Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Superimposed Knitting Explained

Blogless Susan posted a wonderful explanation of superimposed knitting, but she pinned it as a comment to another, much later, post. So, for those of you who missed these entries the first time around, I am combining my original blog posts with her how-to description.

By an amazing coincidence, the book I reviewed in another post, Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace, also contains written instructions for using this technique on a set of baby clothes with pretty lace edgings.

From Blogless Susan

In short, the technique is similar to, but different from, double knitting. For the shell motif I cast on 15sts using a strand of both yarns. Purl 5 using both strands, then the fiddly bit.

Separate the yarns for the next 5 stitches. Put the colour to be patterned on a dpn at the front, and the pattern background sts onto the left needle. Then, using the pattern colour and right needle, pattern across the 5 stitches.

Drop the pattern yarn, pick up the background yarn and using a dpn work the 5 background stitches, pick up the other yarn and work the remaining reverse ststs with both yarns.

So, you need 3 needles, or two longs circs (but I hate circs). It becomes obvious pretty quickly when to change yarns and needles.

When you need to incorporate one of the edge sts into the pattern you just separate the strands (ie row 3), or knit two together with two strands when you need to decrease the pattern number (ie row 9).

Working more than one motif across the row is a bigger pain. You really need to use 2 circs, as there is very little flexibility when using straights. I put all the pattern background onto one needle at the back, and the patterns and reverse stst on the front needle. Lots of fiddle working across the row - needles and yarn all over the place. But the finished product looked good.

Original Posts

I found this pattern (and several others like it) in a Japanese pattern book. Look closely at the picture. You'll see that there are two layers of knitting here. What? How did they do that? Any ideas?

Here is another example of superimposed knitting that I talked about yesterday.

Both of these are from the book 1000 Knitting Patterns. The book is in Japanese, and available here. Like all Japanese knitting pattern books, it is lavish and full of unusual, elegant patterns. There's an entire section on multicolored cables, something I've seen only one other knitting book ( a really old pattern book that I am too lazy to go look for right now).

1000 Knitting Patterns weighs a ton, and costs the earth ($60). I hauled it back to my apartment in Japan on the train, in August, so I know how much it weighs.

As with all Japanese knitting books, everything is charted, so rarely will anyone have trouble following the patterns provided he or she has invested in a Japanese knitting symbol dictionary. For those still searching for one, go here.



Hi, I have discovered your blog today and it has been so resourceful so far! I have been looking to purchase this book for quite some time, i own some of other books with jap. stitch patterns 300 stitch patterns
and this one 250 stitch patterns

I am not sure if you have seen them, but if you did, would you think the 1000 would be worthy spending money for?

fleegle said...

I have them both, but the !000 pattern book is definitely worth having too. There are some really different patterns in there.

Anonymous said...

This is soooo neat :) What an interesting technique -- seems obvious once you know about it, but I would never have thought of doing it on my own. Thanks to you and Blogless Susan

Experimental Knitter said...

When Blogless Susan says to purl with both strands, then put 1 set of sts on a dpn and the other on the left needle, I got lost. Not purl with both strands at the same time, but what then? I didn't get it reading Stove's instructions either. It's not double-knitting the first row, then knitting separately, then joining? help, fleegle, help?

regiknits said...

I just had to try this stitch pattern. It was a lot of fun. BB, you do knit the reverse stockinette with both strands then knit the background with only the background color and then knit the motif with only the foreground color. Then you work reverse stockinette with both strands again. The hardest part is untangling the yarn before you seperate the strands to knit seperately. Check out my results at


Susan said...

Regiknits has some good photos - something my description sadly lacked. One day I might start up a blog again. I've been vaguely thinking about a design for the technique. A small garment, with a central motif. One day. Dragone comes first (up to the chart 4 now).

(Blogless) Susan

Ronni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronni said...

I asked for the ISN because the yesasia link didn't work for me (because I totally have to buy that book now that you've shown it to me) but then I think I might have found it at so I deleted the request for a number to hunt by. Is this the right book?

Thanks for drawing my attention to this concept. My back burner is already merrily bubbling away.

Your posts on the Japanese books have gotten me so interested I'm seriously considering taking a class in Japanese. Between the knitting books and the quilt magazines I probably ought to.

fleegle said...

Dear Ronni--
The link works for me. Here is the info from YesAsia:

Product Information
Book Title : moyouhen 1000 boubariami kagibariami moyou ketteiban
Language : Japanese
Publisher / ISBN : 4529021424
Release Date : February 1, 1992
YesAsia Catalog No. : 1004189836

Alas, it is out of stock. You might be able to find it on

missalicefaye said...

I spent a lot of time trying to wrap my head around this yesterday (the photos at regiknits certainly helped my slow brain!). Cool technique!