jenett: text-only icon: Virgo Hufflepuff : details managed (details managed)
jenett ([personal profile] jenett) wrote2014-02-10 02:26 pm

About double knitting

In which I discuss double knitting.


Double knitting is a method of doing reversable colour images - you knit with two (or maybe more) colours, and you produce a double sided piece of fabric. Which reverses.

Take the first square for the blanket I'm working on, the ouroboros: on one side it is a green snake eating its tail on a silver gray background, on the other side, it is a silver gray snake on a green background. Cool, huh?

Basically, you just need to know how to knit and purl, cast on, and cast off. Double knitting does involve managing two strands of yarn, but since you always move them together, it's less complicated than some most other kinds of knitting colour work.

How does it work?
Basically, you cast on so you have both colours, alternating (so in my example here, green, silver, green, silver, green, silver). For each pair of stitches, you knit one and purl one, knitting the colour you want on the side currently facing you, and purling the other one.

So, when I was working on a side with the green background and silver figure, I was knitting the green ones for the background stitches, and the silver ones for the snake stitches, and purling the others. When I finished the row (so it was now a silver background with the green snake) it was the other way around.

It sounds complicated, but if you've knit from patterns for dishcloth designs, it's basically the same thing, only you're knitting twice as many stitches. I find it way easier to sort out what I'm doing than I do with knits and purls.

Why is it extra cool?
- You get a double weight fabric. Cozy!
- You get a reversable design. Nifty!
- It comes out in stockinette, but it won't roll. (I adore stockinette, but hate the rolling.)

What's not so fun?
- You are knitting twice as many stitches as the actual width of the piece. (This blanket is 44 squares across on the charts, but 88 stitches in each row)
- Some designs don't translate as well (in particular, I find single stitch diagonals problematic, and of course letters won't reverse correctly.)
- You will see some blips of the opposite side colour at the edges - there's some ways around this, but it depends how fiddly you want to be.

What else do you want to tell me about double knitting?
I sort of made up some things as I went along (along with help from YouTube and various blog posts). In particular, the cast on and bind off I'm using are not probably the best choice (though in my case, it doesn't matter, because of how I'm joining the blanket.)

Alasdair Post-Quinn's book Extreme Double-Knitting has some excellent advice and illustrations, and has some simpler projects, as well as some extremely complicated ones. (It is possible to do one design on the front and another on the back. I am mostly not that devoted, though the Private Message square that begins year 3 has letters on one side and not on the other, which is simpler to do.)

You do need to be comfortable knitting from a chart.

How do you set up your charts?
There's more on this in the Design post, but basically, once I have the chart set, I create a PDF and load it onto my iPad. I then use the PDF annotation tools to keep track of where I am on the pattern. (I use two different arrows, one in each yarn colour, to remind me which direction I'm working and leapfrog them up the chart as I do each row. By working off the iPad I can be watching something on my computer without having to rearrange windows to peer at the chart, but you could do that part in a computer window just as easily.)

Some of these designs have other bits in them. How'd you do that?
Yep. One side of the camping square, both sides of the snitch square, the Sorting Hat, and the Healer's symbol have extra work on them.I use this to make the colors come out right in situations where

Basically, this is just embroidering over the knit work with yarn and a yarn needle. You go in little Vs, to match the stitches. This is a duplicate stitch guide I found particularly helpful

Talk to me about mechanics?
First, at the end of each row, you probably want to do your last stitch with both yarns.This stops you having gaps between the two pieces of fabric (otherwise, they'll only interweave where you have a design). It does leave both colours showing through on the edge, so you know.

The cast on and cast off produce different kinds of edges: the cast on is puffy and 'soft', while the cast off is tighter. However, since everything's getting edged and covered in the joining anyway, this is not a huge problem for me. (I have since learned some other methods, but I'd rather have consistency than change now. If you're starting a new project, you might want to sort this out sooner.)

Casting on: there's a bunch of options. What I did is this:
1) Cast on all stitches in the darker yarn color (88, placing small stitch makers at 20:20:8:20:20: I found this easiest to count against my charts.)
2) Knit the first stitch in the darker color.
3) Purl (adding in the second yarn color) the second stitch.
4) Repeat across the row, ending with a purl in both colors.
5) Begin the first row of the chart, knitting the lighter color as the base, purling the darker color.

It took me some experimentation to sort my charts out to match: this method matches up to your chart (i.e. facing the same direction) if your base colour is the lighter one, and the pattern colour is the darker one. (Don't ask how long it took me to sort that out.)

Casting off:
I start on a light colour base row, knit the first stitch with the darker colour, slip two stitches to my working needle, knit them together, (all using the darker yarn colour), slip the first knit stitch over the second and off the needle and then continue with slipping two, knit together, slip the existing knit stitch over the one I just made.
evilawyer: young black-tailed prairie dog at SF Zoo (Default)

[personal profile] evilawyer 2014-02-11 07:06 am (UTC)(link)
I like that it's hefty!
pensnest: knitted sweater close up, caption: it's all in the details (Knitting details)

[personal profile] pensnest 2014-02-11 01:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I am feeling quite a bit inspired to produce a funky scarf with designs on both sides... hmm.