close up of a color knitting pattern chart, hearts or aspen leaf shapes in red on white graph

Dear Knitter,

This time Meg will address an issue that has long been a nemesis for circular knitters - the ‘jog’ in stripes or patterns that occurs because of the spiraling nature of knitting in the round. Read on and find a video of Meg's demonstration below.

Circular knitting is like a barber pole - the end of each round is slightly higher than the beginning, as the work spirals upwards. Naturally, a stripe of color accentuates this property (with the end not meeting the beginning, resulting in a ‘jog’).

Over four decades ago, while designing a Swedish Dubbelmössa hat, Meg offered one of the first methods to combat this effect. Her clear and concise explanation may be viewed on the Knitting Glossary DVD, also available as streaming video. Her Dubbelmössa pattern can be found in Handknitting with Meg Swansen.

two dubblemossa hats showing jog in pattern and no jog

(Image on left shows the jog, Image on right avoids the jog.)

Meg's method to avoid the jog (in a nutshell):

On a single round of color (say, when alternating single rounds of 2 colors) - when you finish one round and are starting the next round in the 2nd color, make sure to bring the new color strand over the old color (instead of under it) when knitting the first stitch.

When alternating stripes that are 2, 3, or more rounds thick: Knit the first round of the new color in its entirety, and when you go to knit the first stitch of the next round, pick up the stitch of the row below (which is in the old color), put it on the left needle, and k2tog. Now knit on in the new color. The first stitch of the round is now moved one stitch to the left (if you are marking the first stitch, move your marker one to the left).

If you do nothing to obviate the ‘jog’ when knitting in a fine gauge (say 7, 8 or more sts/inch), it is often barely noticeable (for example in Fair Isles), and - on a pullover - the color change is relegated to a side ’seam’.

fair isle pattern with slight jog in pattern

One easily applied remedy to the jog in a Fair Isle type of situation is: When you are through with a color, break the wool - even though you may want that color again in a few rounds. Those ends are very useful to hide the jog: darn in the final end down and to the left. Darn in the beginning end up and to the right.

But what if you are knitting a color pattern, like hearts or leaves? If you do nothing, your first stitch will travel through the motif, and one side will be higher than the other.

In order to avoid the jog within the motif, you need to work to the right or left of each motif (placing the first stitch of the round in the space between motifs). In this video, Meg shows how it is done:

You can apply this technique to any circular color-pattern knitting. For instance, in our new Shepherd’s Pi Shawl (SPP#74), when beginning any of the motifs, move your starting stitch to the left or the right (as Meg shows in the video), and the ‘jog’ will not be visible. For the solid stripes, utilize the adjustments described above.

Employing these methods in various circumstances, and eliminating all jogs from your circular knitting, adds a sophisticated air of mystery to your projects, and a bit of self-satisfaction regarding your skill level.

To that end, we offer you a free pattern to help you practice and to thank you for supporting Schoolhouse Press.

aspen leaf motif in grey and green, slouched on glass mannequin head

Thank you, Knitters!

Download Meg's Aspen Leaf Hat

Good Knitting,
Meg and Cully