Why change of orientation method of making left leaning decreases does not work for me

The only reason I am analyzing the "change in orientation" option for making left leaning decreases in such exhaustive detail is that I was specifically asked by a reader whether I thought this was a good solution. Sadly, I don't--it doesn't work very well for me, and here are the three reasons I believe that is.

  • a) In my analysis, slack yarn arises from two different parts of the decrease operation. First, it arises because of the manipulation of the stitch involved. Second, because in an "opposite-oriented" (left arm forward) stitch, the angle of the "tail" (the yarn which feeds into the stitch) is different than the angle at which the tail yarn feeds into a "regular oriented" (right arm forward) stitch. If a whole row of stitches are all created in opposite orientation (combined knitting) there is no ANGLE CHANGE between stitches--each stitch is knitted the SAME WITHIN THAT ROW. (In other words, these comments do not apply to combination knitters, who knit all the stitches within any given row with the same orientation.) The slack yarn problem due to orientation change arises when the orientation CHANGES WITHIN THAT ROW. This is because, among other reasons, yarn is not perfectly pliable, when it has to go through an acute bend over a very short span, this changes the yarn tension, and ruffles the fabric face, and more so depending on the twist, spin (S or Z) and diameter of the yarn itself. In any event, because some of the slack yarn problem arises when you change the stitch orientation within one row, then when you opposite-mount the relevant stitch(es), you really are only pushing the slack-yarn problem to where the orientation of THOSE stitches changes. This isn't so much of a problem in the actual decrease row--where you have the decrease to distract your eye, but it leads to as issue of what to do in the non-decrease rows.
  • b) Specifically, if you change the stitch mounts of the 2 stitches you are actually going to decrease (join) together, then on the "plain rows" between decreases, you are faced with a dilemma: Should you change the orientation of ONLY the decrease stitches, or should you also change the orientation of the plain row(s) between? (The last illustration of this entry shows a changed orientation for ALL the relevant stitches in the decrease column: the red, the green and the blue in the accompanying diagram on the main page.) Changing the orientation of the plain row(s) between gets you back to the slack yarn problem (see a) on a plain row where there is no decrease going on to distract the eye; not changing the orientation of the stitches between gets you a decrease column which messy, as the stitches' switching back and forth of orientation disturbs the regular pattern.
  • c) In flat knitting, you have to do the opposite mounting from the back (the purl side). In order to keep track from the back, most people need a stitch marker. Yet adding a stitch marker worsens the slack yarn situation because no matter how thin the marker, it takes at least SOME yarn to bridge over it, and adding slack yarn to a place where it really is unwelcome didn't seem wise. Further, if you are comfortable working "funny stuff" from the purl side, you might as well go whole-hog and try the next trick, which is worked from the back.