The striking horizontal braid seen on Faye Perriam’s ‘Kolka’ hat (The Knitter issue 67) is a beautiful way to embellish the edges of knitwear, or to separate different patterns or motifs. Known as a Latvian braid, it’s made by simply twisting the yarns at the front of the piece and then purling a stitch.
The key is to always twist your yarns before each stitch the same way every time on one round, and then twist them the other way on the next round. This gives the distinctive herringbone look, and also means you don’t have to bother with untwisting your yarns as you go – they will naturally untwist on the next round.
To achieve this look, begin with both yarns hanging at the front of the work. Take the first colour you want to work and bring it under the other strand, then purl the stitch (1+2).
Let this yarn drop over the top of the second yarn and bring the second yarn under the first in the same way, and purl (3+4). Work your braid in this manner until you come to the end of the round, then purl the first stitch of the next round in the same way. Now you are ready to work the second round.
To create the other half of the braid, you will work the stitch on your needle with the yarn of the same colour, and will twist your yarns the opposite direction as thefirst round. Again, have the yarns hanging in front of the work, and this time draw up your first colour over the top of the other yarn, purling as before. Drop this yarn, and draw the second colour over the top of the first and purl (5). Continue around to the end, and you have a completed braid (6). And to keep things nice and tidy, your yarns should have untwisted themselves, which is a nice bonus!
You can use one braid or, as Faye has done, use multiple braids to accentuate your design. For multiple braids you’ll want to include a knit round between each braid every third round, (twisting the yarns at the back, bringing the new yarn under the yarn just worked) to prevent the fabric from curling under.
Alternating two-colour cast-on
If your braid is to be at the start of your knitting, you may want to do a two-colour cast-on. Make a slipknot to tie your two colours together, then wrap one colour over the top of your thumb and the other over the top of your forefinger as shown, making a V shape, and holding the yarns with your other fingers. For the first stitch, do a usual long-tail cast-on: bring the needle under the thumb (7) and grab the yarn that is wrapped around the finger, pulling it through (8). The next colour, from the forefinger, will be cast on in a reversed long-tail stitch, bringing the needle through from the back (9), grabbing the other yarn over the top from the thumb, and pulling it through (10). Continue alternating colours until you have the required number of stitches.