In modular knitting, a garment is knitted in pieces which are joined together as you go along. The pieces may be knitted in different colours, different stitches, or even different directions.
How to knit your pieces
Obviously you can just knit plain squares or rectangles. Or you can get a little more adventurous.
One interesting technique is [entrelac]?, in which the modular pieces are joined as you go along. Another is mitred squares, in which squares are knitted in an unusual way allowing interesting colour work.
How to join your pieces together
There are many different ways of joining the pieces. Perhaps the simplest is to pick up stitches along the edge of a rectangular piece of knitting, and continue knitting in that direction - at right angles to the original direction. A chain selvedge makes it easier to pick up the stitches. See for example Debbi Young's "Sailing Pullover", which works outwards horizontally in both directions from a central vertically-knitted panel.
If you want your pieces to all be knitted in the same direction, you can use another technique, published by Medrith Glover in "Arans: One Bite at a Time". It allows you to knit in strips, joining them as you go along. Here's Dawn's explanation from the ample knitters mailing list, reproduced here by permission (thanks Dawn!).
Knit your strip to the desired length, slipping the first stitch of each row (produces a selvedge stitch: not obligatory, just makes it easier to pick up and knit)
End with a rs row, so your working yarn is on the lhs of your row, looking at the public side of your work. (This joins your to-be-worked strip onto the left side of your just-worked strip).
Pick up and knit the selvedge stitches.
Cast on stitches for the next strip. You will have 3 sets of stitches on the needle (hopefully a circular one!): the live stitches at the top of the completed strip, the selvedge, and finally the cast-on stitches for your new strip. Now work the new strip, and every ws row just p2tog, using the last stitch of your new strip, along with one of the selvedge stitches.
You don't need to follow this exactly; In Medrith's pattern she has you casting on provisionally (so that you can knit downwards for a hem) and leave the live stitches at the top of the strips (because these are used in a horizontal strip above these ones!), but you can just cast them off instead of leaving them live.
Another way to join strips is Rick Mondragon's "Sliding Loop" technique - I asked another ample knitters poster if I could paste her explanation in here, but she asked that I not do so in case she ever wants to publish it in a book. It is however very similar to Kim Salazar's pull-a-loop method.
Books on modular knitting
- Dawn tells me that Ginger Luters is publishing a modular knitting book soon.
- Dazzling Knits - Patricia Werner
See Also: Knitting Tips