Double Knitting Technique

Double Knit Blanket - pattern from Purl Soho
Double Knit Blanket From Purl Soho (the layers are tacked)

Double knitting forms a unique type of fabric stitch. The double knitting method creates two layers of fabric, usually made with the knit stitches (stockinette stitch) facing out on both sides. Both layers are unconnected except at the side edges. These reversible double thick fabrics may be knit on straight needles, circular or a pair of double pointed needles, and can be made in one or two colours. This technique is excellent for making warm blankets, hats and cowls. I particularly like making double knitted belts. Unlike a double knit belt, most belts are knit on smaller needles and in the same pattern stitch as the borders of a garment, and after tying one over and over have a tendency to stretch out. Double knit fabric is best worked on larger needles, or else the stitches will be too tight.

Double Knitting With One Colour

Working a double knit belt

Using one colour is worked flat on straight needles, or if you have a lot of stitches use a circular needle. The instructions are simple: Cast on an even number of stitches. Row 1: *sl 1 wyif, k1; rep from * across. Repeat this single row for stitch pattern. To bind off the piece: k2tog, *k2tog, pass second stitch over first stitch to bind off 1 stitch; rep from * across. Fasten off the last stitch. 

Note: Slip all stitches purlwise, or as if you are going to purl the next stitch. Refer to Resources for any other knitting abbreviations you’re unfamiliar with.

Double Knitting With Two Colours

This method of double knitting is worked in different colours, one side in colour A, the other in colour B, and both are knit at the same time. The following instructions must be worked on a circular needle or a pair of double pointed needles. I’m not giving the instructions for this, but you can make a two colour double knit fabric on straight needles. Using circular or double pointed needles is easier.

“Turn work” means to do what you normally do when knitting. Flip the work so the opposite side is facing you.

“Slide stitches” means to keep the same side of the work facing you; push the stitches to the other end of the needle, ready to work the next row.

Even number of stitches. Colours A and B.
Cast on with colour A, then join colour B.
Row 1: with B, *k1, sl 1 wyif; rep from * across. Slide stitches to other end of needle and pick up A.
Row 2: with A, *sl 1 wyib, p1; rep from * across. Turn work and pick up B.
Row 3: with B, *sl 1 wyib, p1; rep from * across. Slide stitches to other end of needle and pick up A.
Row 4: with A, *k1, sl 1 wyif; rep from *. Turn work and pick up B.
Repeat rows 1 through 4.

When changing colours pick up the new strand from under the old one, so the two are twisted at the edges, without leaving holes.

Double knit fabric can be bound off in different ways, including placing A and B stitches on separate needles for a 3-needle bind off, or the kitchener stitch. The top can also be left open to form a pouch, by slipping all A stitches on one needle, and the B stitches onto another, then bind off each colour separately. Refer to your project instructions for the suggested bind-off.

Double knitting is a simple technique, but it is difficult to explain in words how the fabric is created. Only with practice will you understand how the double knit fabric is forming. It is a unique method of knitting that looks complicated but really isn’t. Give it a try and I think you’ll find it fun, and worthy of the right project.