I swear I had never heard of the problem of ladders in ribbing until I made those legwarmers last year and was looking for tricks to keep them from laddering. A lot of the stuff I found was specifically about ribbing, and how a lot of people apparently have a problem with ladders appearing when they go from a knit stitch to a purl stitch. It was one of those things that I filed away as interesting, but not really relevant to me or my problem at the time.
So today, while I was working on the Hallowig for bibliogrrl, I noticed that I was having a bit of a ladder problem in switching between knit and purl stitches. I’m sure if I’d never found that information, it never would have happened to me. Never.
Anyway, I watched myself knitting for a while, trying to figure out how to correct it. It had only started in the last few rounds, so it’s not a huge problem, but I still wanted to stop. I discovered that for some reason — maybe I did a particularly sloppy row when I was taking the stairs down yesterday in my new high heels — I was still knitting as usual, barely dipping the tip of the needle through the loop to pick up more yarn, but when I purled the next stitch, I really went fishing. I probably put the needle through the loop by an inch. Maybe more. This pushed the loop further onto the left-hand needle, which meant there was more yarn between the last stitch and the next stitch, and also meant that I was wrapping more yarn around the needle than when I just dip the tip. That sounds like perfect ladder conditions to me. With the second purl stitch (it’s in 2×2 rib), for whatever reason, I didn’t go quite as far.
I don’t think it shows, looking at the fabric as a whole, but I certainly noticed it when I was knitting. The next couple of rounds, I took special care to not do that with the purl stitches, and now it all seems to look much better. I don’t know that this is what causes it for everyone who gets ladders in ribs, but I think it’s interesting, nonetheless.
Of course, I’m at work and don’t have my camera, so I can’t take pictures to show what I mean, and by the time I get home I’ll hopefully have knitted enough that I won’t really be able to find the laddery bits.