Easy Guide to Combining Yarn Weights for Amigurumi
You know, for the longest time, if I was making a project with multiple yarns, I thought I had to match them exactly. Like, all the colors had to be from not only the same brand, but the same line. But this way of thinking proved waaaay too restrictive, which is why I start experimenting. This easy guide to combining yarn weights for amigurumi will help you match yarns with confidence!
You might be wondering why you would need to combine yarn weights. After all, there are tons of projects that use one 2 or 3 colors without even changing the hook size.
But what if you come across a pattern that uses a worsted weight for the body and a fingering weight for the details? Or maybe you don’t have the color you want to use in the correct weight for a project. Perhaps you want a variegated look, but don’t have any variegated yarn.
The scenarios are endless, but the point is, this is where your knowledge of yarn weights will swoop in to save the day!
Yarn Weight Basics
First, let’s brush up on some foundational knowledge!
We’ve all seen these little symbols before, right? While each weight class goes by various names depending on where you are, the number system is fairly consistent with 0 being the smallest (thinnest) and 7 being the biggest.
However, these numbers are not the end all be all either. In fact, frequently yarn is either classified incorrectly, the weight fall between numbers, or the weight varies wildly within the skein.
For example, if you’ve ever worked with roving or single ply yarn, you might have noticed it can go from chunky to crazy thin and back within just a single yard.
It can be frustrating to come across these discrepancies, especially when you’re in the middle of a project.
And then (if you’re like me) those random skeins and cakes in your stash without labels pose their own problem.
This is where WPI comes in!
What the heck is WPI?
WPI or ‘Wraps Per Inch’ is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, you wrap your yarn around something like a pencil (it has to have a consistent circumference) and then count how many wraps fit within an inch.
Then compare the number of wraps to the WPI indicated for each weight class (see the graphic above or click here to check out the chart from the Craft Yarn Council).
Just be sure that your wraps are not overlapping and your tension is consistent. It may take a bit of practice, especially if you tend to wrap tightly like I do, but you can try it with a yarn you already know the weight of to start.
Different Yarn Weights for Separate Parts
The most common example (at least that comes to mind for me), is when a project calls for a certain weight/hook for one portion and another weight/hook for another.
One of the primary reasons for this method of combining is detail. Proportionally speaking, smaller detailed parts usually cannot be achieved in thicker weight yarns. For instance, in my Orion the Deer pattern, Orion’s body is worked in a worsted 4 weight yarn, but the delicate antlers, nose, and eyelids are worked in a fingering 1 weight.
This is pretty straight-forward, but it can get tricky when you start substituting yarns because then you have to take the weight ratio into account.
Let’s use Orion again as an example. Say you want to do the body in a bulky 5 weight instead. Then what weight will you use for the detail parts? A 2 or 3 weight maybe?
Depending on the yarn you have available it’ll vary. If your bulky weight is on the thicker side, you might even have to go up to a 4 weight.
The best advice I can offer here is to make a small sample piece in the yarn you think will work and compare. In Orion’s case, I would make the one of the eyelids after finishing the head and see if it looks proportional not only in comparison to the head, but to the safety eye as well. If it looks a little big, go down a weight size and vise versa.
Holding Strands Together
If you’ve never heard of this, it just means you’re holding 2 (or more) strands of yarn together and working as though they are a single yarn.
This is where we get to have the most fun (in my opinion anyway, lol).
Doubling the Same Weight
I’ll admit there’s no hard and fast rules here because, as we’ve covered, yarn weight can vary wildly, but I can give you some very general guidelines.
- Lace + Lace = Super Fine
- Super Fine + Super Fine = Sport
- Sport + Sport = Worsted
- Worsted + Worsted = Bulky
- Bulky + Bulky = Super Bulky… you see where this is going.
Now, like I said, this is super general. I’m currently working on a project where I combined 2 Super Fine yarns to equal the DK weight I was using in the other color.
This works because the DK weight was on the lighter end of the spectrum and the Super Fine yarns were just slightly heavier than usual.
Tripling, Quadrupling, etc…
You don’t have to stick to just 2 yarns held together! What if you need a worsted weight, but your stash is overflowing with fingering weight?
Just hold as many together as you need to achieve the desired weight! If you’re not sure if the match is accurate, you can do a gauge swatch or even test the WPI (although I can’t quite speak to total accuracy here simple because the yarns aren’t spun together).
For example, I accidentally purchased a ton of lace weight yarn (thinking it was the same as fingering weight), but I pivoted and spun 4 strands together to equal roughly a worsted weight so I could use it for another project.
Pro Tip: If you know for sure you’ll be holding two or more strands together for an entire project, I recommend winding them up into a cake with a yarn winder. Not only will it be center pull (which is always easier to manage), but it’ll keep you from fighting multiple skeins while you work.
Combining Different Weights
Lastly, the sky is the limit when it comes to holding different yarns together!
Here’s just a few examples:
- Novelty yarn + regular yarn: Very often, novelty yarn is thin with anything from faux fur to mini pom poms attached along the stand. On it’s own, it’s hard to work with, but combine it with a regular worsted for example to get a textured bulky yarn.
- Mixing colors: If you want your project to be variegated, but don’t have any single skeins that fit the bill, you can hold several solid colors together to get a similar effect.
- Bulky + Light: Maybe you’re having trouble achieving gauge because your bulky weight is just slightly thinner than necessary. Try doubling it with a lace or super fine yarn for a little added thickness.
The absolutely wonderful thing about amigurumi is that (most of the time) you don’t need to abide by traditional rules when it comes to picking your yarn. You don’t necessarily need to worry about matching fiber content or consider things like drape and ease.
Of course, if you’re making things for those with sensitivities or children, be sure to watch which yarns you combine as not everything is suitable.
Whether you’re new to amigurumi or a seasoned toy maker, understanding yarn weights and how to manipulate them is super helpful. You can create some truly cool color combinations, textures, and designs simply by playing with multiple yarns.
If you found this article helpful, be sure to Pin it for later and share it with your crafty friends! Have you ever experimented with combining yarns? Share your experience in the comments!
And if you’d like to try out an easy project that uses multiple yarns, check out Sid the Snowman for free here on my blog!