Hobby Knitter 2 Carriage Technique

Cindy Polfer – [email protected]


(copyright 1997 by Cindy Polfer)

Two-carriage fair-isle is really a neat way of knitting in your contrasting color by means of a carriage instead of hand manipulation. To work this method you need two carriages and an intarsia keyplate/carriage. The first carriage uses the regular keyplate and is threaded with the main color yarn. The second carriage has the intarsia keyplate inserted into it and is used to knit the contrasting color.

Here is the procedure:

Cast on the number of stitches needed for your project and knit the number of rows needed of the main color yarn until the two-colored patterning begins.

Step 1: Place the needles to be knit in the contrasting color into holding position (HP). Knit the main color stitches with the first carriage.

Step 2: Place the needles in HP into forward working position (FWP) [that is, the needles are in a position to knit with the stitches BEHIND the latches and the latches OPEN]. Now lay your contrasting color into the needles beginning with the needle farthest away from the first carriage. [It is actually the side from which you first starting knitting with the first carriage.] Place the second carriage, with the intarsia keyplate inserted, onto the bed at the side opposite the first carriage. [ It is the same side you started laying your contrasting yarn in the needles.] Push the second carriage across the needle bed, knitting in the FWP needles with the contrasting color. After you knit the row with the second carriage, all needles will be in FWP. REMOVE second carriage from the bed. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to knit every row of pattern containing two colors.

Special Knitting Tips and Hints:

  1. While knitting, ALWAYS CHECK to see if the LATCH IS OPEN on any needle where the stitch is behind the latch.
  2. If you wish to knit in the yarn floats that occur between contrasting color sts or catch in the end of the contrasting yarn at the end of each row, work the following before knitting the main color of the next row as described in Step 1.

Floats: Before knitting the main color as described in Step 1 above, pick up the float (the best place is in the center) and place it on ONE of the needles directly above the float, placing the strand of yarn BEHIND THE LATCH with the stitch that is already there. It will knit into the back of the work as you pass the carriage to knit the main color. [My rule of thumb for knitting in floats is that I knit them in if they are carried more than 1″. Ex: If your stitch gauge is 5 sts = 1″ , I would always knit my float into the back of the work if the yarn is carried more than 5 stitches across the back. ] Also be careful of knitting in floats always in the same position (that is, on top of one another. Spread them out if possible. Also be careful of knitting in dark color floats on a light background. Sometimes they tend to show through. You may want to secure the floats by some other means after you have knitted your garment.

To catch in the contrasting color at end of row: Before knitting the main color as described in Step 1 above, take the end and lay the strand of yarn on the end needle or second to the end needle with the strand of yarn BEHIND THE LATCH. I then put a clothespin or clip on the end to insure there is some tension on the end and it will knit into the back of the work properly.

  1. Another tip is to adjust the intarsia keyplate tension to what works best with your main keyplate tension. You may want to have the intarsia keyplate tension slightly tighter to avoid droopy loops on the back of the fabric.

I hope this explains the procedure. I like knitting fair-isle this way because the contrasting color tension is much more even and it goes a little faster not having to hand manipulate all of those stitches.

If you don’t have a second carriage, they are available for purchase. You can do it without a second carriage, but you must always unthread and switch keyplates with every pass of the carriage. It becomes very tiresome – fast!!!!!

These instructions have also been written up in the BOND Stitch Encyclopedia Vol #1, and also in the Sept/Oct 1991 (Issue #44) of The Machine Knitters Source.

I gave you a few more hints and tips here than what you will find in those publications.

I am glad somebody asked about the technique and hope that you will show the technique to others.

I must ask though, that you respect copyright on this article written here and print it only for personal use. Thanks so very much!

Just a little background info from Cindy, “I never liked knitting the fair-isle stitches by hand, so I had been racking my brain as to a way in which they could be knitted with a carriage. It came to me one morning at 6AM while lying in bed!!! Needless to say, I had to get up and try my idea to see if it worked. I’m sure glad it did. You never know what you can come up with by doing a little thinking! Maybe you will discover a new technique.”


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