I was about four inches into my toe-up socks made from the autumnal-shades-of-BFL, and I suddenly didn’t like how the colorways were transitioning. It’s a little sock and a long ways to wait between color changes. Not only boring, but it looked likely I would end up with one mostly-blue sock and one mostly-brown one. So I frogged and restarted using what is apparently my fall-back technique when working with variegated colorways…STRIPES!
I didn’t even realize how many times I’d used stripes with variegated yarn until looking back through my project pages.
For example, there were the legwarmers where I paired handspun with a commercial cream yarn just so I’d have enough yardage, but then I must have had leftovers anyway because they made their way into this stash-busting lap blanket (also stripes):
For starters, colors just tend to look more interesting sitting next to one another. So if the whole reason I purchased one of those beautiful hanks of rainbow roving was because I liked the colors, a 2×2 stripe is going to allow them to play off one another a lot more. Watching how colors transition against each other is extremely fun (just think of the 12,500+ people who made that Jared Flood Noro striped scarf).
Second, interrupting the gradation of a handspun skein with a stripe (be it from another handspun or a commercial yarn) just makes the whole piece look less folksy/homemade. I love spinning from variegated roving and I love knitting with it, but there’s something about the crisp lines and structure that stripes provide. They bring modernity to handspun, and they’ve helped keep a few of my projects away from that “I live on a co-op farm and make my own yogurt” kind of vibe (I might be there some day – after all, I want to raise all those sheep – but that’s not the message I want my pieces sending now).
I have used variegated handspun in sans-stripes projects. I think one of the more successful ones was the scarf that used a swiss-cheese kind of pattern to delineate positive and negative space. Here the pattern (instead of another color of yarn) provided the crisp lines and structure.
I recently finished a nice big scarf/shawl – Nangou – that has just a few lines running through it, but the sage green handspun also doesn’t variegate (see below – also, my new glasses :).
I’ve knit a couple of other shawls with variegated and liked how often the colors changed (sometimes every row) due to the length of the piece.
I didn’t realize I had such strong opinions about knitting with handspun! Do you? What do you look for in a pattern when you have some variegated handspun to use?