Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doubling Down

Warning, if you are not a knitting technique geek, you might as well skip this post. I'm still attempting to conquer two color double knitting.

I decided the most sensible thing to do would be to start with the first learning project in the book*. This is supposed to be a coaster or a hot pad, depending on gauge. My results actually fall somewhere between those two items in size, but that is the least of my concerns at this point.

Why do I keep thinking that, just because I grasp the concept perfectly well, my fingers will cooperate?

I worked the first third carrying two yarns at a time per the directions. The concept isn't that hard. With both yarns at the back, knit the first stitch in the color you want to show on the front side. Bring both yarns to the front and purl the next stitch in the other color. Repeat across.

It doesn't help that the borders are worked with only one color, meaning that you have to remember to twist the yarns - like intarsia - where the two-yarn center meets single-yarn edge. My yarns were twisting so thoroughly in the center section that you might expect this to happen automatically. You would be wrong.

After painfully working my way through the bottom section of the heart, I realized that it would be entirely possible to achieve the same results working with just one yarn at a time. First work color A slipping the stitches to be worked in B. Don't turn, just slide back so the stitches are in position to pick up color B and start knitting. (Fortunately I was working on a circular needle, so I could do this.) Then work color B, slipping the stitches that have just been worked in Color A. Then turn the work and proceed in the same fashion for the second row of the chart. Of course, this means making two passes to work one row. Oddly, it didn't seem any slower than fumbling with two yarns at a time. I did still keep forgetting to twist when I got to the border, but my tension was smoother. I think this approach has promise.

In either case, one has to remember that the "main color" and "contrast color" (or "pattern" and "background" colors) switch every time the work is turned. In my experience so far, sometimes one actually does remember this and sometimes one doesn't. Sometimes one reverses the colors part way through a row. Sometimes one is a little confused as to where in the chart one is.

I made a chart for a smaller piece, without the single color borders. I have an idea how to lock the layers together at the side edges that is a bit crude but should be effective enough. My jaw is set. My will is determined. Onward!

* the book is Double Knitting: Reversible Two-Color Designs by M'Lou Baber. Her garments are works of art.


Anonymous said...

"Sometimes one is confused." So true for all of us.

My library system doesn't have that book, but I requested this one:

junior_goddess said...

I bought the Meg S. Armenian Knitting book, which, while I haven't actually sit down and tried stomping thru it, seems similar.

I thought two color brioche rib was dull because it just seemed to be knitting forever, but is it better because you are working two sides??

YarnThrower said...

Okay, so this is something I've always wanted to try...but I know I'm going to have all of the same problems you had with knowing which part of the chart, which color, knit or purl, etc. It sounds quite tedious, but the finished product looks like it was produced by magic knitting of some kind!...well, except for all of the errors I'd have... Fun stuff!

magnusmog said...

yikes! That all sounds so complicated - I'm going to wait till I meet with Mary Jane Mucklestone who is teaching colour knitting at the UK Ravelry camp. I'll have a ton of questions for her!