Double the Fun with Double Knitting

Double knitting is a method of creating a double-sided fabric. If you can knit one stitch and purl one stitch, as in 1×1 ribbing, you can work double knitting—even if you’ve never really done colorwork before! The trick is to remember to bring both strands of yarn between the needles to create each stitch. You’re only working with one color at a time, but both colors must be moved to the front or back of the piece, depending on whether a stitch is being knit or purled.

If you’ve never worked colorwork double knitting, here’s an easy practice piece. You’ll need two colors of yarn, preferably the same yarn, but definitely at least the same weight.

Using a two-color method (see page 81 for an example), CO 20 sts. *With both yarns at the back of the work, k1 with MC (figure 1). Move both yarns to the front of the work (figure 2), p1 with CC. Rep from * to end.

double knitting

When working back and forth, turn the work and twist the yarns at the beginning of the next row to keep the layers from separating by bringing the new color under the old color (figure 3), then *with both yarns in back, k1 with CC, with both yarns in front, p1 with MC; rep from * to end.

Simply working the alternating knit/purl stitches as described will result in a double-sided fabric with a single color on each side. When you work in a charted pattern, however, you’re creating a double-sided fabric with one side a mirror image of the other. Double knitting does not create a truly reversible fabric, so it’s not ideal for a chart that has words or letters—they’ll end up reversed on one side.

In a double-knitting charted pattern worked in the round, each box of the chart represents a pair of stitches: a knit stitch with the color shown on the chart and a purl stitch with the opposite color. Therefore, each box of the chart must be worked twice: once in the facing color as a knit stitch and then again with the non-facing color as a purl stitch.

double knitting

Working a double-knitting chart is just like working a colorwork chart, but remember to work each chart box twice and pass the yarn between needles.

Reading every chart round from right to left, knit every stitch represented by a white box with color A (figure 4), making sure both yarns are behind the needles, then bring the yarns between the needles and work that same box as a purl stitch in B (figure 5). To work the stitches represented by pink boxes, bring both yarns to the back of the work and knit with B (figure 6), then bring the yarns between the needles and purl with A (figure 7). After each knit/purl pair is completed, the number of stitches on the right needle will be double the number of chart symbols worked.

Double knitting is really quite easy once you get the hang of it—try it out and see for yourself!


This article was originally featured in the 2014 edition of knitscene accessories.


Embrace squishy knitted fabric – get started on double knitting!

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