Today, self-patterning and hand dyed yarns are popular amongst artisans and knitters. I love the vivid colorways of Noro, and the subtle gradation of one color in kettle dyed Malabrigo. As you knit with self-patterning sock yarns, you don’t have to change colors, and a complex pattern appears before your eyes. Every knitter is different in their response to the results of colored yarns. Some like order and symmetry, and worry about whether the stripes match in garment pieces, or try to figure out how the pattern repeat works. Other knitters thrive on chaos and improvisation, and don’t worry that the stripes in one sock are not in the same order as the other. I’m a knitter who falls in this latter group. I don’t worry about wonky stripes, as in my vest below designed with self-striping sock yarn. I just enjoy their natural beauty, and the surprise that unfolds before my eyes.
Which camp do you fall into? The following describes some of these fabulous yarns, and then you can answer this question.
Walking into a store or shopping online for yarn is to experience an extensive color palette and tactile pleasures. Most yarn is dyed in a single, uniform color. There is also a wide selection of variegated yarns, dyed with more than one color. In addition to yarn produced by the large companies, small yarn companies specializing in hand dyeing and multi-colored techniques add to the variety of colored yarns available to the consumer. I want to mention a few of these popular variegated yarns.
Kettle dyed yarn is an advanced technique for coloring yarn that involves manipulating the dye in a pot to produce different looks. A common look is “ombre”, a subtle gradation of light and dark shades of one color. Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay are brands which use kettle dyeing.
Self-striping yarn is dyed with lengths of color, that automatically create stripes in a knitted or crocheted project. Noro, a Japanese brand is a beautiful example in this category. As you knit with Noro, vivid colorways appear before your eyes. Most of the Noro lines consist of many colors within a repeat, and no two balls are exactly the same.
The vest pictured earlier was designed using self-striping sock yarn. Had I made socks using this yarn, the pattern would be more defined with wider stripes, but because this vest is a larger project, the stripes are broken up with narrower repeats. This was my intent.
Now back to my earlier discussion about knitters with the desire or no desire for symmetry. You could spend your time understanding the pattern repeat, and try to make every piece the same. This requires planning and ultimately yarn waste. Do you want to spend your knitting time worrying about this stuff or do you just want to enjoy the yarn as it unspools?