Whorl’d Tree v2 by Alasdair Post-Quinn
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Whorl’d Tree v2

Knitting
October 2011
Worsted (9 wpi) ?
26 stitches and 26 rows = 4 inches
in four-color double-stockinette
US 6 - 4.0 mm
1235 - 1729 yards (1129 - 1581 m)
12", 15"

From the pattern:

I’ve been wanting to do something with whorl patterns on it for a while. The challenge of a 3-color whorl (on a background of a fourth color) in a 4-direction matrix appealed to me. After some swatching, it became clear that any 4-color double-knit fabric would become both thick and inflexible. I could deal with the thickness by going down in yarn and needle sizes, but the flexibility issue was not going to be easy to solve. So I thought about items where the inflexible fabric was an asset, and settled on a bag. I toyed with various designs before deciding on a bottom-up oblong shoulder bag. This also gave me a chance to use the gorgeous but inflexible decorative bind-off where people would actually see it, along the outer rim of the bag and the long edge of the flap.

I see the design as a sort of stylized impression of a forest from inside: the brown of the roots, the green of the canopy, all tied together with the blue of the water that keeps it all alive.

What’s New?

In the previous version of this bag, the inside layer was white (or the same color as the background of the outside layer). This created problems with the edges in the flat sections: when the knit and purl are both the same color, the multi-color linked pair (page 91) doesn’t work properly. To be fair, I hadn’t really formulated the multi-color linked pair when I published the original edition of this book, so I was just instructing people to twist all four ends together until they were anchored in. This isn’t guaranteed to work every time, and can cause lumps in the edge, not to mention the probability of visible extra colors between pairs where they shouldn’t be visible. One way to fix this is to make sure that the edge uses a different color knit and purl, which of course must be propagated throughout if it’s going to look consistent. Of the four colors used in this pattern, only two of them are used in every row, so I had only one choice: the blue (or Color B). However, while it is used in every row, Color B is used far less than Color A on the outside of the bag, which means that the places where the two layers are anchored together are fewer and further between. This means that the inside solid layer of Color B tends to bunch up and get a little ruffly. This isn’t a big deal: the inside of many lined purses often looks like this. But if you don’t like it, the only way to minimize it is to be very, very careful about your tension.

In addition, the previous version of this bag was done entirely in twisted stitches. I cast on to start this bag in untwisted stitches without gauge swatching for it (my fault, really), and was surprised to find out that the gauge is radically different if twisted stitches are not used. This should not come as a surprise, but in most multi-color double-knitting, the strands will compress the stitches so that the gauges will come out at least similar. But this is not normal multi-color double-knitting, and with increased attention to my tension, the bag came out significantly larger than the previous version: about 1.5x the width. So even if I didn’t have time to reknit it, I did have the wherewithal to design a second option which will be smaller and use less yarn — but will come out in untwisted stitches in a very similar size to the original version in twisted stitches.