16 September 2015

Tubular Monochromatic Double Knitting

The title of this post is a mouthful!

One of the themes running through my knitting life this year has been double knitting. For those of you who are regular readers, this is no surprise. I enjoy the challenge of double knitting. I also enjoy the finished result. Knitting can often have obvious right and wrong sides; and I love that double knitting can be a way to make something that is beautiful from every direction.

Earlier this year I finally succeeded in purchasing a copy of the expanded 1994 Schoolhouse Press edition of Notes on Double Knitting by Beverly Royce. Most knitters think of double knitting as mirror-image positive-negative patterns in a thick fabric, such as the example below.

Beverly instead explored tubular double knitting. What is that? Tubular double knitting is using double knitting techniques to create tubes or pockets. "Regular" double knitting uses two yarns on each row. In fact, it is a great way to reproduce patterns that can be reduced to binary pixels. Tubular double knitting instead uses only one yarn. Each row is really a round. The "right side" row works half the stitches and the "wrong side" row works the other half the stitches. Two passes — one up and the other back — equal one round.

I had already explored some of this with a double-knit cabled scarf some years back. And I was aware of how this technique could be used to make stockinette tubes, such as glove fingers. But I had not understood the potential for making tubes with patterns until I read Beverly's book.

This year I happened to be in town for The Whole Nine Yarns' Christmas in July event. When I am in town for it, I try to contribute an original pattern. Since I was in the mood to play with a new-to-me technique, I came up with the Southern Hospitality Washcloth.

The center of the washcloth is a pocket that will hold soap. You can make the opening on the back large enough for a whole bar of soap, or small so as to use only those little scraps that are too large to throw out but too small to grasp in the shower.

Three different ways to bind off 1×1 ribbing.
I came up with three different ways to bind-off the border, which is 1×1 ribbing. In this case, I'm using ribbing as a reversible edging. If I bound off with a stretchy bind-off, it might ruffle. Oddly enough, a tight bind-off is needed. For a beautiful, couture bind-off, cut the yarn leaving about 4 yards and Kitchener graft the ribbing edge (example at top). For an easy bind-off, use a very small needle and bind off in pattern as tightly as you can (example at bottom).

Another way to bind-off is to work a Japanese (flat) three-needle bind-off (example at middle).

This is usually done over stitches on separate needles, but in this project, I already had all the stitches on one needle. Here is video of how to work what is essentially a three-needle bind-off but without dividing stitches on to two needles.

This works on 1×1 ribbing and would also work on double knitting. For those of you who like it written out:
  • slip one knitwise with yarn in back
  • slip one purlwise with yarn in front
  • reverse yarn over
  • pull through all three loops on the hook.
(The first time you do this, you will pull through only two loops on the hook, because you won't have the previously bound-off pair at the start.)

The pattern given out at Christmas in July was abbreviated. The version I've posted on Ravelry has more photographs as well as more options and more written-out instructions. At the moment, I've listed it as a free download. I will probably change it to a paid download, but I wanted people who were at Christmas in July to have a chance to get the pattern first. I've also put this on the schedule as a class on Saturday 10 October. I don't think the pattern is all that difficult, but if you've never done any double knitting and would like some supervision, the class will help.

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