I’d been eying the Strandwanderer pattern of Lea Viktoria’s for some time before I finally cast on. Having cast on, it then took a bit of knitting before I had anything to show for it.
In and amongst all the knitting, I had plenty of time to think about the pattern design, (along with watching several football bowl games and a Downton Abbey episode). Lea really makes absolutely ingenious use of variegated yarn.
This little shawl begins with a 2 stitch cast on. You can see this in the bottom right corner of the photo with my “tail” yarn still attached. As you increase on each row, the shawl widens. Once it’s about 4″ wide, you begin to work these little, 3-stitch wide inset stripes, created (after some set-up) by working sideways and ending every other 3-stitch row by reconnecting it to the larger work with a K2tog. Once you’ve worked an inset stripe, you return to back-and-forth garter stitch for 10 rows before inserting another inset bit.
So. Fun to knit.
And plenty of visual interest once it’s done, too. In my mind, there are three things that make this a really clever way to use variegated yarn.
Clever Variegated Yarn Strategies
- Garter stitch always breaks up variegated yarn better than stockinette. (What’s more, for a reversible shawl, it makes sense. And diminishes crafter confusion – always a good thing.)
- Working a shape that increases consistently changes the way colors stack, or don’t. This way any pooling that threatens is disrupted pretty quickly just because the stitch count changes.
- Lastly and obviously, changing the direction of the knitting results in changed direction of the color stripes, and the very short, 3-stitch wide insets force colors to pool, creating repeating paint chips of color throughout the shawl.
Where I’ve approached variegated yarn as a dyer, and controlled the blotches and pools by dyeing short segments of any given color, Lea Viktoria has strategized patterns that harness pooling and transform it. I had to dye myself new yarn with longer color stretches for this project. Lea has several patterns that capitalize on these ideas, you can find them on Ravelry or her website/blog. It’s a little bit German, but the photos are grand even if the text leaves you baffled.