Most knitters seem to be pretty timid when it comes to combining yarns. They might be OK with knitting stripes with two or three colors of the same kind of yarn, but when it comes to combining yarns, many knitters are stumped.
Kathleen and Nick Greco provide guidance that will help knitters combine yarn with more confidence in their book The Knitter's Guide to Combining Yarns: 300 Foolproof Pairings. The book includes tons of swatches showing yarns of different colors, textures and fiber contents combined.
Learning to Combine Yarns
The beginning of the book provides a basic overview of several major types of yarn, their qualities, pluses, minuses and yarns that might be good combined with them. It covers:
Next there's a lesson in color harmony, involving concepts such as monochromatic color mixing, analogous colors, complementary colors, and mixing colors with black, white or neutral colors.
Of course mixing yarn doesn't make a different color like mixing colors of paint would, but pairing one yarn with two different alternatives can make the first yarn look very different.
The book also includes information on how to substitute yarns, taking into consideration the original fiber content, gauge, yardage, weight and stitch definition.
The bulk of the book is swatches of different yarns knit together. For each yarn pair there is a swatch with the two yarns held together knit in Stockinette Stitch, as well as a Garter Stitch swatch where the two yarns are knit in stripes.
The book is divided by season and by color (yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green) and each of the yarn families mentioned above is represented in each color.
There are also two patterns for each season showing how a yarn combination works in a real project (there are two bags, two scarves, a sarong, a sweater a tank top and a shrug).
The swatches are interesting and a good size to show knitters what's happening with a particular combination, but my gripe with this book is that none of the swatches indicate the actual yarn that was used. They are labeled with things like "ribbon + cotton yarns" or "mohair + boulce wool blend yarns" but other than the combinations used in the patterns, you never know which particular yarns were used to make the swatch.
That's fine if all you want to do is know how different types of yarn play together, but if you see a swatch you like and want to try for a project of your own, you'll just have to hunt down fibers of that type on your own, you won't be able to go to the store and know what you're looking for.
This may not seem like a problem for some knitters, but given that the title suggests the book is about making combining yarns "foolproof" you'd think the authors would give more guidance in terms of specific yarns used in combinations.
Publication date: October 2007.