn, purl 4, p2tog
Knit 4, slip 1, turn, purl 3, p2tog
Knit 3, slip 1, turn, purl 2, p2tog
Knit 2, slip 1, turn, purl 1, p2tog
Knit 1, slip 1, turn, p2tog
To work more on these techniques, visit a few of the pattern links below to start your own entrelac project.
Where Do I Start—Getting Your Feet Wet With Entrelac Patterns
Still Confused? - Try This Video for Some Visual Entrelac Lessons
Pick your poison
New Guestbook Comments
taramaiden on February 04, 2018:
my bias knitting piece is curved. it doesn't hang straight down, but has a slight bend. how do I cure or prevent this?
Edburk on January 09, 2018:
Knitting on the diagonal can make larger guage yarn seem a better quality or finer guage than it is, can add flexibility and springiness to a yarn that would normally seem stiff like cardboard or limp as a wet mop fiber. I combine a diagonal knitting or knitting on the bias with two other techniques. I use crossing one stitch throughout (some instructions will call this a cable) which I call the favoritism stitch 2nd stitch firs, first stitch second, next row do the same & split up the crossed pairs of stitches from the previous row. I like to use throwing the yarn over the knitting needle not English style but East German style. The yarn goes not up between the needles but down between the needles. The result acts like a ribbing but does not look like a classic ribbing. Cheaper yarn looks better than it should with a combination of these 3 techniques. I am just learning entrelac. I might combine the entrelac with the other 3 techniques. Thanks Zdiddle. Edburk
Zdiddle (author) on January 24, 2014:
@jennabee25: I love short rows, but seem to forget how to do them every single time. At least I always have a handle on my increases and decreases.
Jenn Dixon from PA on January 24, 2014:
I'm of a short rows person, but I do like both methods!
Zdiddle (author) on July 29, 2013:
@LilyBird: I thought I would die my first time, but I started to get the hang of it during the first row. My biggest problem is actually not the entrelac itself, but picking up stitches! I think you'll do fine. Let me know how it goes!
LilyBird on July 27, 2013:
I love the look of Entrelac but it looks so complicated I've never even looked into how to do it. The video and your pattern make it look doable. I'll give it a try soon, I'm sure there will be lots of frogging but I'll learn something new in the process. Thanks for this informative lens!
Zdiddle (author) on July 23, 2013:
@CassandraCae: I still haven't gotten around to socks. They've been on my list for years! I have more sock yarn than should be allowed for someone who doesn't actually make them. Good luck!
Zdiddle (author) on July 23, 2013:
@Elsie Hagley: Me too. I tried entrelac very soon after figuring out how to knit and remember it being challenging. Now, I think it's much easier, but still makes me think about what I'm doing every stitch. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on July 23, 2013:
I enjoyed this article very much.
I have been knitting for years, but have never this "entrelac weave way."
I will be trying this out as soon as I have finished viewing the other Rocket squids pages.
Thanks I like something new, a nice challenge.
Elizabeth Lynn Westbay from United States on July 23, 2013:
I wanna learn to knit. I crochet and I love it. I really wanna knit socks.
Zdiddle (author) on July 15, 2013:
@jlshernandez: There is another method involving short rows that I plan to add in the next week or so. I'm building the page as I go, so hopefully there will be even more resources for you once you decide to take the plunge!
jlshernandez on July 15, 2013:
I have never tried knitting on a bias and I am an avid knitter. Something new for me to try. Thanks for sharing the instructions.