GUEST BLOG FROM INSTRUCTOR MARIE FISHER
Classes of the Day: Double Knitting, Brioche Knitting, Sweet Tomato Heel
Double Knitting, Single Brioche and Double Brioche information is below and on the course descriptions. Sweet Tomato Heel is brand new! More info.
(Click here to learn more and/or to register.)
Here’ s note from our instructor Marie Fisher!
From as early as the 19th century, and perhaps earlier, double knitting has been practiced in Europe. Of course, we may never know the true origin of double-knitting. But the technique is really quite simple – if you can knit and purl, you can do it.
The name is used by different knitting cultures to mean different things. It can refer to a particular weight of yarn (DK), or the practice of doubling your strands to create a thicker yarn, or is a blanket term for any two-color knitting.
The most famous sample of double knitting is the pair of socks knitted simultaneously on one set of knitting needles by Anna Makarovna, the nanny in Leo Tolstoy’s: War and Peace. When the pair was finished, she made a solemn ceremony of pulling one stocking out of the other in the presence of the children.
I imagine the long forgotten originator of this technique sitting by the fireside, holding a 1×1 ribbed scarf and idly pulling the fabric in one direction to separate the ribs, then in the other direction to recompress them. She looked it over on both sides and noticed that the compressed fabric strongly resembled stockinette stitch on both sides, to the point that she could imagine it as two independent fabrics lying back to back. She picked up the needles, pulled two ends, from the basket of yarn at her side, and cast on. But this time, rather than ribbing, she held the ends together, and worked the knits in one color and the purls in the other. Thus, I imagine, double knitting was born.
Essentially, double-knitting is a technique by which one can create two fabrics at the same time. Normally, the “right side” of each faces outward, and the “wrong sides” face each other inside the work, creating the illusion of a fabric with no wrong side. At its most basic, double-knitting can be used to create a hollow space between the two fabrics, if each side is a solid color. But with a subtle change to each stitch, two-color motifs can be added, which lock the two sides together. Traditional double-knit colorwork is reversed on the opposite side in both color and orientation – an asymmetric motif in black-on-white will be a mirror image in white-on-black on the other side.
Double knitting can be worked in one color or two – or, as in “Struktur” from Alasdair Post-Quinn, in three in more colors.
The types of patterns that benefit most from double knitting are the ones that can make visual use of the reversibility. These include washcloths, potholders, scarves, headbands, hats, neckties, and on up to vests, cardigans, handbags, and blankets of all sizes; you can also use elements of the technique to create cushions, button bands, collars, cuffs and even pockets.
Personally, I like a double thick accessory that is worked as a single fabric, that does not bunch up because the two layers are anchored together, and that looks equally good worn either side out. I like working both sides at the same time because I know both sides will be the same size. I like the freedom of being able to do color work anywhere I want without worrying about stranding or twisting.
If you’ve ever seen a beautiful double layered scarf wrapped around a friends neck, or a two sided color work pattern and wondered, “How’d they do that?” this is the class!
The world of knitting never ceases to amaze me with its wealth of options—the yarn choices, needle choices, stitch pattern choices, and design choices are endless!
One of those options is the brioche stitch. This versatile stitch is both beautiful and useful.
If you’re familiar with baking, you probably think of a French pastry when you hear the word brioche. If that is also what you think of when you hear brioche knit stitch, you wouldn’t be too far off.
In her book Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch Nancy Marchant, says that the earliest brioche patterns were written in the mid-1800s England for cushions and footstools that very much resembled the puffs of brioche pastry most of us are familiar with. The cushions used the brioche stitch that we still use today; however, throughout time we’ve experimented with our knitting to be able to make more than just pillows and cushions with the stitch.
We’ve come a long way from the cushions and footstools of the mid-1800s in England. Today we see the brioche knit stitch in everything from scarves to hats and gloves.
The brioche stitch is like any other knitting stitch in that it can be shaped with increases and decreases. There’s no limit to what you could make with the stitch.
Brioche stitch produces a lofty, ridged and totally reversible fabric that resembles knit 1, purl 1 rib. Pronounced columns of elongated knit stitches appear to float on the s
urface above purl troughs. Because it is reversible, brioche stitch is a good choice for scarves, shawls, and blankets.
Brioche stitch belongs to a family of stitches that rely on slipped stitches worked in conjunction with yarnovers. On one row, a stitch is slipped, and at the same time, the yarn is carried over the needle to create a yarnover. On the next row, the slipped stitch and its adjacent yarnover are worked together. Once you get accustomed to working with the paired slipped stitch and yarnover, you’ll find brioche stitch as simple to knit as ribbing and maybe you’ll experiment with beads and move on to two color brioche.
There are of course, simple methods for adding color to normal knitting: working rows of horizontal stripes and knitting with two different colored yarns held together are probably the simplest. Intarsia and stranded knitting are more complex means for adding color in normal knitting. When more than one color is used in a brioche stitch, the approach can change. Because every other stitch is worked in a row, the fabric divides itself into different layers. You can take advantage of this and work the layers in different colors. This creates dimension and, at times, the moire effect of Thai silk.
The two classes I am offering, “One Color Brioche” and “two Color Brioche” are a step by step progression into the sometime intimidating world of Brioche. You will learn a totally new language, new knitting rules and how to decipher brioche charts. Whether you decide to take the One Color Brioche Class, the Two Color Brioche (for those already familiar with the technique or feeling adventurous) or both classes; you will be ready to take on an “Extreme Brioche Project.”
Story from “Knitting Brioche” from Nancy Marchant