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Yarn Color and Stitch Patterns

One piece of conventional wisdom passed among knitters is to avoid variegated/self-striping yarn for highly textured stitch patterns (cables, twists, some knit/purl patterns). There’s good reason for this – either the texture will muddy the colors or the colors will obscure the stitch pattern and either way, it’s not pretty.

There are some exceptions, of course – there are stitch patterns designed to work with stripes or variegations – chevrons and feather-and-fan lace, for example – and simple rib patterns work nicely with stripes, as I showed with the Sherbet socks. But those are exceptions, and the rule is, generally speaking, a good one

My current socks? The stitch pattern includes a small cable, and I’m using a self-striping yarn. And the socks? Are beautiful. And while I knew it could be a mess (in which case, I’d have frogged and found a more appropriate pattern), I had every reason to suspect it would work out well.

In this case, the cable is small but prominent – a single stitch crossed over two, paired left and right over a stockenette ground – and the yarn I’m using is Lorna’s Laces Baltic Sea. As you can see, this colorway is fairly low contrast – I think that if we viewed this through a red lens, they’d all be about the same color. This means it’s subtle enough to not muddy the cable – in fact, the color changes make the cables *pop*. I’m using a pattern from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road, and the sample is made with a very dark yarn – so dark I can barely see the cable (another rule – too dark might be a problem).

Categories: knitting
  1. Laura Valentine
    October 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I’m using a self-striping yarn for Knitty’s Hedera right now; again, it’s something with a low-contrast colorway. And again, it’s working out beautifully!

  2. October 10, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Hedera in a self-striping yarn? That sounds truly beautiful. I’d love to see a picture. (I’ll post pictures of the finished socks tomorrow, b”n. I have three pairs and a bitty one.)

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