Crocheting With Self-Striping Yarns
Self-striping yarns are most often those gorgeous, multicolored, center-pull cake skeins that are so popular right now. There are several regularly shaped skeins or balls that have very long striping as well. No matter their shape, they are all absolutely irresistible! The first thing we need to know is that cake yarns in particular are very long striping yarns with colors that usually don’t repeat. If you want to make something with repeated stripes be sure to buy several cakes of the same color and/or dye lot all at one time. Better to have plenty of yarn than to run out! The stripes are either beautifully contrasting, mesmerizingly monochromatic or delightfully complementary. Once you get them home, though, you might wonder, where do I even begin? What are the best stitches to use with self-striping yarn? What are the best items to make to utilize all of these tantalizing colors? The striping in cake yarns can change very abruptly, so planning for your color changes will be important if you have a particular striping already in mind. The beginning of a new stripe of color is called a run. In order to make cohesive items such as garments, we should begin each piece with the same color and at the beginning of the run. Doing this ensures that all the striping matches throughout our project. Each sleeve will have the same striping as the body, and the front and back of the garment will have stripes that seam beautifully. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? There are just a few tricks you will need to use to get them to match, along with starting with the same run. To make our garment, we will need to work the front and back pieces each with their own skein making sure to pay attention to the striping—gauge can be a game changer here! We want to make sure we work exactly the same number of rows per run. When we seam the body, the stripes should match perfectly. Sleeves do require a bit more thought and ends to weave in. They are usually much thinner than the body of a garment, so it’s important to factor that into how wide we want our stripes. If we want our stripes to match the height of the stripes of the body, we will need to work the same number of rows in the run, cut the yarn at the end of the row, and then add the new color at the beginning of the next row. It does require planning and paying attention but the end results are well worth it! Since many cake yarns do not usually have color repeats, you will need to buy a new cake for each part of your garment. The good news is that you’ll have the same colors left over to make a whole new design! We can use these leftovers or we can separate a new skein’s colors for some really fun projects! Once we have cut each run and rolled them into separate balls there really is no limit to what can be made! We have all the colors needed for a perfectly coordinated motif afghan or top. We can make matching striped mittens, mitts or slippers. Toys are always a fun option, especially with the brighter colors! We could
even make several coordinating mandalas—all with different color rotations from just one skein of yarn. The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations! Afghans are really stunning in self-striping yarns. It’s all the fun with none of the stress over which colors to choose. If you prefer not to have a very noticeable color change right in the middle of a row, a little math and a swatch might be needed. We begin our swatch by crocheting a few rows in the gauge our pattern indicates. Count the number of rows crocheted and write the number down. Next, we will unravel our swatch and measure how much yarn was used to make our swatch. We then divide that number by the number of rows we crocheted. This tells us how much yarn we need for each row. We can then measure our runs and adjust our gauge accordingly. We can also either add stitches and make our afghan wider with thinner stripes, or we can subtract stitches from the pattern and make a thinner afghan with wider striping. If you are a bit more adventurous, why not just throw caution to the wind? You could easily crochet until you’re at the end of the final row of the run, cut the extra yarn (leaving enough to weave in) and begin the next row with the new color. There’s no counting and each stripe is fearless fun just waiting to see how many rows we can get out of a run. This is my preferred method—I love to live on the wild side! Solid or textured stitches really showcase the loveliness of these yarns. The self-striping does all the work for you. You can use lacy stitches, but you will find that the stitches start to compete with the yarn for attention and can quickly become unattractive. Solid or textured stitches tend to be more harmonious with striping. The lengths of each run won’t always be consistent depending on brand and dye lot so we might need to occasionally adjust them regardless of which stitch we choose. That said, the granny stitch works absolutely fantastically with these yarns! The best and only way to know if your stitch is going to work with striping is to make that swatch. It’s pretty amazing what those squares can teach us! The easiest way to ensure that your self-striping yarn is going to work with your project is to choose a pattern that already features the self-striping yarn you have chosen. A pattern designed in a solid color will look completely different in a self-striping yarn. With so many new self-striping patterns available, why not go with one that already has the work done for you? No matter what method you use, make sure to have fun!
The Alegria Afghan pattern shown here is available at AnniesCraftStore.com