Regular Fair-Isle knitting isn’t stretchy enough to work well on socks and motifs that leave long floats. The Ladder-Back Jacquard technique is a way to knit your floats into a loose material along the back of your work that lets it stretch.
With Ladder-Back Jacquard, you can knit stretchy garments, like Fair-Isle socks, with great success, no matter the motif.
Video: Learn the Ladder-Back Jacquard Stitch
The Ladder-Back Jacquard Technique is an exclusive members’ video. To access this and all other 450+ time-saving knitting videos, get personal email help and request your own videos, become a member here. Starts at just $12.99/month!
Become a KnitFreedom Member Here
and get this and over 450 time-saving knitting videos for just $12.99/month.
If you are a KnitFreedom member or own the Fair-Isle class, please LOG IN to watch.
Ladder-Back Jacquard: Step-by-Step Instructions
To do the Ladder-Back Jacquard technique, you’ll need a motif that contains spans of unbroken color more than 5 stitches across. The Fair-Isle Heart chart below is a good example.
To use the above chart to practice Ladder-Back Jacquard, cast on 30 stitches and join for working in the round.
Work the first two rounds of the chart, then work up to and including stitch #8 on Round 3 (the first contrasting-color stitch). Then begin to create Ladder-Back Jacquard cast-on stitches using the contrasting color (float color) as follows:
First Contrasting-Color Round
Continue Inserting Cast-On Stitches
Each time you come to an area of more than 5 stitches in the same color on your chart, break up those stitches by inserting Ladder-Back Jacquard (backwards loop cast-on) stitches as shown above.
Work Your Fair-Isle Chart According to the Pattern
Knit the Cast-On Stitches With the Inactive Color
Continue working according to your chart until you come to one of your cast-on stitches.
Use the Inactive Color to Knit Cast-On Stitches
Please note that you do not have to knit the cast-on stitches with the same color you used to make them. Knit them with whatever color you are not actively using.
Knit Out Unneeded Ladder-Back Jacquard Stitches
As your pattern changes, your active color may no longer have long stretches of more than 5 stitches. You can remove the inserted Ladder-Back Jacquard stitches when you don’t need them anymore as follows:
If you need to create a new stitch again in subsequent rounds, just create another Backwards-Loop Cast-On stitch with the inactive color as described above.
Rearrange Ladder-Back Jacquard Stitches
As your pattern changes, your Ladder-Back Jacquard stitches may no longer be evenly splitting up your groups of live stitches. You can move a Ladder-Back Jacquard stitch to more evenly break up the active-color stitches as follows:
…and there you have it! Now you know everything you need to know to make your Fair-Isle floats stretchy enough to use on socks and wide motifs.
Remember: Check your floats as you work and don’t pull them too tight!
Leave a Comment
Did you enjoy this tutorial on the Ladder-Back Jacquard Technique? Are you going to try it? What are your biggest frustrations with Fair-Isle knitting? Leave a comment and let me know!
Learn to Fair-Isle Knit With Ease
Holding two or more colors at once can be awkward as you learn how to manage the tension of each stitch. My step-by-step Fair-Isle class teaches you all the secrets so you can confidently Fair-Isle knit with ease.
Includes the above Ladder-Back Jacquard video tutorial free!