Have you had the pleasure of knitting with marled yarn? Marl knitting is one of the easiest ways to add color to any knitting project. It’s also a great way to use leftover yarn to combine and play with yarn colors.
In today’s post, I’ll explain the meaning of marled and talk about marled yarn. You’ll find 10 reasons why you should try marled knitting, along with tips and best practices. I’ll teach you how to knit with two colors from your own yarn stash and talk about making your own marled knits. You’ll find a handy chart for combining yarn weights and, last but not least, you'll find several free knitting patterns for inspiration.
Below you'll find a handy table of contents to help you explore this post. Now, let’s begin by talking about the meaning of marled yarn.
Table of Contents
- What Does Marled Mean?
- What is Marled Yarn?
- Reasons to Try Marl Knitting
- Using Marled Yarn
- How to Marl Knit
- Tips for Knitting with Marled Yarn
- Knitting with Yarn Held Double Chart and Marling Yarns
- List of Ready-Made Marled Yarns
- Marled Yarn Patterns
- Related Posts
What Does Marled Mean?
The term marl is such an interesting sounding word, in my opinion. It got me thinking about its origins and etymology so I had to look it up.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the etymology of the word marl derives from either the Scottish marlit or the French merellé. By these definitions, when something is marled it means marbled, checkered, or variegated.
On the subject of marled knitting, another French word often comes up in the discussion: mélange. Here’s how to pronounce mélange if you’re curious.
The word mélange means a mixture or a medley of something. In knitting (and crochet), we’re talking about mixing yarn colors, which can be a lot of fun, but we’ll get to that.
Keep both of these words and their definitions in mind as many yarn brands use them in their product names. I'll talk more about this later on this post.
Now, let’s deep dive into the subject of marled yarn.
What is Marled Yarn?
Marled yarn is when you combine two colored strands of yarn together to create your own plied yarn. Let me break this down further.
Each strand of yarn you use, even if the strand has multiple plies, is considered a “ply” in marled yarn. So, if you combine two strands, you’re creating a 2 ply yarn. If you combine three strands, it’s a 3 ply yarn, and so on.
After you’ve chosen the colors to your marled yarn, you’ll knit with these two colors simultaneously. Another way of saying it is you’re using yarn held double, but using different colors.
This is the key to marled yarn: combining two (or more) colored yarns together. It doesn’t matter if they’re solid colors, tonal yarn colors, speckled yarns, or similar hued yarns. It’s the plying, or mixing, of the different colors that creates a marled effect. Just like in this kerchief knitting pattern and this sock monkey blanket.
Ready-Made Marled Yarn
Don't want to DIY a yarn color? You could also purchase marled yarn that’s ready to knit with. There’s a surprising amount of marled options available.
At the end of this post, I’ll include a list of ready-made marled yarns to try out. In the meantime, you’ll see lots of marled yarn options in the pictures shown throughout this post.
Is there a difference between hand marled yarns and ready-made marled yarns? Potentially, yes.
Hand marled yarns are combined after they’re dyed, whereas ready-made marl yarns are pre-dyed then plied (spun) together. Store bought marled yarns may not have such an irregular effect as hand marled yarn. It really all depends on the brand and the colors.
Ready to learn more? Let’s talk about why you should try marl knitting.
Reasons to Try Marl Knitting
Here are 10 reasons why you want to knit with marled yarn:
- Sometimes solid color yarns are just boring on their own. Make a marled yarn for a more interesting knitted fabric.
- If you have a fluorescent yarn color that’s too loud on its own, pair that neon colored yarn with a neutral color to soften its effect.
- Marled knitting is easy! You don’t need to learn anything new or work any special knitting techniques.
- You’re not limited to mixing yarn colors. You can also mix different yarn fibers together to improve the blend’s properties. For example, double strand knitting with a cotton yarn and a wool yarn will add some elasticity to the project.
- You can work most knitting patterns with marled yarn. It works best where gauge isn’t critical, like a knitted baby blanket or a knitted scarf.
- Two words: STASH BUSTER! If you’ve been wondering what to do with leftover yarn, doubling up yarn strands is the way to go.
- Marled fabrics give the appearance of texture and depth to any knitted project. Just look at this Squared Poncho.
- You can create your own unique yarn colorways.
- Also, there’s no obligation to double up yarns of the same yarn weight class. You can absolutely color outside the lines! Mixing different yarn weights together is a great way to use leftover project yarns.
- Marled knitting is never boring. It’s a fun way to make graduated yarn color changes, unique tonal yarns, or even ombre effects.
The above sample swatch features a dark turquoise and a green teal fingering weight yarns held together. The colors are close in hue, which adds character to the mélange fabric. The below knit swatch shows a ready-made marled yarn in a graduated yarn color change.
Using Marled Yarn
When knitting with two contrasting colors at the same time, it creates a unique blurred effect in the knitted fabric. This is known as the marled effect. I like to think of it as static on a television.
Take a look at the knitted swatch below. Knit with two strands of fingering yarn in a superwash wool, I used high contrast colors to enhance the marled effect. I framed the swatch in garter stitch with a stockinette center to demonstrate the two color knit stitches.
The color combination shows a random, high contrast appearance to the knitted fabric. Depending on the colors you choose, the marled effect will vary.
Now let’s talk about how you can make your own marled knits.
How to Marl Knit
The best part about marl knitting is that you don’t need to learn anything new to do it. If you know the basics of knitting like casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off, you’re ready for marl knitting.
As I mentioned earlier, all you have to do is knit with 2 or more yarns held together at the same time. Marl knitting is as easy as knitting (or purling) with the multiple strands of yarn held together.
Maybe you have lots of lace weight yarn but hate knitting with it on its own. You can absolutely knit with more than two strands of lace yarn held double. Create your own yarn colorway!
Here's an example using a hank of hand dyed fingering weight yarn paired with a natural colored yarn.
Make the most of your yarn stash! Experiment and play with yarn colors to see what you like and what looks good. Mix your solid yarns with a speckled yarn, variegated yarn, or a self-striping yarn for really fun effects.
Tips for Knitting with Marled Yarn
Here are a couple of tips to make your marled knitting experience a more pleasant one.
- Always knit a swatch with your choice of yarn colors to see if the combination works well together.
- Make sure you keep your marled yarns tensioned properly so that you don’t accidentally miss a yarn strand when knitting.
- Don't forget to adjust your knitting needle size to compensate for the thicker yarn.
- It’s easier to marl lightweight yarns together than thicker yarns together.
- Marled knitting isn’t just for stockinette stitch. You can marl with any knit texture you choose – garter stitch, ribbing, cables…the sky is the limit.
Finally, if you want to learn more facts and tips about marl knitting, you should definitely check out the book on Making Marls by Cecilia Campochiaro. She provides a beautiful and detailed journey into marled knitting. It's an excellent resource to add to your knitting book collection.
Knitting with Yarn Held Double Chart and Marling Yarns
This post wouldn’t be complete without a yarn held double chart to create your own marled yarn weights. As you can see below, this chart lists approximate combined weights when knitting with two strands of a single weight yarn.
If you choose to add more than two strands of yarn, or want to combine a variety of yarn weights together, you’ll definitely need to knit a swatch to determine your gauge.
List of Ready-Made Marled Yarns
As promised, here's a list of 10 pre-marled yarns for you to check out and knit with. This list is, by no means, complete, but each one gives you an idea of the varieties of marled yarns and yarn colorways.
Some brands will indicate it's a marled yarn in the product name, some only in the colorway name, while others will create their own unique product names for these marled yarns. The variety is to help you so you know how to search for them.
Hopefully they spark some knitting inspiration!
Ready-Made Marled Yarns to Purchase:
Marled Yarn Patterns
Here are several pattern project ideas for marl knitting with two strands of yarn. These marled knitting patterns will give you an idea of how you can combine different yarn weights or double the same yarn weights to make your own unique marled yarn colorways.
DISCLAIMER – I did not design the following marled knitting patterns. If you have a question about a particular pattern, please contact the designer directly.
Love the coziness of a knit throw blanket pattern? To make this buffalo plaid bedding, you’ll knit with two strands of worsted weight yarn equaling a super bulky yarn. The end result is a color block blanket that alternates solid colors and marl colors for a truly unique colorway.
This handmade blanket uses knits and purls to create knitted seed stitch blocks for a touchable textured knit fabric. Due to its size, you’ll need size 11 circular knitting needles to hold all your stitches.
You’ll use the cable cast on for this buffalo plaid blanket, and you’ll need some knowledge of stranded knitting. The colorwork is seamless so you won’t have to sew the blocks together. You will, however, need to keep your yarn organized on yarn bobbins or in knitting project bags for sanity’s sake.
Also, be sure to read the pattern through and take note of the yarn requirements so you purchase enough to complete the project.
For this yarn stash buster project, gather up all your scrap yarn, hand dyed yarn, odds and ends, and leftover yarn. This easy knit hat pattern is free from Hedgehog Fibres and is perfect for speckled yarn, variegated yarns, and multi-colored yarns. Or you could use all those micro skeins or mini skein sets you’ve been saving for a project such as this. The yarn color combinations are truly endless.
For the entirety of this leftover yarn project, you’ll double up yarn for knitting. Specifically, you’ll use fingering weight yarn held double to create a double knit yarn (DK).
This scrappy yarn beanie starts off with a stretchy cast on for knitting the 1x1 rib knit cuff. It requires size 4 circular knitting needles for which you’ll need to join in the round. You could also knit on double pointed needles (DPNS) or use the Magic Loop method, which this pattern suggests.
You’ll later increase to size 6 knitting needles as you work the stockinette background. As far as knitting techniques, you’ll be changing colors while knitting in the round. For the crown, you’ll use a center double decrease (CDD).
Alpaca Madness Mittens!
If you like marling in knitting, you’ll love making these fuzzy mittens. Made with alpaca wool yarn and brushed suri yarn, the combined effect will give your knit mittens a soft yarn halo. You could also substitute similar yarns from your yarn stash. Check out our recommendations below.
To make this pattern, you’ll knit with two strands in 2 different solid colors to create a marled effect. It combines different yarn weights, DK and Sport weight yarn, which equals aran weight yarn.
The mitten pattern features a 2x2 rib knit cuff and a stockinette stitch background for the hand. You’ll need to be able to cast on knitting in the round and join to knit in the round. The pattern recommends knitting with a double pointed needle set but you could also use small circular needles, magic loop, or your preferred method.
The M1 knitting increase and a k2tog knitting decrease are both used in this knit mittens pattern. You’ll also need to slip stitches onto waste yarn and, later pick up stitches for knitting the thumb gusset.
Did you learn something new about marled yarns and/or marled knitting? Did you enjoy the free knitting patterns? Drop me a line and tell me all about it! I'd love to hear from you.