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.

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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

Crochet Technique: Crossover Slip Stitch

Closeup of Crossover Slip Stitch

Crossover Slip Stitch allows you to cross your crochet hook over a chain. It keeps the chain looking smooth and right-facing, while allowing you to do some fancy stitch patterning.

The exact location of the slip stitch—that is, what the slip stitch is crossing—will depend on your pattern and the purpose of the crossover slip stitch.

Crochet a Decorative Chain

Crochet a Decorative Chain with Crossover Slip Stitch graphic

Let’s look at a little decorative chain as an example. The “pattern” for this chain is:

*Chain 8, crossover slip stitch in 4th chain from hook; repeat from * for desired length.

Scroll on down to see a video of this in action.

How to Crochet Crossover Slip Stitch

Step 1. Insert hook into designated stitch

Step 1. Insert hook into designated stitch.

Step 2A Cross chain over working yarn

Step 2. Cross chain over working yarn. Alternately, you can cross the yarn ball under the work in progress.

Step 2B Cross chain over working yarn

Step 3 Yarn over and pull through to complete slip stitch

Step 3. Yarn over, pull through everything on your hook to complete the slip stitch.

When to Use Crossover Slip Stitch

Crossover slip stitch bit of a hidden technique, in that I don’t know that it has a widely accepted name. It’s long been my argument that crochet suffers from a lack of nomenclature that would help us share knowledge easily. When I coined the term standing stitches, somehow people started “discovering” the technique. I hope that by naming this technique crossover slip stitch and using the technique in my patterns, more crocheters will learn about it and spread the word!

You can find crossover slip stitch in Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs. It’s all over the Eulerian Triangles Shawl. And watch for it in an upcoming free pattern right here on the blog!

How to Graft Garter Stitch

Are you a knitter who runs away as fast as you can from a pattern that requires grafting on garter stitch? I’ll show you how to graft garter stitch. Never fear, it’s easier than you think! (And I think it’s easier than grafting stockinette stitch.)

Grafting, also known as Kitchener Stitch, uses a yarn needle to join two pieces of knitting invisibly. The short and sweet written version of how to graft garter stitch follows, but scroll on down for the more in-depth video description.

The Set-Up

How to Graft Garter Stitch-two pieces of garter stitch

Because you’ll be creating a row of “knitting” , one of your garter stitch pieces needs to be one row shorter than the other. If you have ended one piece with a right side row, you’ll need to end the other piece with a wrong side row. (See the video to help you recognize which piece is which.)

Hold pieces with knitting needles parallel, with wrong sides together and with the shorter piece in back.

Grafting Step-by-Step

Cut a yarn tail at least 3 times the length of the pieces you are joining.  In my example my working yarn is the yarn tail from the blue swatch.

Thread a blunt-tip yarn needle (tapestry needle).

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 1Step 1. On the front needle: Insert the needle purlwise (as if to purl) through the first stitch and pull the yarn through.
How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3

Step 2. On the back needle: Insert the needle purlwise through the first stitch and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3A

Step 3. On the front needle: Insert the needle knitwise through the first stitch and drop that stitch off the needle;
How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3Binsert the needle purlwise through the next stitch and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 4BStep 4.  On the back needle: Insert the needle knitwise through the first stitch and drop that stitch off the needle;
insert the needle purlwise through the next stitch and pull the yarn through. Note that this is the exact same thing you did on the front needle!

How to Graft Garter Stitch adjusting stitchesRepeat Steps 3 and 4 across. Every few stitches, stop and adjust the tension of your stitches so that they match the size of the surrounding stitches. 

On the last two stitches (one front and one back), insert the needle knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through, then insert the needle knitwise through the last stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch completedTake one more look at your grafted stitches and adjust them to size. If you know how to graft garter stitch carefully, no one will be able to tell that the stitches were grafted and not knit!

To see grafting in action, watch the video:

Looking for more knitting resources? Check out Knit: Basics & Beyond.


How to Crochet Y-Stitch

Y-stitchThere are more crochet stitch combinations than you can imagine, and clever crocheters keep coming up more all the time! Y-stitch is a versatile combination stitch that can be used in many ways. In the video below, I show you how to crochet Y-stitch.

Keep in mind that there are variations on this basic Y-stitch, so you may see it described a different way elsewhere—even in books that I have written! Always use the instructions given with a particular pattern, and make the stitch according to those instructions, for best results.

In my in-person workshop (You Want Me to) Put My Hook WHERE? we do this and many other interesting stitches that involve putting your hook in all kinds of odd places. Check out my Workshop Schedule to see if I’m teaching near you, or ask me to come teach to your group!

Here’s how to crochet Y-stitch.