Knitting or crocheting with multiple strands of yarn held together is one of the easiest ways to incorporate multiple colors and textures in a project. It’s super warm and durable, so it’s great for thick, winter socks and sweaters knit in a lot less time than it would take with any of the yarns held singly.
Worked in stripes, you can incorporate scraps and bright colors into a fun fabric that looks a lot more complicated than it really is. And some bold, textured stripes can be made by working a doubled yarn, then a singled yarn, using the same gauge.
But it takes a little experimentation to get a desired effect. So, my first and most important tip for multi-stranding: SWATCH IT! Try your yarns at a few different gauges – you may be surprised at how adaptable a given combination can be.
Here’s a swatch of two strands of Valley Yarns Huntington worked at 5.5 sts to the inch on a US 5, then at 4.5 sts to the inch on a US 7. It feels great at both! Which I’d chose to use would depend on the pattern and what I’d use the finished object for. A drapey scarf or a flexible sweater might be better at the larger gauge, whereas a potholder or slippers might be better at the smaller, denser gauge.
In general, I’ve found that 2 strands of lace weight together equal a sport / DK weight, 2 strands of fingering equal a DK / worsted weight, 2 strands of DK equal a heavy worsted / bulky weight and 2 strands of worsted equal a bulky / superbulky weight.
I’ve also found that, when holding 2 strands of different weights together, the thicker one will dominate both in color and in feel. So be careful when multi-stranding with that lace weight hand-dyed cashmere. If you hold it together with a thicker yarn, you may not be able to tell that its there at all!
So, if you’ve decided you want to use this technique, how much yarn will you need? Well, if you want to multi-strand in a pattern that calls for a single yarn, you’ll need to get the pattern’s required yardage for EACH strand. So, say it calls for 1,000 yards of bulky weight, but you want to work it with 2 strands of DK instead, you’d need to buy 1,000 yards of EACH strand, or 2,000 yards total. Alternatively, if you want to work a multi-stranded pattern with a single yarn, divide the yardage by the number of strands. So if a pattern uses 3 strands held together throughout and calls for 1,000 yards each or 3,000 yards total, and you want to use just one strand of a bulkier yarn, you’ll need 1,000 yards.
So go forth and have fun combining and re-combining some yarns! Here are some Valley Yarns patterns that use this technique to get you started.