Friday, May 04, 2007

More about Jacquard Interlocking Double Knitting

So now you’ve cast on--What’s next?
Jacquard or Interlocking Double knitting is the Ur of double knitting.
It is a process of knitting a fabric that has 2 ‘right’ (stocking knit sides) often with patterns that are positive/negative in nature.
One side is predominately color A, the other side is predominantly color B. Either, (A or B) can be solid, tweed, ombre, color way or conventional stripes!
The designs can be similar to fair isle, or can be similar to intarsia, but the double knitting process is easier than either! There are no float, not ends to weave in (except cast on and bind off tails) no tricky maneuvers to interlock the colors. The process uses each yarn evenly (that is there are an equal number of stitches in color A and B)--which minimizes tension problems.

In fact, you might find you are knitting looser (rather than tighter) and find it best to go down a needle size to have the desire tension/fabric.
Charting and patterns reading can be harder, because patterns are worked on both sides (and sometimes 2 different directions).
Simple, geometric and regular patterns are best in the beginning. The symmetry of these designs make them easier. As you become comfortable, you can move out and on to more complex patterns.

Jacquard double knitting interlocks the two layers of knitting together, while, at the same time, forming a two tone jacquard/or fair isle type design.
It results in a single ‘fabric’ --not a two sided tube. That is, the 2 sides of the knitting are, if not completely, at least frequently, interlocked and can’t be pulled apart.
The two interlocked layer of fabric, make it durable and warm. The interlocking design resist 'run's when fabric is worn through--an asset for mittens or other gear that might be get worn out in active outdoor sports or work.
Because of its warm and durability, its is excellent for socks and mittens and other outwear. With hats and scarves, the two-sided design makes them 100% reversible. For the same reason, it is excellent for afghans--and potholders!
Getting started.
When double knitting, you will use 2 times the amount of yarn used in single knitting --and you need to cast on 2 times the number of stitches--always cast on an even number of stitches.

If a pattern for a scarf calls for 30 stitches, and you want to turn the scarf into a double knit design, you’ll need 60 stitches.
Potholders, (my favorite double knitting project) are often about the same size as wash clothes--so instead of 30 to 40 stitches, each potholder needs 60 to 80 stitches.
30 (60)stitches by 36 rows of knitting makes a small (7 inch apx) potholder.
40 (80) stitches by 44 rows of knitting makes a large (9.5 inch apx.) potholder.
When working Jacquard double knitting, both yarns move together (as one) but only one yarn is used to work a stitch. For this reason, I think it is easier to hold both yarns in one hand. (but then, I feel the same when ever using 2 strand of yarn!)

If you are comfortable using 1 strand in each hand, I suspect you’ll be able do to double knitting the same way. (I can’t!)

The basic method of 2 color double knitting is:
Hold (or MOVE) both yarn together.
Knit first stitch with Yarn (color) A
*Move both yarns to front , (as to purl)
Purl next stitch with Yarn (color) B
Move both yarn to back (as to knit)
Knit next stitch with Yarn (color) A

Repeat from * for remainder of row. (end with a Purl stitch)
NOTE: this is simple 2 color double knitting and is not interlocking Jacquard double knitting.

For the purposes of this tutorial, the Light or white side of the knitting will always be referred to as “the right side”.
To Interlock and make designs, you work stitches on the Light side of the work with the dark yarn, and the corresponding stitches on the wrong side with the light yarn.
This will interlock and created designs.

Here is one of my favorite ‘stitch designs’ --it’s a small checkerboard type pattern, with the name of “Birds eye”. It completely interlocks the right (or front) with the wrong (or back)
It is difficult to see this pattern as you knit, BUT it is very easy to ‘check your work’ on the needle as you go.
On the needle, you’ll have a single stitch of at each end, and the center stitches will be pairs of stitches in the same color.

Birds eye Double knit pattern
R1: Knit the first stitch on the row with the opposite color.
(if the first stitch is a light one, knit it with the dark yarn, if it is dark, knit with the light yarn)
Purl 1, and K1 with opposite color yarn,
P1, K1 with first yarn
So lets presume you are starting the row with a light colored stitch on needle.
K1 (dark) * P1, K1 (light) P1, K1 (light) End with P1.
This pattern is very easy to see on the needle--double check by counting off by 2’s to make sure you have pairs of stitches in each color, with a single stitch at each end.
Row 2: Knit or Purl with opposite color of yarn.
If the first stitch is a light one, knit it with the dark yarn, if it is dark, knit with the light yarn--continue is basically same pattern as row 1, being sure to work light stitches with dark yarn, and dark stitches with light yarn.
(use the tails of the yarn to help see the difference between the two rows)

After 7 rows, it looks like this:
A simple “pattern” of stripes, interspersed with rows of birds eye pattern make an interesting design.
These potholders, --the black and white one is 5 years old are faded and stained-- but still server to illustrate some simple patterns made from stripes, and Birds eye patterns.
Gingham is an other pattern that makes use of the birds eye stitch, combined not with stripes but with blocks of stitches
This gingham pattern is not that hard. Cast on 72, use marker to divide into 6 groups of 12 stitches. Work alternate blocks in simple (non interlocking) 2 color double knitting, followed by blocks of Birds eye pattern. After 8 rows, the pattern changes
You create a gingham like design by following the first 8 rows with 8 rows of an alternating pattern of blocks--first birds eye pattern, then blocks of simple 2 color double knitting,--Note the color of the simple double knitting is reversed.

Need more information to understand?
Here are some General directions:
In these directions, I will refer to each yarn as dark or light (or black/white)--Beginners will find it easier to learn if they:
Use only solids colors yarns, and avoid ombres or other color ways--at least for the first few potholders.
Use colors with high contrast
Use pattern with only KNIT STITCHES
Use simple geometric patterns (not florals/stars/ intarsia like designs.)

All of these ‘patterns’ define what you see on right side—(since pattern is on both sides, right side is always “light/white‘ side (dark/black side is always wrong side.)
The Actual knitting
If you have followed the basic direction for casting on, and started with your first cast on stitch as a light color, the last stitch cast on will be dark.
Turn the work to begin to Double Knit.
And Remember when double knitting:
1-- always hold and move both yarn together
(both yarn move forward for a purl stitch, both yarn move back for a knit stitch.)
2--while both yarns move, only one yarn is use to make a stitch.
3-- the work has the feel of “1 X 1 ribbing” --K1, P1..
4--It is very difficult to ‘see’ the pattern on the needles.
Have a crochet hook handy to be ready to undo and ‘repair’ mistakes.

The gauge created in double knitting is completely independent of a plain stocking knit gauge with the same yarn and needles. So if you are planning a project, you must make a swatch. For Potholders, I don’t bother. The size of finished potholder will be 8 to 11 inches (approximately square) no matter what your gauge. The first design does not require a specific gauge to look good.
However, Interlocking jacquard double knitting is similar in feel to ribbing, and as a GENERAL RULE, you’ll find the work looks better worked on smaller needles.
Instead of the size 7 or 8 (US) (4.5/5mm) needle you might use, a size 5 or 6 (US)( 3.75/4.25 mm) might be better. If you know you knit tight or loose, take this into account when selecting needle sizes.
Cotton potholders will shrink and ‘tighten up‘ if washed in hot water, and machine dried.
Most patterns count on that, and the directions call for tall rectangles to be knit. After machine washing and drying, they are closer to a square shape, since cotton tends to stretch width wise, and shrink length wise with washing.
(I love cotton, and after years of double knitting, find I am fine knitting with the recommended size needles.

The patterns for the potholders are in "Worsted weight cotton"--Lion's "Kitchen Cotton", or Lily's "Sugar and Cream" or "Peach's and Cream", Bernat's Handcrafters cotton are some brands that I have used. I am sure there are many other brands as well. I have use different brands of cotton interchangeable, and they have worked together fine.
But don’t feel you have to limit yourself to cotton, you can make potholders of wool and either full or felt them.
Synthetics or blends are not recommended, since many of them are not heatproof and can melt when in contact with hot pots.

Next-- some instructions for the potholders and stitch patterns.


Anonymous said...

Thank You for this post. I have been trying to get some help with doing double knitting ever since I saw a woman doing it on tv 2 years ago. Half of the people don't know what I'm talking about, and the other half don't know how to do it. I am (with the help of your post) going to try it again. Thanks!

KRT said...

Damn, you're good.

Thank you so much for this!

Nan said...

When you cast on double the stitches, it's because you are casting on two threads 60 would be 30 each, correct?

Lovely post. I'm intrigued. Thank you!

Rachel said...

My two sides aren't interlocking, any idea what I might be doing incorrectly?