How to knit tutorial: What is double-knitting?

Using double-knitting for colour work

I came across double-knitting a few years ago. This technique intrigued me! Double-knit fabric has two layers which are knitted at the same time using two balls of yarn and a pair of straight knitting needles or a circular needle. You could use this technique to knit a seamless pocket, or a pair of socks at the same time. And it can be used to knit reversible stitch patterns in more than one colour.
What is double-knitting?

Stocking stitch in double-knitting

Here you see a sample of stocking stitch fabric worked using the double-knitting technique. On the needle, you can see stitches alternating between blue and yellow yarn. When you look at the fabric you can see the knit side in blue. The yellow stitches are hidden underneath the blue, although you can just see them peeping out at the lower edge. Take a look at the stitches on the needle; just below the yellow ones you can see purl bumps, so the purl sides of both the yellow and blue stitches are inside the two layered fabric. Which means that the knit side of the yellow fabric is on the outside. So, both ‘right’  sides are a ‘knit’ side.
Double-knitting sample on knitting needle
Let’s take the sample off the needle and separate the layers. You can clearly see the ‘purl’ side of the yellow fabric now.
Double-knitting sample showing two layers
And now the two layers are completely separated. You can see where they join at the lower edge and that they are joined on each side.
Double-knitting sample showing two layers joined at sides and lower edge
Let’s put the knitting back on the needle.

Colour patterns in double-knitting

You can see I’ve added some more rows and started a colour pattern.

Before I go any further, it will make it easier to follow if I refer to the side you can see as the facing side and the side you can’t see as the opposite side. Now I have six stitches in blue, three in yellow, then six in blue on the facing side (which means six in yellow, three in blue and six more in yellow on the opposite side).

Look at the stitches on the needle. Can you see where there are two adjacent yellow stitches? This is where the colours swap from one side to the other. So, I started by knitting six stitches in blue yarn on the facing side, then three on the opposite side and finally six more on the facing side.
Double-knitting sample with a simple pattern on knitting needle
Let’s take the sample off the needle and separate the layers again. Firstly, you can see that the facing side has a blue background with a yellow square, while the opposite side has a yellow background with a blue square. You can also see that it is no longer possible to completely separate the layers. The two layers are interlocked where the colours swap from one to the other.
Double-knitting sample with a simple pattern showing joins at edges and where colours swap
In my next post, I’ll explain how to knit double-knitting stocking stitch. Meanwhile please take a look at the Anemone fingerless mittens and the Cymru cowl to see how double-knitting can be used for colour patterns.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at my other tutorials. Choose from:

You knit right-handed if your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your stitches move from your left-hand to your right-hand needle as you knit.

You knit left-handed if your left hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your stitches move from your right-hand to your left-hand needle as you knit.

You crochet right-handed if you hold your hook in your right hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your new stitches are on the left of your old ones.

You crochet left-handed if you hold your hook in your left hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and your new stitches are on the right of your old ones.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Ett

    This is wonderful!!! After a long time trying to explain to my husband, that this is knitting, not a black magic… This set of photos he finally understoood 🙂

    1. Being Knitterly

      Hi Ett, so glad this made sense!