Double knitting: a.k.a. How I broke my brain.

One of the things I love about knitting as a hobby is that there are always more opportunities to learn things. Just when I think I’ve mastered my craft, I find some new technique that makes my brain hurt so much I have to put it down after a few rows and regroup.  Except, by the end of the project I’m usually swimming along (rather than sinking to the bottom of the pool in a heap) and feeling that rush of pride that comes from learning new skills.

A few weeks ago, while perusing my Twitter feeds, I saw a retweet from someone saying that Lucy Neatby was looking for test knitters. Ms. Neatby happens to be a very important person in the knitting world. (I do believe when telling a friend about this project I referred to her as Lucy effen Neatby – meant entirely in complimentary awe of her talent).  I shot off a quick email and next thing I knew I was signed up to test knit.

The pattern arrived a day or so later, and I had those first pangs of anxiety – you know that sort of stomach dropping moment where you think maybe you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?

The pattern was for a double knit baby bonnet. Our good old friend Wikipedia defines it thusly:

Double knitting is a form of knitting in which two fabrics are knit simultaneously with two yarns on one pair of needles.

Clear as mud?

The pattern called for a tubular cast-on, which was also something I hadn’t ever tried. I’m sure had I invested in the collection of Lucy Neatby technique videos, I’d be well versed in this method, but I went looking for a tutorial online and found one of my favorites, Eunny Jang, here:

Duly fortified with this knowledge I set about casting on and it worked beautifully.

Now I by no means consider myself an expert at the technique of double knitting, but here’s how I went about it.  I kept my chart close at hand.  Normally I don’t need to track the chart excessively with highlighter tape, but because each stitch on the chart was actually TWO stitches (both the inside and the outside color) and because sometimes these colors were switched (to create the patternwork) I tracked it VERY carefully.

The top panel of the hat is worked back and forth meaning each time I turned my work over, I had to reverse the “main color” and the “contrast color.” In color terms: on one side red was my dominant color, with the white snowflakes in contrast, and on the other side, white was my dominant color with the red snowflakes in contrast. I only did a few rows at a time through the top panel of the hat. Also, I knit with both colors of yarn in one hand, but I switched each row so that the dominant/main color of that row was the more tensioned yarn (with the contrast color just following along). If you knit continental, this may be easier for you.

The rest of the instructions in the pattern were clear and concise. It took me a little over a week, but I got through the pattern and save one (unfortunately very visible) mistake, I completed the project.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pip
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 11:40:38

    Well done! It looks great 🙂


  2. Lynda the Guppy
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 00:50:20

    Looks awesome! I’m going to be trying my first colorwork project in the next few weeks. *gulp*


  3. kippi
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 19:02:58

    It breaks my brain just looking at it. You are awesome for completing it. Can’t you easily take care of the mistake by stitching over it?


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