Skip to content

Single Skein of Sock Yarn dilemma ::: doubling and tripling yarns

December 9, 2013
Antler Toque by Tin Can Knits

IMG_5827If 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.

This is called a yarn 'cake' with an end coming from the center of the ball and an end coming from the outside

This is called a yarn ‘cake’ with an end coming from the center of the ball and an end coming from the outside

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!

Antler Hat in SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine held doubled.

Antler Hat in SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine held doubled.

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:

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Paulette permalink
    May 16, 2021 2:38 pm

    I want to create a DK weight yarn equivalent to James c Brett’s marble DK .what weight yarn doubled would I use ?


    • May 24, 2021 12:00 am

      Probably two lace-weight yarns, if they’re ‘plump’ enough will work, but you might find a sock weight plus a lace weight is better to knit to the gauge you’re aiming for. Swatching will be key.

  2. September 2, 2020 4:30 pm

    Question for Jitterbean Girl: Where do you get–or how do you arrive at–the number of ” 0.58 ” to multiply by?

  3. Eileen permalink
    September 13, 2019 7:07 am

    What is the rule of thumb if one is using 2 yarns of different weight?

    • September 13, 2019 1:00 pm

      You’re not gonna like this answer but: swatch! It depends so heavily on the fabric you are trying to achieve, it’s going to need a swatch

  4. Gwen permalink
    June 3, 2019 2:36 pm

    Thanks for that info! I have so much sock yarn and now know what to do with it. I hate making socks!

  5. Kathy permalink
    September 29, 2017 4:37 pm

    Should I change my needle size if using 2 strands of sock yarn to knit socks? Thanks in advance

    • October 3, 2017 8:37 pm

      Hi Kathy – if you are using 2 strands of sock yarn you probably want to use a pattern that calls for heavy DK or worsted weight yarn, which would usually call for a larger needle. Check your gauge.

  6. Andrea permalink
    August 14, 2017 10:52 am

    Is there a tip to prevent the yarns from twisting?

    • August 14, 2017 2:40 pm

      Hi Andrea – I think the twisting depends a bit on your knitting style, some styles will cause the yarns to twist more or less. If you are working from 2 balls you can just hold them in the air and let your knitting spin and un-twist.

  7. Jacqueline conkling permalink
    February 17, 2017 6:11 pm

    This is so helpful. Thank you very much for this information.

  8. February 7, 2017 10:21 am

    “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).”

    “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!”

    This rule of thumb can be generalized to any number of strands of yarn. You can divide the gauge by the square root of the number of strands. As it happens, multiplying by 0.7 is the same as dividing by the square root of 2 (about 1.4). Similarly, if you’re knitting with 3 strands, you can divide your gauge by 1.73 (or multiply it by 0.58. Hope that helps!

  9. Kim permalink
    January 7, 2016 10:37 am

    Thanks so much for this! Just what I needed :)

  10. travelknitter permalink
    December 21, 2013 11:14 am

    I mostly knit with 4ply and tend not to knit with heavier yarns very often, but that’s a really useful rule of thumb to know.

  11. December 10, 2013 9:08 am

    Soo helpful to read about The Rule of Thumb. I have so many skeins of hand dyed sock yarn but there are only so many pairs of socks one can knit (or wear!)

    • Paulette permalink
      May 16, 2021 2:40 pm

      You could knit the socks and I’d wear them for you lol

  12. December 10, 2013 9:05 am

    Bellissimo il tuo cappello! Paola – Italy

  13. December 10, 2013 7:33 am

    I never knew about that rule of thumb for doubled gauge, super helpful!


  1. Mix and Match: Combining Yarn Weights and Types in Stranded Colourwork | Tin Can Knits
  2. How to Recycle Yarn from Second-Hand Sweaters | Tin Can Knits
  3. Ready to Learn Something New? We’ve Got a Hat for That! | Tin Can Knits
  4. That Which We Can Control | Tin Can Knits
  5. Let’s make a Beloved Bonnet | Tin Can Knits
  6. Painterly Yarn Combinations: layering mohair over a base yarn | Tin Can Knits

Leave a Reply to Paulette Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: