What is the double-knitting technique?


The double-knitting technique is a way of creating a double-sided piece of knitting. The two pieces of knitting aren’t worked separately – they are created simultaneously. You knit with a single pair of needles (or a circular needle) but you use two balls of yarn at the same time. In order to keep a track of where you are as you work, you should do double knitting in two different coloured yarns – and by using two colours you can also create interesting reversible patterns.

To get started you need to cast on twice as many stitches as you need – half of the stitches will be in your first colour, the other half will be in the second colour. The simplest way is to use a long-tail cast-on method (see Knit & Stitch Creative Issue 41) and start by making a slip knot in each of your yarns and put these on a knitting needle. Then cast on stitches, alternating between the colours as you go.

To work the first row, pick up the same colour yarn as the first stitch on your needle and then use this to knit the first stitch. Bring the two yarns to the front and twist them together (you need to do this to keep the two pieces of the work joined at the sides). Pick up the same colour of yarn as the second stitch on your needle and use it to purl the stitch. Take both yarns to the back and then use the same colour as the third stitch to knit it. Continue in this way to the end of the row. Turn the work and then repeat the same method to work the next, and all subsequent, rows – knit the stitches that were purled on the previous row, and vice versa. If you work in this way you will have two separate pieces of knitted stocking stitch fabric, each in a different colour, joined at the sides and at the top and bottom. The knit stitches will face outwards on either side of the work; the purl stitches are concealed inside the double knitting.

If you create a pattern with your two colours then the fabrics will be interlocked. To do this you need to swap the colours as you work. For example, if you are working with blue and yellow yarns and you want to create stripes, you start by knitting a few rows as described above. When you want to start a blue stripe on the yellow side (and vice versa), you work your first stitch in blue instead of yellow, your second stitch in yellow instead of blue, and so on. With a bit of experience you can manipulate the different colours to create complex reversible patterns.

To cast off, work with the two yarns held together and knit the first two stitches on the needle together. Then knit the next two stitches together and lift the two strands of the first stitch over the two strands of the second stitch. Continue across the row in the same way until you have one stitch (made up of two strands of yarn) on the needle Cut off your yarn and draw the yarns through.