Double Knitting

  • 01 of 08

    Beginning Double Knitting

    Forming a knit stitch to begin double knitting.
    Sarah E. White

    Double knitting is a cool knitting technique that allows you to produce a double layer of Stockinette Stitch fabric with mirror-image colorwork while knitting both layers at the same time.


    It sounds complicated, and it certainly can be, but it's pretty easy to get started with double knitting once you understand how the fabric comes together, which is what this tutorial aims to do.


    If you want to follow along, you'll need two different colored balls of yarn (one that you can get to both ends...MORE of) and knitting needles of a corresponding size. I used two medium-weight cotton yarns and a pair of size * US (5 mm) needles.


    To begin, cast on the number of stitches you want to practice with. I used the two-color cast on, but, for practice purposes, you could just cast on with a single color, but remember that you need twice as many stitches as you intend to knit because you're working both sides of the fabric at the same time. So I have 12 stitches on each side or 24 loops total. Casting on with two colors actually makes it much easier to tell which "side" you're on, and it's not too difficult, so give it a try!


    To start double knitting, you simply knit the first stitch in the color that it is (in this case yellow) with both yarns held to the back.


    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Purling in Double Knitting

    Purling the second stitch starts producing the second side of your double knitting project.
    Sarah E. White

    The second stitch on the needle in is the second color. This is the first stitch of the second side of your knitting, though it looks like it's all one "side" right now.


    Bring both strands of yarn to the front and purl this stitch with the corresponding color (in this case gray). Only between the first and second stitches should you twist your yarns before forming the stitch. This hooks the two layers together and makes it so you're not knitting two separate pieces of knitting at the same time!


    By...MORE purling on this side of the work, you're actually making the second layer Stockinette Stitch, too, because the knit side will face out as you continue to work.


    Now just move both yarns to the back and knit the next stitch with the first color, bring the yarns forward and purl the next stitch with the second color and so on across the row.


    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Yarn Management in Double Knitting

    Holding both yarns on one finger when working double knitting.
    Sarah E. White

    One of the most important things to remember when double knitting is that both yarns have to move when making a stitch. If you leave a yarn at the back when you are purling a stitch, that yarn will leave a strand that carries over the front of the knitting on that side of the work. (Of course, this swatch is just for practice, so don't worry about it if you do leave some strands hanging.)


    For this reason and to help maintain even tension as you work each side, it's also important to hold both...MORE strands of yarn as you work each stitch, as shown in the picture. It sounds difficult but really after the first row or so it will feel comfortable to hold tension on both threads and knit or purl with whichever color is needed.


    In fact, with a little practice on solid-color rows, you might not even need to look at your work every stitch. Really.


    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Finshing the First Row

    The first row of double knitting doesn't look like much, but it's starting a good foundation.
    Sarah E. White

    Continue to work across the row, knitting a stitch in one color and purling a stitch in the other color, across the row. If you used the two-color cast on, you can drop the slip knot when you get to the end of the row.


    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Continue to Knit

    Double Knitting Sides
    After a few rows, the two sides of the double knitting project begin to emerge. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    While you're getting comfortable with the moves of double knitting, continue working in the same fashion. On the second row, you'll knit the stitches that were purled on the previous row and purl the stitches that were knit on the previous row. Keep your colors consistent throughout.


    After you work a few rows, remembering to twist the yarn between the first two stitches of each row, you'll begin to see the two-sided fabric forming.


    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Making a Color Pattern

    Working a knit stitch in the opposite color with make a gray stitch show on the yellow side.
    Sarah E. White

    Now that you're comfortable with double knitting, it's time to get to the fun stuff, which is making a two-sided, mirror-image color pattern. This is the whole reason we do double knitting, right?


    If you're following along with my swatch, which has 12 stitches on each side, I worked three stitches in the original color (that's six stitches total, three on each side), then six stitches on each side in the opposite color, then three stitches on each side in the original color again.


    To change colors...MORE you simply knit or purl with the opposite color than the one you have been using. In the picture, I'm on the yellow side and I want to start working my gray square, so instead of knitting the stitch with yellow, I knit it with gray. The next stitch I will purl with yellow to start what will be a yellow square on the other side and so on across the color section.


    To finish with yellow at the end of the row, just start knitting the stitches on that side in yellow again and purling in gray as before.


    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Continuing Your Pattern

    The colored square is taking shape (don't mind the miscolored stitch; it's practice!).
    Sarah E. White

    On the next row, you'll do the same thing, working stitches in yellow on the gray side (in this example) and gray on the yellow side to make the color pattern appear.


    Again because this is practice, don't worry if you mess up and work a stitch in the wrong color. Just keep working in this manner for as many rows as you like.


    For symmetry, you will probably want to work a few rows in a single color on each side just like you did at the beginning. To change back to solid-color knitting from your...MORE pattern, start working all the stitches on each "side" in a single color instead of working some in each color.


    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Binding Off

    Binding off, and showing the opposite side of the knitting.
    Sarah E. White

    When it comes to binding off double knitting, you have a couple of different options. You can choose one color and bind off in the standard way, or you can do a simple two-color bind off.


    All you have to do to bind off in two colors is knit the first stitch in the established color, move the yarns forward, twist as usual before purling the second stitch in the established color, then pass the first stitch over the second.


    Move both yarns back, knit the next stitch, pass the first stitch over and...MORE so on until all the stitches have been bound off. Trim your yarns, put the thread that's the same color as the last stitch through that stitch and pull it tight.