We had an interesting and informative presentation on using hand dyed yarns by Stacey Serafin at our March meeting. As all dyers do, she makes many decisions during the dyeing process and she shared with us how those decisions can affect the finished item made with a particular yarn.
Pooling can be a nemesis in many projects. Many of us have been mystified as to why some yarns tend to pool and others don’t. Stacey showed us some tips on how to look at a skein of yarn to gauge how likely it is to pool. She suggested (this is not always appropriate to do so ask before you do it!) unfolding the skein into a big loop and studying the way the dye was applied. Look for the relative lengths of the color sections and the abruptness of the color changes. If the sections are of very even length with abrupt changes there is a greater chance of pooling. This cannot be seen when the skein is folded up. These aren’t hard and fast rules because it always depends on the pattern you’ll be using, but they are worth paying attention to when you look at yarn.
Keep in mind that pooling depends on both the row length and the length of the color section; this happens mostly in circular knitting when the circumference stays the same. The same yarn will pool differently (or not at all) in the heel of a sock than in the foot or leg sections and differently on the body of a sweater than on the arms.
The pattern choice will be the biggest determinant of pooling. Stacey suggested that patterns like shawls with gradually increasing or decreasing numbers of stitches will rarely pool. Self-striping is an extreme form of pooling where yarn is dyed with long color repeats of equal length and abrupt color changes so it pools on purpose and creates stripes.
As our members plan and work on color knitting projects around our color-knitting projects around our Theme of the Year, we will be using and appreciating the information Stacey shared with us.