Sometimes you just want a scarf that won’t roll—EVER.
Or sometimes you need the back of an item to look just like the front. The easiest way to do that is to double knit—and mirror your pattern in reverse.
On this sample, you’ll see the red side facing you with white “flea” stitches. The reverse side of the fabric is EXACTLY the same, but white with red “flea” stitches.
How do you do that?
Double knitting—knitting both sides at once. That means the red stitches will all be knit stitches, followed by it’s partnered white stitch which you will purl. It helps to remember that all stitches are knit side facing out and purl side facing in to the tube you’re creating (genius, no?).
And it makes a LOT more sense actually watching it.
For practice try doing a simple double-knit tube (bookmark?). Start by taking any size yarn and needles—variegated that changes color rapidly is quite helpful.
For the tube:
- Cast on 20 stitches.
- Knit 1, purl 1 across.
- Now, *knit the knit stitches you see and slip (slip and ignore) the purl stitches you see, all the way across.
- Now, knit the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches across.*
- Now you have knit one complete row each side!
Keep going * to * for an inch or so, then pinch each side of the fabric and pull apart.
You can pull the sides away from each other because you formed a tube.
(If you CAN’T pull the sides apart that most likely means that somewhere you accidentally purled a stitch that should have been slipped.)
Now, pat yourself on the back and show this to everyone you meet today.
Someone will be impressed.
If you want to get really crazy, try the two colors in the video. Use a long tail cast on with one color going over your thumb and the other color over your finger. You’ll have a lovely little braided cast-on. Then start double knitting. At first you would want to keep one side one color and the other side the other color, as it’s easier to get the rhythm of the knitting/purling that way. But if you wanted to create a simple star pattern, you could easily use a pattern like this
The hardest thing to wrap your mind around is that you see five stitches on the chart, but you’ll really be knitting/purling ten.
Let’s break that down. Imagine you’re knitting with red and white. Start by deciding (this is arbitrary) that the blank squares in our little star pattern will be for the white facing you and the dots will be for the red facing you—those will be your knit stitches.
To mirror that pattern on the other side you need to purl it in the reverse colors—dominant red with a white star. That is what you will be purling.
So your first row will go like this:
- (white-dominant side facing) knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit red, purl white, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red (10 pattern stitches total, bold indicates the lower point of the star)
- (red-dominant side facing) knit red, purl white, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit red, purl white (bold indicates the middle row of the star)
I promise you this makes much more sense if you try it. I still have my first little tube bookmark and I’m still pretty impressed with myself every time I do this. Once you master this it’s easy to do other nifty things like knitting a sock inside a sock.
Oh the party games knitters can come up with.