Jul 23, 2017

Tonal Gradients Tame Variegated Yarns

Unfortunately, I'm going through one of those annoying phases where yarn fumes have so clouded my brain, I can't seem to stop casting on projects great and small. This is true, even though as a slow knitter, there are already enough WIPs on the needles to keep me busy for weeks if not months.

Instead of doing the rational thing and focusing on finishing the tasks already at hand, I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to experiment with variegated yarn and tonal gradients. As the name implies, a tonal gradient uses shades from the same or closely related color family to create a gradient that shifts gradually from one color to the next.

If you've worked with variegated yarns, you know they can be tricky, so one of my favorite tips and tricks is to work them in conjunction with a solid. It's an easy way to prevent pooling and subdue any yarn (including speckled, confetti, and multi-colored yarns) that can be quite busy when worked on their own.

With this particular tonal gradient, I've simply taken things to the next step, working the variegated yarn above with three different but related solids. See the difference?

Tonal gradient: Colsie Tonal Berry Mitts 

Yarn. Happy Feet (Plymouth), Charlemont (Valley Yarns), Babe (Knitting Fever)

Stitch. This 3x2 slipped rib creates a stretchy fabric perfect for fingerless mitts.

Strategy.  Each section is worked in alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose one variegated yarn and three related solid shades that blend with the variegated.
  • Treat the variegated yarn as the MC, because it will appear in each section.
  • Work section 1 with MC and CC1.
  • Work section 2 with MC and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with MC and CC3.

                  The variegated Happy Feet incorporates shades of red, orange, pink and purple, so I choose rosy solids and worked them as follows:
                  • Section 1: Variegated Happy Feet with burgundy Charlemont
                  • Section 2: Variegated Happy Feet with red Babe
                  • Section 3: Variegated Happy Feet with rose Babe

                  Overall, I'm happy with the outcome. The mitts are  now finished and make a nice complement to my Dojeling Wineberry and Blackberry shawls. The three related solids created a basic tonal gradient that progresses from burgundy to red and rose, and it was fun to see how each color either accentuated or obscured different shades in the variegated yarn.

                  As a bonus, this technique works with any type of variegated from long prints and self-striping yarns to the flecked or speckled yarns so popular right now.

                  I've said it before, but it bears repeating. DIY gradients are one of the most effective ways to leverage yarn from stash. So, if you have lovely variegated yarns that pool excessively or are too busy, try tonal gradients, they're the ideal way to tame virtually any variegated yarn.

                  For another tonal gradient, see Tonal Gradients that Glimmer & Gleam.

                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.


                  1. Great advice and a lovely pair of mitts. I know exactly what you mean about casting on although I have plenty of projects to finish.

                    1. Thank you, Lucy. And with the cast-ons, sounds like I'm in great company :)


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