Sunday, April 8, 2007

Variegated Yarns

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring! Choose the one(s) appropriate for you.

I think I'm developing a love/hate relationship with variegated yarns. I don't think it will be as bad as the love/hate relationship that I have with Lion Brand Homespun, where the hate often edges out the love. But lately, I find myself increasingly disappointed with how ombre and variegated yarns work up (for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to use "variegated" to describe both).

The problem with variegated yarns is that they look so beautiful in their "raw" form, but when worked up they often look drastically different. If they're knitted, it's a striped effect: stockinette stitches produces smooth stripes, while garter stitch produces rougher ones. That's the extent of effect that you're going to get, because any stitch pattern more complicated than garter or stockinette is going to be lost among the colors, so you'll just get blurry stripes.

In crochet, variegated colors often fare better, appearing splashes of color. They look really fantastic in pieces knit in rounds. Also, you can use more complex stitches and not have them lost (as much) among the colors. But the splashes of color can look clumpy, and a lot of variegated yarns come out giving the item an overall cast of one color, which may or may not be the desired effect. I have an old blanket that I crocheted using a beautiful jewel-toned variegated yarn...well, it was beautiful in the skein. The resulting blanket ended up looking like a wad of half-chewed purple bubblegum.

Self-striping yarns are a different animal entirely: the color changes are so far apart, no matter what you do you're going to get significant striping.

Anyhow, I thought about all of this again when I started that baby blanket in Red Heart Fiesta Baby White. In the skein, the yarn reminds me of ribbon candy: small shiny stripes of bright colors on white yarn. It's lovely and I figured that it would make a perfect baby blanket for my next child. But as the prospect of my next child diminishes, as well as the fact that everyone around me is spawning, I decided to use it and make some baby gifts for others. When I start crocheting up the Baby White in the Arches pattern, the fabric seems to have a teal cast to it. Which is not bad...except that the gifts are intended for girls.

So I tried knitting a swatch to see if that would have a different effect...and it does: the color cast is not as teal, but it's still there.

I'll take some pictures of it later so you can see what I'm talking about.

Overall, I'm disappointed with this yarn. It's not turning out as I thought it would.

So I will probably pull the plug on the blanket--it's not ugly by any stretch, but it's not the vision I have in my head. I'll let it sit for a few days and look at it again, and if I'm still not happy with it, Baby White will enter the charity crochet pool.

This experience doesn't mean I won't stop buying variegated yarns, because I can't resist how they look as skeins. But I'm going to really have to remember that that beauty may not always carry over.

1 comment:

  1. [...] Baby shower hatFirst is the baby hat that I’ve made as a shower present for my mom…no, she’s not pregnant–that’d be impossible given she’s in her 60s. She’s giving it as a gift. I have to say that Bernat baby yarns are very nice to work with, even though they’re synthetics. They’re soft, pretty, work up well and last a long time through repeated washings. I almost bought some more of the Jacquard in a speckled colorway for a baby blanket for another baby…but what put me off was the experience I had with a similar yarn: Red Heart Fiesta. [...]