Tutorial: Latvian Techniques

Here are a few techniques we learned in last week’s class — a left- and right-leaning braid, and a two-color cast on.
This is a picture heavy post. If you’re interested in any of these techniques they’re behind the cut.

These techniques are really not that hard. They’re decorative and look like they take a long time to do, but they really don’t. If you’re feeling cautious, go grab 2 colors of wool yarn from your stash and give it a go.
Two-Color Cast-on
If you know how to do a long-tail cast-on this will be a breeze.


Step 1 – Tie a slip knot with both yarns together. Important – do not leave a long tail here. It’s unnecessary and will just leave 2 long tails to weave in later.
Put both loops on your needle, making sure that the color you want to be the bumps below the cast is the color on the right.

Step 2 – Using the yarn that’s connected to the skeins, wrap them around your hand to do a long-tail cast on. The color around your index finger will make the loops on your needle, and the color around your thumb will make the bumps below the loops. Make sure that the color around your thumb is the same color that’s on the right of your slip knot loops.
Cast on using the long-tail method. For counting purposes, both loops of the slip knot should count as one stitch — not two.

That’s it — the color around your index finger is looped on the needle, and the color around your thumb is making little bumps below.
Now that you’re done, slip that first loop (the one that doesn’t match) off the other side of the needle, and pull the yarns to tighten up that area. Don’t worry — your cast on will not unravel.
You could use this technique all by itself to cast on the edge of a sock or even a sweater. If you use a double strand of the bump color you’ll see that color even better. If you do that, setup the slip knot in step one the same way, but add in a length of the bump color as well.
Notes for Both Braids

  • I’ve knit these samples flat, but emulated knitting them in the round. The insructions I’ve given you are for knitting the braids in the round. Please disregard the yarn you see draped below my knitting — it’s just the yarn being brought from the end of one row to the beginning of the next row.
  • For both braids, I have knit several stitches before taking a pic because the pictures were clearer when a few stitches were already knit. You should follow these instructions starting with the first stitch on your needle.
  • Braids are knit by purling with 2 alternating colors and stranding them in the front.

Left-Leaning Braid
As a setup row, knit a plain row of knits, alternating the two colors. I forgot to do this when knitting my sample for these pics. Oops. I’ll show you why you need to do this at the end of this post


Step 1: Take both colors and place them in the front of your work. Here I have just finished a light blue braid and am getting ready to knit a dark blue braid.
Note that the dark blue — the working yarn for the next stitch — is to the right.

Step 2: Take the dark blue yarn and place it in front of (on top of) the light blue yarn.

Step 3: And purl with the dark blue.

Step 4: Your work now looks very similar to Step 1, except that the light blue is to the right. You’re now setup to do the next light blue braid by following the same instructions.
It’s important to remember that the working yarn always goes in front of the yarn last used. That’s what makes the braid lean to the left.
And here’s what it should look like when you’re done.

Right-Leaning Braid
This braid is made very similarly to the left-leaning braid, except that the working yarn is always passed under the other yarn.

Step 1: Just like you saw in the left-leaning braid, the yarn you just knit with will be to the left.

Step 2: Take the working yarn and bring it under the yarn just used.
Follow these steps until you’re at the end of the row.
When you’re done, it will look like this.

Do you see how there’s a straight piece of yarn in between the right- and left-leaning braids? That’s the yarn from the row before I started the braid. If I had done the setup row, all three parts of the braid would be in the same color.
If you’re curious what you can do with these techniques, take a look at Lizbeth Upitas’ Latvian Mittens. She shows a few other techniques and at least 60 different mittens.
If you try to use this tutuorial please let me know what you think. Is it clear? Was it helpful? Did you find an error?

45 thoughts on “Tutorial: Latvian Techniques

  1. Hey! This is great — I was going to harass Amy (who was in your class) for my own tutorial but yours is lovely and I can be as slow and dopey as I like while staring at your photos!
    Sounds like it was a lovely class.

  2. Lovely tutorial! Were you instructed about the awful jogs at the end of the braid rounds? I’ve been fudging it with a sort of “duplicate stitch braid” where the new rounds begin but I still find them messy.

  3. Oh my gosh: invaluable tutorial!! Thanks for putting the time and effort into this…I haven’t seen a tutorial on latvian braid on the internet yet!

  4. This is a very useful tutorial, thanks! I’ve always wondered how to make those pretty little braids, but never really got around to researching the technique.

  5. I think your instructions are very clear. Great job!
    You could add a mention that your yarns will be all twisted up at the end of the first braid row, but then they will untwist with the 2nd braid row. Wait, I haven’t done one of those braids in a while — is that true?

  6. I am SO GLAD to find your tutorial! I’m about to start the Turkish Hat from Charlene Schurch’s Hats On. Problem is, I photocopied the pattern from a friend’s copy of the book, and then couldn’t figure out how to do the 2-color cast on and herringbone edge the pattern describes. This is exactly it! (And, this is why I should shell out and buy books for my own bookshelf…). Your tutorial is very clear–thanks!!

  7. PERFECT! Thanks so much for this tutorial–I’m working on a pair of gloves that calls for this edging and I was just STYMIED! Will have to bookmark this one since I have no longterm memory to speak of. Thanks again!

  8. Thanks for the photo tutorial, Jody! I got “Latvian Mittens”, but without images to go with the instructions, it was all a little frustrating. I’ll be coming back shortly with yarn and needles to try it out. :)

  9. Thank you! I have the Charlene Schurch’s hats book, and no matter how I tried to follow her written instructions on the herringbone braid, I could never get this technique right. What she needed were pictures in order to get her ideas across, and you’ve provided this to the benefit of all knitters! I have printed this page and stapled it to the Church’s book on hats. Thanks a million! You have no idea how much you have made my day!

  10. Thank you for the tutorials! I am just about to start a stranded hat with a braid so I will be using this for sure! I put a link to this post in my sidebar so I can remember it. Thanks!

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