A couple years back, I used to host a craft circle in a cafe. It was distinctly my friends and their friends, and not open to the public. But every once in a while, we’d make an exception. Such as when Alasdair’s wife saw us knitting, went home, and sent him back to us. We thought this was cool enough that we invited him to stay.
Turns out, Alasdair’s a pretty cool guy all around. He wrote a book about double knitting (found on Amazon over here), and used to bring in his current double-knit project to work on. I was fascinated. Normally, I’d support a friend if I wanted to learn a skill they had and buy the book, but I couldn’t even afford to buy yarn at the time, so I just watched wistfully for a while.
However, there’s always Ravelry and free patterns there to learn the basics of double knitting (although, if anyone wanted to buy me a copy of Alasdair’s book, there are some patterns I would love to try . . . . . ). Did you know that if you go to the “Attributes” section on the left side, one of the options under “Construction” is “double knitting”? I poked around until I found a pattern I liked, a nice hat, and cast on.
I hated it.
Double knitting requires treating each stitch like two stitches. The first one is knit and the second is purled, and both are on the needles at the same time. The knit stitch is done in one color, and the purl in a different color. Well enough, so far. I just pretended I was doing a one-one rib, held both yarns together in the usual way, and just made sure I had the red yarn in front and the green yarn in back. But then I got to the charted section, and things didn’t go so well.
It would have been easy to make two hats inside each other, attached at the brim. But I wanted a pattern. And the way double knit makes a pattern is to take the two yarns, one for knit stitches and one for purl, and switch them. But because both stitches are on the needles, I already had red and green stitches on the needles, and I couldn’t see the pattern on the needles. That is to say, I’d switch yarns to make a pattern, and then I’d follow the chart. But if I made a mistake, and knitting is all about mistakes, I couldn’t tell until three rows later!
This necessitated a lot of swearing on my part.
But it finally got done, more or less, and I got the hang of it. The author is really good at explaining things, and it’s not her fault that double knit has this issue. All around a good pattern. Okay, knitting along, start the decreases for the top of the hat — which were yet more interesting and ‘fun’ to do. I reached the end of the hat, cut the yarn, gathered up the last right stitches on the inside and on the outside, more fun!, and wove in the ends. Pant, pant, pant.
I gave it to Himself, who gushed appropriately. And then, the worst phrase in the world for a knitter: “it doesn’t fit right.”
He wanted it longer.
If this has been a top-down hat, it might have been easy to do, but — of course — this wasn’t. I debated killing him, but there was this whole plan to marry him in a few weeks at that point, and I decided that killing one’s future husband before becoming the recipient of his life insurance was just silly.
I went and found my ends, and started pulling thing out.
I only frogged to the end of the decreases, however. The next couple days at work, I used my lunch break to recreate and then extend the chart for the hat. It looks like this, with my additions.
Apologies for the cramped image, I hope clicking on it blows it up enough to work with.
Start at the bottom, work the chart twice per round, once for the first half of the hat, once for the second half. Switch colors at the X. Decrease at the double dashes. I’d have done this in my favorite online knitting chart maker, but it’s too big.
Himself says the hat is big enough for most fatheads.
Also, I am a good wife and keeping my husband warm.
There. I said it. It’s unlikely to be ever mentioned again.