As I knit away on my heavenly Kaffe’s Coins blanket, I have time to think about Things. One of those things is the floats on the wrong side of stranded knitting.
Acres of floats! I’ve just passed the halfway point on my all-Coins version of Kaffe Fassett’s Stranded Stripe Throw from Field Guide No. 13.
Last month we shared a terrific video on how to trap or catch floats on the back of the work. So we’ve addressed the how of trapping floats, but not the why or the when.
As I’ve shared photos of my Coins blanket, people keep asking me how I’m dealing with the floats.
Here’s the thing: I’m not doing a goshdarn thing about the floats.
Floats are larger than they appear.
The longest float is 7 stitches across the belly of the Coin motif. There are 4 rows in which the repeat is 1 stitch of the background color followed by 7 stitches of the coin color. For the sake of science, I measured, and these floats are 1 and 1/4 inches long.
A lot of people would feel the need to trap those floats, especially on a blanket which is going to have its WS exposed to the world for all eternity. Fingers could, theoretically, catch in these longer floats. And don’t even get me started on toes, and dogs and cats. I get it: We live in perilous times. We must do all we can to minimize the snagging of our precious handmade fabrics.
But I’m not really all that worried about these dangers. My floats are nice and cooperative. They line up so cheerfully, all on their own, holding hands like sweet toddlers at a Montessori school. The Felted Tweed yarn is sticky—I feel confident that after a wet-block and a bit of gentle use, the floats will simply melt into the fabric of the knitting, hanging on like velcro. A finger or toe would have to really work at snagging this fabric.
Some people would trap these floats—and even shorter ones—as a matter of Good Knitting Hygiene. I salute these diligent knitters, but it’s just not for me. I don’t want to worry about trapping the floats in different spots as I go along, so that the traps/twists don’t show through on the RS. I don’t want to interrupt the rhythmic reverie of knitting the motifs. There’s enough going on keeping the repeat going, and the floats nice and slack (but not too slack)—I don’t want to add another element to what I’ve got to do to knit this thing. And then there’s esthetics: Untrapped floats have a beautiful, woven look to them.
Recently on Instagram, Julia Farwell-Clay posted an image of her own 5-stitch floats, and shared that she doesn’t trap them. She sees no need. Her post made me feel validated—at least 5/7 validated—in not trapping my 7-stitch floats.
Answers on a Postcard, Please
All you stranded colorwork fans out there, I’ve got a question for you: do you trap your floats, and if so, how often? By which I mean, how many stitches does a float have to cross before you feel you have to pin them down to the back of the fabric with a twisty little repositioning of the yarns?