Double Knitting Technique

  • 01 of 08

    Beginning Double Knitting

    A knit stitch on knitting needles.
    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.

    If you want to follow along, you'll need two different colored balls of yarn (one that you can get to both ends of) and knitting needles of a corresponding size. We 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. We 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.

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

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Purling in Double Knitting

    Close up of purling the second stitch.
    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 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

    Person with yarn wrapped around forefinger holding knitting needles.
    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.

    Hold both 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.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Finshing the First Row

    Close up of the first row of double knitting.
    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

    Close up of Double Knitting Sides
    Sarah E. White

    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

    Close up of a knit stitch on the opposite 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?

    To change colors you simply knit or purl with the opposite color than the one you have been using. 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

    Close up of a knitted square.
    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.

    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 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

    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 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.