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WACKY Wednesday

October 18, 2017

Crazy combos!

Can you use handspun, self-striping yarns, marled, and speckle or multicolour yarns in colourwork? How about holding 2 lighter weight yarns together to create your own marled effect?

Speckle (La Bien Aimee), Handspun (Sweatermaker) and Self Striping (Noro)

There are some yarn types that are a bit WACKY… but can still be really effective for colourwork.

This post is the third in our 5-part Week Of Colour! Check out the other posts too:

Using hand spun yarn in stranded colourwork

When using ‘crazy’ colourful yarns for colourwork, we would argue that in each case the key is making sure you have really strong contrast. That’s why we suggest pairing a wacky yarn with a solid or kettle-dyed yarn.

As you can see, the hand spun I used is made of a single ply of pale blue, with a rainbow ply of many different colours. The deep navy I picked as my background colour is a very strong contrast, and this allows the pattern to read clearly.

Wednesday’s hat is made in Baah Yarns Sonoma in ‘night sky’ as the background colour with Sweatermaker Yarns Mac (hand spun) in a pale blue + rainbow as the foreground colour.

The colourwork pattern I chose uses large blocks of pattern, which means that the texture and mottled nature of the hand spun can really shine against the backdrop yarn. A delicate and detailed pattern might not work as well for this yarn combination.

This colourwork chart is a 4-stitch repeat, and will fit evenly on the swatch hat or cowl pattern included with the Strange Brew sweater recipe.

This hat is a perfectly lovely hat, but in all honesty, it is also just a swatch! Immediately after completing it, I was overwhelmed by ideas about how I could adjust and improve the stitch pattern. Below are my thoughts for how I might adjust the pattern for a more interesting motif which takes the great aspects of the original and expands upon them. This might be the beginning of my Strange Brew Knitalong design…

First I thought that making adjustments to the ‘blocks’ might improve the flowy nature of the pattern

Next I thought it might be interesting to pair up the triangles into almost floral motifs

That taken as a base, I expanded the idea.

Lastly I began to play with how colours might enliven the pattern, and how the pattern might be ‘broken’ within a larger (24 stitch) repeat.

what if I love my speckles!?

Alexa made a sweet hat for Hunter using Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘princess rockstar’ (leftovers from this sweater), with Hedgehog Fibres Merino DK in ‘fly’ (leftovers from this sweater).

The details:

For Hunter’s hat, pictured below, I used my semi solid as the main colour and the speckle as the contrast. I worked Chart A 4 times, Chart B 3 times, and Chart C 3 times. I worked the decreases in the speckle. I topped it with a confetti pompom using both colours.

You can see that the speckled yarn (the teal) has some speckles which contrast strongly with the solid (the pink), and others which get a bit lost. This doesn’t particularly matter, because the colourwork pattern that Alexa used creates an overall effect, rather than relying on each specific stitch to read distinctly.

self striping yarns in colourwork

There are a lot of colourwork knitters who pair a self-striping yarn with a solid when working colourwork. The blending is automatic, and so there are far less ends to weave in – always a bonus!

Alexa made this Banff hat in Spincycle Yarns Independence (a self-striping yarn) in ‘the bees knees’ and YOTH Yarns Father in ‘caviar’.

While this isn’t stranded colourwork (it’s a slip-stitch pattern), we made a LOT of Bumble hats and sweaters using a solid colour yarn paired with a self-striping yarn. These examples give you a sense of the effect you could also achieve with stranded colourwork patterns.

Bumble beanies that combine a self-striping yarn with a solid for a beautiful tweedy effect!

I find these ‘wacky’ yarns really addictive and delicious, but sometimes quite challenging to use in a way that really highlights their beauty. So if you’re feeling adventurous, grab your wacky yarns and the Strange Brew pattern to design your own yoke sweater, or choose one of our ready-to-knit colourwork patterns.

Strange Brew

Use Strange Brew recipe, and a dash of your own inspiration, to design your own yoke sweater!

Want to Knit Along with Alexa and Emily? It’s the thing to do, folks! We’re running a fun KAL starting tomorrow –  Thursday, October 19th. All the details are here!

Got Handspun?

Sometimes spinners have a difficult time finding projects to showcase their beautiful yarns! The strategy of pairing handspun with solids or commercial yarns can both highlight the special nature of the handspun, and make the precious yarn stretch a bit further! To share this idea, just click the links below to share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or by email. And invite your friends to join in the KAL too!


Crazy Colour from TCK:

POP blanketMarley BlanketBumble Sweater

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine permalink
    October 18, 2017 6:16 pm

    Thank you for this fabulous series. I’ve never tried colourwork before and now I feel inspired to try it!

    Last week, when I first saw your picture about colour choices (the image featuring the three red toned yarns wrapped around a piece of card) I immediately wondered about how to combine yarns with different textures and different twist types like crepes, plied, woolly etc in colourwork. Your examples suggest that anything goes – which is great for a beginner like me to just dive in and give it a try with whatever is in my stash.

    Can you please share the name of the software you use to draw your colourwork grid patterns? I’d love to try this myself and I’m likely to make a right mess of it using graph paper and colour pencils. Thank you!

  2. Ann Ander permalink
    October 18, 2017 2:23 pm

    You are incredibly generous with your pattern information!
    Thank you!

  3. Brigid permalink
    October 18, 2017 8:52 am

    What a very interesting and useful post! Thank you. I spin and do sometimes need inspiration for using precious skeins.

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