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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Knitting Tips: Choosing a Knit

I've been knitting a lot lately and it's caused me to think about all those little questions I've been asked over the years. Knitting is an art and takes some practice, and a tip here and there can't help. So over the next few weeks I'll be posting a few knitting tips. How many? I don't know. One a week until I decide knitting is boring me and I wander back toward my sewing machine. 8, maybe 10. Possibly as many as 12. But all the tips will be based on questions I've been asked or little helpful things I've discovered in the years since I was a little girl at my great-grandmother's knee.

This week's tip involves choosing between a single-knit and a double-knit. To know which knit to use, you'll have to know what you're making. Each fabric will behave differently. single-knit fabrics such as jersey are lightweight and have a great deal more stretch. Since the yarn forms a single layer of interlocking loops, there is a clear right and wrong side to the fabric. And because of the stretch, they're great for everyday items such as form-fitting shirts and dresses. But not so great for a bag, scarf, or anything that needs to keep its shape or keep your warm.

Double-knit fabrics have a double layer of interlocking loops. Fabrics made in this manner, such as interlock, do not have a visible right and wrong side. This type of knit is perfect for scarves and blankets that might be viewed from both sides. The fabric is heavier and more stable and so works well for hats and mitts as well. But it is a very warm knit and garments made of double-knit fabrics are usually too warm for summer wear.

So deciding on a double-knit versus a single-knit requires you to know exactly what you're making. Of course, if you're following a set pattern, this decision has probably been made for you. But when I'm knitting, I don't usually work from a pattern, leaving me to deciding on a knit based on the purpose of the finished product.

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