Today we have cause for celebration. Our favorite knitting brainiacs, Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford, have launched a new volume in their Something New to Learn how-to series. It’s an e-book, and it’s Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting
What Is Helical Knitting?
Helical knitting is something that I had never even heard of before Jen and Jim introduced us to it in the first installment of their wildly popular and instructive first book, A Year of Techniques, back in 2017.
The idea in its simplest form: stripes knitted in the round with no jog at the color change. There is no need to learn a trick or fix to counteract the jog that naturally occurs when striping colors the “regular” way, because with helical knitting, that jog never forms in the first place.
It’s magical. The concept is mathy, requiring a leap of imagination. (Think of two Slinkies, zippered together.)
Helical stripes are so fun that we try never to run out of Zauberballs in the MDK Shop. People love making Jen’s Hyacinthus Armwarmers, which use just one Zauberball, because you alternate the two ends of the skein.
Look, Ma, No Seam!
Once you start knitting helical stripes, a penny drops in your brain, and you realize that there are other applications for the technique.
Just one example: when knitting garter stitch in the round in the traditional way, by alternating rounds of knit and purl, a visible “seam” line forms at the beginning of the round, when you switch from knit to purl. But if you knit garter stitch using the helical knitting technique: no seam! (When I think of all the seams in all the Honey Cowls I’ve made, which could have been avoided using helical knitting, I want to cry a little.)
Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting is an e-book that pushes the possibilities of helical knitting beyond one-row stripes, into new and exciting jog-free, seam-free territory. Plus: it’s really fun. It makes you feel very clever, as you effortlessly avoid the jogs and seams that lesser mortals think we must accept as inevitable.
Jen knows how to dissect a technique and explain it in the clearest possible way. She is a meticulous thinker, so she brings a truly beautiful precision to what she’s teaching us.
As with A Year of Techniques, Something New to Learn About Cables, and Something New to Learn About Lace, this new e-book (available for direct download on Ravelry and from the Arnall-Culliford Knitwear website) includes fresh patterns that let you try out the techniques in a short time. The projects are simple, classic and wearable. You learn and practice the technique, and at the end of the lesson, you have both new knowledge and a nice accessory to wear or share. We love this formula.
There are four chapters, which are being released one at a time, every two weeks, with seven patterns. (If you purchase the book, the updates to your Ravelry library are automatic.) So far, two of the four chapters, and three projects, are live.
The Bramante Cowl, from chapter 1, is a good introduction, or a review for knitters who loved making the Hyacinthus mitts. Simple one-row stripes, and an introduction to the logic and ease of helical knitting.
A closer view of the stripes, and the lovely i-cord finish. We can’t show you where the jog would be, if there were a jog. Because there’s no jog. Photo by Nic Blackmore (laliloo on Ravelry).
Chapter 2 goes from helical stripes to helical texture, with the Witney Cowl in helical garter stitch.
The Witney cowl, which has no “seam” line. you are just going to have to try it. Our promise: no seam.
Next up: the Cortona Cowl in helical knot stitch.
the cortona cowl, in a waffly knot stitch. Question: is there a “seam” line? Answer: no. we’ve been over this, people.
This is where things start to get very interesting. Pattern stitches, in the round, seamlessly. Whoa.
What’s next? What more can be done helically? Hurry up, Jen–two weeks is a long time!
What’s in a Name
Fun fact: as Jen revealed in this blog post, each pattern in Helical Knitting is named after a double- or triple-helix staircase (or in one case, a ramp-like helical passage). Helical staircases are architectural showstoppers, and also a handy visual aid for knitters. In geeking out over these antiquities (some of which she has visited, on a quest for helical authenticity), Jen lets her freak flag fly. Such fun!
Videos to Come!
As with Jen and Jim’s previous books, Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting is supported by short, clear and concise videos to help those of us who learn best with a gentle guide and step by step visuals. The first one is up at the top of this post. The second one, on using double-pointed needles to work helically, is here. More will be available soon, so keep an eye on the Arnall-Culliford Knitwear channel on YouTube.
What About Yarn?
All the projects in Something New to Learn about Helical Knitting are knitted up in Jen and Jim’s brand-new yarn, Something to Knit With Aran. It’s a beautifully behaved, smooth, round yarn, in a blend of highland wool and baby alpaca. You can get it direct from Jen and Jim on their website, and of course you can also raid ye olde stashe if you’re lucky enough to have a few skeins of Aran weight wool lying around.
Let’s helix again, like we did last year! Join us!
Photos from Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting are by Jesse Wild.