Two Yarns Held Together

Lauren's Mouse Stuffed ToyShortly after I taught myself to crochet, I decided to make crocheted gifts for each of my family members. For my three siblings, I made stuffed toys. They may all be adults, or nearly so, but who couldn’t use a cheerful little something decorating one’s office or bedroom? Stuffed toys are for grown-ups too, thank you very much. But for my parents, I decided to make scarves. Mom’s was decorated with ruffles and flowers and beads. It delighted me to no end to produce a scarf straight from my girly-girl dreams. But Dad’s a dad, with a professional manly sort of style, and his scarf had to be a little more conservative. What could I do to spice it up?

As I dug through my craft supplies, I was thrilled to experience a jolt of inspiration when I happened upon some embroidery floss. It occurred to me that I could add a whole rainbow of bright color in little bits that would make a grey scarf spectacular, but subtle. I’d do it by holding a much heavier yarn in grey together with a thin strand of vibrant yellow, for instance. I’d keep the base color the same, and change out the accent color periodically. When I purchased 20 or so colors of embroidery floss from a local store, the lady who rang me up asked me the question I ask customers every day – “So, what are you planning on making with this?” It’s a good question, after all. Making things out of yarn is my favorite thing to talk about. But she gave me a curious side-long glance when I told her I’d be incorporating this embroidery floss into a grey scarf. The conversation went no further. I wondered if I was the only one ever to have done such a thing.

But as it turns out, nothing in the world is entirely new, and holding two yarns together was certainly no exception. There are several excellent reasons for which one might do such a thing.

1. You want to achieve a larger gauge. Holding two strands of lace-weight yarn together will give you approximately a fingering-weight gauge. Holding two strands of fingering/sock-weight yarn together will give you approximately a worsted-weight gauge.

1a. It may expand your yarn options to consider holding two strands together. There happen to be a lot of great machine-washable options in fingering-weight yarns since many are designed for socks!

1b. It may help you work from your yarn stash. The other day, I wanted to use a fingering-weight yarn and a dk-weight yarn together because the colors and textures were perfect for each other, so I double-stranded the fingering-weight yarn!

1c. You can achieve extremely large gauges by holding 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 strands of worsted-weight yarn together. This is awesome for rugs!

pihat08_web2. You can create unique textures. Consider holding a strand of wispy mohair yarn together with a smoother yarn, to add a soft fuzzy halo to your fabric. We did this when we designed the Pi Hat. Berroco Yarns recently released a gorgeous pattern called the Kennebec Hat, which achieves the same effect by holding a strand of Andean Mist together with a strand of Boboli Lace.

3. You can achieve complex, almost iridescent colors. When you knit or crochet with two yarns held together, they naturally wrap around each other, mimicking the look of a marled yarn (think about sock monkeys, made with brown & cream-colored marled yarn).

4. You can blend colors gradually to create a gradient effect. When you hold two strands together, and change out only one at a time, you can create the appearance of a gradual change from one color (or texture) to the next.

Here are a few gorgeous examples.


Hold two strands of the same yarn in same, then different colors to transition gradually from one color to the next. Pattern: Anastasia Shawl by Berroco. Photo by Ravelry user Lindabannerman.


Hold strands of neutrals together with brights to create a “confetti” look. Pattern: Confetti Scarf from Purl Soho.


Hold yarns in similar hues together to create a rich, iridescent look. Pattern: Five by Five Cowl by Felicia Lo.


Hold two strands of lace weight cotton together to make a lightweight dish cloth with a marled look. Pattern: Not Your Ordinary Knitted Dishcloth by Erica Lea.

Hold two strands of gradient-striping yarn together for rich, surprising color transitions. Pattern: Waiting for Winter Mittens by Susan B. Anderson.

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

5 Comments on “Two Yarns Held Together

  1. Awesome work and so beautiful!

    Do you know if this would work with crochet mittens? I can’t find any patterns for this technique so I’m thinking it wouldn’t work?

    I live in SC and were about to have a snow event and would love to surprise my daughters with handmade mittens. 22 and 29. I made hats for them and used 2 colors carrying the yarn. My first projects:) and would love to use the yarn I bought to make matching mittens. I thought about striping but I really don’t like the look with sc stripes. I think this would be more interesting .

    I used Worsted medium weight yarn.

    • Hello Angela! Of course this technique would work for any knitting or crochet pattern! There’s no reason to look for a pattern that specifically calls for using double-stranded yarn.

      The only thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that your yarn weight (referring to how thick the strand is) will be increased .

      So, if your pattern calls for worsted weight then you’ll want to use two strands of fingering or sport weight. If you want to use two strands of worsted weight, then you’ll want to look for a pattern that calls for bulky weight.

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  3. What is the real point of using two strands of yarn, which is just confusing, why not just use a thicker yarn, if that is the only reason for using two strands.

    • Sometimes, you may want to use a specific yarn, but it is the wrong gauge for the pattern, or is a different gauge than the yarn with which you want to pair it. This is when you can use this technique to great effect.

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