How to knit or crochet with yarn held double

Sometimes your pattern tells you to knit or crochet with yarn held double. It’s not that obvious what that means. But don’t worry, it’s not hard at all! 

All you have to do is hold TWO strands of yarn together and treat them as a single strand.

You hold them the same way you always hold your yarn and knit or crochet with them as if they were one strand.

Understanding yarn weight and how you can combine yarn strands to convert between weights makes it easier to substitute yarns for patterns.

For example, if your pattern calls for a year held double you can figure out which weights that equal and now you have much more to choose from. Or vice versa, you find a pattern that calls for a thicker yarn but you don’t have any, you can calculate how to combine two thinner strands to get the right weight. 

Don’t worry, I will provide you with both a cheat sheet for yarn weights and a sizing table for combining yarn strands further down!

Working with yarn held double, a table over how to double yarns to achieve thicker yarn weights.

Why designers make patterns for yarn held double

When you use two strands of yarn at the same time that equals knitting or crocheting with a thicker yarn aka a heavier yarn weight. But, you might think, why not use a thicker yarn?

The reasons for designing a pattern with yarn held double varies, but one is that the fabric created is more dense and squishy. 

Other reasons may be to mix two different yarns for a nice texture or to get a marled effect by mixing two colors. Learn more about marling here!

Blending two different yarn fibers is quite common, for example, adding a strand of a fluffy yarn like mohair to a woolen yarn. 

Reading tip:
You can learn more about yarn weights and how to convert yarn weights between different weight systems here. (psst! there’s a freebie to help you!)

Knitting or crocheting with two yarns instead of one thicker yarn

Maybe you want to knit or crochet a certain pattern but can’t find a yarn or shade you like in that particular yarn weight. 

In this case, you could combine two strands of one or two finer yarn in a fiber/shade/texture you like and still have the right gauge for the pattern.

This method is a bit ruff and you may need to play around a bit with hooks or needles to get the right gauge, just like you would with a single strand of yarn. 

Be aware that two yarn strands held together may not look or feel exactly like working with one that was produced in that weight to begin with.

It may be flatter, or thicker, and denser all depending on things like how it’s spun, the fibers, and how much air gets caught between the fibers. To avoid surprises, make a swatch!

Reading tips:
––> Learn more about swatching and gauge
––> Yarn Weights with a free cheat sheet

How to translate yarn weights

It may be obvious that holding two strands of yarn together will result in yarn twice as thick as the original, but it’s not that obvious what yarn weight that will translate to.

This can be done in three simple steps:

  1. Look up the meterage or yardage of your yarn per 100g
  2. Divide that number by two, as you’re using two strands at the same time 100g will equal half the length of yarn. 
  3. Look up which yarn weight your number translates to in the yarn weight cheat sheet found in this post

An example:
Two strands of a yarn which is 400m per 100g will give a meterage of 200m per 100g. A quick look in the cheat sheet (mentioned above) let us know that’s the meterage of a DK weight yarn.

If you don’t want to do the maths, use the table further down!

Sizing table for combining yarn weights

This table shows how to combine thinner yarns to equal a thicker yarn. In the left column, you see the thinner yarn weights and in the right column, the thicker. 2 strands of the left yarn weight equal 1 strand of the right yarn weight.  

For example, two strands of sport/DK equals one strand of worsted/aran yarn

I haven’t included the largest yarn weights in the table because these yarns tend to vary so much in thickness that the method doesn’t work as well. For these thicker yarns, you just have to do some testing!

2 strands of this weight equal…1 strand of this weight
Lace (0)Fingering (1)
Fingering (1)Sport/DK (2–3)
Sport/DK (2–3)Worsted/Aran (4)
Worsted/Aran (4)Bulky/Chunky (5)
Bulky/Chunky (5)Super Bulky (6)

Wind two strands togheter in a yarn ball

You may be tempted to wind both yarn strands together in the same ball to make it easier to work with. It’s always easier to manage one ball than two right?

This is a great idea, as long your yarns are the same fiber. A ball with two strands of wool, for example, will work great.

But, if you make a yarn ball with, for example, one strand of wool and one strand of mohair that may cause you problems. This is because The fibers stretch differently.

Your knitting will not be affected, but the strands can be different in length when you pull them from the ball which could cause a bit of a mess.

How to double yarn with one skein

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If you have a center-pull yarn ball or cake it’s easy to work with two strands from the same ball as you can pull one strand from the inside (center) and the other from the outside.

If you don’t have a center-pull ball you can make one! Use a ball-winder (affiliate link) and a yarn-swift (affiliate link) or make it by hand. 

This video from New Stitch a Day: Knitting and Crochet video tutorials shows how to make a center-pull ball using a very thick knitting needle, a toilet roll, or just your fingers!