Well, it's a way of knitting that's knitted flat, but makes a tube of fabric that is stocking stitch (or garter stitch, if desired) all the way around (double sided). I try it every so often just to see if I can still do it; I haven't actually used it in anything yet, but perhaps one of these days.
Here's how to work a swatch of double knitting... just for the fun of it. Give it a try!
Using any yarn you want and needles appropriate for your yarn of choice, cast on an even number of stitches. For my swatch, I cast on 30 sts on 4.0 mm needles, using Sirdar's Country Style DK. Now, work every row as follows:
*k1, slip 1 pwise wyif; repeat from * to end of row.
Do that row for about two inches or so. Now, just because we're swatching, pull the swatch off the needles and separate the front and back. See? It should be a tube! Pretty cool, huh?
How it looks on the needle.
Showing both sides--identical
And with the two sides separated. I tucked the needle inside just to show you that it truly is two-sided.
So, I did that. Then I looked at it. Studied it. Realized that the band on my Mop Top Toque pattern looks very much like this little piece of double knitting. But it was done in the round using a provisional cast on and then, when it was the right length, folded up and knitted together with the working stitches (did that make sense?). I wondered if I could do a double knitted hat band and achieve almost the same results.
I tried it on double-pointed needles. It works. It becomes a two row pattern, though.
Again, cast on an even number of stitches. Divide your stitches evenly on double-pointed needles and work as follows:
Row 1: *k1, slip 1 pwise wyif; rep from * to end of round
Row 2: *sl 1 pwise wyib, p1; rep from * to end of round
Repeat these two rows for desired length.
BTW, for those of you not familiar with the abbreviations:
pwise - as if to purl; purlwise
wyif - with yarn in front
wyib - with yarn in back
Give it a try. Let me know what you think. Suggest applications for this stitch. Some of the ones I've thought of include a scarf (worked on thicker yarn with large needles... no right side or wrong side...always good on a scarf), the band on a toque (as already posted about), slipper soles, perhaps cuffs on sleeves?
Oh yes... Lizardknits asked what yarn I'm using for the Icarus shaw. It's Skacel's Merino Lace on 3.25 mm needles. Everyone seeing it tells me they could never work with yarn that fine, but I'm not finding it difficult or even frustrating at all. As a matter of fact, I find the stitches easy to read. I just have to pay attention to what I'm doing; I can't "feel" the stitches like I can with heavier yarn and so, I have to actually look at my work as I'm knitting.