I’ve been working hard on a secret yarn-bomb project that involves a lot of different yarns and techniques (that will hopefully all come together in a beautifully cohesive display, right?), and one of my favorite is double strand crochet.
Double strand crochet is the same as regular crochet, but you’ll be holding two strands straight in your non-dominant hand instead of just one. As you work each stitch, be sure you have equal tension on both strands and are pulling both strands through each loop. The technique is simple, but it may take some time to perfect the tension and check for mistakes.
Common mistakes people make with Double Strand Crochet
- Tangling Yarn – Keeping one ball on each side of you, like this cutie, will reduce the opportunities for knots and tangles
- Using a hook that’s too small – Working with a hook that isn’t big enough will crush your yarn and really put a stain on your hooking hand. Try a couple different hook sizes to find the perfect look.
- Dropping one strand – When you drop a strand for part of a stitch, you’ll be tempted to continue the stitch with both strands and pretend this little incident never happened. Don’t do it! You’ll totally see that wonky weak part every time you look at your piece.
- Not keeping even tension – If you have one strand looser than the other, you’ll get bumpy loops all over the place. Not cute.
- Forgetting to Rest – The increased thickness of the yarn will make hands tired, so be nice and give yourself a break here and there.
Benefits of Double Strand Crochet
- Create a stronger fabric – double strand crochet is perfect for items that need a little extra body, including baskets, potholders, or cozies (like the one I made for my Kitchen Aid mixer, because why not?)
- Add extra color and dimension – When Erin and I got up close and personal with NaomiRAG’s work, we realized she used double strand crochet to give her pieces more color and depth. It’s the perfect alternative to tapestry crochet, and I’m sure you’ll agree the end result is totally amazing.
- Make novelty yarns easier to handle – Novelty yarns catch a lot of flack, but there are times when nothing else will do… like, say, when you need to make a giant muppet-esque orange circle. It is really difficult to see previous stitches in the funkiest novelty yarns, so adding a plain yarn (in a similar color if you don’t want it to show) will allow you to count your stitches easily and place those increases in the perfect place.
- Calm a crazy yarn – If you’ve got a loud, variegated yarn in your stash that you totally hate, try double-stranding with a coordinating or neutral yarn. You’ll calm that ugly right down.
Why you should really, really, really make a swatch first
You might not know how two yarns will work with each other, so it’s best to do a quick swatch to see how they’ll interact and if you like the effect. Also, this is a great time to try different hook sizes to find out which will look best. If you’re using a novelty yarn, you may also want to vary your stitches – taller stitches look much better with fun fur because it gives the yarn more room to puff out.
But the main reason you should really, really, really make a swatch first is that double strand crochet is a total pain to frog. With double strand crochet, the two yarns will pull out side-by-side, and you’ll have a heck of a time getting them neatly and knotlessly separated. (If you have a Craft Husband handy, you can ask him to pull one strand while you pull the other and each roll the yarn back into a ball.)
How to double strand using crochet couching
Some yarns look great with regular double stranding, but if you’re using a novelty yarn with special bits and bobs (like this puff ball yarn), then you’ll want to try this technique. (Please keep in mind – I think I made up this term. If you know the real name, please let me know – but I thought it was similar to it’s embroidery cousin, and I’ve been watching a lot of British Sewing Bee lately.)
- Complete the chain and first row of your piece with the main yarn as you normally would
- Hold the novelty and main yarn in your non-dominant hand as you would for regular double strand crochet
- Begin next row by crocheting main yarn over novelty yarn (like when you’re doing tapestry crochet) until you get to a puff ball
- Push puff ball to right side of piece (this will happen naturally when you’re working on the right side)
- Chain 1, skip 1, and sc in the next sc to secure puff ball
- Pull novelty yarn slightly to ensure there are no loose loops
- Repeat to end
- In next row, continue in the same way, single crocheting in ch spaces when necessary
Double Strand Alternative – Surface Crochet
If you’re having trouble holding two strands at once but still want to have a multi-strand effect, try surface crochet.
- Keep yarn at back of piece. Push hook down through first space.
- Pull up loop and pull yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
- Continue by inserting hook into next space, pulling up loop, and pulling yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
You can crochet into the surface crochet stitches as you would any chain to add height.