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Double Thick, Double Good

With Alisdair's class firmly under the knitting belt, it was time to branch off. During class, Alisdair briefly mentioned how to double knit in the round. This of course, is my goal in learning the technique. There'll be lots of two-layer reversable hats for the Subway Knitter clan this winter.

So, one morning last week I decided to give it a go.


For this swatch I knit one row of tan and then one row of purple. I tried (really, really, really tried) to knit with both hands--Continental in my left and English in my right--for about five stitches.

Man! How do you English knitters do it with just two hands? Don't you need a wrapping assistant? (Imagine: Wrap! Wrap! Wrap!) Nope, give me my good, efficient Continental picking.

Next question: a nice sport-weight cashmere. Who's making it?


On Sunday I escaped the waning humidity by heading to Circles, where Alasdair was teaching the Double Knitting class.

I took this class before--in early May--but I didn't blog about it. Why? The technique didn't click with me. I left that class unsure if I could apply any new skills to my knitting.

For those of you who don't know, double knitting is a technique of knitting two separate layers of fabric at the same time. By doing some fancy (but not difficult) switching of yarns and stitches it's easy to create mirror-image color patterns in your knitting.

The trick is mastering the technique with both your needles and your brain. I had a very difficult time during the first class envisioning how everything works together to create two distinct layers.

Once you get your brain wrapped around that idea, then it's rather easy to envision how double knitting works. That was my problem in the first class. Well, that, and everything else. I could not blame Alasdair. He had a whole bunch of confused knitters struggling through the reverse long-tail cast on, the edge stitching, and the color switching, and he responded brilliantly Maybe there were a few too many knitters for that first class to be anything but a wee chaotic. Still, Alasdair kept his cool.

It must be frustrating to explain (for the Nth time) how the two-row concept works and to have that explaination returned with a blank stare. During the first class, in May, he lead almost a dozen of us through the mysteries of the reverse long-tail cast on, and the idea that one full row of double knitting actually requires two. Looking back there may have been a few too many participants in that first class.

This second class was much smoother. In general it was smoother because there were only four of us. For me it was smoother because I already had the basic idea; I just needed to fill in some blanks.

Alasdair is a genius at double knitting--believe me. Among the projects he showed us was a hat which he triple knit (two layers, three colors). Don't ask me how he did it.

After a false start with my cast-on row, I was ready. This time, Alasdair had a three-page handout he used to help us increase our confidence and reinforce what he was saying. Using the handout as a guide we worked portions of two-color Fair Isle charts. This was a great way to learn the technique and see your results quickly.

Not too bad, eh:


You can see the beginnings of the flower chart growing in my swatch. The eagle-eyed among you might notice my one mistake on the left-hand side. Besides that stitch, the swatch was time consuming but a nice knitting challenge for a humid summer Sunday.

The goal is to be able to knit something like this by the holidays.

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