Condo knitting is a simple but unique knitting technique that uses two sizes of knitting needles to create a light and drapey material.
In its most basic form, this is garter stitch, knitting every row. By working with needles that have a large size difference, the rows of knitting alternate between standard stitches and large, open stitches. You may even notice that condo knitting looks a lot like the good kind of dropped stitches. But you can also use needles with less size contrast and try other stitch patterns for a different look.
Use this style of knitting for simple scarves, stylish shawls, and soft sweaters, or anything you want to feel airy and open.
Condo knitting was at the height of its popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.
While you can use any yarn to try out this technique, softer yarns give better results. Because the knitting itself makes a soft material, you don't want to fight that with stiff yarn. You should also consider the weight of the yarn. Thin or mid-weight yarns are easier because you are more likely to have the knitting needles you need. Extra bulky yarn will work, but you'll need at least one huge knitting needle.
Choosing Different Needles Sizes
Unless you have a pattern that suggests specific needles, there's not an exact formula for what size needles to use for condo knitting. However, a bigger size difference makes a more open and fluid knitted fabric.
To start, choose a set of straight needles in the size recommended for the yarn you're using. You need two so you can cast on, knit the first row at the small size, then bind off again. The sample pictured started with a set of US size 7 (4.5mm) needles.
Next, choose a needle that is much larger. You only need one large needle because you'll always use this to knit stitches on the smaller needle. For this, the sample needle is a US size 19 (15mm).
No matter what kind of knitting you do, it's a good idea to make a swatch. For condo knitting, make several swatches in with different size pairings to see how the look changes.
Condo Knitting Stitch
Cast On: With the smaller needles, cast on any number of stitches using any method you like.
Row 1: Use the small needles to knit every stitch. If you used a long-tail cast on, you can skip this row the first time.
Row 2: Use the large needle to knit every stitch.
Knitting with the large needle for the first time feels very tight and even awkward. It gets easier as you add rows, but you should make sure that you work the stitches loose enough to slide along the large needle.
To help with this, as you knit each stitch, push it along to the full thickness of the needle. Don't work only at the tip. Hold the stitch(es) as you bring the work back to the tip for the next stitch, making sure that you don't pull the previous stitch too tight.
Repeat rows 1 and 2, alternating between the needle sizes.
For variety, you could also knit several rows with the small needles before switching back to alternating between large and small.
Finishing: To bind off, work your last row on the small needle, then bind off with the second small needle.
Condo knitting is easiest when worked flat, but you can work in the round with a bit of changing things around. After knitting the first round on circular needles, change to the larger size circular needle (or change the tip on interchangeable needles). Purl the next round. Switch back to the smaller needle and knit, alternating just as you do on straight needles.
Start trying this technique on different needles and with different yarns, and soon you'll be hunting down vintage condo knitting patterns and creating your own projects!