• Two Strands Together – Double-Knitting and Yarn Weight

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    Sport weight is my favorite weight of yarn.  Well, sport and fingering with lace and worsted coming in a close second.  For double-knitting, though, sport weight is my yarn of choice.  Why?  Because double-knitting with sport weight produces a garment that’s roughly as thick as single knit worsted.  Don’t believe me?  Try it!

    This brings me to the topic of today’s post: double-knitting and yarn weight.  As anyone who’s ever double-knit knows, double-knit fabric is thicker than single-knit fabric (it’s roughly twice as thick in fact).  This is because double-knitting is kind of like taking two single-knit fabrics and placing them one atop the other so that the stockinette is facing outwards (we’re ignoring the fact that stitch patterns other than stockinette can be used in double-knitting).  Since most people double-knit with worsted weight yarn, they end up with a very thick garment that’s also very warm.

    This has, for better or worse, given DK knitwear a reputation for being very warm, which appeals to some people and does not appeal to others.  What a lot of people don’t know is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  Just by switching the weight of the yarn, your DK projects can be as thin or thick as you like (well, they can’t be cobweb in thickness, but they can be pretty thin).

    This is because, while double-knitting essentially doubles the thickness of the yarn you’re using, if you use a really thin yarn you’ll still end up with a thin finished object.  In fact, just holding two strands of yarn together and treating them as if they were one is a very common technique of knitting a pattern that calls for a weight of yarn that a knitter might not have.  It’s also an awesome way to use up stash yarn and a fun way to create some interesting colors and textures that you might not thought possible (like those fancy two-color plied yarns).

    What weight of yarn gets you what thickness of double-knit fabric you ask?  That’s not an exact science, but there are some common rules floating about: 2 strands of fingering/sock weight equal 1 strand of sport weight; 2 strands of sport weight equal 1 strand of worsted; 2 strands of worsted equal 1 strand of bulky.  In other words, if you double-knit with sport weight yarn your final garment should be approximately as thick as if you single knit the garment in worsted (and if you double-knit with really thin yarns, you can achieve lace weight or fingering weight thicknesses).

    This isn’t a hard and fast rule, of course.  Different yarn companies ply their yarns different ways and two different yarns listed as sport weight might have two completely different thicknesses.  To get a true idea of how thick your final garment will be, you’ll have to first knit a swatch.  Of course, I always recommend knitting a swatch before beginning a project.  Knitting a swatch gives you more information about how a yarn will look and feel and what adjustments you’ll need to make than any other information gathering technique availble to a knitter.

    In summary, sport weight is my favorite weight of yarn because it nets me double-knit garments that are only as thick as worsted weight yarn.  Expect to see many a double-knit sport weight (and lighter for you shawl lovers) pattern published by me in the (admittedly far) future.  I hope to show the world why in double-knitting sport weight is king and know they’ll equally share in my love of it in the end (and I shall rule the world! *wink*).

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