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Garter Carriage Bag of Tricks

Demo By Diana Sullivan


Fat and Fancy Yarn

I have been able to use the garter carriage for an assortment of yarns that won’t work or are too heavy with the regular carriage, such as heavy chenille, Lion Brand Micro Spun, Lion Brand Wooleze Sport and Liberty Plus (worsted weight). My garter blankets were two strands of Star; I frequently get away with using two strands of machine knitting yarn. You could mix three thin yarns for a tweedy, novelty effect (make sure they’re stacked or twisted to avoid stripes).

Garter carriages vary, but they will adjust many clicks past tension ten – mine goes to about tension 12-1/2 or so at its loosest setting. I have brought along a sample of Liberty Plus at my g-carriage’s loosest setting and another sample of the same yarn that is too tight and has a disappointing stiff feel.

Making Gauge Swatches

Knit about five rows and do a transfer for each number of gauge. Then knit five rows. Next, push the “memo” key (plain purl) and knit two rows. This will create a horizontal line just before the beginning of the 40-row gauge area. Then put two point cams on needles 21 and 22 on each side. Run for 40 rows in pattern, then two rows on “memo” and ten rows of pattern. Bind off and launder. This creates a gauge swatch that’s easily measured and permanently marked with the tension setting.

Handknitter’s Bind Off #1

Handknitters often bind off in a knit-and-purl texture with the instruction, “knit the knits and purl the purls” or “bind off in pattern.” The garter carriage version of this when you’re running up to about tension 7 is to run the last row very loose compared to the regular knitting and latch off.

To loosen the tension for this row, not only do you turn the tension wheel, loosen the upper tension by pulling out the yarn between the machine and the take-up spring until the take-up spring is almost straight.


Handknitter’s Bind Off #2

This is the bind off I often use for any project that is on a larger tension. It gives a smooth edge, no holes, and doesn’t pull in too tight. Move second to end stitch to end needle (2 stitches on end needle), transfer both stitches from end needle in to second needle. Hand knit the yarn through by putting inside latch and pulling through, then tug a little to adjust tension. Repeat across. It’s slow, but you do speed up with practice and it’s the best way I’ve come up with to bind off garter carriage work on a big tension.

This is a good bind off for ribbing.


Take Advantage of Reversible Stitches

The garter carriage makes garter stitch (SW #537), broken garter stitch (#467), broken ribbing (#469), 1x1 ribbing (#532), 2x2 ribbing (#534), 3x3 ribbing (#535), 4x4 ribbing (#536), seed stitch #30, double moss (#30 double length) and blocks (#547). Quaker Stitch can by programmed with several rows of knit, then several rows of purl. These stitches are favorites of handknitters. They have interesting properties, look alike on the front and back and are many are usable are lie-flat trims.

Machine knitters use ribbing often, but seldom use seed stitch, which pulls in a little in both directions and makes a great background for cables and textures. It also makes an excellent button band or edging.

Quaker stitch is an interesting stitch with a very bouncy pull-in vertically. Handknitters use it for many uses but many machine knitters are unfamiliar with it.

Broken ribbing is a favorite background stitch for handknitters. It’s reversible, springy horizontally (gains and loses weight with you, grows a little with a child), and an interesting texture. The broken ribbing #469 can be modified by pushing the double-width key, and other versions are available as well.


­Garter Stitch

Garter Stitch is sturdy, is almost double thickness, lies perfectly flat, pulls in a little vertically compared to stockinette stitch, making an excellent cardigan edging. It can also be mitered on the garter carriage.


Mitered Edge – Garter Stitch

Garter stitch two rows, end on right. Knit edge stitch on left onto ravel cord and put needle back out of work. Knit two rows, put next stitch on ravel cord. Continue until 2-3 stitches remain, knit two rows, pull ravel cord up and put regular yarn stitch back on needle. Continue until all needles back in work.

This mitered edge also works great in 1x1 ribbing. I learned it on a handknitting project, and have used it to edge machine-knit items.


2-Stitch Buttonhole – Garter Stitch

A tidy buttonhole that’s big enough for most cardigan buttons (I like my buttonholes a little on the small side so the buttons don’t unbutton). This is fast and easy. Transfer stitch on left of the two stitches to the left, needle on right to the right. Garter carriage one row. The garter carriage has put a loop of yarn into each of the empty needles. Transfer that loop onto a double-eyed needle, turn the needle around once to twist the loop into an e-wrap and put it back on that needle. Do this on each loop, then hang one hook of a lightweight on that bit of yarn, continue in garter stitch.