Let’s talk about yarn: Colour

tut yarn talk main

This week we’ll talk about talking about yarn and colour.

Never in knitting and crochet history has there been such a wonderful variety of rich colours and dyeing techniques available to buy. But what does it all mean? What do you ask for in your LYS, what should you google and what would you make with it all?

tut talk yarn colour

Let’s move from the greatest colour contrasts to the least.

Gradient yarn has long strands of one colour that merge into a long strand of another colour or shade. Self striping yarns are an example of this. Popular with sock knitters, they produce stripes of colour from just one ball (its like witchcraft I tell you!) Self patterning yarns also fall into this camp, they mix long and short colour sections to produce an effect a little like fair isle from a distance.

Variegated yarns contain different colours too (I think probably gradient yarns would be classed as a special class of variegated) The yarn pictured has fairly short colour changes. These give a mottled colour effect when you knit or crochet with them. They work best with plain stitch patterns to show off the colours. Sometimes the same colours bunch together,  known as pooling or flashing. Using a pattern with a stitch that creates a float (slipping stitches in knitting or linked trebles in crochet for example) or where the knitting or crochet changes direction (eg short rows) can help break up the colours to avoid this. Some people create amazing art with planned pooling (google it, its quite something!)

Semi-solids are probably my favourite type of yarn to work with. They contain very subtle colour changes as if the yarn has not taken up the dye quite evenly. Kettle-dyed is another term you may hear/see for this kind of colour as it is a popular technique for creating this kind of colouring. These yarns suit all but the most complicated stitch patterns.

Solid describes a yarn that is a single colour. If you have a pattern with lots and lots of detail in the stitches you want a plain coloured yarn to really show case all that work.

Which is your favourite to work with?


  1. says

    I love gradient yarns, but I think of gradients more as a single repeat of gradually changing color from one end of the entire skein to the other, not quite the same as skeins with long color repeats or self-striping yarns.

    • notsogranny says

      Ah yes, this is definitely a type of gradient yarn and specifically I think its known as ombre.

  2. says

    Variegated yarns can look so beautiful in the skein but sometimes not so great when worked up! I tend to avoid them for this reason. But gradient yarns are a lot of fun, especially when they have long colour changes. :)