How to add a decorative two color braid to knitted items
In Sweden, we have a saying that translates “A loved child has many names”.
I think that saying suits the Latvian braid well, as it’s also referred to as Estonian braid, Vikkel braid, and lateral braid.
No matter what you call it, this braid is a small and decorative element that adds to most designs ❤️
The Latvian braid is often used in the same designs as the Latvian brain cast on, that I wrote about a week ago.
Click here to learn about the Latvian braid cast on!
What is a Latvian braid?
A Latvian braid is a lateral braid commonly used in Baltic and Scandinavian mitten designs.
It’s a decorative element that’s created by twisting yarn strands consistently over or under each other as you alternate purling the colors.
It’s an easy way to use two colors in your knitting without having to do stranded knitting!
While the braid is often knitted in two colors, it creates a structure that can also be interesting in a solid color.
How to use it
The way the braid breaks up the knitting creates a nice effect and it can be used to decorate the edge of an item.
It looks pretty on all sorts of projects like at the edge of a mitten, or the sleeves, hem, or neck on a sweater.
The braid is also used as a divider between sections of patterns. For example, between the cuff and hand of a mitten or between different stranded knitting charts.
Get prepared for a yarn tangle
The technique is pretty easy to master, but if you don’t like getting your yarns tangled you have a struggle ahead…
The constant twisting of the yarns in the first half of the braid can create a bit of a mess. But everything will untangle by itself as you knit the second part of the braid. If it get to messy, just take a break to get the twists out!
Video tutorial: Latvian braid worked flat
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Written instructions for knitting the Latvian braid flat
The first row is a set up row and it’s worked from the right side. Knit the first stitch with your main color (MC) and then alternate knitting one stitch with contrast color (CC) and one stitch with main color for the rest of the row.
The second row is a wrong side row and you’re going to knit this row with both yarn strands held at the back of your work. All stitches are knit with the same color as the previous row and the colors are twisted after every stitch.
Knit the first stitch in MC. To knit the next stitch in CC take the CC yarn strand and bring it under the MC strand. Then knit the stitch. Continue like this, alternate colors and always bring the new strand under the old one.
The third row is a right side row and we’re going to purl it with both yarns in front of the work the whole time.
Purl the first stitch with MC and twist the yarns, this time the new strand goes under the old strand.
Cast on an uneven number of stitches.
MC = Main Color, CC = Contrast Color
Row 1: (set up row) *K1 with MC, K1 with CC*, repeat *–* to the end of the row
Row 2: (wrong side) With both yarns behind your work: *K1 with MC, bring CC under MC, K1 with CC, bring MC under CC*, repeat *–* to the end of the row
Row 3: (right side) With both yarns in front of your work,:*P1 with MC, bring CC under MC, P1 with CC, bring MC under CC, repeat *–* to the end of the row.
A couple of tips
Changing stitch count: If you need to use an even number of stitches the pattern wont add up on row 2 and 3. This is solved by knitting all stitches in the same color as on the previous row, not the color the pattern says.
Changing the direction of the Latvian braid: If you follow the pattern but bring the yarn over in row two, and under in row three your braid will lean the other way. It’s the twisting of the yarns that makes the braid effect.