02 September 2006

Picking up on the double -- bears and popokis

Back in July when the popoki shawl was still the primary project, I frogged the trapezoid sections of the original evil rayon ribbon shawl and confirmed my impression that picking up stitches with the rayon was always going to be a problem.

At the time I had a number of to-be-explored ideas about how to resolve that problem not just for the resurrection of that project but also for future rayon ribbon or other projects that might have the same construction problem.

Double knitting seemed to offer the most promise for a solution and some early experiments with rug warp (one of my test drive tools) have convinced me that the technique will solve the distorted stitches problem and also be a good alternative to provisional cast ons and grafting.

In my rug warp experiments I cast on 20 stitches.
Next I did the double knit thing :
Row 1, (knit one stitch, slip one stitch with yarn in front)10x
Row 2: (knit one stitch, slip one stitch with yarn in front)10x
These two actually form one complete row/round of stitches because you are only knitting half the stitches each time and at this point you are knitting in the round on straight needles and producing a double right side fabric. This is the usual point of double knitting but we're not using the technique for the normal reasons.

So, on the next run at the stitches, we're going to divide the stitches with one set staying in play and other set going onto either a stitch holder or another needle. This part can be fiddly but it breaks down to knit 1, slip one to a holder/spare needle, knit 1 across the row.

When you finish dividing, you end up with two sets of live stitches from a common cast on. This picture shows the "right side" of the divided stitches.

This yields a firm but flexible join between the two sets of stitches which looks a bit like a 3- needle bind-off when viewed from one side:
But if forms a seamless mirror image for stitches when viewed from the other side:
In the popoki shawl rayon ribbon scenario, the distortion from picking up stitches will be eliminated and the centre triangle will be joined to 1/2 of the live stitches as it is formed. The other 1/2 of the stitches will be knit outward to form the trapezoids. If that makes you do a "huh?" don't worry, I'll be exploring that construction in detail at a later date.

I mentioned that I don't like picking up stitches and sometimes, as in the case of the evil rayon ribbon, picking up stitches is not a good option so you're usually left with grafting and/or a provisional cast on. The rayon ribbon project is a pretty good example where none of the usual options are going to be very successful but this use of the double knit technique come to the rescue.

Since I've been a knitting bears kick and since the Baby Bobbi Bear from Blue Sky Alpacas uses short rows I sort of had to buy a copy of the pattern and check out the construction technique. It is very clever but the pick up stitches side of things got me thinking that this might also be a good candidate for the double knit and divide technique.

Since I just happened to have a bt of extra Lion Brand Suede left over from the Hash House a Go Go bears, I decided to put this to the test for Thursday's walkabout knitting and although the division of 120 stitches was a bit fiddlier than I would have liked for walkabout it is looking very successful and would really be good if you were making a bear out of particularly fuzzy yarn ala a truly fuzzy fuzzy wuzzy.

Here's a close up of the "wrong side" of the 60 stitches in waiting to become the bear's bum and legs:
And as I gear up to go walkabout and ultimately join the knitting gang at Petco Park for the San Diego Stitch and Pitch event, this is a shot of the bear with the head in progress:


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