How to Use Double Knitting Technique

Two balls of yarn and wood knitting needles on a white background.

 Debbie Wolfe

Overview
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Double knitting allows you to create two layers of fabric at the same time, with only one pair of needles. The right sides of each layer face out, and the wrong sides face each other: stockinette stitch on both sides! The finished fabric is entirely reversible, lending itself to colorwork, contrasting fibers, or simply a finished piece that is twice as warm! Use two contrasting colors, and you can create a piece of knitting with one color on each side and no “wrong side.” Learn how to knit an easy double knit pattern in a matter of minutes.

Notes

Each pair of double knitting stitches consists of one stitch in color A (blue) and one in color B (green). Any type of knitting needle will work for this technique.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knitting needles in size appropriate for yarn

Materials

  • Yarn in two colors, A and B

Instructions

  1. Cast On

    Double knitting is worked in pairs of stitches, one in each color, alternating across the row. The two-color alternating cast-on here is based on the long-tail cast-on.

    • Hold the two yarns together as if they were one, make a slip knot and place it on the needle; count it as your first pair of stitches. Insert your fingers between the yarns such that A is over your index finger and B is over your thumb; cast on one A stitch.
    • *Bringing A over B, switch the positions of the yarn so that B is over your index finger and A is over your thumb; cast on one B stitch. Bringing B over A, switch the positions of the yarn so that A is over your index finger and B is over your thumb; cast on one A stitch.

    Repeat from * until you have an even number of stitches, plus two for edge stitches. Make sure the stitches alternate color in pairs. This is important for success in creating a double knitted fabric.

    Hands casting on yarn onto a wood knitting needle.
    Two Color Long Tail Cast On. Debbie Wolfe

     

    Two colors of yarn looped on wood knitting needle.
    Two Color Cast On. Debbie Wolfe
  2. Selvage Stitches

    Selvage stitches are edge stitches. In most knitting, there is one selvage stitch at each end of a piece; in double knitting there is one stitch pair at each end. The selvage technique used here creates a nice, even, closed edge where the two fabrics meet. You will be slipping the stitch pair at the beginning of the row, and working them together at the end of the row.

    • Slip the first two stitches, as if you were going to knit them together, to the right-hand needle.
    Two wood knitting needles with loops on them.
    Slipping First Stich. Debbie Wolfe
  3. The First Row

    As you work across the row, bring both yarns to the back or front of the work depending upon whether you are about to knit or purl. You will be working only one stitch at a time, but both yarns have to be on the same side of the needle.

    • *With both yarns in back and holding B out of the way to the left, use A to knit the A stitch. Bring both yarns between the needles to the front.
    • With both yarns in front and holding A out of the way to the right, use B to purl the B stitch. Bring both yarns between the needles to the back.

    Repeat from * to the last pair of stitches. With both yarns in front, purl the last two stitches together. Turn the work.

    Two wood knitting needles knitting yarn.
    Double Knitting. Debbie Wolfe
  4. Continue Double Knitting

    Repeat the same steps across the next row, slipping the first two stitches of a row as if to knit, knitting and purling stitch pairs, purling together the last two stitches of a row. Always knit or purl with the same color as the loop being worked!

    As you progress, you will see that both sides of the fabric are in stockinette stitch. While working each stitch of a pair, you are creating first a knit stitch for the side facing you, then a purl stitch for the side facing away from you. This is how the two layers are created at the same time.

    Tip

    Double knitting becomes much easier if you can learn to hold one yarn in each hand. Hold the yarn to be purled in the left hand, Continental style, and the yarn to be knit in the right hand, English style.

    Bringing both yarns forward or backward in order to work just one may seem awkward at first, but as you progress it will become intuitive.

    Double knitted fabric on wood knitting needle.
    One Side of Double Knit Fabric. Debbie Wolfe
    A swatch of knitted fabric on wood knitting needles.
    Double Knitting Technique. Debbie Wolfe
  5. Finishing

    To bind off, hold both strands of yarn as one and knit the first 2 stitches together.

    Using the same color as the stitch, knit one stitch, bind off one stitch; using the same color as the stitch, purl one stitch, bind off one stitch.

    Repeat until there are two stitches left. Using both strands of yarn, knit two together. Block as desired.

    Side by side double knitted fabric swatch on a white background.
    Double Knitted Fabric. Debbie Wolfe