Double the Fun KAL – What is double knitting anyway?

October 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm 3 comments

Are you excited about our upcoming KAL? I am. Double knitting is a different knitting experience yet it is so very familiar because it is still knitting with plain old knits and purls. Like I have said many times before, knitting is rather straightforward, only two stitches, knits and purls, and everything else is some sort of combination or manipulation of them. Same with double knitting.

Sprout cowl 4 w text

What is double knitting? It is a method that produces a reversible fabric that shows the knit (or stockinette) side on both sides of the object. The knit fabric is actually double thickness. When you double knit, you do have double the number of stitches you would normally have on the needles for that given item. For example, if you would normally have 75 stitches on your needle for a hat, that same hat double knit would have 150 stitches on the needle. 75 stitches for one side of the fabric and 75 stitches for the opposite side.

Double knitting is also usually done with two colors. Often the colors are switched from side to side to create the pattern.

Another constant in double knitting is you will also knit a stitch, then purl a stitch. You might change the color of the stitches but you don’t change that back and forth sequence. It is like knitting 1×1 ribbing.

When casting on for double knitting you can use a two color cast on that will give you a clean edge of one color on each side or you can simply use your usually cast on holding the two yarns together then treating each color of the cast on stitches as its own stitch. I would recommend doing this when making a gauge swatch. Then you can practice a two color cast on that gives a prettier and cleaner edge.

Your yarns always move from back to front together whether you are using them or not. This is different from other types of color work. In my sample, Color A is the blue and Color B is the pink.

Step 1 DK text

Step 2 Knit stitch DK

Step 3 yarns in front

Step 4 Purl

If you are making both sides solid colored and in the round, you would simply repeat these steps with the Color A always knit and Color B always purl. But double knitting can also be knit flat. So when you are knitting flat, you turn your work and begin working on the reversed side. You still knit the stitches of the facing side and purling the others, but your colors will be reversed. You will knit Color B and purl Color A. Sounds confusing? It actually becoming clear rather quickly as you do it.

Gauge in double knitting…standard advice is you will need to go down at least two needle sizes compared to what you would use to get comparable gauge for your yarn knit in stockinette. I had to go down 3 needle sizes. Normally I can get 4.75 stitches an inch on size US 7 with Malabrigo Worsted. For this project, I am using US 4 needles. That is a significant difference. You will know very quickly if you need to use a smaller sized needle because your fabric will be too loose and you will be able to see the opposite side through it.

To make your gauge swatch, you can just cast on 30 or so stitches using both yarns as one. Then knit all the Color A stitches and purl all the color B. You don’t have to do your swatch in the round to get a good idea of your needed needle size. Just knit flat, so you will turn your work and knit Color B and purl Color A. Just work until you have a big enough swatch to measure or until you can clearly say, “This doesn’t look right, I think my needle is too big”. I reached that conclusion after three rows with an US 6 needle and after about 5 rows with an US 5 needle. I did an entire swatch with the US 4 needle to make sure the gauge was correct and then used that information for the knitting you see in the pictures.

Want to see what the inside of double knit fabric looks like? Here you go…

inside DK

Inside DK with designs

Here is my little sample knit up. You will be seeing more of this sample in future blogs. After it has done its Polka Dot Sheep blog duties, I think it will become a coffee cup cozy.

two sides double knitting

I know that this is a very wordy post. Hopefully it helped you learn a little more about double knitting. I will post a tutorial on the two color cast on method that I used. But there is more than one way to do two color cast on and you can use any that you prefer. Also don’t worry if you haven’t got your yarn together, there is plenty time in the KAL to do your swatching and knit your cowl. Understand that since I am leading the KAL, that I am often ahead of you as participants.

You can still sign up for the in store support class at the Knit ‘n Needle Yarn Shoppe. Space is limited though. You can learn more about this class in the introduction blog post for this KAL and on the class page on the website.

class sign up button

Join us in chatting about our yarn choices and ideas on the Double Your Fun Ravelry thread. If you want advice on colors or yarns or need some inspiration, check it out.

Happy Knitting and get ready to cast on with us on Sunday, October 27th.

~Angela M.

PS. In case you are wondering, the yarn in the sample knit is Malabrigo Worsted. The blue is Azula Bolita and the pink is Pink Frost. Both colors are in stock at the website.


Entry filed under: KAL/CAL, Tutorials / How to.

Double the Fun in the Sprout Cowl KAL Double Your Fun KAL – A Two Color Cast On & Charts

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