I just love it when I learn a new knitting skill! Well, I don't know that it is actually a knitting skill so much as it is a yarn skill but since I use it in my knitting, I'm just calling it a knitting skill. I stumbled across this technique in the Haka pattern by Lee Meredith (you may know her as leethalknits) when she suggested using worsted weight yarn held triple to get a super bulky weight yarn. Now, I don't know about you but the thought of holding three strands together from three different balls of yarn was enough to give me hives. I sometimes get tangled up in one strand of yarn, let alone three! However, she mentioned a technique that allowed you to use one strand of yarn to get three strands held together and she linked to a video tutorial. Just one strand? I knew I had to give it a shot.
The video tutorial was created by Alex Tinsley, another fabulous designer, who can be found at her website, dull roar. The tutorial is genius! I am finally going to be able to use up the lace weight that I have in my stash along with all of the fingering weight. I don't mind knitting with fingering weight but I have so many single skeins of it that it will take me forever to knit through it all. Also, let's be honest, sometimes I get bored partway through a fingering weight project so it just gets shoved into a project bag and thrown in a corner, never to be seen again. Triple-stranded fingering weight will allow me to zip through a project without getting bored and now I will be able to use fingering weight for charity knitting since most of the places that I donate hats to prefer that they be made out of worsted or bulky weight yarns. Here is the video that has changed my knitting life.
It was a little fiddly when I first got started but if you are a spinner, it will probably come very easily to you since it is similar to chain plying. (At least that is what Lee Meredith said in her pattern. I don't spin so I neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of her statement.) Initially, I would chain up some yarn and leave it in a pile on the desk while I was knitting. I am sure no one is surprised to hear that led straight to tangle city. Then I started wrapping the chained yarn around the outside of the yarn cake and unwinding a little bit at a time to avoid tangles. Other than being annoyed at the interruptions to unwind the yarn, that method was working well until the yarn cake started to collapse. It was a center pull cake and I was pulling from the center so when it started to collapse, I worried about yarn tangles. This wouldn't have been a problem if I had worked from the outside of the cake but that's not how I roll. Inspiration struck in the form of a juice glass. I just wound the chained yarn around an upside down juice glass: no tangles, no collapsing the yarn cake, and no stopping to unwind the chained yarn as it just slipped nicely off the top of the glass as I knit. Here is a picture of my setup.
Since I wanted to test this technique on fingering weight yarn, I just knit a basic hat following the Giving Comfort hat pattern by Alicia Landi. I omitted the purl bumps in the body of the hat so I could focus on learning this new technique. The yarn that I was using as a test yarn was some leftover self-striping fingering weight yarn and it turns out, this technique is great for self-striping because you can preserve the striping sequence when would not happen if you held three different strands together! Look how great the finished product is: