Delving into Double-Knitting with Alasdair Post-Quinn

While I’m more of a generalist in that I love to do a bit of this and bit of that technique in my all fiber arts, I’m in awe of crafters who delve very deeply into one aspect of a craft. Last month I had a chance to see the recent work that double-knitting guru Alasdair Post-Quinn has been doing and to talk with him about his work.

This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me but do not cost you anything extra.

Alasdair’s designs are both beautiful and mind-boggling. When I heard about a new learning opportunity that Alasdair is offering, I decided you needed to hear from him directly. Here’s an interview:

For those unfamiliar with double knitting, give us a quick explanation of what it is.

Hesperos Scarf from Double or Nothing
Hesperos from Double or Nothing

Alasdair: Double-knitting is a method of knitting a fabric with no “wrong side”. The way I use it involves colorwork motifs that reverse in color on the other layer. There are two separate layers of fabric, worked simultaneously, which are linked together at the color changes (unlike brioche, for example, which is a fully integrated fabric).

This looks difficult. Do I need to be an expert knitter to start double knitting?

Kontinuum Hat from Double or Nothing
Kontinuum from Double or Nothing

Alasdair: Not at all! As with anything, you can start with the basics and build on them as you get more proficient. Basic double-knitting, as I teach it in my intro classes, requires only that you know how to knit and purl. If you’ve done other colorwork before, it may help you follow the chart – but it’s not necessary.

Who does double knitting appeal to?

Sierpinski L5 from Extreme Double-knitting
Sierpinski L5 from Extreme Double-Knitting

Alasdair: I think it appeals to anyone who’s ever looked at the wrong side of a knitted item and wished it was more presentable. It is a double-thick fabric, so it may appeal more to those who live in colder climates (or who have loved ones who do) – but depending on the weight of yarn and how you use it, you can make three-season garments as well.

You have taken double knitting to the “extreme”. Explain what makes your designs unique.

Adenydd Shawl from Extreme Double-knitting
Adenydd from Extreme Double-knitting

Alasdair: Since I started double-knitting in the early 2000s, rather than simply playing with motifs and patterns, I have been striving to find the “limits” to the technique. I have adapted many single-layer techniques to double-knitting (including cables, lace, intarsia, and entrelac, among others). I’ve also developed techniques that are specific to double-knitting. I’ve documented these in my books Extreme Double-knitting and Double or Nothing, and I am continuing to expand on my existing techniques and develop new ones.

What are the benefits of learning this technique in person?

Parallax Scarf Version 3
Parallax Scarf Version 3

Alasdair: In my books, I have done my best to anticipate all kinds of questions (gleaned from thousands of students over more than a decade of teaching the technique) about double-knitting. I try to show the step-by-step instructions as clearly as possible. However, there’s often no substitute for hands-on learning, and being able to get real-time answers to your questions and feedback on your work will help you reach that “A-Ha!” moment even sooner.

Tell us about your special series of workshops coming up soon.

Alasdair: I’m trying something new this year that I’ve never done before. When I go to Stitches or one of the other shows, not to mention smaller workshop weekends at a local yarn shop or retreat, I’m most often running four to six workshops; sometimes one may even be offered twice. To be able to teach all nine of my double-knitting workshops in a single event is an unprecedented opportunity for me as a teacher – and to be able to take any workshop I offer is a huge opportunity for you as a student. That’s what the BuildingBlox Workshop Week, running from April 27 to May 5 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is about.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to double-knit, I’ve got an intro workshop on April 27 and another on May 5 – but between those two dates, I’m available to take you as far into the technique as you’re interested in going. If you already know how to double-knit, I can teach you how to create letters that read correctly on both layers; how to add a third color to the mix; how to use increases, decreases, textures, cables, lace, and more.

The BuildingBlox Workshop Week isn’t a retreat (nothing outside the workshops is planned, and you can take as many or as few as you like), and all the classes run on evenings or weekends to accommodate those with 9-5 jobs, so for those who may be coming in from afar, you’ll have your weekdays free too. You can get more info and sign up at the BuildingBlox page on my website. Thanks!

A Note from Edie

I’ve done double knitting – and even teach an online class about it– but I’d take Alasdair’s workshops in a heartbeat. If I didn’t live so far away and didn’t already have commitments for the last week of April, I’d vacation in Boston during the day and learn from Alasdair in the evening workshops. If you can’t make it to the workshops but want to learn more about double-knitting, start here:

Double or Nothing by Alasdair Post-Quinn
Adventures in Double-Knitting with Alasdair Post-Quinn
Bluprint Class
Double Knitting Workshop with Edie Eckman
Creativebug Class