Knitters can make any project lacy by working with needles much larger than what the yarn at hand calls for. The space in the center of any stitch will be the size of the needle, and the strands of yarn that form the loop will expand and contract as you stretch the fabric. But real lace, the lace we all ooo and aahhhh over, has intentional holes in patterns of openwork moving over the knit fabric, lines of compensating decreases snaking sinuously, crossing geometrically, or hiding surreptitiously among the eyelets. To work real lace you need to know how to make those decreases, and how to work a yarn over. Yarn overs make the lace knitting world go round.
In this post we’re going to look at double yarn overs—at working two yarn overs in a row. If you have never worked a yarn over, check out this tutorial from last spring. Two of the stitch patterns in the Lace Sampler shawlette I designed back in 2015 (republished in the Spring 2017 issue of Creative Knitting Magazine, shown left) have two yarn overs in a row. Each uses a different way of working into the yarn overs on the following row, and we’ll look at both.
The Hourglass Lace pattern is used in the middle of the three Lace Sampler panels. The yarn overs and decreases form offset zig-zags in the shape from which it takes its name. The double yarn overs form the large open space at the bottom of each hexagonal motif.
The Mira Lace pattern is used on the outside panel of the shawlette. The pattern formed by yarn overs and decreases is larger in scale than Hourglass Lace, and more like diamonds than hexagons. The double yarn overs here are also the bottom of the motif.
Swatch It to Learn It
Cast on several repeats of the pattern, plus three selvage stitches each edge to work in garter stitch so the swatch won’t curl at the sides. Begin every row “k3, slip marker” and end every row “slip marker, k3,” with the pattern stitches worked as given below. I’ve placed ring markers so I know where the selvage stitches end and the pattern stitches start. Work a few rows of garter stitch to prevent the bottom from curling before you begin the pattern stitch.
Use the key if you are working from the charts. Note the double yarn over is just two single yarn over boxes next to each other. If you are working from the written instructions, the abbreviation 2yo is used for two yarn overs in a row.
Twice Around The Needle
Two yarn overs in a row, or “double yarn overs,” can be used to elongate stitches, make an extra-large space to work into multiple times, or worked as two separate stitches on the return row to make a large eyelet below. Both our stitch patterns fall into this last category, and as such each must be worked separately on the following wrong side row. As you’ll see below, there are several ways to do so.
To work a double yarn over, simply take the yarn twice around the needle. Make sure both yarn overs stay on the right needle as you work the next stitch or stitches.
Hourglass Lace: K1, P1 Into the Double Yo
I’ve got three on each side, plus 20 in the middle: 2 pattern repeats (12 sts) plus the extra stitches to visually balance the pattern (+8 sts) for a total of 26. Rows 3 and 7 have double yarn overs. Right over each in rows 4 and 7 are the instructions for what to do: knit the first one you come to, and purl the second one. Notice you are taking both needle and working yarn to the opposite side as you work the second yarn over. The video shows what this looks like for both those who hold the yarn in the left hand and those who hold the yarn in the right hand.
Row 1 (RS): K2, *yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2; rep from * to end.
Rows 2 and all WS rows: Purl across, working (k1, p1) into each 2yo.
Row 3: K2, *k2tog, 2yo, ssk, k2; rep from * to end.
Row 5: K1, *k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 7: K1, yo, *ssk, k2, k2tog, 2yo; rep from * to last 7 sts, ssk, k2, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 8: Rep Row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-8 for pattern.
Mira Lace: P1, P1-tbl Into The Double Yo
As for Hourglass Lace, cast on a few pattern repeats plus three selvage stitches on each side, then work several rows of garter stitch. I’ve got the 3 selvages each side, plus 18 in the middle: 2 pattern repeats (16 sts) plus the extra stitches to visually balance the pattern (+2 sts) for a total of 24. Rows 1 and 9 have double yarn overs. Right over each in rows 2 and 10 are the instructions for what to do: purl the first one you come to, and purl the second one through the back loop (tbl). Notice that again both needle and working yarn move to the opposite side as you work the second yarn over. The video shows what this looks like for both those who hold the yarn in the left hand and those who hold the yarn in the right hand.
Row 1 (RS):K1, *k2, k2tog, 2yo, ssk, k2; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 2 and all WS rows: Purl across, working (p1, p1-tbl) into each 2yo.
Row 3: K1, *k1, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 5: K1, *k2tog, k1, yo, k2, yo, k1, ssk; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 7: K1, *k2tog, yo, k4, yo, ssk; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 9: K1, *yo, ssk, k4, k2tog, yo; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 11: K1, *k1, yo, ssk, k2, k2tog, yo, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 13: K1, *k1, yo, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, yo, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 15: K1, *k2, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 16: Purl across.
Repeat Rows 1-16 for pattern.
Can you think of any other way to work into sequential yarn overs? Try them and see if they work!
Now Make Something!
The pattern for the Lace Sampler can be found in the booklet Plug & Play Cowls as well as in the Spring 2017 issue of Creative Knitting Magazine. The booklet contains instructions for over 50 for stitch patterns and edgings as well as directions on to design your own cowls. And there are five other cowl designs showcasing different cowl construction possibilities.
After the magazine came out I ran a knit-a-long/design-a-long with then-editor Kara Gott Warner. Want to try making your own version of the shawlette? Check out the #KnitWithBeth Lace Sampler post for resources and inspiration.
Finally, I want to share with you one of my favorite tools for visualizing the fabric produced by the k1, p2s of stitch patterns. I’ve written about Stitch Maps before, but JC has added a ton of new features in the last few years, from collections to super-wide cable crossings. I put the group of stitch patterns I used in the design-a-long into a Lace Sampler Collection for you to browse: try changing how many row or stitch repeats are displayed, highlighting sections, and using column guides. Awesome.
Until next time…