Étude no. 22: Tunnel Eyelet

Periodically I like to try out techniques I haven’t used before and experiment with them. When I write about this, I call the posts my études, because they’re somewhat like the exercises musicians do for practicing.

I was browsing through my copy of Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury when my eye lit upon the Tunnel Eyelet stitch. I hadn’t really noticed it before, and when I read the instructions I was a little confused about how it worked. With many knitting instructions, I understand them better if I try them, so I did just that.

Three Tunnel eyelet variations

The Tunnel Eyelet instructions have the reverse stockinette side facing. The basic principle as written by Barbara Walker is this:

  1. On a wrong side row, make a regular eyelet like this between knit stitches: k2tog, yo.
  2. Purl a row, knit a row, purl a row, and knit a row.
  3. On the next row (right side), purl up to the stitch coming up from the yarnover. Then, “insert right-hand needle downward along front of fabric into the top and bottom loops of the yo 4 rows below; lift up these 2 loops, place them on the left-hand needle, and purl them tog.”
  4. Then p2tog the next 2 stitches and go on.

Here is the eyelet just before I pick up the top and bottom loops, with the loops highlighted.

Here is how they look just after I pick them up.

Original version of tunnel eyelet

And here is how the tunnel eyelet looks after I work a few more rows. It’s an intriguing effect, like some of the stitches that involve slipping stitches with the yarn in front, and later picking up the bars formed by the yarn in front and knitting or purling them. Essentially, picking up the loops and purling them together is an increase, and then the purl 2 together makes a corresponding decrease

Variant of purl Tunnel eyelet

However I think the effect is improved on the wrong side, and also makes a more intellectually satisfying version with a variation, which looks much the same on the front, but less obtrusive on the back. Here’s how:

  1. On a wrong side row, make a regular eyelet like this between knit stitches: k2tog, yo.
  2. Purl a row, knit a row, purl a row, and knit a row.
  3. On the next row (right side), purl up to the stitch coming up from the yarnover and slip it purlwise. Then, “insert right-hand needle downward along front of fabric into the top and bottom loops of the yo 4 rows below; lift up these 2 loops, place them on the left-hand needle” and purl 3 together, including the slipped stitches.
  4. Then purl the following stitch and go on.

I also decided to try this with the stockinette side of the fabric facing as the right side; I knit 2 together next to the selvedge because it’s not necessary to have it right next to the yo for lace. Then I worked four rows, knit up to the stitch above the yo, lifted the two bars and knit them together with the next stitch. (Slipping it wasn’t necessary because of the differences between k3tog and p3tog.)

I think the result is subtler but interesting. I also like the wrong side version.

I am not sure how or whether I will use this method in future stitch patterns, but it definitely was an interesting thing to play with.

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