Thursday, August 30, 2012

Can a beginner knit with multiple strands of yarn?

Someone asked if a beginner can use multistrand yarn.

I recommend getting comfortable with a single strand first.  If you feel you know what you're doing with one strand, you can eventually handle more.  Start with two or three until you get the hang of it.  I have had customers write to me and say, "I can't get the hang of this!" But I reassure them that they can and virtually everyone DOES. It does take practice.

Your biggest challenge will be to knit each stitch in its entirety, without dropping part of it. But if you get two of the strands and drop the rest, the piece will NOT unravel and with all those colors going on, your mistakes will be less noticeable. In some ways, it's easier than single strand knitting, in which every stitch counts and every mistake shows.  And I'm the sort of person who hates to rip out rows and redo it.

A second problem
you may encounter when you're using multiple strands is that one strand will sometimes be stretched out or seem "longer" than the others as you work your project.  If you reach the end of a row--that is, on a seam--and your piece has a right side and a wrong side, go ahead and tie up the slack on the pesky strand that is too long. Then when you sew up the seams, you can incorporate the slack into the seam. 

OR if you are making a blanket or something on which there is no seam and/or both sides will be seen, you can loop the "longer" strand around the needle a second time as often as needed to make it catch up with the strands. I have created yarns in which I never had to do this at all, but sooner or later, most multi-strand knitters face the problem of uneven strands. It happens most when one strand is chenille, because chenille can stretch easily. 
Or sometimes I see it happen when some of the strands are much thinner and/or a different fiber than the others. It has not put me off of multi-strand knitting, but someone who is using multi-strands for the first time might freak. Just remember, most knitters DO get the hang of it and if you are clever about fudging the yarn a bit here and there, you will relax. 

Knitters and crocheters who are really into elaborate stitches sometimes resist the notion of multiple strands, because they have so much going on just following the pattern.  I can understand that.  Multi-strand knitting is easier when you are doing a straight garter or stockinette with minimal increases, decreases or shaping. But I've done seed stitch and ribbing with multiple strands and loved the results.  And I've had customers go on an entrelac binge with Life's an Expedition yarn.

Lastly, someone who is super-picky about their craft might never enjoy it.  Also, anyone who is devoted to knitting socks or anything on very small needles might not have the patience for multi strands.

I'm getting ready to shut down my web site, so I am transferring some info to the blog that everyone will be asking about later.

dj runnels
Life's an ExpeditionLife's an Expedition on Etsy.
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