I have recently been incorporating Latvian braids into some new designs. This technique results in an eye-catching detail which is not at all as complicated as it looks! There are many online tutorials available. Some links are included below:
Link to a Kelbourne Woollens tutorial here: this tutorial explains the technique when worked in the round.
It is necessary to start with a set-up row or round where the two colours are alternated one stitch at a time. When using Latvian braid as an edging this set up row can be achieved using a two-colour cast-on method. A simple two-colour cast on, where one yarn is held on top and the other yarn held below (without twisting them), results in a line of ‘bumps’ of one colour next to a line of ‘bumps’ of the other colour. The photos below show what this looks like, with and without the braid. (There is more information on this type of cast-on in my post about double-knitting).
Link to video by Knitting Blooms here: this tutorial includes another two-colour cast-on method which can be used as a set up round before working the braid as an edging. In this case, the cast-on involves twisting the yarns, which creates a plaited effect. Due to the twisting of the yarns, it would be necessary to work three rounds/rows of Latvian braid (rather than the usual two) in order to avoid having to untwist the yarns manually at the end. The photos below show what this looks like, with and without the braid.
Some key points to note about working a Latvian braid:
- It is first necessary to work a set-up round/row where the colours are alternated (i.e. k1 in colour A, k1 in colour B) before working the first round/row of the braid. This set-up round/row can also be worked using a two-colour cast-on.
- Each round/row of braid results in the yarns being twisted multiple times in the same direction. It is not necessary to un-twist the yarns between rounds/rows as this should happen automatically as a result of working the subsequent round/row of the braid.
- If working the braid flat, rather than in the round, after working the set up row, the first row of braid is worked with both yarns at the back of the work, knitting (rather than purling) each stitch. The following row is worked using purl stitches with the yarns at the front of the work.
- Multiple braids can be worked, although it is recommended to work one round/row of plain knit stitches in between each braid.
- It is necessary to check the gauge of the braid in relation to the rest of the knitted item and adjust needle size accordingly. When working a braid as the edging to a stranded colourwork item, I found the braid tended to require a slightly smaller needle size, however I found the opposite was the case when followed by garter stitch.
- Braids can also be worked in more than two colours!
I used Latvian braid as an edging in the Wenlock Cowl (pictured above). In this pattern three (rather than the typical two) rounds of braid are worked, resulting in a slightly wider braid which curls inwards to create a nice rope-like edging. I also use the technique in the Laterano scarf. The technique is explained within these patterns.