I always look forward to June First Friday - it really kicks off the summer season. This month we're featuring our own pattern, Cherry Twist, in beautiful Tandem from Tahki Stacy Charles. It's a lovely fiber with a short color repeat and a subtle shimmer. It's important to know how yarn color repeats work because they make a huge difference in your fabric. There are short, medium, and long color repeats, and they behave very differently depending on what you're making.
A long color repeat, like those you find in Noro yarns or in Mille Colori Baby, are created by dying the roving and spinning a big chunk of one color at a time. This process gives the yarn large swaths of color with a gradient effect.
Medium color repeats are created by dyeing white yarn after it has been spun. The yarn is wound into a loop and tied in preparation for dyeing. Think of it sort of as the reverse of what we do when we put the yarn on the swift and wind it into a skein for you. Hand-dyers immerse the yarn in the dye pot one area at a time, repeating until the entire loop of yarn is dyed. Since all the strands of yarn in one area are dyed, that color repeats as you work the yarn. This technique gives you a striped effect that can change as you work you project. This is the technique you find in Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, and Blue Heron.
As you knit, a color can sometimes pool, which gives your fabric a large section of just one color. While it can be planned out for a striking pattern, pooling is usually something we like to avoid.
Short color repeat yarns are created in the same way as medium color repeat yarns, except the colors are typically painted on by hand in much smaller areas. As you knit, there might be just a couple of stitches in a color. Hand painting in short color repeats is more labor intensive, and requires a deft hand to ensure that the color effect is not garish. The knitted effect is an all-over coloration that typically doesn't pool. Prism Yarns, Claudia's Hand Paints, and Koigu. While Tandem is not a hand-dyed yarn, the quick change in both color and texture gives the fabric a beautiful all-over effect with no pooling.
It's a gorgeous fabric, and this picture doesn't really do it justice. Come see the sample in real life at the shop, and join us First Friday to get started on your own. It's a quick, easy top you'll enjoy now and all summer long.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table First Friday and every day. You are always welcome here.
If you're interested in learning more about how hand-dyed yarns behave, and how to make the most of them in your knitting, there is no better resourse than Laura Bryant's book Artful Color, Mindful Knits which you can order below. It's a great resource for anyone who loves multicolored yarns.