two at a time flat

How to Knit Two-at-a-Time for Flat Pieces

Knitting two-at-a-time is a handy skill to learn. It can be done for flat pieces or in the round. This tutorial is for flat pieces. Click here to learn to knit two-at-a-time in the round.

Benefits of Knitting Two-at-a-Time

Two-at-a-time (TAAT) knitting is handy for knitting pieces that match, such as sleeves or sweater fronts. There are several benefits to knitting TAAT:

  1. Matching pieces: Your pieces are more likely to match. Since you are knitting them at the same time, your tension will be the same for both pieces. Also, you will do increases, decreases, and other design elements on the same row in both pieces.
  2. Fewer notes on your pattern: When you knit one at a time, you need to make notes on your pattern so that the other piece will match (i.e., row counts for increases and decreases). By knitting TAAT, you don’t need to make those notes.
  3. Get both done at the same time – no 2nd sock syndrome. 🙂

Complications of Knitting Two-at-a-Time

There are also a few complications with knitting TAAT. They are:

  1. It tends to take a bit more concentration than knitting one at a time. For example:
    1. You need to be especially aware of which row AND which piece you are working on… Do not stop mid-row – both working yarns will be at the needle tips (more on this later).
    2. “At the same time” instructions can be especially tricky. For example, when you need to shape the neck & armholes on 2 opposite pieces. You can do it, but I recommend you get comfortable with TAAT knitting and “at the same time” shaping individually before you try them together.
  2. Pieces that are the same on both sides are a little harder to keep track of. Stitch patterns like garter stitch, ribbing, and seed stitch look the same on both sides. This does not make knitting them TAAT harder. But it does make keeping track of where you are in the pattern a little bit harder than stitch patterns that have unique right and wrong sides.
  3. Your yarns will get twisted. Deal with it… it’s worth it! 🙂

How to Knit Two-at-a-Time for Flat Pieces

Watch this video to learn how to knit TAAT for flat pieces, then continue reading this tutorial for photos showing where the working yarn is on each step. Another video is near the end of this tutorial to show you how to do a provisional cast on for TAAT.

One of the hardest things about knitting TAAT is keeping track of where you are in the project. In the following photos, I’ve captured what a project looks like at each stage of knitting a right side row and a wrong side row.

Beginning of Right Side Row

When you are at the beginning of a right side row, there is only one working yarn you are able to use. Note that the white working yarn can be slid to the needle tip and the orange one cannot be because it is “stuck” between the pieces.

two at a time flat beg of RS row

Halfway through Right Side Row

When you are halfway through a right side row – in other words, you’ve knit a right side row on one piece but not the other – both working yarns can be slid to a needle tip and be knit. I’ve included photos of both the right side and wrong side because, as you will soon see, this looks the same as when you are halfway through a wrong side row. 

And this is where it gets confusing. It is difficult to tell which yarn to use. To decide, you must count the rows of each piece. The one with fewer rows is the one to knit.

two at a time flat midway through RS row
two at a time flat midway through RS row

Beginning of Wrong Side Row

When you are at the beginning of a wrong side row, there is only one working yarn you are able to use. Note that the orange working yarn can be slid to the needle tip and the white one cannot be because it is “stuck” between the pieces.

two at a time flat beg of WS row

Halfway through Wrong Side Row

In these photos, I’ve knit the wrong side row on the orange piece but not the white piece. Compare these photos to the ones in the “Halfway through Right Side Row” section above. The working yarn placement is exactly the same. 

When you stop mid-row, both working yarns can be used and the only way to tell which piece you should knit is to count the rows of both pieces. That is why I stress that you should not stop working mid-row.

Once you figure out which piece to knit and slide the working yarn to the tip, it will be obvious whether you should be working a right side or wrong side row. I say “obvious”, but I realize that may not be the case for newer knitters. So let me explain… hold your work like you are ready to take your first stitch. Then, look at the side of the work that is facing you. That’s the side you should knit.

TAAT midway through WS row
TAAT midway through WS row

How to Do a Provisional Cast On for Two-at-a-Time Knitting

I like to use the Tubular Cast On for ribbed sleeve cuffs, and I like to knit my sleeves TAAT. That particular cast on requires that you first start with a provisional cast on. There are other reasons you may want to use a provisional cast on with TAAT knitting. Therefore, I’ve produced this short video to show you how to do a provisional cast on when you are knitting two-at-a-time.

Combining & Separating Pieces

While this tutorial focuses on knitting TAAT from start to finish, it is possible to knit part of your project TAAT.

Depending on the project, you may want to cast on and knit the beginning for each piece separately. After you finish the hard part, combine the 2 pieces on one needle to finish. When you combine them, make sure the working yarns are positioned properly. Use the “beginning of the row” photos above as a guide.

Or, there may be a difficult section midway through your project. If that is the case, you could knit TAAT up to that point then separate the pieces to knit them individually. For example, if you are knitting the left and right fronts of a V-neck cardigan from the bottom up, you may want to knit them TAAT until you get to the armhole and neck shaping.

Want to Use TAAT Knitting in a Project?

The best way to really learn a skill is to use it in a project. There are several sweaters in the Knit Along Club for which you could use TAAT knitting for the sleeves and/or fronts. The one I specifically developed this tutorial for is Drift, a gansey-inspired cardigan with a feminine fit. Check it out at https://knitalongclub.com/course/drift/.

Drift KAL

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