Adventures with Two-Color aka Stranded Knitting

Saturday, Beth, Robbie and I drove up to the Kent Knitting Retreat.  We had signed up for one day of classes.  While we were getting settled, we ran into Amy Herzog, designer and mastermind behind Customfit sweaters. We offer the Customfit program at Westport Yarns and wanted to say hello.

I took two awesome classes with Mary Jane Mucklestone.  She has written three books on color knitting.

The first class was Two-Color Knitting. I just learned two-color knitting a year ago when I knit the Koigu Mobius Cowl. I fell in love with the technique. As with any technique there is always room to learn more.

I attending the class with Beth, Robbie and met up with several Westport Yarns staff and customers.  The class was FULL!

We made this headband (could’ve been a hat if I wanted to continue).  If you knit Continental, she taught you how to knit carrying both colors in your left hand.  If you knit English style, she taught you how to knit with one color in each hand.

I had learned both methods. I was more comfortable holding a color in each hand because I tended to get really twisted up when I attempted two colors in my left hand.  She taught us how to avoid getting tangled and how to manage your yarn so your floats come out right.

I have to give you a visual here. Working the color in my left hand, knit Continental style, is a smooth process (if loose).  Since I don’t actively knit English, my movements are totally exaggerated, like a caricature of someone throwing the yarn. I could’ve lassoed a wild animal with the reach of my throwing of the yarn.  Beth was knitting to my left and Sari (a customer) was behind me.  They helped me economize my movements.  It still felt completely clumsy because I was unaccustomed to it.

Here is the (potentially) life changing observation.  My gauge with the color knit English style was remarkably tighter than my Continental color. Considering that I have to go down a minimum of two needle sizes just to get gauge, this could revolutionize my knitting.  I left this class in an elated fog of how much we learned and what all this means for my gauge going forward.

At lunch we ate at an outdoor cafe. Next to us was a couple with two Bull Mastiff dogs.

They were ginormous! To give you perspective, I wear a size 9 shoe.  Yikes. They were sweeties.

The afternoon class was about Scandinavian knitting.  First off she explained that one of the major differences between Fair Isle and Scandinavian knitting is that Scandinavian knitting has motifs of people and animals.  Fair Isle does not.

There were several pattern options for trying out Scandinavian knitting.  Julie and I chose the “insane” one.  I mean really, go insane or go home.

First off she taught us how to knit two color garter, in the round, with no purling.  Think about that for a few minutes.  You’ll get it. Garter knit flat is knit every row.  Garter knit in the round is (ordinarily) knit a round, then purl a round and alternate between the two rounds.

I decided to continue to pursue my gauge discovery as a bonus to learning the Scandinavian knitting. (I’m getting really good at typing Scandinavian) Now this will be hard to see, you can pretend you see it, that’s fine.The white yarn was knit Continental.  The blue yarn, English style.  After four rounds, my gauge for the blue was so tight, it felt like the blue stitches were disappearing.  I went up a needle (unheard of for me) and it was markedly better.

This could’ve been a hat or headband as well.  However, with my gauge all over the place, it will stay a swatch.  I keep all the swatches I knit in classes for future reference.

Stay tuned for gauge play comparing and contrasting my results with Continental and English.