Ways to Combine Variegated Yarn

  • 01 of 07

    Get Eye-Catching Results By Combining Two or More Variegated Yarns

    Combining Variegated Yarn. Photo &copy Amy Solovay.

    Variegated yarns have their pros and cons. There are so many wonderful things about them; the advantages are numerous. Variegated yarns give you the opportunity to end up with a colorful project, without having to weave in bunches of loose ends; it’s also nice to have the assurance that your colors are going to harmonize, especially if you’re a beginner and not yet confident in your color choices.

    Yet variegated yarns are notoriously challenging to work with, especially for crocheters. They don’t...MORE always give you the results you expect, and sometimes the finished results can be disappointing.

    There are several important secrets for success with variegated yarns, which I have shared with you on this website. This subject is vast enough to write pages and pages (and maybe even entire books) about, so I thought it would be worthwhile to explore each "secret" in more depth.

    One Secret for Getting the Best Results With Variegated Yarn: Combine your variegated colorway with another yarn. In some cases, it might be best to pick a solid yarn for your second color, and in other cases, another variegated yarn might be ideal. My personal preference is almost always to try combining two or more variegated yarns, so that’s what we’ll be exploring in the following examples.

    Once I discovered the power of variegated yarn combinations, it made a big difference in how my projects turn out. That doesn’t mean they always turn out well; careful thought still has to go into every aspect of a pattern design. There are no guarantees, and I’m not here to tell you that you’ll never have another disaster if you try these examples. There are simply too many variables.

    So let’s explore a few different combinations that are likely to turn out well. The following examples will give you an idea of what to expect when variegated yarns are combined in different ways.

    Note that you can achieve drastically different results depending on which yarns you start with. For most of the following examples, I've used the yarns pictured in the photo above -- a red, brown and black colorway combined with a green and gray colorway. There are additional examples linked throughout the tutorial, made using a wide variety of different colorways.

    Hopefully, these examples will be helpful to you when you choose variegated yarns and stitches for your next colorful crochet projects.

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  • 02 of 07

    Alternate Two Variegated Yarns When Working in the Afghan Stitch

    Afghan Stitch Crocheted in Variegated Yarn. Photo © Michael Solovay.

    My favorite way to combine variegated yarns: when working in afghan stitch, crochet the forward pass in the first yarn colorway, and the return in the second yarn colorway. Continue crocheting the forward pass of the next row in the same colorway; then drop that color and pick up the first color to complete the return. Repeat.

    Even if you start out with two mismatched variegated colorways, this combination could possibly result in an interesting fabric. If you start with two variegated colorways...MORE that harmonize well, this combination usually turns out stunning!

    A Bonus: With most stitch patterns that are this colorful, you’d have to weave in bunches and bunches of loose ends to finish your project. Not with this stitch pattern! Because at the end of each row, you can simply drop the color you are using, and pick up the other inactive color, without any need to cut the colors in between rows. So you won’t need to weave in any extra ends when you work this stitch – just the usual loose ends at the beginning and end of the project.

    See examples of crochet projects that utilize this stitch pattern:

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  • 03 of 07

    Alternate Two Variegated Yarns When Working in the Tunisian Knit Stitch

    Tunisian Knit Stitch Crocheted in Variegated Yarn. Photo © Amy Solovay.

    When working in the Tunisian knit stitch, crochet the forward pass in the first yarn colorway, and the return in the second yarn colorway. Then continue using the second colorway for the forward in the next row; drop that color and pick up the first color to complete the return. Repeat.

    Do not cut the colors in between passes; just drop each yarn when you’re finished with ​it and pick it up when you need it again. There’s no need for weaving in lots of loose ends; just the usual loose ends at the...MORE beginning and end of the project.

    Try a Project With This Stitch Pattern: This faux knit headband utilizes the stitch pattern you see pictured above. This is a quick and simple project that would make a nice addition to anyone's wardrobe.

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  • 04 of 07

    Alternate Two Variegated Yarns in Stripes of Single Crochet Stitch

    Variegated Yarns Worked in Stripes of Single Crochet. Photo © Amy Solovay.

    The sample pictured here features two different colorways of variegated yarn that have been worked in the following striped pattern:

    • Two rows of the first colorway worked in single crochet.
    • Two rows of the second colorway worked in single crochet.
    • Repeat.

    To minimize the amount of yarn ends that need weaving in, you can carry your yarn up the sides of your work.

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  • 05 of 07

    Combine Two Variegated Yarns in Checkerboard Patterns

    Checkerboard Pattern Crocheted in Variegated Yarn -- Photo © Amy Solovay

    If you want to try using the tapestry crochet technique with variegated yarn, I suggest starting with a simple checkerboard pattern. I make this recommendation because checkerboards are easy, predictable, and obvious, making your chances of success higher than they might be with other sorts of design elements.

    However, checkerboards are only one possibility to explore. You can get good results with bunches of different tapestry crochet design elements – circles, triangles, flowers, etc. In my...MORE experience, bold patterns tend to work better than detailed ones do.

    Tapestry crochet patterns are a little hit-and-miss when it comes to using them with variegated yarns. Sometimes they turn out amazing, and sometimes they look pretty weird. In the past, when I’ve had problems combining them, it has often been because part of the color repeat gets hidden inside the stitches, making for odd variations in the sections of yarn that remain visible.

    Here’s the trick to minimizing that issue: choose two different variegated yarns from two distinct color families. The yarns should contrast with each other, but there shouldn’t be a lot of contrast between the darkest and lightest color in each yarn.

    Example #1: (What to Do -- Not Pictured)

    First Yarn Colorway: deep red, burgundy and brown (no extreme light tones or medium tones)
    Second Yarn Colorway: medium tones of camel, khaki, and beige (no extreme light or dark tones)

    Example #2: (What Not to Do – Not Pictured )

    First yarn colorway: white, red, black
    Second yarn colorway: white, blue, black

    With the yarns specified in example #1, you can work a checkerboard chart and have a reasonably good chance of a distinctive checkerboard pattern appearing in your finished design.

    With the yarns specified in example #2, you’d most likely end up with a mess. It would be surprising if you could clearly distinguish the checkerboard design. The black in yarn #1 would be indistinguishable from the black in yarn #2; same with the whites.

    Example #3: (Acceptable, but could be improved on – Pictured)

    First yarn colorway: bright red, burgundy, brown, black
    Second yarn colorway: dark forest green, medium green, light grayish-green

    My Conclusion: Parts of this colorway are pleasing, but parts of it are less successful. The dark forest green from the first colorway looks quite a bit like the brown in the second colorway. Because of this similarity, it is difficult to maintain a crisp and distinct difference between the checkerboard blocks in the pattern in the areas where these colors appear. If not for that, this choice of yarns would be much better.

    I also think it would be better if the most extreme light and dark colors in the piece were eliminated (which of course would mean that I would have to choose different yarns and start over).

    Takeaway: When using variegated yarn for working a tapestry crochet pattern with two or more distinct color areas, compare the individual colors in colorway A against colorway B. If any of them look very similar to each other, you may wish to choose different yarns. At the very least, I’d recommend making a swatch before proceeding (although you also have to keep in mind that a swatch will not always be completely accurate in the case of variegated yarns because the colors will fall in different places in the real piece than they do in the sample. Still, swatching can alert you to major problems ahead of time.)

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  • 06 of 07

    Color Gradient Patterns

    Potholder Crocheted With 5 Different Variegated Yarns. Photo © Amy Solovay.
    Potholder Crocheted With 5 Different Variegated Yarns. Photo © Amy Solovay.

    I created the examples displayed on previous pages using two variegated yarn colorways each. This project is a little different; it utilizes five different variegated colors plus a solid color.

    Right about now is a good time to remind you: Please don't feel limited to working with only two colors. Why stop there? You can work with as many colors as you want to. It can be interesting to combine bunches and bunches of different variegated colorways into the same piece -- assuming, of course,...MORE that there are enough unifying elements in the yarns to visually tie them all together in some way.

    If you're going to use multiple colors, one successful approach is to choose colors that will transition nicely into each other, and to work them in gradient patterns like the one pictured here.

    The example pictured above is a potholder worked in afghan stitch and finished with a pretty v-stitch edging. To achieve this look, I took a basic potholder pattern and substituted five different variegated yarns in the body of the potholder. To do the edging, I used a solid yellow yarn. The free pattern for this potholder is available on our website; I invite you to use it as a starting point for your color experiments if you like. If you're interested in more details for this specific color pattern, you can get them here. Please note that several of these yarn colors have now been discontinued; if you want to try out this idea in the future, you can apply the concepts you've learned with other yarns that are currently available.

    Related Resources: V-Stitch | Free Crochet Potholder Patterns

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  • 07 of 07

    Get More Insights About Variegated Yarns

    Want to learn more about variegated yarns? Here are some additional resources that will help: