Alternating Skeins for Sucessful Knits

Jardin Ruffled Cardi, by Nitza Coto in Intrepid Tulips DK

One of the glories of working with hand dyed yarn is the subtle changes in the color of a skein – even in non-variegated yarns. Often, the color across a skein is not uniform, even within a carefully dyed lot. Indeed, some indie dyers intentionally choose a process that accentuates some of this variability.  It distinguishes their work from the larger yarn companies with large-scale industrial processes.

Yet as a knitter, these variations pose challenges to creating a uniformly magnificent garment. The trick to knitting a piece that is well-balance is to have some yarn from each skein worked into each section of the garment.

Here are a few tips:

  1.  I usually divide skeins into multiple smaller center pull balls when I wind it. For a scarf or shawl, I usually divide each skein into at least 2 balls. For a sweater I’ll divide skeins into 4 balls each.
  2. Open your skeins up and look at them. Is one skein noticeably darker, lighter, or somehow different from the others? You may want to divide that particular skein into more balls, so that particular skein is distributed across more of the garment.
  3. I keep track of which balls came from each skein, usually by putting the balls from each skein in a separate plastic bag with a skein number label.
  4. When I start knitting, I’ll take a ball from a labeled bag, and note on my label which section of the knitwear it’s going into, i.e. “sleeve”, “top shawl”, etc. This way I can make sure that one entire skein doesn’t all go into the same area of the garment.
  5. Once the first ball runs out, I choose a second ball from a different bag (and skein). This helps me ensure that some yarn from each skein appears in the different parts of the finished knit piece.

I know some knitters talk about using two or three skeins simultaneously, knitting one row from each skein. This is much to fussy for my style, and it still does not prevent one darker skein from appearing on, say, the left sleeve only of your jacket!

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About

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

Posted in Dyeing, Knitting Tagged with: ,