How To: Double Knitting
Reversible colourwork is an impressive but surprisingly straightforward technique. This easy guide will get you off to a flying start!
Double knitting is a fascinating technique, which can be used to create reversible, double-faced fabrics. Double knitting can be worked flat or in the round and colourwork looks stunning. With double knitting, a red heart on a white background on one side magically transforms into a white heart on a red background on the other – and no one will know how you did it!
How double knitting works
A knit stitch is smooth on the side facing you and has a bump on the reverse. Purl stitches on the other hand show a bump on the front as it faces you but are smooth on the side facing away from you. The nature of this knitting technique means that the bumps are trapped between the smooth knit stitches so can’t be seen. This leaves only the smooth (right) sides visible on both outer faces of the fabric.
Provisional crochet cast on
Using a piece of smooth, contrasting waste yarn, make a crochet chain approximately 10 stitches longer than the number of cast-on stitches required. Loop working yarn (CC2 for this pattern) over needle. Hold loop firmly with RH and draw loop through crochet bump at back of crochet chain.
With working yarn, make a knit stitch in the normal way into next bump on back of crochet chain. Repeat until stated number of stitches has been made.
Join stitches into a circle, being careful not to twist stitches, and k three rounds in CC2.
– Unravel the chain one stitch at a time rather than ripping out the whole chain at once
– Use a smooth, contrasting-colour yarn for the crocheted chain because it makes it easier to see and to unravel
Transfer stitches to circular needle
Transfer stitches on provisional cast-on chain onto a new needle by returning to crocheted chain, loosening end and pulling back chain. As you do so, live stitches will be exposed. Place each live stitch on a new circular needle.
Create folded edge
With working yarn to R, fold work with WS together, holding spare (grey) needle with picked-up stitches behind knit stitches on front (brown) needle. Place marker to denote start of round. Use front needle to knit first stitch on front needle.
Still using front needle, purl first stitch on back needle. Continue, knitting one stitch from front needle and purling one from back needle. When all stitches on spare needle have been worked, put needle to one side and return to working on one needle.
(Note: Check total stitch count at this stage as occasionally a stitch can be lost during removal of the chain. In this case, at end of round, increase one stitch by picking up loop between stitch just worked and next stitch and purling through back of loop).
Double knitting in the round
The chart should have a clearly explained key but it may help to write out the key with your choice of colours written on to keep you on track
Join in MC and CC1 (or colours as stated in chart) and follow Chart Row 1, working from R to L. *If square is MC, with both yarns at back of work, k next stitch in MC.
Bring both yarns to front of work and p next stitch using just CC1. One chart square completed.
Practise working with both yarns over your finger as this helps to keep the tension even and also makes it easier to ensure that you always bring both yarns back and forwards together.
If next stitch is a CC1, with both yarns at back of work, k next stitch in CC1.
Bring both yarns to front of work and p next stitch using just MC. One chart square completed.
Repeat steps 8 to 11, working a k stitch in the chart colour and a p stitch in the second colour. Note that 2 stitches (a knit and a purl) are worked for each square on the chart. The visible colour on the side facing you will be the colour of the square on the chart, while the alternate colour will be visible on the side facing away from you.
Using the spare circular needle, slip knit stitches onto front needle, purl stitches onto spare needle, holding spare needle at back. To avoid a stepped finish, work one round of purl on just stitches on back needle.
Graft the two edges together using Kitchener stitch.
– Remember that, irrespective of the colours being used, stitch pairings are always knit, purl. You shouldn’t have any knit (or purl) stitches together
– If you spot a stray bar across a stitch, this means you have left a yarn behind when moving front to back or vice versa and the work will need to be taken back to the appropriate point
Words by Debbie Tomkies
Illustrations by Ellen Lindner