If you have been a knitter and yarn connoisseur as long as Alexa and I have, you likely have a magnificent stash… which includes a good number of single skeins. You know the ones, those pretty skeins that beckoned to you from the shelf and you couldn’t pass them up, but didn’t really know what you would do with them.
Unfortunately, often those hand-dyed masterpieces are in lightweight yarn like sock or lace, and perhaps you are daunted by the thought of knitting yards and yards, and want a simple, quick, and satisfying project instead? This happens to me often, as I contemplate the mountain of single skeins of sock yarn that I have!
My favorite elegant solution is to double up that sock yarn, so that you can use the yarn for a worsted / aran weight project. If held double, sock weight yarn translates to a worsted or aran weight gauge. How does this work you ask?
How does the math work?
One rule of thumb is to take the regular gauge of a yarn (eg. 7 sts / inch or 28 sts / 4″ for a sock weight) and multiply it by 70% (or 0.7).
7 sts per inch x 0.7 = 4.9 sts per inch
This will give you an approximate idea of the gauge you can achieve when doubling the yarn up. So if you hold 2 sock-weight yarns together, you will be able to achieve a gauge of 4.5 to 5 sts / inch or 18-20 sts / 4″. You should make a gauge swatch first to be certain that you like the tension / density / effect of the work of course.
How do you hold 2 yarns together?
When I’m working from a single skein of yarn, it typically comes in a skein, so the first step is to wind it up into a centre-pull ball or cake, either by hand (see full tutorial here) or by using a ball-winder and swift. Then I can pull one strand from the centre of the ball, and the other from the outside of the ball.
I simply hold these 2 strands together as if they were a single strand of yarn, and work the project normally. You can see how on the needles, the two strands of yarn are snug up together, so it is quite clear that you will work them as a single strand.
If you were to knit holding 3 strands of yarn together, you would achieve an even thicker gauge, perhaps 3.5 to 4 stitches per inch. I don’t know a rule-of-thumb multiplier for tripling yarns, but it would be simple to make a gauge swatch and see how it turned out!
The Antler Hat – an example.
I was fondling a skein of beautiful SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine that I had squirrelled away, and debating what to make! I didn’t want to cast on a large project, so I decided to double it up, and made a baby version of the Antler hat (a free pattern). I got started, and as you can see, the smooth, lustrous, and ultra soft fabric which is resulting is making me VERY happy indeed! This will probably be one of the most luxurious baby hats every created!
Designs that use doubling: Tofino Surfer hat uses 2 strands of DK weight yarn held together to achieve a bulky gauge and the Sea to Sky baby blanket uses a semi-solid with a variegated skein held together for a tweedy, colour-shifting effect. So go hit up your stash for a lonely skein of sock yarn, double it up and get knitting!
More TCK patterns perfect for 2 strands of sock yarn: