How to work Latvian braid (and close it in the round)
Latvian braid – also called Estonian, or sometimes just lateral braid – is a pretty nifty trick. It looks like it's been applied after the fact; like a line of crochet, perhaps. In fact, it's worked as you knit, by repeatedly working a twist (knitting into the stitch behind the next stitch) and then passing the front stitch on for yet another twist. The stitches at the back form neatly on the needle as usual; the stitch in front forms a long chain that lies horizontally along the row. Cunning! And besides looking cool, it adds a certain strength and stability to the fabric. Which I exploited in Winterbeere as a structural substitute for shoulder seams.
Here's how you do it. Work tightly! (Click on any of the pictures for a closer look.)
1. Cast on 1 stitch (using the cable cast-on) and slip it back to the left-hand needle.
2. Reach behind this first stitch and knit into the back loop of the second stitch on your needle…
3. …then into the first stitch, and drop them both off the needle together.
4. Slip the last stitch worked back to the left-hand needle.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 to the end of the row.
6. You'll end with one extra stitch (remember that initial cast-on?), so work 2 stitches together at the start of the next row.
7. After a row or two you may find that the stitches right after the braid are elongated, especially if using an inelastic yarn. Give it a horizontal tug – the extra length will disappear into the braid, which in turn will have a little more give.
If you're working the braid in the round, you can start without casting on - just slip the last stitch of the previous round back to the left-hand needle and start working those twists (steps 2-4 as above). At the end of the round, there's a neat way to close the braid.
1. Don't slip the last stitch onto the left-hand needle. Instead, take a crochet hook and reach under the first braided (horizontal) stitch of the round to pull the last stitch under, and replace it on the right-hand needle.
The result is very neat; not quite invisible, but certainly not noticeable.
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