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Double Stranding: Combining Different Yarns in One Project

Updated on October 14, 2014

Working Different Colors and Textures of Yarn into Your Crochet or Knitting Projects

I probably first started combining different yarns into projects when I developed the habit of buying yarn on clearance. Instead of thinking through projects that I could make, I went along the bins adding one skein of every type of yarn to my cart. At home, I'd end up with a storage box full of yarn that I didn't know what to do with. Some of the yarns I disliked working with and they'd slip to the bottom of the pile.

I commented to a friend who knits about the hard time I was having working with some of the novelty yarns I'd bought. She recommended a technique she used with Lion Brand's Fun Fur eyelash yarn - working the yarn together with a medium-weight acrylic yarn. I tried the technique and I was hooked (literally, since I favor crochet).

Suddenly the hats, scarves and mini purses I'd been making as gifts became a lot more interesting looking. I also started combining yarns to use scraps too small to complete a project on their own. At one point, I crocheted a hat combining two strands of a dozen scraps of yarn in shades of blue and green. I donated it to a silent auction and I was shocked when a bidding war started and the hat sold for $40.

Photo by Susan Caplan McCarthy of a hat sold on my Etsy shop, Wee Cat Creations.

Starting a Double Strand Project

A simple pattern is the best way to show off the yarn

If you are intrigued by the idea of working multiple strands of yarn together but your head starts spinning as you try to figure out the end results (how will this affect gauge?), start with simple projects where the end results don't have to be a specific size.

Your best bet? A scarf. If you are concerned about the scarf coming out too wide, try crocheting the length of the scarf. Chances are you'll be less concerned by a scarf that is three inches longer as opposed to three inches wider.

Select a crochet hook two or three times larger than the size recommended for the thickest yarn. So, instead of an I-9 hook, try a K-10 hook. This allows for a bit more flow to the fabric, perfect for scarves and wraps; however, if you are making a purse or a coaster, something that you want to have a firm shape, try working with the recommended hook size for the thickest yarn. If you can't get the hook into the stitches, try going up a size.

Combining different yarns into a project is welcoming a bit of chaos into your craft. Yes, there are recommendations out there for using two strands of sports weight yarn as a substitute for a worsted weight yarn but you also have to eyeball or measure the results as you work.

The scarf in the photo combines two strands of worsted weight - one a variegated yarn and the other a solid. I used a P-hook to give some breathing room between the single crochet stitches so the fabric wouldn't be too stiff.

Photo by Susan Caplan McCarthy

How to Crochet Two Strands Together - Visualize this crochet technique

If you think that working two strands of yarn at the same time is a recipe for disaster, this video shows you how to see two different yarns as one.

Bernat Cottontots Variegated Yarn-Cottage Colors
Bernat Cottontots Variegated Yarn-Cottage Colors

These subdued colors can create a backdrop for a novelty yarn.

 

Variegated Yarns - Perfect for combining with other yarns

You may think that working with two strands of yarn in different colors and textures would be difficult enough without making one of the yarns a color-changing one. However, the multiple colors actually make it easier to select a second color and texture. The color-changing pattern of one yarn carries along the second yarn.

Want to really shake things up? Try working two complimentary color-changing yarns together for flecked or speckled results. The results are truly one-of-a-kind.

Spinrite Canadiana Yarn Ombres, Rainbow
Spinrite Canadiana Yarn Ombres, Rainbow

Overlay your favorite color of the rainbow with this variegated rainbow yarn for a personalized touch.

 
Bernat Super Value Yarn, Lotus, Single Ball
Bernat Super Value Yarn, Lotus, Single Ball

A fun combination of colors that girls love - add in an eyelash yarn or feathered yarn for a fun look.

 
Bernat Super Value Yarn, Fresh Lilac, Single Ball
Bernat Super Value Yarn, Fresh Lilac, Single Ball

Another pretty color-changing yarn that is perfect for pastel novelty yarns.

 

Introduction to Yarn Textures - Manufacturers are always coming up with surprising new yarns

Sometimes you don't even have to combine yarns because more manufacturers are realizing how popular double-stranding is and are creating yarns with multiple textures.

Novelty Yarns - The icing on the cake

I adore the look and feel of so many novelty yarns that I often buy them without a second thought ... until they are sitting in my house and I'm wondering what to do with them. Sometimes the yarns seem like a bit too much on their own but tone down nicely when combined with a smooth acrylic yarn.

Novelty yarns are a fun way to make a simple pattern look more complex. Try adding a novelty yarn to the brim of a hat, the cuff of a glove, or the flap of a purse for eye-catching results everyone will want to touch.

Crystal Palace Yarn Little Flowers Fall Herbs 9756
Crystal Palace Yarn Little Flowers Fall Herbs 9756

This fun yarn looks like it has little tassels along the strand creating a soft texture without too much fluff.

 
Agadir by Filati FF Eyelash Ribbon Flag Novelty Yarn #1 Pastels
Agadir by Filati FF Eyelash Ribbon Flag Novelty Yarn #1 Pastels

There's a lot going on with this yarn ... little fluffy tufts and longer ribbon-y strips that will stand out when crocheted.

 

Combining Color and Texture with Finesse - Working together different yarns

Although this book is "The Knitter's Guide ..." the techniques for pairing yarns carry over to crochet. Tons of close-up color photos allow you to see how to harmonize colors and textures.

The Knitter's Guide to Combining Yarns: 300 Foolproof Pairings
The Knitter's Guide to Combining Yarns: 300 Foolproof Pairings

You can play around with combining the yarns in your stash or you can follow these clearly defined techniques for creating beautiful results.

 
Agadir by Filati FF Eyelash Ribbon Flag Novelty Yarn #3 Primary
Agadir by Filati FF Eyelash Ribbon Flag Novelty Yarn #3 Primary

There's a lot going on with this yarn ... little fluffy tufts and longer ribbon-y strips that will stand out when crocheted.

 

10 Easy Projects to Try with Double Stranding and Yarn Blending - Explore the possibilities of combining yarn

Find a beginner-friendly pattern that doesn't include too much detail because you want to show off the yarns you are combining. One of the more difficult projects I ever did was a sweater for a friend. I got so caught up in trying to substitute the yarn and getting the correct amount of yarn I didn't really think of how plain the caramel colored yarn would look. I found a variegated gold ladder ribbon yarn that saved the day by adding interest to a plain yarn.

Euro Yarns Xanadu Metallic Ribbon Glitzy Yarn Col 8 Blue Aqua Green Red
Euro Yarns Xanadu Metallic Ribbon Glitzy Yarn Col 8 Blue Aqua Green Red

How to describe a yarn that looks like strands of ribbon while really being made of soft threads that add a fluffy texture with a hint of glitter.

 

  1. Make a scarf.
  2. Make an afghan. (Really. Work three strands of worsted weight acrylic together with a Q hook. Chain 150 stitches and single crochet or double crochet until you reach the desired length. You'll probably need 9 skeins of yarn; three each.)
  3. Make a hat, just watch the size as working with two strands can leave you with an oversized hat.
  4. Make a purse.
  5. Make a smartphone case.
  6. Make a tablet cover.
  7. Make a set of coasters. (I love combining a fine glitter yarn with a sturdier acrylic and then adding a feathery or furry trim.
  8. Make a rectangular wrap.
  9. Embellish the cuffs of gloves or mittens.
  10. Make a cowl.

Yarn Temptations - Creative chaos

How do you feel about the creative chaos that comes with combining two or more strands of yarn at the same time?

The photo, by Susan Caplan McCarthy, is of yarn hair falls, a perfect project for combining multiple yarns. The hair fall can accentuate a ponytail, be worked into a braid, or be worn as a fun hair extension. Cut one strand each of six different yarns so they are twice as long as the desired result. Fold the yarn in half and loop through a hair elastic. Add to hair.

What do you think about combining yarns in a single project?

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Use Your Yarn Stash - Using lots of little bits of yarn

Whether you call the technique combining yarn or double-stranding, it doesn't mean that you are limited to using just two types of yarn in your crochet projects. Instead, you have the opportunity to gather up all those little bits of yarn that seem to add up to nothing but share a common color theme. Another thing to consider is separating natural materials (cotton, wool, bamboo) from synthetic materials because they will shrink differently. (Not sure what you have? Light a match to synthetic yarn and it will melt instead of burn.)

To work your project, hold two strands of yarn together and crochet. When you run out of one strand, join another strand. Continue adding yarn as required to complete your project. I like to think of this technique as leap-frogging. Instead of creating stripes, you end up blending one yarn into the next. Because you are working two strands at a time, these transitions have a beautiful flow.

You can even keep one yarn the same throughout the project while changing the second strand frequently. The yarn that remains the same ties together the small bits of yarn.

Photo of double-strand mini purses by Susan Caplan McCarthy

When In Doubt, Buy the Yarn - Combining yarns gives you many opportunities

When you see yarn on sale or on clearance, don't hesitate to buy it. Sometimes I get caught up in wondering what I'm going to do with a specific yarn, but a single skein of a yarn never causes problems in your yarn stash. Yes, I've had skeins of yarn in my stash for a year before I figure out what to do with them ... and more often than not, I end up working the yarn together with a strand of another yarn.

Had You Heard of Double Stranding?

While writing this article I picked up a couple of new terms, "double stranding" and "yarn blending." I always thought of working with two or more strands of yarn at the same time as simply combining yarns. As I looked up links for what I was doing, I learned some yarn lingo I hadn't been familiar with.

Have You Tried Combining Two Yarns in One Project? - Double-stranding and yarn blending

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    • Donzi40something profile image

      D J Cozzi 2 years ago from Chicago, Il

      Awesome article, great pictures. I had doubled my yard with the same color because I could not find a thicker yarn and I discovered this process by need. My project turned out awesome.

      Great information, you are very creative.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 3 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Yes, I love to try combinations of colors and textures. Scarves are a great way to experiment before trying a combo on a bigger project like an afghan or sweater.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      not yet, but i am thinking of :)

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      I've thought of combining two lace weight yarns to make a heavier weight for a sweater. But I never got around to it. Thanks for your lens -- a much more creative and inspiring way.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      I have done it when the yarn I have is too thin for what I want to do

    • Girlwiththorns profile image

      Girlwiththorns 4 years ago

      Loads of great info here and very personally presented. Thanks :) I learned a lot...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've never tried it, but it's always nice to learn a new skill. Thanks!

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      I have been doing that too. But it's a long time ago!

      Looks nice :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Lots of interesting information in this lens. I am new to knitting and found this very interesting. Thanks