Adventures in Double-Knitting – Vernetzt

Another Shawl-in-a-Ball project – this time, I’m moving away from the brioche style knitting and taking another run at double-knitting.  I’ve only knit a few double-knit projects, so am not very experienced (and that’s why it’s classified as “new techniques”).  This scarf looks like a fun way to use the Restful Rainbow color.  The long color repeats will set off the pattern nicely.

The project is Vernetzt, or “Networked,” available as a free download on Musterbunker (Pattern Bunker), a German knitting blog.  The author has several very nicely-rendered double-knitting projects.  Patterns in both German and English.

It took me a bit to refresh my memory on double-knitting.  If you have never tried this technique, I recommend you use simpler and more clearly-stated patterns to get started.  This pattern is not at all difficult, once you get the hang of it – just requires some experience with double-knitting, and the written directions assume a certain level of experience (casting on, knit-purl rhythm of double-knitting, etc.)

Modifications – rather than 4 repeats of the base pattern, I used 3 – the scarf as modeled is wider than I prefer.  I used my go-to black yarn Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn for the black contrast.

As usual for new styles of projects, I knit-and-ripped and knit-and-ripped until I was satisfied with the direction the project was going.  The machine-wound yarn ball and band did not survive that treatment, so I re-rolled the yarn into a ball.   You can’t see the colors except for the color you are knitting.  Fun for those who like surprises.

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Diagonal Herringbone Scarf

I wanted an easy project, with an easy-to-memorize pattern, that I could pick up and set down without fear of losing my place, and which would be transportable.

While I didn’t find quite what I was looking for in my usual places (my digital library, Ravelry, Pinterest), I did find some things that seemed close.

Meanwhile, I had time for a visit to my favorite LYS, River Knits, where I enjoy spending time between meetings when I am in downtown Lafayette (Indiana).  I picked up two balls of Berroco Millefiori, in color 7891 “Terra.”  This is a nice variegated yarn in a bulky (#4) size.  The color patterns looked nice, but would not show up well in a fussy pattern (lacy or otherwise).  I found a herringbone stitch that I liked, but thought that it would look too plain for the nice yarn.  I decided to make it a diagonal herringbone, and it turned out just like I wanted.

Pattern is easy:  Cast on 35 stitches (or any odd number).

  • Row 1 – Knit through front and back of first two stitches (increase 2), *Slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch and knit slipped stitch.  Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 2 together (decrease 2).
  • Row 2 – Purl 2, Knit 1, *Purl 2 together, then purl through 2nd stitch before dropping off needle.  Repeat from * to end.
  • Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you have just enough yarn left to bind off.  I used two skeins of the Millefiori, which was perfect for this project.

I think the herringbone stitch and diagonal format worked well with this yarn, and I really enjoyed this project. The resulting fabric is soft but sturdy and will make a nice warm gift.

Latest Brioche Adventure: Champagne Bubbles Brioche Lace Scarf

Champagne Bubbles is another pattern from Nancy Marchant, this time published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2014 (available as a digital purchase).

I’ve looked at brioche patterns by other designers, but Nancy Marchant’s pattern format is the easiest to read.  I’ve noted in earlier posts that it seems to take me a while to get the hang of a particular brioche pattern – though it shouldn’t, since for every four knitted rows, there is only one “pattern” row – the rest all are knitted (or purled) in a standard manner.  Other patterns I’ve read have detailed every row as a “row,” rather than 2-sets-of-2 or a set of 4, which (IMHO) makes them far more difficult to read.

In the case of Nancy Marchant’s patterns (at least as far as I’ve knit them), once I get the hang of the major pattern, I can easily memorize the format and knit more quickly and confidently.

That is, “once I get the hang of it.”  As usual, it took me no fewer than 6 attempts to “get the hang” of this pattern.

This is my first attempt (and a rare version of Nancy’s patterns) to incorporate lace.  It took a while to be able to “read” the double-yarn-overs on the 2-of-4 row and knit (or purl, or slip) properly.

Even though Nancy Marchant’s brioche patterns take time to read, understand, and properly execute, they make beautiful projects, and the unique light and fluffy fabric is wonderfully inviting to the touch.

Yarn:  I’m still enjoying my “Shawl in a Ball” binge, this time with color Peaceful Earth.  I’m augmenting the pattern with a second color from Knit Picks Palette in color Camel Heather.

One twist:  I purchased the downloaded pattern via the Vogue Knitting App, and haven’t been inclined to try to figure out how to print out the pattern onto paper, so I’m only using a digital version.  Since the pattern (now that I’ve started over several times) is fairly easy, I’m OK with not having a paper pattern.

Now, if I could just find time to do more than one round of four at a time!

 

Completed Project: Hidden Hearts Socks

This project dates back to August (see post), and was a “learning” project as much as a sock project.

Things learned:

Turkish Cast-on with one Circular Needle – my new favorite toe-up sock cast-on method.

Knitting on Circular Needles (instead of DPNs) – Also my new favorite technique.  While the cable for the circular needle sometimes gets in the way, this technique is much safer and more stable for me than trying to manage DPNs.

Project Progress by the Gram – as a toe-up sock, with a yarn that was enough for two socks in one skein (Berroco Comfort Sock Yarn), it was an interesting experiment to knit “half the yarn” and then start the next sock.

That mostly worked – I ran out of yarn right at the ribbing of the second sock and had to find something that would coordinate and complete the project.  I considered unraveling half of the ribbing for the first sock, but discarded that idea as being unnecessarily complicated.  As it happens, I kind of like the result – the scrap yarn I used coordinated perfectly, and almost seems intentional.

There was a lot of yarn.  This is a knee sock!

Something else that worked out unexpectedly – the yarn pattern matched up perfectly in the sock.  That made my day.

All in all – a thoroughly enjoyable (if slow to completion) project, and I learned several new techniques that will have a permanent place in my knitting repertoire.

Detail of sock pattern
Sock with “alternate” band. Second sock is laid out, below

 

Icicle

I’ve enjoyed learning the Brioche style of knitting, though it seems to take a LOT longer than traditional knitting to get the same amount of fabric.  Only “seems” because you are actually using twice the yarn, and it’s making a much loftier fabric than with conventional knitting.

Meet Icicle, by Nancy Marchant, from the book, “Knitting Fresh Brioche.”  Once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it.  It’s not exactly “mindless knitting” – you need to pay attention to what you are doing, but it is enjoyable knitting.

Practice is really the key to this style of knitting.  It has a rhythm and pace that is completely different from conventional knitting.

Yarn is important – almost in the double-knitting sense.  In fact, Brioche is a sort of double-knitting, in that you are knitting four passes (two right-side, two wrong-side) for each completed “row.”   A bulky yarn will make a bulky fabric and be harder to knit.

I used KnitPicks Stroll Fingering in colors Black and Dove Heather.  This is a sock-weight yarn that worked well enough, but might have been slightly too fuzzy for the project (and it’s not a “fuzzy” yarn).

Even after I felt comfortable with the style (and had memorized the 20-row pattern), I still managed to get off on the stitch count with frustrating regularity.  I could usually find and fix my error within the row, but I kept getting off on the last stitches of the first row in the four-row set.  I expect it was due to inattention, but sometimes, I could not “see” where the extra stitch was added (or removed).  

I take back my previous recommendation about using a size larger needle.  That was inexperience talking, and by the time I got half-way through the yarn, I wished I had used a small needle.  I think it would have made a neater finished project.

Using two skeins of each color (or 100 grams of each color, or 460 yards of each color), the final project was 10″ x 80″ – a nice length for a generous scarf.

I have a recipient in mind for this scarf – it suits his sense of style and coloring.  Since I’m still a novice at this – and the project has some flaws – I’m hesitant about giving it to him.  He’s a very stylish person, and this might be a bit too “home-spun” for him.  Maybe he’ll start a trend.

New techniques – Brioche Knitting

I like the Brioche style of knitting and wanted to make another project using this method.  Pinterest and Ravelry had the usual selection of patterns, many of which came from Knitting Fresh Brioche, by Nancy Marchant (available from Amazon).  Someone knows how to improve rankings on social media and search engines, it seems (I’m not complaining – they are lovely patterns).

I did purchase the book – partly because I wanted to study the method, and partly because there were patterns I wanted to try.

So, swatching commenced.  It took a frustratingly long time for me to get the hang of the technique.  It’s not hard – really – but it takes a tilt in thinking from conventional knitting.  I started the swatch pictured below about 6 times before I get to the point you see – and then dropped some stitches (which is where I stopped).  I felt (finally) confident enough in the technique that I moved onto another project.

One thing to keep in mind about this technique is that there are four rows for every round – one for each color back and forth.  You are knitting with Main Color then Contrast Color in succession.

Lessons learned (and learning).

  1.  Don’t use the Italian Cast-on (I’m not even going to link to it) as recommended by all the instructions (written and video) that I reviewed.  That was about 3/4 of my problem – that is too loose and unstructured for the technique (in my opinion).
  2. Use a version of double-knitting cast on.  I looped both colors of yarn together and did a long-tail cast on, but twisted the colors at each stich, so the effect was alternating colors in the cast-on, and the cast-on row had plenty of give to match the project.
  3. Set markers and pay attention to stitch count.  For some reason, it is very easy to add or subtract stitches in a row without noticing.  Markers are helpful to maintain your place.
  4. Use a lifeline.  I say this guardedly – with this style of knitting, a lifeline is very helpful.  If you drop a stitch, it is very difficult to recover.  However, even with a lifeline, it’s challenging to keep the stitches in line.
  5. Consider using a needle size larger than the yarn calls for.  I haven’t completely confirmed this suggestion, but it does make knitting a bit easier with more “room” in the stitch.
  6. Practice.  While not difficult – and there’s really only the first pattern row of each four-row set that requires close attention – I really had to practice to get my hands used to the pattern and flow of the project.

Sample below.  I’ve moved onto a project from the book, which I’ll post shortly as I get some length to share.

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Brioche Cable Cowl Completed

Finally completed!  It took no fewer than four complete “do-overs” to get onto this pattern, but once it clicked, I completed it without too much difficulty.

Things to learn –

  1.  Needle size matters – use a larger needle size than recommended – you really want a loose knit on this project, both because of the type of project (a cowl needs a lot of give) and because of the double-knitting-like feel of the project.  While you are only ever knitting with one color per row,  the style is double-sided.
  2. Pay attention to stich count and transition between rows.  Because you ar changing colors at each round, the transition needs to be smooth so it doesn’t look messy.
  3. This pattern could have been written more clearly.  Instead of referring to the sample colors, the author would have made it easier to read by referring to MC (main color) and CC (contrast color).  I never did get that straight, and – until I finally caught onto the pattern – it was confusing.
  4. Start with something simple.  While I did swatches in the brioche knitting to figure out the technique, a two-color, in the round project was maybe not the best project to start with.

I am pleased with the result, however.  The Caron Simply Soft yarn is very soft, and the project is lofty and generous.

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