About Yarn and Knitting
Here is the beautiful Fluo Flow shawl, a design by Joji Locatelli published in Vogue Knitting. The pattern shown above was knitted with several varieties of fingering yarns from our hand-dyed collection!
In the world of indie dyers, there is no such thing as solid colour. It has to do with dying the wool after it has been spun.
Commercial yarn brands dye the wool before they spin it into balls; they have the space and the huge vats. Small variances in shade or tone are blended in the spinning step so the eye sees a true solid colour. There is a reassuring reliability to knitting with solids and they are the go-to choice for many projects.
But, oh, how charming the subtle beauty of the not-quite-solid colours you get from indie dyers. These yarns are dyed after they have been spun, so the dye attaches itself a bit differently to the yarn. Sometimes it clings with all its might and sometimes it is a more casual embrace. The effect is a subtle (or not if the natural yarn itself had different shades throughout) blend of tones or shades of the colour of the dye.
From afar, a sweater, shawl or socks knit in tonals look like a solid, but when you see it close up, you can see all the intriguing shifts. Such a pleasure! Not as dramatic a feast for the eyes as a speckled or variegated yarn, more like a wink and a smile.
Tonals have personality! Each batch is a little quirky, a little unique. And isn’t that why we knit? To create unique pieces for our loved ones and ourselves.
Why choose tonals semi-solid yarns
Lace patterns shine in a semi-solid yarn where the intricate stitches are splendidly showcased.
The light play of tones enhances rather than detracts on cables so they truly pop.
Stranded work takes on a unique look when knit with tonal yarns: the patterns are a little less crisp giving the sweater or toque a different allure.
And a plain tee or pair of socks are never truly plain when knit in a tonal yarn.
Still not sold on tonals?
Garments or accessories knit with tonal yarns are great additions to any wardrobe. Tonals are easy to pair with just about every item of clothing you own: they are fabulous with plaids, prints, and stripes. They complement stranded knitting and yes, are a playful friend to pieces featuring speckled or variegated yarns.
When you jump onto the tonal bandwagon (we know you will – they’re irresistible), there is one rule to follow: if your project requires more than one skein, be sure to alternate skeins every so often (i.e.: every 4th row). It is pretty common to have colour variations in hand-dyed yarn, even from the same dye lot. These variations may not be obvious when looking at the skeins but can become quite visible once you start knitting so don’t risk it, alternate! Find more info on this topic here: Yarn pooling - what is it and how to manage it.
If you haven’t already, try one of our tonal yarns. Let us know how you like them, what projects you made or are planning to do.
Knitting with artisanal yarns requires certain knowledge. First of all you need to know how to wash hand-dyed yarns and you will find a very detailed article on this subject by clicking HERE.
Once the issue of care is covered, let's talk about what is commonly known in knitting language as "POOLING".
First of all, what is pooling?
The term "pooling" is used when the colors of a semi-solid, speckled or variegated yarn all come together in the same place in a knitted fabric. It is easier to illustrate this concept in a picture with a variegated yarn:
Here is a perfect example of "pooling". The Grounded pattern you see above has been knitted with a two-tone skein (chocolate and moss green). In one part of this knit, at the waist, you can see chocolate and moss green "pooling" appearing, a bit like a liquid where water and oil refuse to blend.
Why is this? Because the combination of "number of stitches and yarn colors" at that particular spot made the chocolate color arrive at the same place on several rows in a row and the moss green followed the rhythm!
And don't think that the pooling effect occurs only in multi-colored yarns, you can see it in knits with semi solid colors as well as in the Autumn Breeze pattern.
"To pool or not to pool"... That is the question!
Some people don't like pooling at all and will do anything to avoid it while others like the effect of pooling so much that some dyers and yarn manufacturers will intentionally dye the yarn to produce this effect.
When well mastered, pooling can be very interesting and add a "wow" effect to some projects, but in other cases it can be annoying and produce an undesired result.
How to minimise pooling?
The best method to minimize pooling is to alternate the skeins (or balls of yarn) every other row if you knit back and forth or every round if you knit in the round. Not only will this way of knitting reduce the "pooling" effect, but it will also ease the transition from one skein to another.
Because even when they come from the same dye lot, artisanal yarn skeins are slightly different from each other: the end of one skein does not necessarily correspond to the exact color of the beginning of the next skein. So to avoid a demarcation in your project, alternating the skeins is the best solution.
Personally, when I knit sweaters I ALWAYS alternate the skeins between them from the beginning to the end. This method allows me to obtain a homogeneous result while preserving the hand-dyed yarns' unique and artisanal look. It's an easy habit to take and after a while it becomes natural!
And if alternating the hanks is not possible?
If you have only one skein for example, you could always alternate using the beginning and the end of the same ball, but if the idea is completely repugnant to you, there is still hope:
- Whenever possible, change the way you knit: if you work in the round, try to knit back and forth or vice versa.
- Sometimes, a slight modification to the gauge can make things better: try with a needle half a size smaller or larger.
- Change the knitting stitch pattern: replace the jersey with a seed stitch for example.
- Adding or removing a few stitches could also make enough difference to break the pooling.
Speckled yarns are hugely popular right now. They have a solid color and contrasting or complimentary flecks of color throughout. Some knitters think speckled yarns are simply a fad that they’ll regret almost as much as people regret buying MC Hammer pants. Most yarn lovers, however, are completely taken by the beautiful creations they can work up using speckled yarn. It truly is a unique look that can’t be created any other way. With the cool weather fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to work up a sweater, shrug, or shawl with some gorgeous speckled yarn. (Even the leaves get speckled this time of year!)
Not only is there some great color opportunities using speckled yarn to make this shawl, there’s fabulous texture and shaping with the different stitch work used. Combined, you wind up with a truly unique pieces that shows off your skill and personality. Being a fan of all things purple, I think it would be amazing in the hand-dyed grape speckled yarn, but this blue would look really cool too. We also have the new Byzantine shawl knitting kit to use our DK Pure speckled yarn mixed with self-striping and semi-solid colorway!
Cardigans and hoodies are great this time of year. A hoodie cardigan made with speckled yarn? Perfection! Mix and match different yarns to create a look all your own. The cool blue Caribbean combines well with the darker blues of Firmament. Or pick your favorite colors to show off your personality and style.
I love shrugs because they’re warm and cozy, but not too hot. They’re great for this time of year when the days start and end cool, but are still warm in between. Using an amazing speckled yarn turns this simple shrug from boring to amazing! How great would it look done up in Vitrail? The bright colors will add some cheer to any rainy, cloudy days, too!
Plus, look for this new knitting kit to be launched shortly: the Cupcake Shrug is knitted with self-striping, semi-solid and #SpeckledYarn as well ♥
This wrap is not only elegant, it transforms from a wrap to a scarf and back again with ease. Combine a speckled yarn with a dark background color and one with a light background color to create a wonderful, warm piece that works with almost anything in your closet.
We love these ideas for using speckled yarn so much, we’re saying bring on the cold! We’ve got our warm, fashionable clothing covered.