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Pronounced Stripes or Pools of Colour

by Linda

Certainly striping, whether contrasting, coordinating or to blend, is normally part of what we're after when we use these yarns. But what if it's repeating in a way that's not to your liking? Or you have large areas of a one or two colours? These seem to be the most common problems when working with these otherwise gorgeous yarns.

Add Another Strand

[a few rows of purl using a solid]

A few rows of each colour:

Try working a few rounds or rows with variegated yarn and then a row or round or two of a coordinating solid colour. This can produce a very pleasing effect, especially if you choose your solid carefully.

If knitting, try inserting a row of purl stitches here and there for some really interesting effects.

Multiple Strands:

If you're open to converting your pattern to a different gauge, or working with thinner yarns, try using two strands of yarn together - either 2 of the same (or different!) variegateds or one variegated and one solid colour. Again, choose the second colour carefully. I think one solid and one variegated worked together looks fabulous!

[2 strands of the same variegated]


Back and forth or in the round:

You could also try working in the round instead of back and forth, or working back and forth if you're currently working in the round. That's not possible for all patterns though.

Horizontal vs vertical:

You may be able to adapt your pattern to be worked from another direction. This usually has the effect of changing the number of stitches per row, which can dramatically change the appearance. It also gives you stripes going in the other direction. :)

Multiple Balls of Variegated

Use more than one ball at a time:

How about working from more than one ball of yarn? Work one round or row from the first ball, the next round or row from the second, etc. Or work multiple rows from each ball before switching. Ensure you begin each ball at a different (or the same) spot of the variegation to achieve the desired effect.

 - In flat work:
When using 2 balls, change balls every second row.
When using 3, change every row.

 - In circular work:
When working in the round, use as many balls as needed, so long as you can comfortably carry the yarn(s) not in use over the rows between.

For example, using 15 balls of yarn and working one round of each, means you'll have to carry each unused strand for 15 rounds before you use it again. A little bulky as well as tricky...

Work from both ends of the ball:

It's also possible to work from both ends of the same ball. You'll need to untangle your yarn once in a while, but it may be the only option if you have a single ball of yarn to work with or have just enough to finish your project.


Changing the hook or needle size:

If the size of the finished project is not crucial, such as an afghan or other item that doesn't need to fit precisely, try another hook or needle size. It will have the effect of pushing the colour changes over slightly on each row or round. This usually works best for flat work. Try it some time - you'd be surprised at the difference it can make.

Changing the number of stitches:

Using a combination of a change in both the number of stitches and the hook or needle size, you may be able to achieve the original size after all. Be sure to read Swatching with Variegated Yarns and Threads before you attempt this.

Stitch Used

[slipping a stitch here and there]

Try a different stitch pattern:

If you're knitting in stocking stitch, try using a stitch pattern that includes slipped or purl stitches - seed, basket, moss, tweed, etc. You might also try using reverse stocking stitch where the purled side is the right side, or garter stitch.

If you're crocheting, the same rule applies. Chose a different stitch which will use up a different amount of yarn per stitch. This will make the colours line up differently as you work each row. If you're using sc, try a hdc or dc or one of the many stitch patterns in the books or magazines you probably already own.

Cabled socks - Thanks for the tip, Jan!:

I've found knitting them in cable patterns for socks very nicely throws the colors around into a much more interesting look. The cables don't show a lot, of course, but the colors look much nicer and more random. Cables are also interesting to knit :-), and warm to wear.

For variegated yarn socks I've found simple cables are fine, say p2, a 4 stitch cable crossing every 4 rows, p2, a k6 or 8 cable repeating every 8 rows, p2, another 4 stitch cable, p2. All crossing the same direction for simplicity. That is one a set of 5 dpns. I like to work in the square rather than on a triangle. Easier for me to keep my place in the pattern and on the leg :-) Also easy to set up clocking at ankles. I decrease on the foot to 72 stitches by merging cables then stopping them on the instep.

Note: Changing to a different stitch pattern will likely change the amount of yarn required.

If you have any tips or ideas you'd like to share, please send them to me.

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