The first thing most people learn when learning to loom knit is how to work the e-wrap knit stitch. Some people only use this stitch to create endless items. It’s a very simple stitch that many prefer over the knit stitch or even learning the purl stitch. Nothing wrong with that. It is a knit stitch after all. And an easy one. Think I said that already.
But it has its drawbacks. Beginners always have that same question when making hats or other items worked in the round. Why do I have a large gap between the first and last stitch? It only happens with e-wrap worked in the round. Never with flat panels. Why is that? It really is a simple answer. Let’s talk about the laddering effect.
What is laddering?
Laddering is that gap between the first and last stitch of a project worked in the round when using the e-wrap knit stitch when the entire loom is wrapped before knitting over. It leaves the yarn between the stitches in horizontal lines that looks like a ladder. Hence the name.
Here is an example of laddering:
Why does it happen?
Laddering happens when all the pegs on the entire loom are wrapped then knit over. This is due to each stitch getting looser has the bottom loop is lifted over the top loop. It is actually on the round below, not the round just wrapped. With the twist in the stitch, each stitch gets pulled a little when knit over making the next one a little looser when it is knit over. And so on until you end the round with that extra between the first and last stitch. By the time the last stitch is worked, there is enough of a gap to be noticed.
This is why it doesn’t happen with flat panels. The extra bit that creates the ladder when working in the round ends up at the edge.
Sometimes this will not happen with bulkier yarns especially if the yarn is slightly bulkier than the loom gauge requires.
Is it due to tension?
Tension is not really the issue when it comes to laddering. Some people like to use yarn guides or empty pens to make it faster to wrap the pegs. This will not prevent laddering. Laddering happens when knitting over, not how tight you wrap the pegs.
But why is mine laddering between all the stitches??
If using a smaller yarn weight than the loom gauge like using 1 strand of worsted with a large gauge loom, laddering will happen between each stitch with e-wrap whether in the round or a flat panel. The twist in the stitch will keep the stitches from pulling together when off the loom.
This effect is sometimes desired for lacier projects. But if it’s not desired, make sure the yarn weight matches the gauge of the loom. Learn more on yarn weights and which gauge loom to use here.
How do I prevent laddering in my work?
The best way to prevent laddering is one not often preferred. That is to wrap and knit over each peg as you go. That way each stitch is exactly the same. But most people prefer to wrap the loom first. And that leads us to the next question.
Are there other ways to prevent it without working each peg as you go?
Some people say to start and stop at different pegs on each round. That will work as long as those pegs that you are stopping at are not next to each other. If you stop at the one before the last peg you stopped at on the previous round, the laddering will be on a diagonal instead of vertical.
If you wrap the pegs in shorter sections then knit over before going on to the next section, the amount of yarn that is made loose is not as much and therefore not as noticed. If you wrap only 5 to 10 pegs at a time, the laddering effect will not happen.
Will it “fix” itself if left alone?
Yes. Most times, if the item is given time to relax, the stitches will “fix” themselves, and the ladder will disappear. Blocking will help too depending on the fiber used.
While I am not one to use e-wrap knit stitch very often, it is a wonderful stitch that can add texture or is just easy to work. If you are ready to make that next step to a different knit stitch, please check out my article Loom FAQs: Which Knit Stitch?
Until next time! Happy loom knitting!