This might be the question I hear most often at trade shows when people first see my yarns. Even though gradients are what I have worked with almost exclusively since I started dyeing them over 13 years ago, they are still new to so many crafters. I love the wonder in people's eyes as they lose themselves in all the unexpected color combinations we offer. I can see their minds whir with thoughts and ideas and possibilities. Then, inevitably, as they hold a ball in their hands comes the statement "Gosh, I love these colors, I want to put it on a shelf and just look at it all day!" followed by "but what would I make with this? How would it look?"
When knitting with gradient yarn, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of its unique color transitions:
Choose a pattern that showcases the yarn: Gradient yarns can look especially beautiful when used in patterns that highlight their color changes. Look for patterns that use simple stitches or textures that won't compete with the yarn's colors, such as stockinette stitch, garter stitch, or a basic lace pattern. Most of all, look for patterns that highlight the play in color you can only get from a gradient.
Whether it's direction or shape, the gradient plays best if it has an integral role in the design.
Check the dye lot and plan ahead: Like all hand-dyed yarns, gradient yarns can have subtle variations in color, it's a good idea to check the dye lot and make sure that you have enough yarn for your project. If you're working on a larger project with a distinct color flow, you may want to alternate skeins every few rows to ensure that the color transitions are consistent. Ultimately, keep in mind that hand-dyed yarns will often have variations in tone or hue even within a dye lot, so be open to using different dye lots if the color of the yarn is indeed as similar as you'd like it to be regardless of the lot number on the label.
To match or not to match: For something like a sweater, decide if you'd like the sleeves to match the gradient of the body of the garment, you will likely need a bit more yarn to do this, but you will also get a more polished look to your project.
Oh those color changes! The wonder of knitting with gradient yarn is watching the colors develop as you work. Take your time and enjoy the process, and you'll end up with a stunning finished project that showcases the yarn's unique beauty.
ABout Tina Whitmore
Yarn Dyer, Designer, Dog Lover, in no particular order.. Founded Knitwhits in 2003, and Freia Fine Handpaints in 2010, introducing gradient yarn to knitting stores worldwide. Getting Hygge with it - warmth, comfort, color, texture, design, nature.