Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Self-striping yarn takes the work out of knitting stripes. The yarn is made by printing specialized length repeats of color in the yarn so that the knitter isn't changing colors. Rather, the yarn color changes on its own to make the stripe. If you don't want the hassle of weaving in ends and watching where you change colors in an item, self-striping yarns can make a multi color project easier to knit.
Since self-striping yarns already produce a pattern, simpler stitches such as stockinette and ribbing will allow the yarn to show off its color changes. Likewise stitch patterns that already lend themselves to striping, such as chevron stitch, can give fantastic effects as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind when picking out a self striping yarn is how the yarn will work on the project you plan to knit. There are several self-striping sock yarns that have repeated that produce stripes and Fair Isle effects. While these yarns are great for getting the target stripes on a sock or a mitten with a similar circumference, if they are used for the body of an adult pullover or large afghan the pattern repeat would be too short and would not give the desired striped effect.
Fortunately, many self-striping yarns indicate on the label which types of projects the striped pattern was designed for. Appropriate patterns often on ball bands so that you can begin experimenting with self-striping yarns with a pattern designed specifically for that color length repeat.
If you want to be more adventurous and try a self-striping yarn on a different project or your own pattern, think about how often the color would change for the yardage of yarn used. For example, a self striping yarn with very long repeats designed in a pillow or adult size sweater may have only one color change if you were to knit winter socks with it. Conversely, the short repeats that create vertical Fair Isle stripes in a sock might give a strange ikat type appearance if used in an adult sweater. Items of a similar gauge and circumference, or width per piece are similar.
Knitting a swatch can become tricky with self-striping yarns. Often, swatches are not as wide as the actual project. This would affect how often the stripes appear. This may be one time when you could start knitting, and just know that you may choose to rip out your project and then use the yarn in a different manner if the project does not produce a nice pattern.
I know I have really enjoyed relaxing while knitting socks with self-striping yarn. The yarn did the work of creating stripes, so I could relax and knit a basic pair of crew socks in colors that I knew would coordinate.
How was your experience using self-striping yarn? Is there a yarn you would like to try? Come share with us in the knitting forum (link below.)