Monday, September 12, 2011

A fine kettle of fish

What a fine kettle of fish!

What I'm referring to are my two newest creations, both of which are made of kettle-dyed yarns. What is kettle-dyed yarn exactly, you ask? Well, it is fiber or yarn that is dyed in one pot often by an artisan and increasingly by a commercial yarn company. The result: beautifully colored yarn with mottled and variegated effects that reduce color pooling.

And what is color pooling exactly? It occurs when you knit with a variegated yarn and end up with splotches of color rather than a diffuse color placement. Knitting with Noro results in lots of color pooling by design.

I don't care for Noro or color pooling, probably because of the first sweater I made for the beloved bf, Tom. I bought the Patons SWS because the colors looked so beautiful in the skeins! I envisioned this beautifully mottled blue, taupe, and tan creation that would be perfect for my blue-eyed, Danish-looking boyfriend.

NOT. Instead I got a sweater that started out with fairly uniform stripes through the body and ended up with large, diffuse swaths of color as I got to the shoulders. He's never worn the sweater; he claims it's too hot. But I suspect he thinks it's ugly because, let's face it, it is. I've been anti variegated yarn ever since.

But I've learned some new tricks since I made that first sweater for Tom. I recently finished the Under Toad aka Undercurrent where I used a solid yarn to break up variegated color - I love both the effect and the sweater.

When I recently started the Deb's Cardigan using the kettle-dyed Araucania Nature Wool, I alternated skeins regularly to break up any color pooling. I love the result, a fascinating but subtle explosion of color.

I unfortunately can't get the resulting sweater to photograph correctly; it always turns out too blue or turquoise and not the emerald shown in the swatch above. Just squint and imagine and you'll be able to see as it really is.

I've loving this cardigan. It fits perfectly; I tried it on last night and am delighted by how well it sits on my shoulders. I'll wear it with that top button unbuttoned to give me a little more neck room. But I'm looking forward to seeing the final product - and wearing it, too.

I briefly veered off course this weekend and started a sleeve for Norah Gaughan's Callen using an incredible kettle-dyed yarn, Queenland Collection Rustic Tweed. I bought this usually $10-a-skein wool/alpaca blend for an incredible $2/skein from DBNY. I've been looking for a pink tweed for a long time and when I found this one at such a great price, I jumped.

I'm alternating skeins of the Rustic Tweed to reduce color pooling. So far, so good. I wish you could touch the cuff; the yarn is so soft and so pretty.

I fell in love with the Callen at first site. I love the wide collar and oversized but classic cabling. Norah's model garment doesn't fasten but I don't wear belts so I'm going to have to figure something else out. I love the model garment's Blackstone Tweed in Narrangassat - I wish I could have afforded it but it would have been five times more than the Rustic Tweed and I need the dough.

Finally, my negative talk about variegated yarn is JMHO. Eisaku Noro has made a bloody fortunate with his color-pooling yarn; his scores of fans I'm sure would throw me in the kettle with all those fish! As I always say, your mileage may vary. 


  1. I don't mind variegated yarn or stripes, but I have trouble telling which it's going to be just from looking at a skein. That's why I love Ravelry, so I can look at projects already made with that yarn and see how it will turn out before I choose a pattern to go with it.

  2. I love stripey yarn and I don't think Tom's sweater is ugly. Though I do hate singles yarn (only one ply) and I do know that the SWS doesn't make very good sweaters because they felt so easily and don't wear well. Not work the effort of knitting!

    Your tweediness is quite lovely. That pink is going to look great on you!

    Oh and for the belted number, ever consider a zipper? You can get a tailor to install it for you for less than 30 bucks. A zipper doesn't interfere with the flow of the pattern and it means no gaping when done up. Sweet!

  3. I love the way the Arucania is looking..very pretty.
    Hey! I really think you are turning into a chart knitter!!!! t_a

  4. Variegated yarn has never appealed to me because of the strange ways the colors group together and then change as you shape the garment. You solved the problem nicely by alternating with a plain yarn. I was working on a pair of socks and they went wonky when I started to make increases for the calf. I think I'll have to put some plain stripes in to make them work. Thanks for a good idea. But then you ALWAYS have Good Ideas!

  5. I too have mixed feelings about self striping yarn/variegated yarn. I get so tired of seeing striped everything. I like colors to go where I want to put them, that is why I so liked your Undercurrent. I knew you would succumb to the lure of DBNY, I so coveted that Queensland, but pink is not my color.

  6. Am I the only one who looked at the photo of the lovely pink tweed and thought -- Julie's knitting herself a Merry Widow!" ?? I mean, there's a corset-y waist thing and then these "bosom-y" balls of yarn up top.

    What can I say? Some of us are easily amused...

    --Lynda in Oregon

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  8. Alternating with a solid sounds interesting. Have you ever tried alternating with a second ball of the variegated? Seems like that should break up the pooling at least some.