No, you’re not seeing double – not really. And no, Double Knitting doesn’t mean you have to knit the same thing twice – well, not really. You are knitting two pieces of fabric at the same time to create one reversible piece of fabric. Clear as mud, right? Although technically you could use any arbitrary number of yarns and colors, Double Knitting is usually done with two colors and usually the same yarn (although there is no reason you can’t change the yarn to give you more textural alternatives).
There are several ways of creating Double Knitting. The two most common are probably the easiest as well (relatively speaking). The thing is, before we can start Double Knitting, we have to cast on. You can use any two color method for casting on that you know or like, but I like using the long tail cast on with a bit of a twist to it. If you’ve read this blog previously, you may have come across the technique I showed for creating purl stitches with the long tail cast on. you’re going to implement that here. You prep this cast on by getting both using one yarn color for one tail, and the other color for the other tail. Hold the two tails as if they were one ball of yarn in the long tail method. Cast on one stitch with the first color (A) using the regular long tail method. Cast on the second stitch with the second color (B) using the reversed long tail method. What you will have is color A stitches cast on as knit stitches and color B stitches cast on as purl stitches. Alternate the colors as needed for the pattern. Here is an excellent video that shows the method.
So now that you have the stitches cast on, let’s look at two ways to create the Double Knitting piece of fabric we’re going for. Double knitting is a way of making reversible fabric as you are actually making two pieces of fabric at the same time. They will be laying with their “wrong” sides together and have their “right” sides out. Of course, when you are finished, the right side of the second piece of fabric (color B) will be the “reverse” of the double knitted fabric. Hopefully you’re still with me. Because it is reversible I am using color A as the “right” side of the double knitted fabric. It’s also important to note that with Double Knitting you have the option to interlock the fabrics or leave them separate, thus in actuality creating a hollow space between them. If you’ve ever faced the challenge of making a stocking stitch scarf and didn’t want the edges to roll, this might be a method for you to try.
Method 1 – This method is probably easiest when worked in the round as you will be knitting the color facing out and purling the color facing in. Doing it on a circular (great for making hats) allows you to just keep working in circles instead of going back and forth on straight needles and having to seam later and also trying to remember which side is facing you. You also have the ability to see your work as you’re going along. In actuality this method is quite simple. You will go along and knit the stitches that belong on the “right” side and then purl the next stitch, as it belongs on the wrong side of the other piece of fabric.
Okay, now that I have you totally confused, let’s have a look at this in a little more detail. What you are doing is creating two pieces of fabric in stocking stitch (for now). You know that a knit stitch on the right side is a purl stitch on the reverse, right? Now color A is facing you, so to create the stocking stitch for color A you need to knit that stitch. Before you do another stitch for color A, you have to do the matching stitch for color B. Now color B’s reverse side is the one facing you. That means that for stocking stitch, we have to purl that stitch.
You continue in this manner until you have done a round – or row if you’re working flat. If you’re working flat, when you turn your row you’ll have the right side of color B facing you and be knitting those stitches and purling the stitches for color A. Can I take you a step farther? Thinking about the process going on here, you’ll realize that you have a few options. Color work in Double Knitting is a lot easier because you always have both colors at hand, all the time. If you want to switch colors, you simply knit the color you want to be on the front of the side facing you – no stranding or twisting involved! You can also change the texture of the fabric by purling the color facing you and knitting (or purling the other depending on the desired effect) the other. It is important to have a pattern though as it might all get very confusing very quickly if you’re not careful.
Here is another video showing this method for creating a two color hat – the famous Four Winds Hat by Fallingblox.
So there you have the technique – the first one – for creating Double Knitting. Here is a picture of the hat described in these videos. Notice how the colors are also reversed in the pattern. I know it looks complicated, but this is actually an excellent project for a beginner to learn the Double Knitting technique.
Tomorrow we’ll look at another method of creating Double Knitting and discuss other uses for the technique. Have fun trying this out!