Monday, October 17, 2011

Ribbing in double knitting, part 1

For some time now, my stats tracker has been telling me that a significant percentage of viewers coming to this blog via a search have been doing so because they're trying to find out how to do ribbing in double knitting (or at least it seems that way from their search keywords). The searches direct them to the entry where I talked about how double knitting works, which I think is a very helpful entry if what you want to know is, well, how double knitting works. :) However, it's not so helpful if what you really want to know is how to incorporate purl stitches into your double knitting, as you obviously would if you wanted to rib in double knitting.

This is why, for a while now, I've been planning to do a tutorial on double knitted ribbing.

So...here it is. :)

I know how to do double knitted ribbing because I had to figure it out myself for a pair of mittens I knitted my BIL one Christmas. It was accomplished through trial and error. Hopefully I can save you that annoyance. :)

First of all, I think a brief recap of regular double knitting is in order. If you're completely new to the concept, it'd be better to first read the blog entry I linked to above. But if you're already familiar with it, there's some key information to remember about typical double knitting before we move on to ribbed double knitting. And by "typical double knitting", I mean when both sides of the work look like stocking stitch, and the images are reversible (i.e. if on one side you have a black heart on a white background, the other side will have a white heart on a black background). And this happens because:

  • you use two strands of contrasting colours
  • you work with twice the normal amount of stitches - so, for example, if you need your piece to be 30 stitches in width on each side, you will have to have 60 stitches on the needles to do it
  • therefore, for each square in a double knitting chart, you work TWO stitches: K1, P1; whatever strand you use for the knit, you use the OTHER strand for the purl; and BOTH strands are at the back of the work for the knit, and BOTH strands are at the front of the work for the purl

If, however, you want ribbing in double knitting, you don't want it to be all knitting on one side and all knitting on the other - you actually want to have purl stitches be visible on part of the work. You will still, however, need twice the number of stitches, and the piece will still be reversible.

The question is, reversible how? You actually have a number of options here:

  • Do you want each side to be all one colour?
    AND
  • Do you want knits on one side also being knits on the other side (and purls on one side therefore being purls on the other side), or do you want knits on one side being purls on the other side (and purls on one side therefore being knits on the other side)?

With that second question, you're probably thinking either, "Huh?" or "Who cares, does it even make any difference?"

So here's what I mean, explained visually. You know how, with regular knitting, if you take your ribbing off the needles and look at it from the top of the work, it's shaped like this:

dk-fig1

Well, with double knitted ribbing, you're going to have two layers of the ribbing. So the question is, do you want them to lie together like this:

dk-fig2
(where the knits on one side look like knits on the other side and the purls on one side look like purls on the other side)

Or like this:

dk-fig3
(where the knits on one side look like purls on the other side and the purls on one side look like knits on the other side)

While both ways certainly accomplish the effect of having ribbing on each side, it actually does make a difference to the work as a whole which way you choose. In the first example, the two layers of knitting are ribbing independently of each other in opposite directions; whereas in the second example, both layers are ribbing in the same direction together, and that gives a unity to the whole piece.

Real life visual examples:

two layers ribbing in opposite directions:
dk-fig5

two layers ribbing together in the same direction:
dk-fig4

My personal preference is for the second example, but I'm going to cover how to do it both ways.

As for the colour question, by that I mean, do you want one side to be all one colour and the other side to be all the other colour, or do you want corrugated ribbing, which is when your knits are a different colour from your purls. Here's a visual example of one of my projects which has corrugated ribbing:

Completed, 'in action'

See that striped bit at the bottom of the hat? That's corrugated ribbing: the knit stitches are blue/pink, and the purl stitches are cream. You can absolutely get that look in double knitted rib, if that's what you want for your project.

So we have four ways I'm going to show you how to do double knitted ribbing:

  1. One colour on each side, with the two layers ribbing in opposite directions from each other
  2. One colour on each side, with the two layers ribbing in the same direction together
  3. Corrugated ribbing, with the two layers ribbing in opposite directions from each other
  4. Corrugated ribbing, with the two layers ribbing in the same direction together

Stay tuned for the "how"!

Update: Go to part 2

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today's (10/8/04) issue of Knitting Daily describes something called a Twig Stitch which looks very much like your 2 color double knit. The only difference I can see is how the stitches are tensioned. Are you the author of the book "Twig Stitch" or is someone else claiming they invented something you published on your blog. leahoconnor@sbcglobal.net

Mary said...

Hi. Would you say that the elasticity of the ribbing is the same as single knitting or is it stiffer? I have started a hat with your part 2 technique (you are a genius!!) but the hat feels big. The first 3 rows of pattern is stocking stitch, and with the double knitting it keeps it's shape. In your opinion will the DBL knitting rib help pull in the shape? (I an using a regular pattern that in converting to DBL knitting. Thank you for your blog!!)

Mary said...

Hi. Would you say that the elasticity of the ribbing is the same as single knitting or is it stiffer? I have started a hat with your part 2 technique (you are a genius!!) but the hat feels big. The first 3 rows of pattern is stocking stitch, and with the double knitting it keeps it's shape. In your opinion will the DBL knitting rib help pull in the shape? (I an using a regular pattern that in converting to DBL knitting. Thank you for your blog!!)