I've tried knitting two-at-a-time before. The exact details of the project are fuzzy - maybe it was a pair of socks - but I do remember not being fond of the technique. Learning to knit with double pointed needles felt like holding an ornery hedgehog. Trying to knit a pair of socks at the same time on one long circular needle was like wrestling an octopus. After that initial attempt, I didn't bother trying two-at-a-time again as it seemed more frustrating than useful.
Let's jump to 2016 when I was in the middle of knitting the Gramps cardigan. When I cast on, it seemed like a great idea to start with the sleeves and skip second sleeve syndrome. That first sleeve went quickly, but I couldn't finish it until I knew what cable row I'd have to match on the body. So I started the sweater body and knit to the join. Then I added the necessary rows to the sleeve and put the two together. My satisfaction of having something that looked sweater-like was short lived because the sleeve was too long. Ugg. I tinked back, removed the sleeve, and ignored the whole thing for a day.
There was a fair bit of math involving gauge, cable repeats, and cuff ribbing, but I figured out how to get a perfectly sized sleeve. Then I ripped out sleeve #1. Knowing that I was essentially knitting three sleeves didn't appeal. For once, trying to knit two sleeves at the same time seemed more appealing than slogging through them one at a time. I'm blaming The Knitmore Girls podcast for putting the idea back in my head.
This video tutorial from KnitFreedom about how to cast on for two-at-a-time was the least fiddly that I found. Still, the first couple of rows were like wrestling with an octopus. There were strands of yarn and dangling cables everywhere. A needle tip even flicked up and winged me in the face. This only made me more determined to wrangle the sleeve beast. Thankfully, things did calm down after the first couple of rows. Knitting the sleeves went reasonably quickly and wasn't a complete slog either. The thought that I'd essentially be knitting 5 sleeves if I messed up this pair did occur to me. Fortunately, the sleeves turned out the right length this time around.
Since working sleeves two-at-a-time went so well, I decided to try knitting a pair of socks the same way. To be fair, the only reason I did was because I couldn't find my second 2.0mm circular. Casting on would have been easier if I'd started both socks at the same. I added the second sock to the needles when the first toe was almost finished. By the way, I do not recommend this. I've since put a few more rounds on these socks and I'm not loving the process. Maybe it's the stitch count. Maybe it the cable on the circular needles I'm using. Maybe it's how often I have to untangle yarn. All of these frustrations are adding up and it feels like wrestling an octopus again. These socks are supposed to be purse knitting: easy to pick up and work on for a minute or two at a time. This pair is anything put. The good news is that I found my other 2.0mm circular so each sock will get it's own needle ASAP.
Knitting two things on the same needle has proved itself to be a mixed bag. It was great for making matching sleeves without having to psych myself up to make the second. Though trying to knit two socks at the same time is everything aggravating that made me ditch the technique in the first place. Two-at-a-time isn't going to become my default way of knitting pairs of everything, but I'm not throwing is aside either. It's great for knitting pairs of small things: baby sweater sleeves, ear flaps for hats, or softie parts. I'm definitely going to use the technique again, just matched with the right project. Octopuses are awesome but I don't want to wrestle one every time I knit.