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Hi Patty,

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.


Dear Brigit,

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.

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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.

Hi Patty,

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?



Dear Emily,

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.

 Dear Patty,

After picking up stitches in a new color, how do I purl the next row and M1, P1 without the old color showing?



Dear Beth,

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.


Patty in Your Pocket

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About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • A little math will also give a general guideline for predicting gauge when combining yarns. Add the gauges of the two yarns, and divide by 3. So 6 plus 6 ( DK) is 12, divide by 3 is 4. Worsted….
    And then swatch…

    • Thank you!!

      • For the great math tip!

    • So glad you added “and then swatch”, because things like DK or Worsted are SUPER broad categories. (Like Worsted can be 16, 17, 18 19 or 20, DK can be 21, 22, 23).

    • Thank you for the extra tip!

  • Thanks so much!!! Wonderful information and so helpful.

  • I really love and appreciate these posts. Thank you!

  • Fantastic and Brilliant! Always enjoy your posts, Patty. So informative.

  • Thank you Patty for the striped rib tip, it made my day! Sure going to try this on my socks striped colour ribbing.

  • Another brilliant (saved!) column. Thank you!

  • Dear Patty, I bow down to your magnificence. That is all. Carry On.

  • Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits has a handy gauge chart and formula for combining two or three yarns.

  • Thanks, I learned A LOT!!!

  • It’s so enlightening to learn something new (well, new to me) and reading your column today was just the ticket. Thanks Patty! Your insight and style are simply the best.

  • Patty, you’re a knitting genius! Thanks again for such great tips!

  • Hi Patty!!!
    Love, love your tutorials….they are all so absolutely brilliant! Thanks for your in depth explanations they are always so valuable!

  • Ooh, the modified PFBL may have solved a problem for me! I put two yarns together by chance on my kitchen table, and they looked so pretty that I felt I must make them into something stripey. However, one is a worsted-spun fingering weight wool & alpaca (smooth and somewhat string-like) and the other was a rustic woollen-spun woolly wool (likes to bloom with blocking).

    I realised that I needed to increase my stitch count and go down a needle size to accommodate the thinner yarn, and vice versa for the thicker one. But I could not work out how to increase unobtrusively on the first row of the new colour. The e-loop was the best of all the ones I tried, but I think you have bettered it.

    Please tell me, Patty, is there a modified KFBL? If not I’ll change colours on the wrong side 🙂

  • Fab tips thank you. I’ve been knitting for more years than I can remember and am still learning.
    Today I learned about changing colors without the blips and your wool gauge tip.
    Thank you so much.
    Even although I’ve been knitting years I am always striving to improve.
    I just hope I remember the tips!!!

  • I LOVE this tip for approximating what needle size to use when mixing yarns together!! Thank you!

  • K across on the right side (or P on the back) and go back to rib with the new colour! I’ve done this and had the previous colour showing, but never again. You are an amazing divergent thinker and I just love your solutions and the humour in your columns.

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