Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Change of heart mid-stream! January 19, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Topics,Pattern highlight — happystitches @ 15:12

Hugs and Kisses Scarf #486

Change of heart mid-stream!

I hope I never grow too set in my ways to try something new. I’ve been finishing off a partly knit Paintbox scarf, in between real projects (it’s a fun carry-around once the pattern is established). There are those times you just have to have something to keep the hands busy, and this certainly does it. It’s double-knit (two-layer) knitting: one hand is purling stitches, the other knitting them, and periodically they switch functions. The conventional direction of yarn rotation around the needle involved in the left-hand purl is particularly tricky for normally right-hand yarn operators. I struggled with it intermittently for years, and it was not until I became addicted to DK that I mastered it. Sometimes you have to have a pressing need to act as a goad.

Paintbox Scarf #493

I have, especially when starting new knitters on this particular form of brain/hand coordination/stimulation/torture (delete as appropriate), suggested that the left hand could perfectly well, and more easily, make the purl stitch by rotating the yarn in the opposite direction. The main visible* effect of this is to have the resulting stitch mounted on the needle the opposite way to the norm. All that is required of the knitter is to recognize and handle appropriately these odd stitches on the following row, and to carefully consider their stitch manipulation when decreasing.

I’ve done small amounts of this to prove the point, but have been comfortable and satisfied with the results of regular purling and didn’t bother with it a great deal myself. Halfway through this scarf, however, (I the one who always counsels against mid-project change), I decided to switch to making all my purls alternatively regardless of which hand was purling. I’m rather pleased with the results: I believe the fabric is more even and it’s pleasing to work. Interestingly, my neatest and less neat edges seem to have switched sides too!

One has to be alert to stitch mount particularly at the top of each colour block,  but it’s quite manageable. Try both; take your pick. No method is perfect, each will have both benefits and shortcomings. Don’t be too hard on yourself: remember that washing and blocking will cure a multitude of wobbly stitches.

Regular direction purl (slight gullies visible)

With alternative rotation purl

With alternative rotation purl

Another point of DK interest is: in which hand to keep which yarn?… maybe we’ll get into that next time!

I’m still feverishly working on the new website, photograph replacements, skiing when possible, knitting new things, writing patterns and workshops and I’ve a quilt that just needs a bit of stitching….and so to bed! Sweet dreams.

*Other effects are the tendency for the rotation to unply a conventional S plied yarn slightly and to make your purls a better match with your knits. More on these another day.


7 Responses to “Change of heart mid-stream!”

  1. Tammy Says:

    Very cool!! We had one guild talk years ago about double knitting. I would like to try it some time. Maybe later this year.

  2. Lucy Neatby Says:

    It’s a limitless field with huge possibilities. If you are ever feeling jaded with single knit give this a whirl.

  3. Pam Everitt Says:

    I’m so glad you have said this, as it’s the only way I can manage to purl left-handed and have successfully knitted a double-knit scarf for my other half for the Christmas just gone. Somehow you agreeing to it makes it more acceptable for me! I don’t think recognizing and dealing appropriately with alternately mounted stitches on the next row is a problem at all. When double knitting I purl alternatively with my right hand too in the name of consistency, although this is not my usual method otherwise.

  4. dorothy Says:

    I have tried and tried to left hand knit or continental and I can manage the plain stitch but I can’t keep my tension on the yarn. In absolute frustration I went back to your video on double knitting and decided I can knit much faster and keep very even tension one yarn at a time on DP needles as you described.

    So yesterday I had a play with some scraps and worked out I can knit your paintbox scarf with this method. The only downside is remembering which colour I just knit with. I ended up tying a slip knot as I finished each row. I have had this pattern since release and have been trying to knit it since then with a variety of yarns to no avail.

    I have some lace weight yarn that has been sitting their crying out for this kind of scarf, beautiful long colours, but without the bulk of thicker yarns. We just don’t get that cold in my part of Australia, but I much prefer the neatness of double knitting to fairisle on scarves.

    • Lucy Neatby Says:

      This is exactly what I have been doing for this scarf, all purls alternative!
      Makes spotting the oddly mounted stitches more regular.
      Well done for giving yourself permission to do this.

    • Lucy Neatby Says:

      One yarn at a time will do the job and I admire your perseverance. Sometime, build yourself a practice swatch with alternating vertical columns of colour. Do a row or two a night with both hands. One night, eventually you’ll find it’s clicked, the DK becomes not just interesting but joyous.
      All the best.

  5. I am awed and will link to this from my blog (http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com)

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