Variegated yarns. I wonder if they fall into that category of things one either loves or hates. Frankly, most people I talk to, or follow online, say the following: “I don’t really like how they look knitted up, but sometimes I just can’t resist those gorgeous skeins in the shop.” That pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic as well.
And when it comes to luring one from the shelves, there’s no greater expert than Malabrigo. Their variegated yarns are so rich, so gorgeous, so magical, that they render me powerless. Especially when you think of the incredible buttery softness that comes with it. So, last summer, I found myself snatching off the shelf a skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted in the colourway Sotobosque (615), a warm combination of pink and light and dark browns, resembling at once burnt paper and chocolate-strawberry icecream.
Even as I was putting the skein in my shopping bag, I knew I’d have trouble finding a project on which to use it well. However, after many (and trust me, when I say many I mean many) false starts, the last bits of the 100-gram skein have been used and I, somewhat unexpectedly, have two new favourite hats. (There is no way someone else would get these.) And perhaps a recipe for making variegated yarns wearable?
My first solution was to mix it up with a solid neutral colour, to placate the lively variegation. You’ve seen this hat already, but what you don’t know is that I basically haven’t taken it off ever since it was completed. Which is funny, because I was quite unsure about the colours as I was making it and kind of thinking I’d give it away. Once it was done, I fell in love. And I keep getting loads of compliments on it.
My second solution (for the rest of the skein) was to do a simple pattern in stockinette stitch. I had tried several slightly more complex stitch patterns, such as the Yulie hat pattern with which Kathryn Ivy put a skein of variegated Malabrigo to great use, but it just wasn’t working for my skein. In the end, I settled on a pattern which I had been meaning to make for ages, possibly the simplest and single most knitted hat pattern on Ravelry – Felicity (it’s free, by the way). It worked like a charm. I loved how the colour pooled and how the pattern showed off the soft changes in colour, without making it look like someone had gone mad with the yarn (well, to me at least!).
Have I discovered the ultimate solution to using up those variegated skeins that sneak into your shopping basket? No, of course not. Every skein is different, and just like what worked for Kathryn Ivy didn’t work for me, what worked for me might not work for you next time. But I do feel much more confident about cashing out for those irresistable variegated skeins now that I know that, with the right amount of patience and persistence, I can find suitable projects for them, ones that might even surprize me with the amount of love they provoke.
If you can spare a minute from the cookie-baking and gift-wrapping, I’d love to hear about your experiences and feelings about variegateds! :) And feel free to make up words like I just did right there. :)