Technical Tuesday: The Colour of Truth Part One

I had a really good question about variegated yarn the other day and I thought it was something good I should address. How do you know what a multi-coloured yarn would look like after it is knitted? When you’re trying to plan a project and go looking for yarn it’s really hard to tell if the lovely variegated yarn you picked up is going to lend it self well to your project. How can you tell? The really short answer is to do a swatch. Just knit a swatch and see what the colours look like at that gauge.

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You may have noticed that this post was labeled Part One; I am going to go over a couple different kinds of variegated yarn. This week I will talk about the most common kind of multi-coloured yarn, a short colour shift. This is really popular now especially with so many indie dyers on the rise. The colours are applied to the yarn while it is still in a hank, so the colour repeats will be short.

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If the skein is dip dyed, the colours will repeat at perfectly regular intervals. With this technique you can apply some math to your gauge and have this kind of yarn pool in specific patterns or keep it totally random. Other techniques, such as hand painting, mean the colours do repeat, but not in a perfectly regular fashion.

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In order to not completely blow everyone’s mind with too much information I am going to go over long colour shifts next week, then I will talk about how your gauge affects them. This will be the difference between knitting the body of a sweater and the sleeves.