Friday, September 8th, 2017 Posted in Fiber Arts Education, General News | No Comments »
Knit Tips: Demystifying the Double-Knit Headband
In my experimental teenage years, online knitting tricks and tutorials weren’t quite as readily available as they are these days. So when I wanted to try knitting a plain 1×1 rib with black purls and red knits, you can imagine my surprise when I eventually realized I was just knitting two pieces of fabric, back to back! Once I identified what this technique actually was, I declared myself an official expert on double-knitting and never tried it again… Until now!
Sad as it is, we are fast approaching the end of summer. It won’t be long before we’re searching for projects to keep us warm when the days start to get a little colder (or a lot colder, if you live here in Maine). A popular project here at the shop as we approach the holiday season is the Double knit headband. It requires minimal yardage; the pattern calls for sport weight yarn in two colors, about 120 yards each. Although it’s small, this pattern packs a bunch of techniques into such a little accessory. You have double-knitting, following a chart, a provisional cast on and even some grafting at the end. This is a great project for those looking for a challenge, or to hone your skills on some of these techniques.
First, you use a crochet hook and scrap yarn to make a provisional cast on. This is just a crocheted chain that you pick up stitches from. Be sure to pick those stitches up on the wrong side of the chain (the side that doesn’t look like a neat and tidy braid). I picked my stitches up wrong, so don’t feel bad if you do too. This provisional cast on makes it so that you can pick up and knit from both sides of the chain, which is how you begin making your two-sided fabric.
After knitting a few rounds of each color, you pick up stitches along the bottom using a second needle. This is when it helps to have picked up from the crocheted chain properly; once you’ve picked up all those stitches you should be able to simply unravel the chain, but I ended up having to undo the whole thing slowly by hand. Totally OK, but I’ll try to do it right next time! Anyhow, the photo above is after all stitches have been picked up. Both needles are held together and the fabric is folded with wrong sides facing each other. Then you knit those onto one needle, alternating between first a front stitch, then a back stitch. The dark blue you see is my MC (main color), and the pink variegated is my CC (contrasting color).
The thing to remember is that you’re not carrying anything along the back (or front) of your work. So when you go to knit a stitch, make sure both strands of yarn are at the back. When you’re about to purl, both strands need to be in front. Also, think of every two stitches as a pair. For every stitch of the front fabric you knit, you will then purl a stitch of the back. So in the photos above, the blue stitches are all front stitches and the pink ones belong to the back. This gets a little more complicated once you begin working the charts, of course.
Once you understand the two-sided fabric part, it’s really a very straightforward piece. Choose one of the designs from the pattern, make up your own, or create a solid colored headband. Our Halcyon Signature Hand-Dyed Victorian 2-Ply Yarn is a fun option, but you could also use Swans Island Organic Merino Ecowash Sport Yarn, Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool Yarn, or even Arroyo Yarn by Malabrigo.
To sum it up: Your yarn might get twisted, you may forget where you’re at in the chart and you might even have to backtrack once or twice – but that is really all part of the process, isn’t it? The end result is a cute, warm reversible headband that can be proudly donned by the whole family.
Related items of interest: