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The Delightful Behaviour of Multi-Coloured Yarn

Originally posted on May 16, 2013

I post a bunch of the yarns that I have in my stash on my Facebook page to give customers some colour choices (you can find the album here). Customers sometimes ask how a particular yarn will look when it’s knit up.

How will this look knit up? No idea!

How will this look knit up? No idea!

Unfortunately, my answer is usually “it depends!”. Sometimes, the results are predictable. Some of the yarn is dyed to be self-striping, so it’s always going to end up in stripes – the only variability is how thick those stripes will be. That depends on the width of the garment and how long the repeats of colour are.

Self-striping yarn by Munchkin Knitworks on etsy.

Self-striping yarn from Munchkin Knitworks on etsy.

Most of the yarns I have, though, are variegated or tonal, and these yarns behave quite differently depending on what I’m knitting, and the size of garment. Sometimes you’ll get stripes, sometimes splotches of colour, and sometimes some really cool swirls of pooling yarn.

The yarn that I have below here is a great example. The wool is organic 3-ply Merino from Purewool – the colourway is Praia.

Praia, skeined up

Praia, skeined up

Last year, I knit up a pair of shorties in size extra-large. The colours pooled into large waves at the top of the body. This pattern (Ultimate Longies on Ravelry) has increases through the body to make it fit nicely – it also means that as you get down the body, there are more stitches in each round, using up more yarn per round, changing the size of the swirls, eventually changing them into stripes.

Extra-large Praia shorties

Extra-large Praia shorties

This year, I’ve just finished up another pair of Praia shorties – this time in size large. Same pattern. Check out how the yarn behaved – totally differently!

Praia Size large

Praia Size large

But then… here’s another pair of shorties, for the same customer, same size, same pattern, but in a different yarn – lots of pooling in this one!

Shorties in Knitpicks Bulky WOTA "Juicy"

Shorties in Knitpicks Bulky WOTA “Juicy”

So… my answer’s going to always have to be “it depends”. It’s one of the most interesting parts of hand-knitting – everything’s one of a kind. If you pick a yarn, I knit it up, and you absolutely despise the way the colours come out, let me know – it’s important to me that you’re happy with the result!

You can see more examples of the delightful and unpredictable behaviour of multi-coloured yarn in my Completed Projects album on Facebook.

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