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Colour theory: Yarn dye effects

June 30, 2017

Sometimes it really amazes me just how much choice there is out there for knitters.

Dyed yarn effects have been around for a few decades, but it feels to me like they've really come into their own recently.

When I first got into knitting seriously I went through a big variegated yarn phase. I was making a lot of socks and these splashy colours were perfect for adding interest to the simple patterns I was choosing as a beginner.

However, I learnt the hard way that, while variegated yarns looked gorgeous in something very plain, they were also capable of disguising lace and cable patterns - a kind of camouflage.

Because of this issue, these days I'm a bit more picky about what dye effects I choose for different projects.

I still love a straightforward variegated yarn, like Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints.


There's a huge mixture of colours in this DK weight yarn and they all blend into each other perfectly.

They also work really well if worked together in a stitch like brioche or fisherman's rib, to create a kind of shadowing effect like in this little sweater.

Both of these patterns are from the Eco Baby Prints book.


Variegated yarns are best used in plain stocking stitch or garter stitch patterns.

Very bold lace or cable patterns will still show up, but not as easily as in a colourwash yarn yarn like Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Tonals.

You can see how it works in this pretty lace sweater from the Cashmerino Tonals Pattern book...


Self striping yarns can be used in many ways. Lace or cable patterns will still be disguised a little but the large blocks of colour really diminishes the amount of camouflage created.

Louisa Harding Amitola is a stunning self-striping yarn that works particularly well in the beautiful lace patterns that Louisa creates.


Self-striping yarns also work beautifully in simple children's garments like this one in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK Prints.


Noro's dye effects are unique and are good for knitters who like to go with the flow! The beauty of a Noro garment is in its quirky character, like this sweater in Hakone from the Art of Colour pattern book.


Last, but not least are speckle yarns, which are just huge at the moment.

There are hundreds of brioche and garter stitch patterns perfect for this kind of yarn on Ravelry.com, but if you fancy something a bit different, how about this drop-stitch top in Mirasol Pima Splash?


There really is a dye effect perfect for every project. Do let us know your favourite dye effect yarns on our Facebook page, or in the comments below...


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