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What is Double Knitting Yarn and where can you buy it?

Hooray for DK yarn! This all-rounder is an essential part of our knitting stash. Read all about what is double knitting yarn and what to use it for!

What is dk yarn
Published: August 31, 2021 at 8:42 am
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Yarn may come in all sizes, textures and styles, but we have a special place in our hearts for double knitting yarn, which is regularly abbreviated to DK yarn. Lightweight enough to produce baby knits and comfy enough to knit blankets, toys and clothes, double knitting yarn can be used year-round and is perfect for all manner of projects. It’s not so fine that it takes light-years to knit an inch but can still be used to create cosy pieces for every season – there’s a reason it’s a favourite of knitters everywhere.

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In this article, we explain exactly what DK yarn is, share why it's one of our favourite weights to knit and crochet with, and explore where you can top up your stash.

When we first start knitting, many of us are completely clueless when it comes to the world of yarn weights. When I first picked up a pair of knitting needles I can recall heading to my local craft shop ready to treat myself, and selecting a yarn purely on the colour and feel of the ball, without even realising that different yarn weights existed. It doesn't take long to catch on that the weight of yarn we use for our projects affects many things, including how big our knitted stitches will end up, and how warm our finished garments will be to wear.

Most knitting and crochet patterns will specify which yarn weight (and often brand) you need to create the pattern at the expected finished size, and we've included some starter patterns in this post which you can try if you have some DK yarn you're keen to try out. For other yarn types, head over to our complete guide to the different weight yarns over in our yarn weight conversion chart post, and check out our favourite knitting kits for more shopping inspiration.

what is double knitting yarn

What is double knitting yarn?

Double knitting yarn is also known as DK yarn. It is a common medium-weight yarn that is at the lighter end of the medium yarns range. This means it’s finer than aran or chunky alternatives but thicker than lace-weight yarn. While double knitting is also the name of a knitting technique, when we use it to talk about yarn, we are referring to the weight (or thickness) of the yarn itself.

If you're new to all this, yarn weight doesn't actually mean how heavy the yarn is; we're referring to how thick the strand of yarn feels as you handle and knit with it.

Some knitters also refer to DK yarn as "light" or "baby weight" yarn. Double knitting yarn is technically a 3 light yarn weight – in the same category as Light Worsted yarn. It knits to a gauge of 21–24 stitches per 4 inches when using 3.75—4.5mm needles (UK needle sizes). DK yarn is our go-to for smaller projects like baby blankets, clothes or hats, and it's also popular for making lightweight or smaller garments such as spring shawls or fingerless mitts.

Many knitters and crocheters also find DK yarn useful when first starting out learning colourwork. It's a nifty yarn to use when practising Fair Isle Knitting – before you've built your confidence to try knitting complex patterns with thinner yarns.

Yarn weights range from the lightest lace yarns (fine yarns which produce delicate results) to super-chunky yarns (producing large stitches and a cosy finish). Traditionally, DK yarns were 8-ply yarns (they were created by 8 strands of fibre being spun together to form the yarn) but in recent years, the term refers to the thickness of the yarn but doesn’t necessarily specify the ply count. To see how it compares to other yarns, check out The Craft Yarn Council’s table of yarn weights.

Where to buy cheap yarns online

Good news – DK yarn is perhaps the most widely available weight of yarn, so there's plenty of places to buy cheap yarn online. There are many brands that create yarns specifically to be budget friendly, such as the King Cole Big Value DK, Stylecraft Special DK or the Hayfield Bonus DK, and many of the big name retailers also produce their own affordable DK yarns, such as the Paintbox Yarns Simply DK.

If you're new to the world of buying yarn, check out our guide on the best places to buy yarn online.

Paintbox Simply DK yarn

What needles do you use with DK yarn?

The most popular size of knitting needles for DK yarn here in the UK is 4mm, but The Craft Yarn Council recommend using anything between 3.75 and 4.5mm needles (if you're in the UK). This will knit a gauge of between 21–24 stitches per 4 inches.

If you're in the US, The Craft Yarn Council recommend using needle sizes 5 to 7. To be on the safe side we always recommend knitting a tension square to check how big your stitches will come up, before you embark on a full project.

8 Easy projects to make with DK yarn

Whether you've stocked up on new double knitting yarn or have a basket full in a cupboard that's crying out to be used, try these fun knitting patterns to practise knitting with it...

Knit animal baby hats

Baby knits are one of the most popular types of projects to make with double knitting yarns – we've got this lovely set of animal hat knitting patterns which are just perfect for DK yarn.

Easy baby hat knitting pattern for beginners UK

Crochet flower brooches

For a lovely quick make that you can turn into brooches, jewellery or hair accessories, our flower brooch crochet pattern is your go-to. Get the pattern today to crochet up your own beautiful floral pieces.

Free_flower_brooch_crochet_pattern

Knitted cactus

These DIY sweet succulents are perfect if you want house plants but aren't sure how to keep them alive! Make them tonight with our free cactus knitting pattern.

Tall knitted cactus pattern

Knit our Tom Daley-inspired knitted pouch

When he wasn't busy winning gold medals at this year's Tokyo Olympic Games, Tom Daley brought knitting into the mainstream news (we've long known it belongs there!). If you loved his Union Jack knitted medal pouch as much as we did, knit your own version with our free pouch knitting pattern.

Knitted pouch pattern Olympic Union Jack Knitting Pattern resized

Make a knitted necklace

For a quick knit project to show off your knitting in style, how about this necklace knitting pattern from Mollie Makes? You may need to do a quick test to check how large it comes out with DK yarn, but the results will be worth it. Plus, it knits up really fast, so you can make it in an evening.

How to make a knitted necklace

How to make a knitted necklace

Knit your own beer cosy

Keep your favourite drinks cold and your hands warm with this fun beer cosy knitting pattern from Simply Knitting magazine. Try the free pattern today.

Knit beer cosy pattern

Knit up a glasses case or phone cosy

Try your hand at knitting stripes from DK yarn with this fun glasses case knitting pattern by Kirsty McLeod.

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DIY glasses case

Knitted Easter Eggs

Whip up a batch of lovely DIY egg decorations in pastel DK yarn, with our Easter Egg Knitting Pattern – they’re absolutely perfect for Easter or springtime.

Easter egg pattern

Authors

Zoe WilliamsLaunch Editor, Gathered.how

Zoe is the launch Editor of Gathered.how. She has over a decade of craft publishing experience under her belt. She's a quilter and sewist who works with the UK’s best-selling craft magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Simply Sewing and The World of Cross Stitching. Zoe loves being immersed in Gathered’s quilting content, tweaking our tutorials and publishing new patterns. Zoe has previously written for radiotimes.com, Simply Knitting and The World of Cross Stitching and was previously Deputy Editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine. She has guest-lectured at Bath Spa University. She’s a keen quilter with 5 projects in progress at any one time and another 12 or so planned.

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