variegation madness

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. :)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , by fridica. Bookmark the permalink.

About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

19 thoughts on “variegation madness

  1. “I don’t really like how they look knitted up, but sometimes I just can’t resist those gorgeous skeins in the shop.” Me too! But I love my variegated socks. (And your hats are pretty cool, too.)

    • Yes, I hadn’t thought of socks! Simply because I’ve never made any… Though I do hope to venture into that direction soon. And the “Knits Men Want” book says that even man can live with variegated socks ;)

  2. I’m not a huge fan of variegated yarn but I’m one of those people you mention. Occasionally I can’t resist a beautifully variegated skein of yarn. My stash cabinet contains more than a few ..!

    Have a happy holiday!

  3. Depending on the variegation, I really like it! But if it’s too many colors I don’t. The two you have only have two real colors it looks like (the rest are shades) so it works much more nicely than if it had like five different colors, YKIM?

    Beautiful hats, btw! :D

    • Thanks! Yeah, I didn’t even go into the crazy five-coloured ones, though I must admit I’ve even seen those put to good use around the internet sometimes. I do looove semisolids though, I think they might be my favourite!

  4. I obviously didn’t know what variegation was until 2 minutes ago, but if I can just give my humble non-knitting opinion: you look damn gorgeous with your pretty hats in the pretty snow.

  5. for me the most effective way to use variegateds is in stitches that use different amounts of yarn per row, thereby breaking up the color sequences and stopping them from pooling. my duck duck goose hat has that with the daisy stitch, and linen stitch can have a similar effect (like the chickadee cowl), as can all slip stich patterns.

    even so, i really try to stay away from multi-colored variegateds and try to stick to semi-solids, or variegateds within one color family… so much less difficult to use…

  6. Oh, the sweet seductiveness of variegated yarns, how I know thee…

    You’ve made two fabulous hats! I like the first one better because of the two-colour ribbing – I think it just adds that extra something to the hat.

  7. I didn’t know there were people who didn’t like variegated yarns! You’re spot on in your assessment though – they look best with simple patterns. Anything complicated just gets lost in the many color changes, the yarn kind of ‘speaks for itself’. Loooove that hat!

  8. I sometimes stripe variegates as you did with the first hat you knit.

    The nice thing about crazy sock yarn is that it doesn’t really matter if it’s totally wacky since they are in your shoes anyway!

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