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Morehouse KnitTips

Knitting with variegated yarns


The uniqueness of hand painted variegated yarns poses a challenge to knitters: each skein might be slightly—and sometimes not so subtly—different. The skein may contain the same color scheme, but the amount of each color varies and sometimes the colors are darker or lighter. How do we knit them together so that the individual differences between skeins are not noticeable on the finished product?

Begin by winding the skeins into balls. It is easier to notice the subtle color differences in wound balls than on loose skeins.

Following are sample projects and how to knit them with variegated yarn:

Lace scarf using 2 skeins of variegated yarn

Cast on with skein A and work 2 rows in pattern. Switch to skein B and work 2 rows in pattern (don’t break off yarn, just pull it up loosely at side of scarf whenever you are ready to resume with next color). Back to skein A and work 2 rows. Continue this way, switching skeins every 2 rows to end of scarf.

Lace shawl or scarf using 3 skeins of variegated yarn

Cast on with skein A and work 2 rows in pattern. Switch to skein B and work 2 rows in pattern. Back to skein A and work 2 rows. Continue this way, switching skeins every 2 rows, for about 20 to 30 rows (depending on width of rows), then break off skein A and substitute with skein C. witch between skeins B and C for about 20 to 30 rows, then break off skein B and re-introduce skein A and alternate between A and C for the next 20 to 30 rows. Then break off C and go back to skein B. Continue this way to end of scarf or shawl.

Lace shawl using 4 skeins of variegated yarn

Start with 2 skeins—A and B. Cast on and work 2 rows in pattern with skein A, switch to B and work 2 rows. Continue this way for approximately 40 rows. Break off skein A, and start with skein C and alternate every 2 rows between B and C. Continue for another 40 rows, then break off skein B and start with skein D. Alternate every 2 rows between C and D. Continue for 40 rows, break off skein C and re-introduce skein A. Alternate between A and D for about 40 rows, then break off D and re-introduce skein B, and so on. This way, each skein is introduced and worked together with another skein.

Mittens and hats using more than 1 skein of variegated yarn

Work with both skeins simultaneously and switch skeins every 2 rounds.

Sweater or cardigan

Here it gets a little trickier: divide the skeins into lighter and darker tones (or if one color is more dominant, set skeins aside with similar color dominance). Decide which tones you want to use for which part of the sweater. For example: you might want to use the lighter skeins for sleeves and collar. Keep the body of the sweater more or less uniform. If necessary, divide further for front and back of sweater. Set aside the skeins for the sleeves (about 25% of the entire amount of yarn).

Cast on with skein A for body of sweater, work 2 to 4 rows in pattern, switch to skein B and work 2 to 4 rows in pattern. Back to skein A and work 2 to 4 rows. Continue this way, switching skeins every 2 to 4 rows, for about 4 inches into body of sweater or cardigan. Then break off color A and use color C. Alternate between skeins B and C for the next 4 inches. Then, depending on how many skeins you have put aside for each side, add 4th skein or continue alternating between 3 skeins and use the next 3 skeins for other side of sweater.

Sleeves are worked alternating between 2 skeins, breaking off 1 skein after 20 to 30 rounds into sleeve and adding 3rd skein for next 20 to 30 rounds. For collar and/or borders, use whichever skein you have the most left over, so that you can complete entire collar or borders on cardigan without switching skeins.


If you have more questions,
or need some assistance
knitting with any of our patterns,
see >   Knitting Pattern Help



Other Morehouse KnitTips:

> How to wind a skein into a ball

> How to knit with more than one yarn color

> How to knit in the round

> How to pick up stitches around armhole

> How to make a perfect pompom

> Knitting with lace yarn

> Knitting with variegated yarn

> Pattern stitches

> Pattern abbreviations and what they mean

> Finishing process (felting)

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