Today's book review is an example of a very technical subject brought to us by independent publisher Cooperative Press. Alasdair Post-Quinn describes himself as "a 30-something computer technician in the Boston area" who spends "much of my spare time as a knitwear designer, focusing specifically on double-knitting." For those of you who aren't familiar with the technique, double-knitting is a way to create a piece of knitted fabric that doesn't have a "wrong" side. As Post-Quinn explains, "Until recently, a typical double-knit fabric was either tubular or two-colored with the opposite side showing a mirror image in opposite colors from the facing side. Over the past few years, people here and there have been pushing the boundaries of double-knitting to include more complex color and structure variations." Enter Post-Quinn's book, Extreme Double-Knitting (Cooperative Press 2011; available for $29.95 through the link or as a PDF download for $16.95 via Ravelry).
Extreme Double-Knitting is a paperback, just under 200 pages, about 8.5 by 11 inches, and chock-full of photographs and charts. There are 14 patterns, plus a few exercises included. It's not a typical knitting pattern book, though, relying much more on technical instruction and skill-building. Let's do a GKIYH walk-through.
The book begins with a two-page introduction, in which Post-Quinn distinguishes similar uses of the phrase double-knitting (he's not referring to DK-weight yarn, or knitting with 2 strands held together, or referring to typical stranded colorwork done with 2 shades of yarn, nor is he referring to tubular double-knitting). He then addresses the question -- not an insignificant one, he acknowledges -- of why do double-knitting rather than knit two separate pieces and sew them together. Post-Quinn cites the way double-knit fabric contains 2 layers that are anchored together and don't bunch up; the way either side looks equally good; and the freedom of colorwork without stranding or twisting.
Chapter 1 begins with the basics of double-knitting: how the fabric is made, the importance of gauge; and why Post-Quinn continues to twist his stitches as he knits them. Chapter 2 gets the knitter going with a two-color cast-on, then shows how to double-knit both with and without twisting the stitches. Next up is double-knitting flat, with three methods of working edge stitches to keep them neat, and two methods of binding off. After describing modifications necessary for double-knitting in the round, Post-Quinn covers adding a new skein of yarn and reading charts. Last up are two exercises to practice double-knitting, one flat and one in the round. This chapter contains three patterns: the Corvus Scarf, a long muffler with a crow motif:
and two neckties.
Open For Business
Techniques get progressively more advanced, and Chapter 5 adds a third color to double-knitting, making it...triple-knitting? Two hat patterns demonstrate the technique, including the terrific Struktur cap, my favorite in the book:
Falling Blocks Hat