July 25, 2014

41 Comments



The Verdant Gryphon is an independent textile & dyeworks company, developing fine yarns, creating extraordinary color palettes, and designing unique knitwear.

Variegated Yarn, Part 2 - What the Bleep Should I Make?

In the previous post, we showed you how to predict the behavior of your variegated yarn. Now let's look at how you can knit it for the best effect.

If your yarn falls into the first of the three categories we looked at in part one, you don't really need to plan much. These sorts of colorways generally knit up into a beautiful fabric with a unique balance & blend of color, which the eye will perceive as a single color until you get closer.

The exception is when you have skein with a dynamic and complex rainbow of shades-contrasts of different colors or of lights and dark in the skein. In such a case you might want to shy away from complex stitch patterns which are likely to be obscured by the contrast. Make something simple and let the colors speak for themselves. For instance:

(Corset Pullover, design by Robin Melanson, knit here in Codex, 'Sewer Gators')

When using one of our action-packed colorways like the prototype of Madagascan Sunset Moth shown below, the aim is to balance it with pure, simple designs. In general, if you're going to use a variegated colorway by itself, the rule of thumb is, the more contrasting or obviously pooling the color, the simpler the pattern. This sweater is a perfect example -Wild Action Verdant Gryphon Colorway + Pullover Sweater Pattern with ribbed edges = Versatile Garment with Completely Unique & Striking Colored Fabric.

What if you want to combine your variegated colorway with something else? Here we recommend sticking with a solid or semi-solid, which contrasts nicely to all the shades in your variegated skein or else picks up one distinct shade. For instance this lovely shawl Pamuya, as knit by JAAMDKnits:

The highly variegated sections have been effectively striped with semi-solids to reduce the amount of visual action. Also, see the wavy open stitch bits? That's just one of many great stitch patterns to work with pooling yarns, showing off the colors without excessive busyness. Stripes with semi-solids are a great way to handle busy colorways, with or without more complex stitch patterning.

Another wonderful way to pair a variegated with a (semi-)solid is in stranded colorwork, where it can be used to great effect, often with creating a sort of stained glass look. Here's an example using Eidos, the Palais hat by Rebecca Blair:

What if you have a colorway that you're totally in love with, but you think it's going to pool and you just hate that? Is there anything you can do about it? Of course!

There are all sorts of stitch patterns that break up the color repeats so that pooling doesn't show as much. In general, any pattern that has slipped stitches is a good candidate for pooling interruption. For example:

Linen stitch (k1, sl1 in a checker pattern)

An American in China, as knit by Cornz in Traveller

Twined knitting (knit alternating stitches from opposite ends of the ball.) You can also do this using two different variegated colorways.

PS Mitts by Melinda Hunt, shown in Eidos

Other slip-stitch patterns

There's an unlimited number of more complex and fascinating slip stitch patterns, such as this one used in Slip-Stitch Cable Socks by Charlene Schurch, knit here by Sistrickt.

There you have just the tip of the iceberg of options for things to do with variegated yarns. Leave a comment & share your ideas, and we'll send you a special gift of our newest pattern-a perfect design for variegated yarn.

flying Vs and furry toes,

the VGs

 

 


41 Comments

Kathy
Kathy

August 05, 2015

The lovely shawl Pamuya, as knit by JAAMDKnits is BEAUTIFUL! Was looking for a pattern or ways to use variegated yarn given to me. Thank you for sharing your blog.

Molly
Molly

August 11, 2014

Hello!

Ann Hunt
Ann Hunt

August 06, 2014

All of those are inspiring! I’ve put many of them in the queue. There is always the option of weaving scarves out of highly variegated colorways, either by weaving with the same or a contrasting variegated colorway as the weft or using a solid with a variegated colorway in stripes or houndstooth pattern.

Julie S
Julie S

August 02, 2014

WOW, what a great couple of blog posts. I love the examples, they certainly clear up a lot of the confusion! And that shawl is TDF!! Just LOVELY! I’ll miss you at Stitches, have a safe trip!

Angeluna
Angeluna

August 01, 2014

Great examples. Very helpful blog posts. Thanks.

Kathleen
Kathleen

August 01, 2014

I made 2 pair of ps mitts. They are my go to house/computer gloves. Maybe I should make another.

Anica
Anica

August 01, 2014

I started off buying highly variegated colors that knitted up like clown barf. Now I know that they do not knit up to look the same as in the skein, but by adding a solid, they can be gorgeous!

jenny
jenny

August 01, 2014

One of my favorite variegated yarn projexts was a pair of fingerless mitts I crocheted. The pattern alternated between regular single crochet and crocheting into the row below. It did a wonderful job of breaking up the pooling.

Jane
Jane

July 31, 2014

Highly recommend the book “Artful Color, Mindful Knits”; a great guide to getting the desired effect from any skein of variegated yarn.

Geri
Geri

July 30, 2014

Since I’m not good at socks, I always have a hard time finding patterns I like for variegated yarn. Thanks for some new ideas!

reg 8
reg 8

July 30, 2014

Thanks for these informative posts! I do love variegated yarns. I also love your new scarf pattern!

Gwen
Gwen

July 30, 2014

Interesting! I always wonder how something will look when knit, and your posts do away with a lot of the mystery! Thanks!

Kay
Kay

July 30, 2014

This is the most useful and succinct set of information on variegated yarns and how to use them. I started to avoid some handpaints when they made a fabric that I just didn’t like. Now I feel I can indulge my “ooh, shiny” first impressions once more.

Laurel
Laurel

July 30, 2014

Great yarns-interesting info about using them! So pretty and creative.

Lynda
Lynda

July 30, 2014

Those are really great examples! Thanks!

Elizabeth Anderson
Elizabeth Anderson

July 30, 2014

Thanks for this and the previous post! It’s great to see the examples knit up and also to learn about how different variegated yarns look and why (i.e. pooling or no pooling). I really like the slipped stitch patterns and will have to give those a shot. I’ve also had good luck knitting shawls with big patterns (usually just as a border to stocking or garter stitch) where the lace pattern is big enough to absorb short colour changes (this is in variegated yarn that only has a few colours and fairly short colour changes).

B
B

July 29, 2014

I think the only thing I can add to this helpful discussion is to ensure the rest of your wardrobe isn’t too busy- mainly solids- so you can wear your variegated knit projects with them more easily! LOL!

Christine
Christine

July 29, 2014

This is a very helpful series. I adore highly variegated yarns but am never sure what to make with them. Hopefully this series will help me use more of my yarns.

ShelleyO2
ShelleyO2

July 29, 2014

Great info, was considering destashing a few lovely but very variegated skeins because I didn’t know what to do with them. I love your scarf pattern, that will be a great place to start!

Jennifer Mayer
Jennifer Mayer

July 29, 2014

Thanks for the reminders… I love to use slip stitch patterns!

Mary Claire
Mary Claire

July 29, 2014

This is so helpful; thank you! I am not a fan of pooling so this give me some things to keep in mind when buying yarn and deciding what to knit. I’m working on some Hermoine Everyday Socks at the moment ( a free pattern on Ravelry) and I think they would work well to break up pooling a little bit. Looking forward to visiting your booth at Stitches Midwest!

loves2design
loves2design

July 29, 2014

i love using variegated warm with soilds :) thank for show some great examples i love the wildness of variegated yarns.

Alhbooks
Alhbooks

July 29, 2014

I loved knitting the P.S. Mitts pattern with Eidos…and this picture reminds me to make another pair soon!

Becky
Becky

July 28, 2014

Thank you so much for these 2 blog posts. They have helped me so much in choosing yarn for a project. I tend to love the most colorful busy yarns and patterns that also have a lot going on. Now I know why they don’t always mix!

I am printing this info out to keep for reference. Thanks again!

James
James

July 28, 2014

Just wanted to say thanks for these last couple of posts. I’m trying to overcome a fear of highly variegated yarn and these explanations of how they are meant to work has been eye opening. Thanks so much!

Kat
Kat

July 28, 2014

I love the tips on variagated yarn. I had no idea there were definable different types. Please dye more of them, especially the Madagascan Sunset Moth!

Jen
Jen

July 28, 2014

As a younger knitter, I was drawn to very colorful, variegated yarns. Many of these are still languishing in my stash. Now I have some ideas about how to use them, both on their own and paired with other yarns!

fountainsabbey
fountainsabbey

July 28, 2014

I’d never thought about twined knitting with variegated yarns – that creates a gorgeous fabric!

Cindy Sobota
Cindy Sobota

July 28, 2014

Thank you for the information. One of the hardest thing to do is look at a hank of yarn and try to figure out what it will look like in one’s project.

Lee
Lee

July 28, 2014

Love both these posts! So helpful and lovely pictures! Thanks!

Adrienne Lawrence
Adrienne Lawrence

July 28, 2014

I once knitted a skein of hand dyed variegated yarn into a pair of socks and I has two different colored socks- so ever since then, I use the “twined knitting” method on one skein projects to even out the cools and avoid pooling. Now can I have that free pattern? hehehehe.

Susan
Susan

July 28, 2014

Great ideas for variegated yarns, the stained glass look is one I have not tried yet. Thanks for the idea.

Jaqui
Jaqui

July 28, 2014

Thanks for this great article! I have lots of variegated yarn languishing, and these ideas are great. Loving the shawl pattern.

Deb
Deb

July 28, 2014

Very helpful article – gives me lots of ideas!

Marie
Marie

July 28, 2014

I love simple patterns with variegated yarn. A single skein of variegated Traveller makes a great The Age of Brass and Steam. I also like Maiden Brooklyn patterns with variegated yarns; her simpler lace patterns are bold enough that they don’t get lost in complex colorways. When no pattern seems to fit, I break out the loom and weave up a faux plaid!

Zed
Zed

July 28, 2014

Thanks for this posting series! I love the stained glass effect of the hat. Here’s a fun slip stitch sock pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/south-fork-socks. And there’s a pair made in Blue Morpho.

Shirley Croombs
Shirley Croombs

July 28, 2014

That was really helpful! I am drawn to varigated yarns and am often disappointed when they don’t show up a complicated or lace pattern, so I try to marry them with a solid shade that picks up one of the colours. This really worked on my last project a stole with a varigated body and a punch of colour making up the border. My “painter” heart loves the challenge of mixing colours together and the brighter the better!

Barbara
Barbara

July 28, 2014

Thanks so much for taking some of the mystery out of varigated yarn. I hope you plan on continuing with such informative articles.

Rosalie Karmik Fujita
Rosalie Karmik Fujita

July 27, 2014

Great blog! Good tips and pattern ideas!

Laura
Laura

July 26, 2014

I love these blog posts! Thanks for the ideas! Another type of pattern I like to use with variegateds/pooling yarns are feather and fan stitches as well as zig-zag or chevron patterns.

hanifah
hanifah

July 25, 2014

Hi
I really enjoyed this blog topic. I would love to see more like this and maybe you guys should start thinking about a podcast.

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