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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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 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)
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