Reversible/Double Knitting


reversible (double) knitting

The Reversible Knitting technique is as old as knitting itself and was originally used to create very thick layers of fabric in climates which needed the extra layer against the cold. Essentially, the fabric created using this technique results in a double layer, with both layers worked at the same time, on one pair of needles and with two contrasting colours of yarn. Hence the terms "Double" or "Reversible" knitting. If you follow the tutorial exactly as you see it laid out below, you should have absolutely no problem coming to terms with this wonderful technique which you can then add to your knitting repertoire. As you practise and become more familiar with the Double Knitting technique, you will begin to notice that gauge is a little broader and the stitches a little looser than traditional Stockinette Stitch worked in one layer. This can be manipulated by changing yarn weights as well as needle size to obtain the result you desire.

As with any other traditional knitting, once the basics of Double Knitting are under your belt, you can apply these theories to any other stitches which you would normally use, such as increasing and decreasing, ribwork and so on. It is a simple matter of doing to the second layer of fabric everything that you did to the first.


1. Cast on the required number of stitches. This includes the stitches for BOTH sides of the fabric, with only the MC (main colour) yarn. So if the pattern calls for 10 stitches on the chart, cast on 20 stitches (10 for the front - Main Colour - and 10 for the CC - Contrast Colour).

2. Now join your second (CC) yarn and begin working the first row. The MC is worked on the front with knit stitches and the CC is worked on the back with purl stitches. Begin with a knit stitch in MC with both yarns held at the back of the work.

3. Now bring both yarns to the front of the work (as if to purl). Using the CC, purl only with this strand of yarn, the next stitch.


4 & 5. Continue in this manner, knitting the MC with both yarns held at the back of the work, then purling with the CC with both yarns held at the front of the work.

6. At the end of the first row, you should have alternate stitches of MC, then CC stitches on your needle. All MC stitches in this case are the front of your work and are in stockinette stitch. All CC stitches are at the back of your work and form the back piece of your fabric. If you turn your work around, these too are seen as stockinette stitch :)


7. Now turn your work to begin the second row. All odd-numbered stitches are now worked in CC, BUT are reversed to that in steps 4 & 5 above. If you are working back and forth and not in the round, it is important to first twist the yarns before working your first stitch. This ensures that the gap is closed between the two layers.

8. Now we are reversing the colours that are knit and purled, but the method stays the same. After twisting your yarns to close the gap, with CC and both yarns held to the back, knit the first stitch.

9. Bring both yarns to the front of your work and purl the next stitch with MC. Thus each layer of fabric is worked in Stockinette Stitch, alternately knitting and purling depending on wether your MC yarn is facing you or facing the back of your work.


10. This shows the MC worked on the right (facing) side of the fabric. All stitches are knit, with CC stitches being purled.

11. When the piece is turned, all the CC stitches are then knit, with the MC stitches being purled.

12. Shows the edging as you twist the yarns to close the gap between the two layers of fabric.

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Changing Colours According to a Charted Pattern...

This really isn't as tricky as it sounds. Remember when you are working with a single fabric and the pattern calls for changing colours in a chart using either the Fair Isle method or, indeed stranded knitting? Well, the basic principle still applies with reversible knitting. Essentially when a colour-change happens, one yarn is dropped and the contrasting colour is knit in its place. Simple as that. Let me explain in more detail below...


1. Work the chart pattern as it states, knitting the MC stitches and purling the CC stitches and vice versa depending which side of the fabric you are working on. When you come to the point where the chart tells you to change colours, simply work the required number of stitches with the opposite colour. In the case above, work the following stitch as a knit stitch in the CC colour, instead of MC.

2. The next stitch, which is worked as a purl stitch on the reverse fabric, is worked with MC (= the reverse of what was done on the first side).

3. This shows how the charted stitches are beginning to take shape now, with the CC side facing.


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Decreasing with the Double Knitting Method...


1. As with traditional knitting with 1 layer of fabric, increasing and decreasing works just the same. In this case we are creating a left-leaning decrease using the ssk/ssp method (slip 1 stitch, work the next, then pass the slipped stitch over). To begin, arrange your stitches so that you have the next 2 MC stitches alongside each other, with the next 2 CC stitches alongside each other too.

2. With both yarns at the back of your work, slip the first MC stitch knit-wise to your right-hand needle.

3. Knit the next MC stitch.


4. Pass that previously slipped stitch over the knitted stitch. The first ssk decrease for the MC yarn is complete!

5. Now bring both yarns to the front in preparation for working the rear fabric decrease...slip the next CC stitch purlwise to the right-hand needle.

6. Purl the next stitch.


7. Pass the slipped stitch over the purled stitch. This is the ssk/ssp decrease done for both layers of fabric.

8. For the k2tog (knit 2 stitches together) and p2tog (purl 2 stitches together) decreases...with 2 MC sitches arranged so they are alongside each other and 2 CC stitches alongside each other, k2tog the 2 MC stitches with both yarns held at the back of the work.

9. Now p2tog the next 2 CC stitches with both yarns held at the front of the work. It's as simple as that! :)


Work the decreases for both sides, alternating whether to ssk/ssp or k2tog/p2tog whether you desire a left or right-leaning decrease and according to which strand of yarn you are working with. Your work should start to look like the decreases above...

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Increasing With The Double Knitting Method...


1. The tutorial above demonstrates making an increase of 1 stitch by knitting/purling into the front and back of a stitch. To start, with both yarns at the back of your work, knit into the front...

2. ...and then the back of the same stitch with MC.

3. This creates a M1 (make 1 stitch).


4. For the reverse side, bring both yarns forward as if to purl, then with CC, purl into the front...

5. ...and then the back of the same stitch.

6. You now have an increase of both the front (MC) and back (CC) stitches.


7. The next thing you need to do is arrange the stitches so that the MC and CC stitches sit alternately again.

8 & 9. Increases finished and viewed from both sides of your work.

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Binding Off...


1 & 2. As with any other knitted Bind-Off, simply knit 1 MC stitch, then purl 1 CC stitch, pass the first stitch over the second and so on.

3. This will result in a two-colour bind-off.

If you prefer your bind-off in one colour, simply work every stitch in the same colour, knitting all stitches if you like! I find this works well for cowls worked in the round, binding off with the same colour that you cast on with in the beginning.


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