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Twined Knitting

Twined knitting is an traditional Scandanavian knitting technique dating back at least to the 17th century in Sweden. You use two strands of yarn -- knitting each strand is alternately and twisting them between each stitch. It's called tvåändsstickning in Swedish and tvebandsstrikking in Norwegian -- both meaning "two-end knitting"-- because traditionally the two ends of one ball of yarn are used. The resulting fabric is firmer and denser than regular stockingette stitch and makes for wonderfully warm knits -- it also has less of a tendency to curl. Some beautiful, subtle patterns can be made in twined knitting using purled stitches - either purling alternately with both strands, or knitting with one strand and purling the other. Most patterns incorporate some of these decorative borders where one would normally use ribbing -- cuffs of mittens and gloves or the tops of socks. Twined knitting is usually knitted in the round and with the yarn held in the right hand and, in contrast to regular Scandanavian knitting, is “thrown” English style.

The first thing to do when working twined knitting is to select and prepare your yarn. Traditionally, wool that is S-spun and Z-plied yarns are used, though unless you spin yourself such yarn might be difficult to come by. To prepare the yarn for knitting first be sure it’s a center pull ball, then find both ends. Pull the two strands out a good length before beginning to knit.

There are several decorative ways of casting on for twined knitting. Some use a second color and create a braided effect in the cast on row. The simpliest way, however, is to cast on as you normally would then join a second strand when you start knitting.

Note: In the following images I’ll be using two different colors of yarn in order to demonstrate the technique more clearly. Normally you'll be working with two ends of the same ball of yarn.

Join in order to work in the round, being sure the stitches are not twisted.

Then knit one stitch as you normally would...

Then add the second strand of yarn, and knit the next stitch...

From this point on, for each stitch you’ll do the following:

Insert your index finger between the two strands of yarn, grab the second strand (the one you did not use for the last stitch) bringing it over the first strand...

and use it to knit the next stitch...

After a few stitches you’ll see that the wrong side consisists of stitches with the yarn stranded between each stitch.

The resulting fabric is thicker, firmer and less elastic than regular knitting but also warmer and more wind-resistant -- perfect for mittens, caps, slippers and outerwear, though it does take a considerably longer time to work. As for appearance - on the knit side, the stitches look mostly like normal knit stitches -- albeit a bit more elongated.

Shown here in wool yarn...


And in a cotton yarn...

On the purl side however, you can see the twining clearly.

With wool yarn...

and with cotton...

For patterns and more about Two-End Knitting, see:

Theresa is an American living, knitting and blogging near Oslo, Norway with her husband and step-daughters.

She's working full-time as a nurse and has no time for housework.