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Musings About Yarn

July 14, 2010

I don’t remember learning to knit, but I do remember digging through my mother’s bags of yarn, looking for just the right colors to use for a school project.  Even as a child, I liked to look at the colors and put them together to make patterns and see what combinations I could create. I’ve always been drawn in particular to rainbows, symmetry, and cool colors.

But there is more to yarn than just the color.  I distinctly remember the feel of the yarn when knitting or crocheting with Mom’s old acrylic, the squeakiness and the stiffness, and when I started knitting more regularly I was excited to learn that there were other fibers out there that didn’t squeak and weren’t stiff! The world is full of gorgeous natural fibers – wool and cotton and hemp and many more!

This search for yarn that felt nice as well as looked nice led me fairly quickly to independent yarn dyers, where I could get fantastic yarn bases like BFL, merino wool and silk blends dyed in beautiful colorways, combining multiple colors in one single yarn!  It was the best of both worlds, and I quickly started using hand-dyed yarns in my projects.

The downside to this, however, is that hand-dyed yarns don’t always cooperate.  Many of them have a tendency to pool, which is when the same color ends up in the same place on each row, creating blotches or “pools” of color. Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to work with hand-dyed yarn to avoid pooling, so this:

August 046

turns into this:

August 097

(isn’t that much nicer?? The finished object was a fantastic pair of longies, with orange cuffs and waistband!).

My occasional frustration with handpainted yarn also led me to discover fantastic base yarns in solid colors.  These solid yarns opened up the world of colorwork, inspiring patterns such as this snowflake (knit in a gorgeous alpaca blend yarn, part of a lovely earflap hat):

Snowflake - close up

and these socks, which showcase a solid and a handpainted yarn at the same time:


While my love affair with patterns within color and fiber has continued, I’ve also come to realize that sometimes it is okay to be wild and crazy – with both color and fiber – a realization that came in handy when I helped to assemble a squares knit by over 20 different people into a blanket for a friend, a blanket which ended up having 30+ different colorways and six different base yarns! (You can see the finished blanket here and here). I’ve also learned that a yarn might be gorgeous, and a pattern may be fabulous, but sometimes they just don’t work together. I’ve torn out countless hours’ worth of knitting because I’ve refused to admit that my yarn and pattern are a bad match, even though I’ve suspected it from the start.

I’m not like most of my friends in that I like to have a project in mind before I buy yarn; I often go searching for just the right yarn to make a certain item. I won’t pretend I don’t have a stash of yarn, but most of it is earmarked for specific things already. In the end, though, it’s up to the yarn to decide what it wants to be. It usually knows best.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lyn (DownwardDogFbrs) permalink
    July 15, 2010 5:12 am

    Love the example pics of pooling turned to stripes! I have a huge stash, and though I can’t recall where we went to dinner last month, I can tell you what project I had in mind for each & every skein, no matter how long ago I bought it!

  2. Rhonnie permalink
    July 15, 2010 2:00 pm

    Awesome post & pics :) Amazing how you can tame the pooling like that!! :) LOVE it :)


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