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Double the Fun

The 2014 Winter Games have come and gone, and once again I participated in the Ravellenic Games on Ravelry. I’ve joined in during previous Olympics, but never finished the projects I chose to work on. This time I decided to focus on learning a new knitting technique – double-knitting. I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time, but just never made the time to do so. I chose two simple patterns, and made two pot holders/trivets out of two colours of worsted-weight cotton yarn.

DK Pot Holders

Double-knitting is a type of colourwork in which both sides of the finished product are right sides, and the two colours are reversed on each side. When knitting, you work in pairs of stitches, and knit with one colour for the side facing you, and purl with the other for the side facing away.

The first pattern I chose was TPHPE, by Heather Zoppetti. It’s a pretty snowflake design. I used some cotton yarn that had been in my stash for a few years.

Snowflake pot holder side 1

Snowflake pot holder side 2

Before starting, I watched some videos on youtube to learn how to work in double-knitting. I found a couple of good ones by Alasdair Post-Quinn, author of the book Extreme Double-Knitting, that he made to go with an article in the Winter 2009 issue of Twist Collective. One is for casting on for double-knitting, and another is for double-knitting. The cast on method is a variation of the long tail cast on that alternates between the two colours of yarn. I started by making a slip knot holding both yarns together, but I didn’t put the slip knot on the needle. Instead, I held it below and next to the needle while casting on the stitches. Once the stitches were cast on I undid the slip knot, so that it was not a part of the cast on edge. Another thing of note was this: although I normally do a long-tail cast on over two needles held together, for this technique I did it over a single needle. This helped the cast on edge remain tidy once the knitting started.

cast on edge

Working in double-knitting was a bit challenging because I knit in the English style (holding the yarns in my right hand), and most of the videos I watched showed knitters working in the Continental style (holding the yarns in the left hand). I found that wrangling the two yarns was tricky. I really found myself wishing that I owned a yarn stranding guide for my right index finger, to keep the two yarns where I wanted them.

Snowflake--progress-c_04

The edges of a double-knit project require a bit of special care in order to keep the two sides firmly together. In this pattern, that was accomplished by starting each row by slipping the first two stitches together knit-wise, and ending the row by purling the last two stitches together. This gave a very nice braided appearance to the side edges. The only downside to this technique was that the sides tended to be pulled a bit shorter than the body of the pot holder. That was mostly fixed by stretching the side edges during blocking .

side edge

To bind off I used a regular knitted bind off, working in the same manner as the double-knitting: knit a stitch with the front-facing colour, bring yarn to front and purl a stitch with the back-facing colour, then pass the first stitch on the right-hand needle over the second stitch (one stitch remains on needle). Bring yarn to back and knit the next stitch, then pass the first stitch over it. This was repeated until one stitch remained on the right-hand needle. Then both yarns are pulled through the loop of the last stitch to finish it off.

bind off edge

I finished this pot holder in a week, so with time remaining in the Olympic schedule I started a second one. The pattern I chose next was Coffee and Tea DK Pot Holders, by Elizabeth Evans.

Coffee Cup pot holder side 1

Coffee Cup pot holder side 2

I used the same cast on and bind off that I used for the first pot holder. For the side edges of this one I didn’t do anything special other than being sure to bring the yarn of the first knit stitch under and around the other yarn so that they were twisted together the same way each time. The side edges have a different appearance because of this – still tidy but without the braided look.

side edge 1

side edge 2

This was a fun technique to learn. I made some mistakes along the way that required tinking back. It took a bit of practice to remember the direction in which to read the chart for each row of knitting, and which chart colour was background and which was foreground for each side. Reading the knitting took some practice, too, because of the dual nature of double-knitting. But after two pot holders I feel confident that I could tackle something bigger and more complex.

The details:

The Snowflake pattern is TPHPE, by Heather Zoppetti

The Coffee cup pattern is Coffee and Tea DK Pot Holders, by Elizabeth Evans

The blue yarn is S.R. Kertzer CoolSpun Cotton Solid in colour 9026 light blue (a worsted weight yarn that is no longer available)

The beige yarn is Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Solids in colour 00085 (a worsted weight yarn)

Amount used:

The snowflake pot holder used about 23 g of each colour of yarn. The finished pot holder weighs 46 g.

The coffee cup pot holder used about 27 g of each colour of yarn. The finished pot holder weighs 53 g.

needles used for both: 4 mm (US 6) straight needles

Crooked Rail Fence Quilts Completed

Completed. Finished. All done. What lovely words! These quilts, which were started long, long ago as a single quilt project in a class at a quilting retreat, are finally finished. My original plan was for a queen-sized quilt to cover the bed in the guest bedroom, but by the time I got back to the project we had long since redecorated that room and the quilt would no longer fit in. So I decided to split up the blocks and make two large nap quilts that will one day become gifts.

One of the quilts has more blue in it, so I chose a dark blue fabric for the back and binding. For the second one I used a dark forest green fabric for back and binding.

I quilted them both the same, using straight lines. First I quilted in the ditch between each row and column of blocks. That stabilized the quilt enough for me to remove all of the basting pins. Then I quilted two straight lines, one inch apart, down the centres of each row and column. I didn’t mark the lines on the quilt top. Instead, I used the edge quilting guide that came with my walking foot. I set the distance between the guide and the needle to the right measurement, then stitched the quilting line, making sure that the guide stayed in the previous line of quilting.

quilting first quilt

Here is a close-up of the quilting on the one with the blue fabric back. I used a variegated thread on the top. It’s a Signature thread, size 40, in colour M106. It blends quite nicely with the colours of the fabrics on the top without being distracting. On the back I used a colour to match the backing fabric.

quilting on blue quilt

This is the finished Crooked Rail Fence quilt with the blue fabric on the back:

Crooked Rail Fence blue finished

This is the finished quilt with the green fabric on the back:

Crooked Rail Fence green finished

Now that these are finished, I can move on to another work-in-progress!

I’ve written several other posts on the making of these quilts:

Crooked Rail Fence – making the blocks, and auditioning block layouts

Crooked Rail Fence, Take One – the first quilt top is together

Crooked Rail Fence, Take Two – the second quilt top is together

Putting It All Together – sewing the blocks together into a quilt top, step-by-step

Getting Unstuck – in which I try to get working on them again

Fall Flies Shawl – a brief mention of cleaning up the back side of the quilt top before layering

Pieced Back for the Sampler Quilt

I never seem to get much quilting done in the summer. Between working in the garden and not wanting to add more heat to the house by turning the iron on, quilting just ends up on the back burner.

I did finish piecing together the backing for my sampler quilt. I used up a bunch of the leftover fabrics from the blocks and cut them into strips of varying widths. I cut them to 13.5 inches long, and stitched them together in a somewhat random order. On either side I added a 3.5 inch (3 inches plus seam allowances) strip of the background/sashing fabric. And on either side of that I stitched on the backing fabric. I had 2 metres of this fabric, and I cut it in half lengthwise.

piecing the back 21

The width of the centre section was calculated based on the finished width of backing that I needed for the quilt. Because the quilt top is 65 inches by 50 inches in size, I wanted the backing to be 71 inches by 56 inches. The backing fabric was about 40 inches wide before the selvedge edges were removed. Cutting that in half lengthwise and removing the selvedges gave me two pieces of fabric that were 18 3/4 inches wide. Allowing for 1/4 inch seam allowances, that meant that the pieced centre panel needed to be cut to about 13 1/2 inches wide. Here’s a close-up of the centre part of the backing.

piecing the back 24

I’ve also cut 2 inch wide strips of the background/sashing fabric to use for binding and stitched them together so that they are all ready to use when needed.

This project is now ready to be layered and quilted, but that will wait for a while. I am currently working on getting the second of the two rail fence quilts ready for quilting.

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