Does self-striping yarn follow rules?
February 24, 2017 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Is there a general rule about variegated and/or self-striping yarns I can follow (or not) to stripe the colors evenly? (I'm guessing it's something with the working gauge?) Or is the color variegation mainly designed by manufacturers and not standardized with any particular method?

Bonus question: I am aware that most yarn products are designed for knitters. I understand knitting terms, though I don't knit and I am 100% a crocheter. Is there anything I should keep in mind when I'm using variegated/self-striping yarn as a crocheter and not a knitter?

Note: I use American crochet terms, so please specify if you don't. I also mostly use the super cheap acrylic yarns-- Red Heart, Carons Super Soft, whatever the Michael's knockoff is, etc.

I am asking this because I really like tacky variegated yarn, and sometimes the same yarn from the same dye lot (Red Heart Super Saver in "Mexicana" or "Blacklight" are favorites) in the same stitch will turn out with even-ish striping, and sometimes it'll just be variegated, or it will stripe for a few rows and go back to mixed up, and it's clearly to do with something I am doing with the starting place on the yarn, or the tension, or the gauge, or the stitch (like, sometimes a double stitch will stripe, sometimes it won't, sometimes a single will, sometimes it won't) but I can't figure out what it is. So either there's some secret, or it's at random, or there are commonplace manufacturer techniques that aren't standard across the industry, or...something.
posted by blnkfrnk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Crochet is actually easier to manipulate striping on than knitting, because it's less noticeable when a stitch uses a little more or less yarn. The lengths of different colors in self striping yarn aren't very consistent and you need to manually adjust so there are always x stitches of blue and y stitches of green, or whatever. The search term you want is "planned pooling".

Pattern generator

Facebook group with a ton of examples / discussion
posted by momus_window at 9:31 AM on February 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

It's definitely manipulable. There are knitting patterns that depend on avoiding the random-appearing results but instead go for pooling or other effects. I defer to momus_window above on how crocheting impacts that, but it can definitely be figured out.
posted by praemunire at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2017

At the risk of being incredibly obvious, are you making the same size things? Like, if you are making a hat, the stripes are going to be less than half as wide as a sock; if you're making a child's sweater the stripes are going to be way thicker than the stripes on an adult's sweater.

The thicker the stripes are, the less you're going to tend to get variegation. So, like, if a stripe is generally only one or two rows thick, it's really easy for it to go variegated based on small changes. If the stripe is ten rows thick, you're going to get more consistent results.
posted by mskyle at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2017

Some yarn vendors will identify their striping yarn by "long" or "short" color changes. Here's an example of a search at WEBS for yarns with long color changes.

The only standard I can think of is that striping sock yarns will be designed with long color changes and to stripe at the average circumference of a sock. If you knit a flat blanket with striping sock yarn, you will get a very different effect! Here's an article by Eunny Jang about designing your own striped sock yarn.

Other striping and variegated yarns are completely unstandardized and both knitter and crocheters can find that an otherwise lovely yarn just isn't going to work for a project due to unwanted color effects.

As you've found, variegated yarns that aren't specifically striping yarns can do some unpredictable things, depending on your pattern and gauge. This article refers to the problems that can cause for crochet.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are these yarns calling themselves "self striping"? Because there's a distinction between self-striping and variegated. Self striping yarns have colors that change at regular length intervals. Variegated yarns are more random and might result in stripes sometimes but might not. For variegated, you'd want to look into "planned pooling" as momus_window advises.
posted by purple_bird at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook addresses this specifically wrt knitting socks, in what I found to be a really understandable way. They talk about how minor pattern or stitch number variations can either break up or encourage pooling, and how to play around with these to get the look you want - the general ideas would definitely apply to crochet too, although their focus is on knitting.
posted by augustimagination at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2017

I just make squares, rectangles, and rounds, and then I sew them together, so pattern changes don't really matter.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2017

This tutorial on pooling from Red Heart might answer your questions with regard to their products.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's geared toward knitting rather than crochet, but this pattern over on Knitty has an interesting take on manipulating the striping runs in various yarns to make patterns on purpose.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried it personally yet, but here is the clearest tutorial I've seen on planned pooling with crochet. Basically, you unravel the yarn ball until you find a full repeat in the color pattern, then use chain stitches to see how many you can fit into each section. Or try this pattern which looks awesome (cooler than argyle to me).
posted by serelliya at 12:14 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

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