March 27th, 2012

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn

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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.

By holding variegated or hand-dyed yarns doubled, you can avoid pooling and create a fabric with subtle, blended colors.

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.


Valley Yarns 413 Square Bolero

Valley Yarns 346 Eventide Tea Cozy

Valley Yarns 264 Optimistic Little Blanket

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14 Responses to “Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn”

  1. Susan S Says:

    This is *exactly* what I’ve been trawling the Internet for. Many thanks!

  2. Betford2 Says:

    I’ve used double-stranding one other way. In making a cap, I’ve double-stranded medium-to-light-weight yarn for the cuff, so it’s thicker and prettier and warmer, and works up fast. Then when I get to the body of the cap, I knit the first round of the body into each individual strand in the cuff. That doubles the number of stitches and halves the bulk, and allows me to put some pretty detail on the top part of the cap.

  3. Yarnbazaarweb20 Says:

    Wow! Very colorful Yarns 😀

    Thank you so much for the knitting tip!

  4. Meg Tryba Says:

    This information about what yarn weight is created when two are combined was super helpful. Thank you very much!

  5. Barbara Lowell Says:

    love your article and the comments, very helpful … planning to use double strand of DK and winging the pattern for a simple coat. This helped me go forward with my plans.

  6. Sue Says:

    Great tip, thank you!! 🙂

  7. Dana Says:

    valley yarns #413 square bolero

    please tell me where I can get this pattern

  8. Peggy Says:

    Would one strand DK/8 ply + one strand fingerling equal worsted weight? I’ve already got the 8 ply, but every pattern I like seems to call for worsted (#4 medium).

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  11. Judi Robins Says:

    What yarn weight would equal:
    3 strands of Fingering weight held together?
    Thank you for your reply.

  12. Anne Defazio Says:

    If I use three strands dk yarn, what sized needles should I use?

    Thank you!

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