Thursday, August 2, 2012


.  Knit Natters is about to have our slipper "knit in" for the troops, and while I do have some worsted weight yarn to contribute, I also have vast quantities of cone yarns - thin yarns, some industrial, and oftentimes, just half a cone.  I need some masculine colors, so I've been hunting through my cones for combinations.  I do check the fiber content and combine like fibers.  I avoid combining two slubby yarns, because bumps on both yarns seem to happen at the same time and things can get knotty.  I'll combine different textures, though, or slubby with smooth.

I'm using mostly worsted weight yarn for the troop slippers, because it's cold in Afghanistan.  Besides, the heavier yarn knits up very quickly.

The only unknown is how many plies of different skinny yarns to put together to get your gauge.  I simply experiment, putting 2-4 yarns together on a twisting yarn winder (it adds a twist to the various yarns as wind) and then knitting a swatch to see if I can get a worsted gauge.

Here are four ends of who-knows-what brown industrial yarn, and it's a little darker than the picture of the ball.  The color is more true in the picture of the mocassin slippers, down below. 

If you don't own a plying winder, there are other ways to ply the yarn.  You can do it with a spinning wheel, you can stack the coned yarn using a yarn stacker or even milk crates and then thread it directly into the machine. 

To use the stack method, you start with a cone of yarn, put it on the floor and put a milk crate over it, but bring the end of the yarn through the holes in the crate.  Then run the end of that first cone of yarn through the center hole of the second cone of yarn, which you place on top of the crate.  Put that with the yarn from cone #2, and you'll see the yarn comes off in a slow twist.  You can add another yarn for a 3-high stack and feed all this directly into the knitting machine.

I have NOT had sucess with simply putting two cones of yarn on the floor and feeding the ends into the same antenna - one yarn will feed more slowly, and after a few minutes, an ugly tangle forms.

I am going to combine two strands of exactly the same yarn.  In that case, I won't need to twist that because it's the same stuff, so I'll just thread it in the two antennas and knit with the two strands together in the feeder.

If you thread two different colors into the two antennas and use them at the same time, though, you get ugly, irregular stripes.  I think it looks better to get an all-over tweedy look like the slippers.

You can feed 2 colors into the two antennas, though, and use a plaiting feeder so that one yarn is always behind the other one.

And here's my test pair of slippers in the brown yarn:

Now, you don't have to be all subtle and monochromatic about this.  Try out unlikely combinations like hot pink, black, gray, and red, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.  You can also use this technique to tone down obnoxious colors.  I once mixed a shiny ivory with red, orange, and brown, and it made the shiny stuff and the ugly orange quite usable.


  1. Just started with a used KH260 which only likes bulky yarns, and this blog post answered my question - can I combine two strands of lighter weight yarn to make it heavier. I am LOVING your blog and your videos. They've helped me get this machine set up and courageously begin a new inspiring way to knit. THANK YOU !!

    1. The 260 is a terrific machine. I use a 270 in many of my videos, same machine, except a different patterning device. I love to hear that someone is learning on a bulky machine, as it's easier to see, and especially one of these as they really are exceptional.