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Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn

April 28th, 2014

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This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

There are so many different patterns that call for working with two, three, or even four strands held together (our Spring 2014 Knit-Along pattern, the Spring Lace Shawl, calls for four). Why do designers like working with multiple strands? There are quite a few reasons. Different colors held together and worked together as one can create a tweedy color effect. Two different yarns together may create a unique texture. Other times, the multiple strands will make for one extremely bulky yarn which enables an afghan to be worked up very quickly. Here are a few examples:

Marmalade Kimono Crochet Mother of the Bride Crochet 5/12 Hour Throw
Knit Marmalade Kimono: Two colors held together for a tweedy look. Crochet Mother of the Bride Shawl: Two different yarns held together for a combined texture. Crochet 5 1/2 Hour Throw: Several strands held together for a fast finish project.

If you’ve never knit or crocheted with multiple strands, don’t worry: just pretend you are working with a single strand; each stitch is made as if you were holding one strand of yarn. That’s really all there is to it.

Once you get started, you may find the strands twist together. People have come up with all kinds of ideas to try to prevent this from happening. You can section off a shoebox, putting one skein in each section, and make holes in the top to feed the yarn through. There’s even a gizmo specifically made for this purpose that you may see in stores. While these organizers will keep your balls from getting tangled into each other, they will not keep the strands of yarn from twisting as you knit or crochet them. This is in part due to how you wrap the yarn around your fingers as you feed it through as you work each stitch. I wrap it several times and every wrap twists it. Don’t worry if this happens though; it makes no difference if the strands are twisted around each other or not. The stitches will look the same regardless.

Here is the one word of caution however: it’s easy for the strands to get so tangled that loose loops start to form. Just take care that you don’t have any of these loops lurking as you work each stitch. If those loops are becoming a frequent problem, try running your fingers through and down the strands toward the skeins to eliminate some of them. If you are still having the problem, hold the strands of yarn and dangle the work itself, letting it spin to untwist the strands. I’ve found this a much easier solution than dangling the individual skeins.

Enjoy your next multiple strand project!

Want to learn more about creating colors by using multiple strands of yarn? Click here to read our popular blog post about the topic. 

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