Double Knitting, what's that?

Falling Blocks pattern. Alasdair Post-Quinn. Image imported from

Alasdair Post-Quinn, Ravelry name Fallingblox, is master of extreme double knitting, and will be at Windsor Button on Saturday, November 5, 2011 with a trunk show featuring the patterns in his new book, Extreme Double Knitting.

In anticipation of the trunk show at Windsor Button and a number of local yarn shops and the presentation to the Common Cod Guild on November 11, I thought I would educate myself on this technique. Here's a brief description of the technique on the Common Cod page.  Maybe you are puzzled too?

Read on....Double knitting, as defined on a number of Google search sites, is a manner of knitting two layers of fabric at one time. There is no wrong side and the fabric can be merged or it can be separate, as in one sock or mitten tucked inside another. Alasdair has written a short essay on the technique here. Also on this page are two videos showing how to do it.  There is also an article by Post-Quinn in Interweave Knits Fall 2011 where he describes the process and theory behind the technique.

Here is eye candy, that's what you really want to see right?
Alasdair Post-Quinn, 52 Pick-Up, double knit scarf. This pattern will be released on Ravelry in the near future. It is not a pattern in Extreme Double Knitting. Image imported from
Double knit neck ties. Image imported from
Corvus pattern, included in Extreme Double Knitting. Image imported from
Whorl'd Tree, Alasdair Post-Quinn. Image imported from
Alasdair was kind enough to answer some of my questions, here are his responses. All pictures were used with Alasdair's permission.

KIBT: How long have you been knitting as an adult?
APQ: A little less than 8 years.

KIBT: How did you learn to knit? Who taught you?
APQ: I grew up with knitting around the house but despite my crafty proclivities, my mother never taught me to knit. I choose to believe that she just didn't want to give me pointy sticks. I didn't learn to knit until college when, in my senior year, I attended a craft-sharing event to teach origami (which I had been doing since age 4). Nobody came to my workshop due to another popular workshop overlapping it -- so I went to see what else was happening. Someone was teaching people to knit, so I sat in on that. The knit stitch came pretty easily, I taught myself to purl, made my requisite garter stitch scarf, then started designing my own stuff, starting with Moebius scarves.

KIBT: Give a rough guesstimate as to the number of hours, (or minutes) that you try to knit daily.
APQ: I have a full-time job and lately my non-work time has been taken up with book writing and other non-knitting activities around the book. Before writing the book, I was finishing designing things for the book, which swung the pendulum the other way (from not much knitting to lots and lots of knitting). If we assume a normal day without an encroaching non-work-related deadline and no other structured knitting time (i.e. knitting groups), I probably knit for about an hour while commuting every day, and if I'm lucky I'll have another hour while not commuting later in the day.

KIBT: Who are designers that inspire you?
APQ: That's a tough one because I try not to spend large amounts of time perusing other designers' work. I've definitely drawn inspiration from the unique colorwork designs of Kieran Foley and the unconventional design work of Cat Bordhi. 

KIBT: What palette of colors are you drawn towards? Saturated jewel tones, earthy colors, clean true tonal shades, or……. you fill in the blank.
APQ:Mostly I look for contrast that pops, whatever that means in a particular yarn. I can get high contrast between a natural cream and a natural brown -- or between a pastel blue and a jewel-toned one. I definitely prefer natural tones -- i.e. colors that can be found in nature -- but I won't limit myself if an unexpected color combination really calls to me. I generally stay away from pure colors because I think they look too artificial.

KIBT: If you had an endless supply of money, what would you do if you were asked to design your knitting studio space? What furnishings, lighting, storage, creature comforts would you incorporate? (I realize this is a biggie, skip it if it’s too much)
APQ: Yes, it's a biggie, and a hard one to answer because I'm not used to thinking that far outside my means. I already have airtight and watertight yarn storage; I could certainly do with more or better, and a dedicated closet, perhaps a walk-in, for it. I like to know what I have but not have it spilling out of shelves while I'm not using it. I'd like a good balance of cozy and comfortable workspace and natural and artificial light. I'd like a fireplace or a wood stove, and I'd like a good built-in bookshelf for reference books. I'd like a dedicated writing desk for my computer; I've got an old 18" Wacom Cintiq monitor for sketching and working on patterns; I'd like the updated 24" model. I'd like a corner with bright lights so I can take true-color photos of my finished objects.

KIBT: What knitting book do you refer to most often?
APQ: I have a whole host of chart books I use to pull inspiration from for new charted designs, but most of the time I'm designing my own pieces and don't use books for that. Occasionally I need a refresher on a particular technique I don't use often, such as kitchener stitch or a particular cast-on, but most of that I can find on the internet.
KIBT: What are the three blogs you read most often? (Assuming you read them…)
APQ: Sorry ... I really don't read blogs or listen to podcasts. I don't even use Ravelry all that much except to check on my double-knitting group and Fallingblox Designs group, and if I need something specific. I find my time is better spent in actually knitting.

KIBT: Do you have a yarn that you prefer to use over others?
APQ: That's a tough one -- I tend to use workhorse yarns of various types because I like good stitch definition and lots of color options. I started out using Cascade 220 for those reasons but I am lately more interested in finer weights. Probably my favorite yarn to work with is Kauni Effektgarn, but I really want to work with Kauni Solids because they're a fingering weight yarn with lots of colors -- but they've become expensive since they got a new distributor in the US, and almost nobody carries them. But because I design relatively slowly -- double-knitting being what it is -- I'm still experimenting with yarns and don't really have a single "go-to" yarn yet. I do try to stay with animal fibers, although I've found some nice bamboo blends lately too.

These patterns amaze me and I am not sure if my skills are up to the challenge, but I am interested in giving it a try. How about you? I have included other patterns at the end of the post that might be starter projects, for me anyway. Alasdair is teaching a number of classes at Mind's Eye in Cambridge, maybe I will swallow my pride and go become a double knitter?

So why would one double knit? Insulating warmth, no wrong side, showing off.... lol!! Here are few images found in the Ravelry treasure trunk of projects.

Simple Doubleknit Headband, Sandy Montag

Yuma double knitting made by Dragonsvarg, pattern Alexandra Weidmayer
Slipped Stitch Double Knit Scarf, Trisha Mitberg


FoFo said…
That is a really cool tech! Have fun!
Evelyn said…
Great post and interview, E! I've always wanted to do a double knit pattern but haven't had the time to learn. I'm totally inspired now! Are you going to try it, too? Shall we do a DKAL? : )
Patricia said…
I am totally impressed!
grandmastatus said…
Oooh I totally read an excerpt of that book in a magazine recently. Having only done 2 double knit scarves in my life (neither of which were at all exciting) his work is simply amazing and inspiring. What an excellent interview! I really loved the "perfect studio" question. :D
Amy said…
woo boy that looks...complicated! beautiful, but complicated lol.
I say give it a chance - it looks beautiful so I'm sure your projects will be fabulous. Thanks for sharing this great interview.

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