Pooling for pleasure!

August 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm 4 comments

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a skein of yarn. We were in Montréal, poking around the lovely Effiloché, and I wanted to take something home. Really, I wanted to take many somethings home, but when I saw the Handmaiden Sea Silk, I knew my budget would only allow for one. At $43 CAD a pop, this was a real splurge, but how could I resist?

Please note, this is not my skein of yarn. I *really* had to pee, and when the girl asked me in French if I wanted it wound, I thought she was asking if I wanted a bag, and consented. Subsequently, my glorious skein of yarn looked more like this:

This was my first hint of the impending problem. While in the skein this looked like an autumn sunrise, golden coppers blending seamlessly through a bright chartreuse into deep cobalt, wound up into a ball it was orange and blue – a quintessential no-no.

And, as I started to knit it, it was clear that it was going to make a big orange mess. So sad! I went so far as to wind the whole thing back into a skein with the intent of trying to destash it, when I had a brainstorm.

Somewhere in my Ravelry ramblings, I’d stumbled across Wenat, who makes magnificent scarves out of self-striping yarn. Her blog explains how, by finding how much yarn is in a pattern repeat of color, you can make your own intentionally pooled scarf, comme ça:

Wow, right? I know! So, I set about trying to find a stitch motif that would both suit the yarn, and cause the right pooling. This was easier said than done. My first pattern was one that had an extra YO on the knit row, compensated by an extra p2tog on the purl side. No good – the same amount of yarn needs to be expended on each side. I fiddled with needle sizes, stitch patterns, and more, until I found the design I wanted, from the best lace knitting book ever, Susanna E Lewis’ “Knitting Lace”. I picked pattern #54, and finally, today, figured it out.

What I eventually did was thread a needle with a fine piece of yarn, and insert a piece of that yarn at the midpoints of the blue and the orange sections. Then, I made a provisional crochet cast on, and starting at the middle of orange and going to the middle of blue, I counted how many stitches I used before hitting the next thread marker. 36 was the number (on size 6 needles, if anyone’s following along). Because my pattern was a multiple of 9, I ended up altering it a bit so it was a multiple of 10, and added a 3-stitch garter edging to each side.

Then, I worked the pattern, making sure that the end of the row was hitting at the midpoint of the next color – at the thread marker. I soon discovered that my purl rows were eating up a *lot* more yarn than my knit ones, and tried a few tricks to compensate. Eventually I dropped down to a size 4 needle on the purl side (hurray for interchangeable tips – I could just swap one out), and purling tightly with the 4 I was able to get the colors to line up just about perfectly. Ready for the results so far?

Drumroll, please….

Awesome, right?

I’m so in love with this yarn again, and I’m so happy that I’m able to indulge in variegated yarns without fearing how they’re going to pool, flash, or speckle! Hurrah!

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Entry filed under: designs, knitting, techniques.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fridica  |  August 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Looks sooooo pretty, you’ve proven you’re a real troubleshooter!

    • 2. gnochistickate  |  August 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

      Thanks! It’s so nice to see a crazy technique work out (even if it takes…math…)

  • 3. kate  |  October 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    you are my kind of knitter….i love how you solved your “problem”….the scarf is lovely….

  • 4. A finished sweater. At long last. « Spin, spin, spin  |  December 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    […] let me tell you. Buy enough of the right dye lot, and DO THE MATH! You might remember my Adventures in Pooling, wherein I extolled the pleasures of doing knitting math. Well, dear friends, I’m actually a […]


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