I have a question about combining yarns to create my own special yarn and gauge.
Is there a way to calculate yarn weight/gauge when I put two or three yarns together?
For instance, do two lace weight yarns equal a fingering weight?
Or two fingering weights make a DK or worsted?
Then there is the question of mixing say a lace weight with a fingering or DK and what weight would those combinations make?
Many years ago, possibly decades, I vaguely remember an article with some kind of math formula for calculating gauge when combining yarns but I have not been able to find any references to this in recent years. I am hoping that maybe you could help with this.
Thank you in advance.
Ah, the search for the formula. You probably think I’m going to say “swatch.” Well, I am, but I’ll give you a few basic rules of thumb before you swatch.
The tricky thing about this question is the categories themselves are broad. Worsted can be 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 stitches per 4 inches. In addition to that, the twist, yarn construction, and fiber content will all come into play when customizing yarn.
Here are some broad strokes:
2 lace = fingering to sport
2 fingering = sport to DK
2 sport = light worsted
2 DK = worsted to heavy worsted
2 worsted = chunky to bulky
2 chunky = 1 super bulky
Here’s a fun tip to give you a sense of needle size. Put the yarns together, fold the yarns in half, and put them through a needle gauge. Whichever hole they go through easily is a good needle to start swatching.
For instance, here are pictures of doubled yarn going through a needle gauge. Note the needle size in comparison to the yarn:
There are a few other things you should consider when swatching (note the subtle suggestion to swatch). If you are mixing different weight yarns, the heavier one will dominate, in both color and texture. So make sure you swatch to see if the color is coming out the way you like. If you were hoping that mixing a sport weight cashmere with a worsted weight wool would make it softer, you might be sad when you swatch it up . . . oh, did I mention you should swatch?
Swatch, swatch, swatch.
Picking Up Stitches
Sometimes there’s just something in the air! I had not one, but two email questions about picking up stitches in a contrasting color.
I remember hearing that when you work stripes in rib you get a weird color bleed. I’m picking up stitches for a 1 x 1 rib neckband, and the pattern has it as a single color, but I want to do the neckband in a contrasting color, and I don’t want that color bleed. What do I have to do to avoid that?
The short answer is NOTHING! When you pick up stitches it is actually the same as knitting one row. When we knit, we pull a new loop through the old loop, so the head of the stitch of the row below goes to the back. When you pick up stitches in a contrasting color, you’ll get a clean line of stitches.
But since I can’t resist answering a question you didn’t ask: what if I want to do the neckband in a contrasting color and a stripe. Well, that’s when the fun begins.
Here’s that “color bleed” you mentioned. When I change colors in rib, when I purl, I am pushing a new loop through the old loop, which means the head of the stitch of the row below, that is in a different color, comes to the front, producing and that icky color blip.
Can I make a striped rib without the blip? Of course! Take a look at this lovely:
See what I did there? I’ll give you a hint:
Question: When is a rib not a rib?
Answer: When you change colors!!
If you change colors on a RS row, just knit all the way across that row, and resume the rib in the next row. If you change colors on a WS row, just purl all the way across, and resume the rib in the next row. Nobody will be the wiser.
I know, you didn’t ask, but you know you were just going to next month.
After picking up stitches in a new color, how do I purl the next row and M1, P1 without the old color showing?
Not gonna lie to you, this was a bit of a head scratcher. I’ve never seen a pattern call for this because, as you suspected, working a make 1 will look a bit odd.
First let’s look at the why. (That’s my jam after all!)
An M1 (make one) is worked by lifting up the running bar and knitting it through its trailing leg, but in the case of a pick up, the running bar (circled) is behind the fabric and underneath the bound off edge of your fabric.
When you lift up that bar and knit it, it has to be lifted from below the bind off edge.
This doesn’t look great from the WS.
But it looks even worse from the RS:
To avoid the problem, you could purl all the way across and put in your increases on the next RS row. But that’s not what you asked, so I took it as a throw down and had to figure it out.
The answer: a modified PFBL (purl front and back loop). I didn’t want to have a purl bump interrupting the front, so I started by purling into the front loop without removing the stitch:
Then pivot that needle around into the back loop, but instead of purling it, just slip it to the right hand needle. When you work back on the RS row, it will look like two slightly overlapping loops of yarn:
Carefully knit each loop as a separate stitch, and voila, an increase made on the WS that is nearly invisible.
Phew. I love a throw down, but that had me stumped for a hot second. Keep ’em coming! I love it.