Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I love color. I love it too much. It almost bores me to tears to have to knit something in a solid color, because I get tired of it. I used to only buy yarns that were sold as "variegated", or dyed many colors (nowadays they are called "handpaints"). As fun as they are to knit with, colorful yarns don't work very well for certain types of knitted garments.

For most garments that are knit from the bottom up, the colors work into horizontal stripes. Trust me, if you have a body shape like me, the last thing you need is horizontal stripes! The images below show some socks where the colors fell at random. Pretty, but stripey.

Another problem: if the garment has cables, lace, or textured stitches, bright colors will obfuscate them. Below left is the result of one of my first attempts to dye crochet thread in bright colors. I begged a friend of mine to crochet a doily from it (pattern available HERE), and, probably against her better judgement, she graciously obliged with this (thanks Vera!).

Can you see the pretty stitchwork?

NOPE! What to do?

1. Use yarn or thread with colors of the same value, or intensity. On the right is a knitted doily (pattern available HERE) where the pretty lace pattern shines through.

2. Use yarn with VERY LONG color changes such as Noro, Mochi, and others. Shown at right is a shawl made from Evilla Artyarn 8/2. The long and gradual color changes in this yarn don't hide the beautiful lace stitch (pattern HERE).

3. Use the the color changes as a design element. If the construction of the garment is a little unusual, stripey yarns will enhance it. Check out this "Baby Surprise Jacket" on the right (pattern HERE).

Here is a cute bookmark crocheted in shell shapes (pattern available HERE), which the color changes in the thread emphasize nicely. The thread is available HERE.

4. But the four photos below illustrate my very favorite way to use colorful yarns: work up patterns that pool the colors into puddles. I love to knit with yarns like these, because you never know quite how its going to work out, but it is always interesting! Here are a few of the designs I've come up with to pool the colors in my own hand dyed yarns. Clockwise from upper left they are Mary's owl sweater, the colorwave toddler hat, the colorwave socks, and the bias brioche bookmark.


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