Self-Striping Yarn

Lion Brand Self-Striping Yarn
Photo from Amazon

Self-striping yarn is a type of variegated yarn which has two or more colors. Often there are long lengths of each color before the color changes to the next. When you crochet or knit with self-striping yarn, the yarn will typically create a striped project on its own without the crafter having to do any color changes.

Advantages of Self-Striping Yarn

  • It's easy for total beginners to achieve colorful projects with a self-striping yarn.
  • No need to remember to change colors when you work with this type of yarn
  • No need to worry about whether your colors will look good together; the manufacturer has most likely done a great job of picking harmonious colors. This is helpful for crafters who lack color confidence. It's also helpful when you're purchasing yarn on the Internet, and you can't see it in person before you buy it to get an idea whether or not the colors will work together well when you actually see them in real life.

Disadvantagesof Self-Striping Yarn

  • One downside to self-striping yarn is that the crafter has no control over where the color changes fall; they might fall in the middle of rows or rounds. Sometimes the stripes created look nice and neat, but other times they could end up looking a bit sloppy or uneven.
  • Self-striping yarn tends to be more expensive than solid-colored yarn is. If the same yarn is available in both solid and self-striping colors, check and compare how many ounces of yarn you're getting per ball in the solid vs the self-striping. You might find that both balls have the same retail price, but you might also find that you get less yarn in the self-striping ball.
  • It might take some experimentation to find a pattern that will work well with the yarn and crochet hook/knitting needles you have chosen to use.

Expect Surprises

When you work with any sort of variegated yarn, including self-striping yarn, your project is likely to turn out looking different than you'd expect.

It's going to look different in your project than it does when it's a ball or hank of yarn setting on the store shelf.

I'm not sure whether to list this as an advantage or disadvantage because it could go either way: It's hard to predict whether you'll be pleasantly surprised, or unpleasantly surprised. It depends on so many factors – the yarn, the pattern you're using, the technique you're using, the hook or needles you're using, your individual taste, and so on.

Crocheters, Be Aware

I have no way to know this for sure, having never been a yarn manufacturer, but I have long suspected that many variegated yarns – including self-striping yarns – are developed with knitters' needs and projects in mind. I've developed the habit of looking at projects the manufacturer has published using the yarn; if they're all knitting projects, it gives me a clue that that's the case. Which isn't to say that the yarn might not work well in crochet projects – it might. But if I'm trying to decide between two different yarns for use in a crochet project, I'm likelier to choose a yarn that has a track record of having already successfully been used in crochet projects before.

Having said that, I can say that self-striping yarns, particularly those with long lengths between color changes, do tend to work well for crochet projects.

In my opinion, it's the variegated yarns with short lengths between color changes that you have to watch out for – those are hit or miss (often miss) for crochet projects.

Examples of Self-Striping Yarns