Textured Knitting

with Two Strands in Two Colors

This is a very interesting technique that I first saw on Gerda Stitt's site. On a Brother machine it can be knitted automatically with an adjustment to the garter carriage. It is a little slower for us to do on the Bond but I still think that of all the unusual techniques I have tried, this one is definitely the easiest one and well worth the bit of extra time. Otherwise, I wouldn't have knitted a 35-foot sample! :)

After I looked at her beautiful samples for a while and after some experimenting on the Bond, I finally figured out that they were knitted with two strands of yarn in two colors, one color always showing on the purl side, the other always on the knit side. Some of the stitches are then converted to knit stitches according to a pattern. The neat thing is that when you ladder down the stitches and latch them back up, the color that was facing away from you, will automatically come to the front just about every time.

Here is a sample showing both the front and back:

There is a right side and a wrong side but there are no floats which gets my vote any day! The contrasting color shows a little more on the purl side than on the knit side, where the yarn appears just slightly muted.

There is just a small adjustment that I made to my carriage and I also ran the yarn strands through two short ends of a straw, taped together. One of those may actually be overkill but after knitting 10 feet of random stripes and then finally being able to keep the same color in the foreground, I wasn't going to rock the boat!

I taped a blunt tapestry needle underneath the eye of the carriage, separating it in two:

I also taped the front opening of the eye shut using a doubled over piece of tape stuck against another piece of tape, right at the spot where it goes across the eye so the yarn wouldn't get caught on the sticky side of the tape. I cut two short pieces of a drinking straw about 1" long and taped them together, side-by-side with another piece of tape and flattened them slightly.

I used two cones of yarn a little heavier than baby fingering yarn but any yarn will work as long as you are able to knit two strands of it together.

The two strands of yarn are passed through the straws before you even cast on the first stitch and stay there throughout. The other yarns, for comparison purposes, are Bernat Softee baby yarn on the left side and Red Heart 4-ply on the right side.

Here is how it looks on the machine. As I said before, I'm not that good at drawing, but hopefully it will give you an idea:

I did not run the yarns through the carriage handle but always held them sideways across the needle bed with the cones on the floor in front of the machine. I think you could probably run them through the handle if you wanted to but because they tend to get twisted ever so often at the point right before they go through the straws I prefer to hold the straw between my fingers. Occasionally, I had to untwist the strands. They were never twisted in such a way that I had to turn the cones around, but mainly at the point where they went into the straws.

Always turn the straw so that the color that you want to show on the knitted side is furthest away from you and also further away from you in the needle hook, and that the yarn that you want to show on the purl side is closest to you. For some odd reason, whatever color strand is in the foreground after the first stitch, will stay in the foreground on the entire row. I occasionally had trouble with the yarns changing colors on me at the beginning of a row, which is why I first knitted ten feet of random stripes, grrr! I tried different things to avoid this like hanging a fishing weight with an s-hook over the yarns before starting to knit the row, mumbling under my breath, and even making offerings of chocolate (lots!) to the knitting goddess, still, occasionally the yarns would reverse and I had to watch that first stitch like a hawk! Finally, by accident, when knitting the round blanket, I stumbled on a solution to this annoying problem, big sigh of relief!

When you begin to knit a row, always separate the strands and with your finger pull the color that you want to show on the knitted side slightly away from the other strand, then pull the first needle to holding position, between the two strands.

This puts the strand that you want to show on the knitted side closer to the second needle than the other strand which will be wrapped around the needle in holding position as you begin to knit across. Since it is the first stitch that decides which color will knit in the foreground on that row, once the first stitch knits in the right color, the rest will follow! In other words you slip the first stitch at the beginning of every row which, as a side effect, also gives you a very neat selvage that is easy to pick up for adding an edging later. No more knots on the edge, yeah! Oh, of course, don't forget to push that needle back to forward working position as you begin the next row, again slipping the first stitch in the same way.

To form a pattern you will need to ladder down and relatch some stitches. They will almost always be in the right order, with the strand of yarn that was showing on the purl side on top and the strand of yarn that was showing on the front below it. Keep them in that arrangement as you put them on your latch tool and as you relatch the stitch, the contrasting color from the front will come to the back, it's that easy!

You can use all types of stitch charts with this technique to put borders or single motifs on the front of your knitting. Straight, single rows of purl stitches do tend to disappear on the front though, I noticed, while diagonal shapes stand out the most. Also, purl stitches do not show the same detail as contrasting knit stitches do, so some fairisle patterns do not translate that well to this type of knitting. Filet-crochet patterns turn out nicely since they are also squashed a bit as our knit stitches are, thanks, Clarisse, for that hint!

I hope you'll try this out and, please, let me know if you have any problems.

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Knitting Samples and Charts done in this Technique

This page last updated -19 April 2000 -