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Seeing Double…Double Knitting

Would you like to forgo a “wrong side” in your knitting, have no ends to weave in when changing colors or, not worry about curling edges? I recently discovered double knitting on my quest to experiment with new colorwork techniques. Up until now, I was completely unfamiliar with double knitting, but it is the answer to all of these common knitting difficulties.


A double knit pattern of a swirl and diamonds is being shown in progress in light blue and gold with the attached yarn balls in the background.

Double knitting creates a thick, cushy fabric with two right sides. It also produces crisp, straight edges that do not curl. This is accomplished by working two colors simultaneously. After casting on there will be a series of stitch pairs, one stitch in each color. Both strands of color travel together to knit and purl, but only one color is worked at that time in the k1, p1 pattern. This will ensure that the front and back will both be “right sides”.


A close up of how the two strands of yarn should be held to knit and purl in double knitting.  The light blue and gold yarn make up a swirl and diamond pattern on the knitting.

Charts

Double knitting can create beautiful color patterns that appear on both sides of the fabric! Charts are used to tell the knitter how to create the color patterns. If you are familiar with chart reading, it is almost the same process. The charts are read according to the direction of the knitting; right to left for right side rows and left to right for wrong side rows. Charts that show circular knitting are always read right to left. The largest difference is that each square represents a stitch pair instead of just one stitch. it is important to remember to knit with one color and then purl with the other color for each square. The chart shows the pattern in grey, while the background color will be white. Here the knitter decides what will be the main color on the side that is being worked on, this will be represented by the white squares on the chart. The grey squares will represent the contrasting color to create the pattern. If the piece is being worked in the round this will always remain the same. However, if the piece is being worked flat, the wrong side rows will represent the main and contrasting colors of the side that is facing you.


Cast On


The light blue and gold alternate on the edge of the work in the two-color cast on technique.

There are two main cast on techniques, each leads to a slightly different look on the edge. In the two-color cast on technique, both colors are cast on simultaneously using a long-tail cast on method. First, the knitter measures out a long length of both yarns. Holding the yarns together, create a slipknot. The color that is first in the slipknot will become the main color on the side facing the knitter. Next, using the long-tail method, cast on one stitch with the first color yarn, then cast on one stitch with the second color yarn. This becomes a stitch pair. Keep alternating colors until the desired number of stitch pairs is reached. The picture to the left shows how the edge using the two-color cast on technique will look when completed.


The light blue dominates with only little bumps of the gold yarn peaking through in the one-color cast on technique

A single strand of the yarn is used to cast on half the number of stitches required or one stitch per stitch pair in the one-color cast on technique. In the next row or round each stitch is knit front and back to create a stitch pair, thus doubling the number of stitches on the needles. To do this, knit in the front part of the stitch with the main color, but do not remove the stitch from the left needle. Then knit in the back part of the same stitch with the contrasting color removing that stitch from the left needle. Once all the stitches are cast on in either method the knitter can begin knitting as the pattern states. The picture to the right shows how the one-color cast on technique will look when completed. There is a distinct difference between the two techniques.


I have really enjoyed experimenting with double knitting! I believe it has many uses and would make amazing garments and household goods. I can’t wait to experiment more! Definitely keep an eye out for a few double knitting patterns in the future.


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Sources:

Knitting Double by Anja Belle

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