The Basics of Knitting with Chain Plied Yarn with Vickie Howell

Do you stare at gorgeous hanks of lace or fingering weight yarn and cringe at the thought of knitting them up on tiny needles? Is one of your new year's resolutions to use up your stash, but you have a lot of oddball skeins you aren't quite sure what to do with? Then today’s post is for you!

Vickie Howell used our needles to demonstrate the basics of chain plying (also commonly referred to Navajo Knitting) in Episode 103 of Ask Me Monday, and ever since we've been intrigued. Chain Plying comes from the world of handspinning: it's the process of plying a single strand (ply) of yarn back onto itself to create a 3-ply yarn. This is achieved through an elongated crochet looping method.

Applying this concept to your knitting means that you can take ANY yarn and twist it back on itself by using an elongated crochet chain so that you’re then knitting with three strands of yarn all at once. If that sounds complicated, don't worry - it just takes a little practice to perfect, and then you're on your way to reinventing your yarn stash!

For instance, when you chain ply lace weight yarn it can be knitted at a worsted weight gauge, sport weight yarn can be knitted at a chunky weight gauge, and worsted and bulky yarns can be knitted on jumbo needles or even used in arm knitting! This is also a great way to mix and match different yarns in your stash.

While we're speaking in generalities here, these are just guidelines to help you choose the appropriate needle size for your resulting yarn weight. Knitting a gauge swatch or measuring WPI (wraps per inch) will give you more accurate information. Here, we've chain plied a variegated lace weight yarn and knitting a triangular shawl with the resulting 3-ply yarn on US 9 Needles from our Knit & Purr holiday gift set:

Pattern Inspiration
Chain Knitting can be applied to just about any pattern, and we've rounded up a few popular free patterns to start with: Create a cozy hat with Pennyroyal by Tracy Lambert, just add a pom pom and you’ll be stylish all winter long! The Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho would be perfect for using up a gorgeous skein (or three!) to knit this wonderful winter accessory. If you have some huge skeins of lace or fingering weight that you're dying to use, try Reyna by Noora Backlund, a simple shawlette worked in garter stitch and mesh lace. To use up your heavier weight yarns, Jen Geigley’s GAP-tastic Cowl is an excellent choice.

PRO TIP: Since you’re triple-stranding your yarn, your total knitting yardage will be ⅓ of the length listed on the skein label! 

We can't wait to see what you make - please share your projects with us in our Ravelry group or on Instagram using the hashtag #knitterspride!

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1 comment:

  1. It’s called chain plying. The Navajo do not ply their yarn. Do your research. Perhaps even ask a tribal member.