V is for Variegated

Variegated yarns.

So much fun and so easy to dye.

So pretty to look at in the skein.

Such a challenge to knit effectively….


One of the projects I am currently working on, which I have not shown you yet, uses a gently Variegated hand-dyed yarn from the amazing Briar Rose Fibers.  And I think this project and the stitch it uses is one that shows off Variegated yarns to good advantage.

The project is a reknitting of my Coulee Shawl, which I mentioned some time ago: a design I created for elann‘s first design contest; the first shawl I ever knit and the first design I ever created from scratch.  It was a runner-up, one of 10.  But not one of the top three (all those picked were more in the vein of pictorial lace, as I remember).

I’ve been asked for the pattern several times since putting it up on Ravelry.  But I wanted to rewrite the pattern, rework the beginning of the shawl, and try the modification of the Seafoam stitch that I did in my Country Manor scarf.  (The modification uses less yarn and, I think, may look a bit better if you’re not going to block the project severely.)  The Seafoam stitch and its mod do nice things for Variegated yarn; breaking up pooling and striping, and allowing the yarn to be shown off.  Here’s the current version of the Coulee Shawl in progress, unblocked, but a little stretched to show the pattern.


This truly glorious yarn is Glory Days:  a Blue-Faced Leicester DK-weight yarn from Briar Rose Fibers that I bought at Chris’ booth at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool.  (About the only non-blue-greenish purchase I made there…..)  I love the autumnal colors.  (Very November-y, may I add, in a good way.) And the BFL is amazing to knit with.  Of course, this Variegation is somewhat subtler, but still, you can see how nicely the different colors are displayed in the drop-stitch areas.

(Here’s what it looks like not stretched out.  A few days ago, it made a nice pumpkin cozy.  Just in case you need one.)


Once I finish this, I’m curious to try the same stitch pattern with some DK-weight alpaca I bought from eBay some time ago;  it’s beautifully hand-dyed in a colorway called ‘Coral Reef’, the colors being what you might imagine, though not my usual choices: mid-intensity yellows, oranges, pinks, mid-blues and greens, lavenders.  What I couldn’t tell from the eBay picture is that the color repeats are very short, probably a stitch or two long knitted up.  I have been pretty sure I wouldn’t like how it will knit up in stockinette.  (Could be wrong.)  But I think I might like it in the modified Seafoam stitch.  (Swatching is foreseen in my future, when I get around to it.  And don’t be fooled by my saying “Once I finish this”:  I don’t mean “As soon as I finish this.”  I have a few other things on my plate before that!)


As I was musing about the challenges that Variegated yarns pose, I reflected that this was yet another way that knitting was like life.  Especially as I was wandering the blogosphere in the aftermath of the recent presidential and congressional elections.  And being a little discouraged by the remarks (particularly their tone) of a few indignant commenters on certain knit blogs I read.

You know, it’s easier to knit with yarn that’s all exactly the same color.  No pooling or flashing or unwanted striping.  If you’re not using different colors of yarns, no weaving in a gazillion yarn ends; no jogs at joins. No dye lots!

Wouldn’t it be just wonderfully easy if all yarn were exactly the same color?

Wouldn’t it be — incredibly boring?  And stifle creativity?

(Anybody read “The Lathe of Heaven”?  In which at one point, in a misfired attempt to prevent race-based problems, everyone became grey?)

We are Variegated too.  Not just skin and hair and eye color, height and weight and the obvious outside stuff, but we have each our own hopes and fears and values and dreams.  It’s easier to knit us all together if we’re all exactly the same — but that isn’t and never will be the case.  And that’s good.  More than good, that’s great.

It may be harder to knit, to braid us all together given our Variegation, but we are each hand-dyed works of art, and we are and will be a beautiful, complex, powerful whole; so much richer for the Variegation.

V is for Variegated.

5 responses to “V is for Variegated

  1. Well said, Cathy.

    Love the shawl, although you’re straying quite far from our usual color palette, aren’t you?

  2. glorious varigated yarn indeed 😉

  3. Very nice post. Love the colorway, too!

  4. Very pretty – I love the combination of yarn and pattern. And I agree, varigation in life and knitting is good!

  5. Lovely post and I adore your shawl! The yarn is delicious.

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