I’m an experienced knitter. I’m not a fast knitter and I am by no means an expert but generally speaking, I’m confident and proficient with most knitting. Which is why, when I made the biggest faux pas a knitter can make with hand painted yarn last week, I knew I had to write a blog post about it. Mainly because I hope it will save you some time and frustration, but also to demonstrate that experienced knitters can still make the simplest of mistakes.
Can I even call this a mistake? Not really. In this case my mistake was my eagerness to cast on for a darling baby sweater and ignoring everything I know about knitting with hand painted yarn. I had two gorgeous skeins of Manos del Uruguay Alegria in the Ghostbuster colourway that were calling my name. I wound my first skein, I cast on and I began to knit with reckless abandon.
I noticed within the first few rows that the colours weren’t knitting up quite the way I had imagined. The green, rust and cream were the predominant colours, with the lilac disappearing into the background. The resulting fabric wasn’t unattractive, but I knew if I carried on, I would continue to create blotches of colour rather than the speckle effect I was hoping for. It was the delicate cream base with sprinkles of the other shades that had initially drawn me to this colourway and so I knew what I had to do – what I should have done from the start.
The number one rule of thumb when knitting with hand painted yarn is to knit two rows from one skein and two from another to avoid colour pooling. To say that I know better would be an understatement. Not only do I know about colour pooling, most labels of hand painted yarn say to alternate skeins every other row to give an overall blended effect. Colour pooling is what occurs when all the stitches of one colour come together in one section creating one large spot of colour.
If you are working with one ball and wish to avoid colour pooling, alternate rows by working from both ends of the ball or simply wind your skein into two balls. The photo below shows how differently the colours are distributed when I began to alternate skeins every other row. Now the cream is the predominant colour as I had envisioned it would be when looking at the skein.
Depending on what you are making, you may not be bothered by colour pooling. For small projects, it might not be noticeable at all or it could add an interesting design. However, should you be working on a large project like a sweater, it is always wise to alternate skeins for even colour distribution. It just goes to show that each skein of hand painted yarn truly is one-of-a-kind!
One of the many great things about knitting is that all I lost in this exercise was my time, and any time knitting is never time lost in my mind. That said, the next time I start a pattern with hand painted yarn I will take the time to consider whether colour pooling might affect my project and wind a second ball just to be safe!
Happy knitting and crocheting everyone!