Yarn Optical Illusions

Sometimes you need to have a couple of yarn tricks to ensure that your project turns out the best it possibly can. One of these tips or tricks is understanding dye lots.

These 3 balls are the same color, but the dye lot has some slight shifts, so this fabric uses a different ball every 2 rows.

Dye lots are the critical factor for several, but not all yarns, and essentially it is telling you a specific time period that a yarn was created. This can be important to ensure that the colors from one skein matches that of another. If you want to ensure that your project has the same consistent color then you have to ensure the dye lots of the yarns match. Well, that is the given rule, but I have found that not even this is consistent.

So then what do you do if the color between the yarn skeins happen to be just a couple of shades off? I have had this happen, even within the same dye lots. It is uncommon in most commercial yarns, but it can become apparent in hand dyed or hand painted yarns, and how to fix it is to trick the eye.

The best practice is to work a couple of rows from one skein, and then a couple of rows from another and switch between at least 2 different skeins; sometimes I might even switch every couple of rows between 3 skeins. By making these changes in a consistent manner it creates an optical illusion to the eye and the subtle color differences will blend together when you look at it. This is much more beneficial than having a visually obvious line of exactly where your yarn changed in your project.

I would suggest that even if you suspect that there is a difference in the color shades that you use this alternating skeins in rows technique simply for the fact that when you are so close to your work the subtle details are not visible. When you step away and look at your work from afar and can see a visual line in your work, it feels like a punch in the gut, and unintended mistake. Some people find a way to live with it, others rip it all back. So, I error on the side of caution.

Yes, this will lead to more ends being woven in (I have some tips here). No one is really ever thrilled about that, however if I am going to spend the time to use a beautiful and unique yarn, I might was well take a couple of extra steps to ensure that my final project is the best that it can be.

Stress Free & Seamless… The Best of Crochet

ScannedImageI had a surprise in the latest special issue of Crochet! Magazine,(Stress Free Seamless Crochet, Fall 2016), I had another design on the cover! What was really surprising is that I was not even expecting this design to be in this issue.

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Autumn Blaze Scarf Photo courtesy Annie’s

132120_small2The Autumn Blaze Scarf that adorns the cover is really an interesting pattern that creates a great texture while creating a fabric that is on the biased, meaning that it has increases and decreases worked every row to give it a much angled direction. This really allows yarn that has some length to the color repeats to shine.

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Dharma Tote Photo courtesy Annie’s

The second design I have in this issue also benefits from long color repeat yarn, the Dharma Tote uses crochet miter squares to bring color to life in angles. Miter squares are worked from two edges worked, a corner, and worked toward the opposite corner. There is essentially a decrease worked in the center of the worked row, and my continuing the row with a decrease every row, it reduces to a point.

One of the really nice features about miter squares is that you can easily work it as join as you go, by beginning an edge directly on a created square. I played around a bit with the square locations, as I really didn’t want everything facing the same direction, yet I didn’t want to create a square that would be difficult to create with too many joins. I added some leather strap handles, and this bag was ready to go. I love the stretch that it has, I can stuff it full of crochet samples for my classes, or items that my kids need for “insert name of event here”.

Both of the designs benefit from long color repeat yarns, there is a couple of reasons for this. First you do not have to think about color combinations. The yarns already have some harmony in the palette of color, thus making sure that your finished product will be pleasing to the eye. Second, the long spans of color allow for the design to be highlighted. Whenever color changes are short, a little of every color works into almost any stitch, and things looked speckled. When to color change is long, you can create a shape in the color, as with Dharma Tote, you can see the directions for the squares. Neither of these designs would shine if they were speckled or in solid colors.

A Month of Crochet- A Focus on Color

ScannedImageWow, a whole month focused on crochet! It has been fun following all the blogs featured on the Crochetville blog tour, and thank you Amy & Donna for all your hard work in pulling this together.National Crochet Month 2014

 

This year the blog tour is featuring the charitable organization of Halos of Hope. Please consider making a hat for the cause or make a financial contribution to this organization that helps many with cancer. Find more information at Halos of Hope. Halos of Hope

 

So spring is in the air, it always brings about the thoughts of color for me, which is always an inspiration. Granted I have not been living in a world of winter white, but seeing all the flowers open up and the trees beginning to bloom looks like a painters palette to me. So I grab some yarn and begin to play, but not all yarns are created equal.

 

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Notice the difference between the lines of color in the bottom of the swatch, double crochet clusters, and the band toward the top worked as single crochet. Different stitches, different color pooling.

Lately I have pulled toward variegated yarns, ones that have a mixture and change of color within the skein. However the length of each color run can make a real difference in how my finished fabric looks, so I have to take it into consideration.  I pulled some variegated yarn off the shelf the other day, with the inspiration of spring, but found that my fabric just looked like a bunch of speckled dots, and there was no “color pooling” that happens when colors stack up upon themselves.

 

Why did my work look like little specks? The stitches I was using. Most yarns are not created with crocheters as the primary user in mind, so as a result the color repeats are usually shorter then would best highlight the art of crochet stitches. Often each stitch will include more than one color resulting in speckling. However, with a little playing, stitches can be found that act a little differently. A good example of this is Tunisian crochet, that gives pooling more like that of knitting, but even changing from double crochet to single crochet can create a difference in the appearance of the fabric, and one that might be more what I am looking for.

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Left and Right same yarn, different stitch. Left in Tunisian, Right in single crochet cluster.

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I was playing with some hanks (the twisted up rounds of yarn that need to be unwound into a ball for easier using), that were dyed by an Independent dyer , these are businesses that are usually small in size and create beautifully colored yarns in small batches, some even painted by hand. I found the color runs of each hank to have been about a foot long, and created just a couple of stitches in each color. I asked the dyer about this, and was enlightened to learn about the process she used. She explained that to create longer color runs she would have to have a way to work with the hank either in a much longer format, or have it unwound then rewound into the hanks standard size, to be dyed/painted. Both approaches are more labor intensive and cost prohibitive. Since the yarn is so beautiful though, I think I can find a stitch that will work in complimenting it.

 

Basically, if you find a yarn that you love, be mindful that it may not be the best match for every pattern you find. So do a little of that dreaded word….swatching, and see how the color comes together. It really can help you find some beauty. Your crochet is your therapy, your art, your history, so help your vision come to life, use the yarns you love and work the patterns you enjoy. Do not be limited by want the photo shows or the materials listed, make each crochet moment your own.

 

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Free Garden Flower Head Band

Now if you have any scarps left give my newest free pattern a try! It is a head band, which has an attached flower (worked as you go, no sewing!), so check it out Garden Flower Head Band, and find my self-published designs at Crochetville, Ravelry and Craftsy.

My Color Change

ScannedImageSometimes what makes the biggest difference with the appearance of your work, are the things that it is assumed you know. For crochet this means those little things in a pattern that state; “weave in ends”, “change color”, “finish off”, “yarn over”, and the unwritten beginning slip knot.

These are areas that I have taken a little time and explored, to see what feels most comfortable to me. I have some past posts talking about weaving in ends and yarning over, so today I thought I would take a look at color changing.

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Completing a stitch and working the next stitch in a new color

I have played with a couple different approaches to changing color since I started crocheting oh, so many years ago. I think in the beginning I just tied the colors together, sometimes at the end of my last stitch and started the next stitch with the new color, having a little knot at the top of the stitch. I mean I would cut the working yarn and tie the new color to it, and just keep crocheting away, so it was just one long piece of yarn in my experience. It is not exactly perfect, always a little unsure of exactly where the color will change at, and then there is the little knot, so it adds a slightly different texture.

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Changing color at the last yarn over of the adjacent stitch

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Smooth transition of color, see how the last loop of the purple stitch actually rests on top of the next stitch shown in the previous photo, creating a straight white line

Then I graduated to the point of changing the color after completing a stitch, and begin the new color with the next stitch. It was similar to the cut and tie method I did in the beginning, but I did not necessarily create a knot. I would cross the yarns over each other so that the last loop of the first color would get to loose. But if you look at this approach, it does not leave a smooth “straight” line of the color change, there is a little color overlap in the newly created stitch. The reason for this is due to the stitch construction for crochet stitches. The last yarn over and pull through of a stitch, actually creates the top of the next stitch adjacent.

So then I realized that I needed to change color at the last yarn over and pull through of the point of the color change. This gives me a cleaner color change, and a secure transition of yarns. It allows my work to have an appearance that looks a little more skilled. Granted I have ends to weave in, but this simple technique has taken my work to new level.