Knitting Stitches for Variegated Yarn

Several months back I presented a modest three-some of knitting stitches for variegated yarns. Here are a few more.

Once again, let’s assume your goals are like mine: avoiding obvious pooling, barber-polling, or striping of colors. If you were to knit a stockinette swatch from your variegated skein, it might look like this first photo. But there are so many other choices!

Variegated swatch stockinette


Brioche Stitch

There are many variations of brioche stitch, but this basic version is taken straight from Nancy Marchant’s Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch.

Knitting Stitches for Variegated Yarn - brioche

Swatch in Stockinette (bottom) and Brioche stitches

I’m new to brioche stitch but found myself incredibly enthusiastic about the squishy elasticity and density of the fabric this simple stitch repeat created. You could certainly argue that there is still some color striping. In defense, I point out that it’s different striping than you get with the same yarn in stockinette!

Worked flat over an even number of stitches, the pattern is:

Setup row:  (Move yarn to front as if to purl, Slip 1, YO crossing the slipped st, K1 ) repeat.

All subsequent rows: (Move yarn front, Slip 1, YO crossing the slipped st, K the next stitch and its crossed YO from the prior row together) repeat.

If you click (or double click) on the photo, you should see a close-up version.



Lace and Variegated Yarn, namely Feather and Fan

To observe that there are a multitude of lace patterns out there in the world would be one of the grossest of understatements, but when it comes to variegated yarn and lace, we probably don’t need to explore the various combinations in depth.

Usually, I shy away from lace in variegated, because the color changes – particularly if they leap from one side of the color wheel to the other, or if they swoop from light to dark – can completely obscure the lovely and hard-won lace, rendering it not worth the effort. Here, in my worldview, are the exceptions. When you have a very (very) subtly variegated yarn – think almost mono-tonal, when the colors are light – think pastels and pale shades, or when using a lace motif makes the rows of stitches bend. In this latter situation, lace becomes interesting because then the stripes of color angle and bend.

Knitting Stitches for Variegated Yarn- feather and fan

Swatch in Feather and Fan Lace and Stockinette

I know, and awkward little swatch. Apparently no amount of blocking overcomes the transition from a ripply stitch like Feather and Fan to Stockinette. But the colors do rock and roll, no?

Worked flat over a multiple of 18 sts:

Row 1:  (right side) Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: *(K2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, (k2tog) 2 times; repeat from * across.

Row 4: Purl

More Knitting Stitches for Variegated Yarn?

Surely we’re not done.

If you’ve got other knitting stitches that work well with variegated yarns that ought to be explored, please drop me a line in the comments. If you feel like testing them out in your own swatch, also pipe up. It would be nifty to post them and hear your take on what makes them tick, etc.

ITY on Ravelry


Knitter, hiker, skier, dog owner. Zealous novel reader. Loathes licorice. Owner of Intrepid Tulips Yarn in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Posted in Knitting, Stitchionary