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The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn

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The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn

The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn by Lorna Miser.

Waston-Guptill Publications.

Lorna Miser is a master when it comes to working with hand-dyed yarns, as the founder of Lorna's Laces, a company that specializes in exquisite hand-dyed yarn. She also knows how frustrating working with hand-dyed and variegated yarns can be, but she's got an arsenal of tricks to deal with the potential downsides of working with these beautiful yarns (such as pooling, swirling or other unpleasant color effects).

Lucky for us she's sharing her secrets in The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn, a concise but very valuable look at a number of ways to break of multicolored yarn and produce a knit fabric you'll love.

Lessons in Color

Miser begins by explaining, for those of us who haven't spent our lives devoted to the production of hand-dyed yarn, the different kinds of multicolored yarn, including spotted or watercolor yarn and yarns with short and long color repeats.

She explains how each kind of yarn is produced, which ones are most likely to cause color pooling and why looking at yarn in a hank or skein can be misleading when it comes to what the yarn actually looks like.

She illustrates how knitting a swatch with a particular yarn might not be that instructive, either, because the size of the swatch (or your finished knitting project) can make the colors line up quite differently.

The colors of the yarn itself, too, can make a difference in terms of how the knit fabric will look and what sort of stitch pattern or technique might be best used to alter the pooling tendencies of the yarn.

Miser spends the rest of the book showing knitters how to combat unpleasant color problems in various ways, from holding two strands of yarn together to using slip stitches or even throwing a bit of a semisolid-colored yarn into the mix.

Swatch Lessons

Each chapter covers a general category of ways to work with hand-dyes and variegated yarns, including:

  • working with two skeins at once
  • using textured stitches, bobbles and cables
  • slipping stitches
  • using tucked-stitch patterns
  • incorporating floats into the design
  • adding a solid-colored yarn
  • throwing in some colorwork
  • using lace
  • mixing weights and textures of yarn in the same colorway

Each chapter then provides many examples of how to use those techniques, including swatches and written and charted instructions for how to work the various patterns. The swatches are show in various hand-dyed and variegated yarns so that you really get a sense of what your own project will look like using that technique.

Miser also explains what sorts of projects a particular technique might best be used for and includes a pair of patterns in each chapter so readers can see the real-world application of these ideas.

The Patterns

Patterns range from a tunic worked in two directions with two strands of yarn held together to a chevron throw knit in variegated and solid colors.

There are knit socks, a child's cardigan, a man's vest, a couple of wraps, a felted Fair Isle laptop case, a bag, a pair of fingerless gloves, a hat and more. Each project uses one of the patterns or tips explored earlier in the chapter, making it even clearer how these concepts work on a larger scale.

The projects don't have skill ratings, but some are quite easy while others are better for intermediate knitters.

Some of my favorite patterns in the book include the Blue Ray Socks, which use a pattern of floats on the right side of the work to break out the colors; the cute and colorful Fiesta Stripes Cardigan, an easy project using multicolored and semisolid yarns; and the Daybreak Textured Throw, made from a collection of 12 different yarns dyed in the same colors.

These projects show knitters that there is a lot of possibility in skeins of colorful yarn that might have intimidated them in the past. These techniques aren't necessarily much more difficult or time-consuming than standard stitch patterns, but they do make a big difference in the way hand-dyed and variegated yarns look when knit up.

Bottom Line

The patterns and swatches are sure to inspire knitters who like to design their own projects, too. Just looking at the interesting textures and colors Miser was able to develop with these stitches will make you want to get out your needles and a beautiful ball of yarn and see what you can some up with.

This is a great book for knitters who are interested in and collectors of hand-dyed and variegated yarns. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what to do with these kinds of yarn, The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn makes it easier to imagine what your yarn will look like knit up and give you plenty of options beyond basic Garter or Stockinette Stitch.

Publication date: November 2010

Publisher's website

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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