Knit Play Colour: The Yarn Tamer

Yarn Tamer in Countess Ablaze Persephone Sock, Nemesis & This Ain't a Scene

Yarn Tamer in Countess Ablaze Persephone Sock, Nemesis & This Ain’t a Scene

You know that yarn you possibly shouldn’t have bought, but you really love the colours? Too bright? Too wishy-washy? Not your usual palette?

We’ve all got this wild yarn, often purchased at a show. The skein is totally gorgeous, but somehow it’s a bit too… much. We need to bring the colours closer to our usual palette, without losing the magic.

Enter the Yarn Tamer.

Striping the wilder choice with a gentler shade will reduce the drama. The broken stripes of a moss/seed stitch calm down the whole situation, making it easy to wear that beautiful yarn. Worked in the round, this is an easy intermediate project.

The basic pattern is written for the usual suspects in my stash: glorious 4ply/fingering yarns. Given that I usually have single skeins of these, the pattern suggests one skein of each colour so, to get best use from the yarn, it makes a long cowl (more about cowl sizing later; remember these patterns are flexible). It’s shown in Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone Sock Yarn (75% Bluefaced Leicester wool, 25% nylon, 425m/465yds per 100g skein) in lively This Ain’t a Scene and deep Nemesis. (I’ve mentioned before that the Countess has a shop update tomorrow night, and she’s told me this base will be available too).

Choosing yarn pairs - Girl at the Rock Show (L) could also work with Nemesis (C), but I went for This Ain't a Scene (R)

Choosing yarn pairs – Girl at the Rock Show (L) could also work with Nemesis (C), but I went for This Ain’t a Scene (R)

I love the boldest colours from hand dyers such as Countess AblazeEasyKnitsRepublic of WoolSweet GeorgiaMiss Babs and Madelinetosh and want to show them off. Yes, some of the colours I can joyfully wear as a whole project (see Trailblazer and Colour Trail). But some colours I just have to posess, and then I wonder how to wear them.

I'm considering pairing the DK skeins on the right together, or finding a tame yarn for the rainbow 4ply in the centre.

I’m considering pairing the bright and rich DK skeins on the right together, or finding a charcoal to tame the rainbow 4ply in the centre.

Sometimes the problem is that the yarn has too much of colours I personally find hard to wear – pastels, yellows, cold pinks…those are the kinds of colours on my list. I know your list is different, but I bet you find it just as frustrating to see a yarn that looks gorgeous but isn’t going to fit into your wardrobe. By mixing these beauties with a yarn within our comfortable colour range, it’s possible to make them work.

But what about DK? Worsted? Aran? Wouldn’t this pattern work for any colourful yarn? The answer is yes; I’ve designed it to cover gauges from 10sts to 30sts per 10cm/4”. Because I’ve got beauties in DK too, particularly in single skeins where I wasn’t brave enough to buy more, but I had to have the colours!

Playing with moss/seed stitch and broken rib ideas - swatches in DK and 4ply.

Playing with moss/seed stitch and broken rib ideas, to get the balance of colours right – swatches in heavy DK and light 4ply.

As you may already know, at the end of every pattern in Knit Play Colour, you will find ideas on how to “play” with the design. Yarn Tamer is easily adapted for any yarn weight and to any size you like, from long to snug.

Now, one skein of DK or heavier isn’t necessarily going to make a long cowl, and we all need quick gift knits too. So there’s a snug size worked out for you too.

A table lists the number of stitches to cast on for either a long cowl 120cm/48” around, or a snug cowl 55cm/22” around. Look for the gauge you want to use and read off the number of stitches to cast on. Then off you go with the knitting. However, if you wish to make a custom size cowl, the pattern has instructions on how to do this, too.

Once I started knitting the first sample for this pattern, lots of ideas came up, both from myself and friends who saw the sample. It was hard to choose, but my favourites are shown here.

Yarn Tamer - 3 play options

A few knitters in my group put in a request for patterns for mini-skeins, since they have them in stash and haven’t yet found the right pattern. The Yarn Tamer brings a group of minis together, to beautiful effect. Below are a set of red minis (4x25g) brought together by a skein of Shrooms, all in Whimzy Sokkusu O (100% superwash Merino, 380m/415yds per 115g skein).

Minis knit without jarring at the colour changes because the tame colour brings them together. (Sokkusu O)

Minis knit without jarring at the colour changes because the tame colour brings them together. (Sokkusu O)

I know long colour-change yarns can be awkward when you don’t love all the colours as much as each other. This pattern allows the colours to blend together, without the need to find a plain colour to stripe in. Stripe the colours you have, and the combinations change as the yarn changes, and the colours all work as the yarn designer intended. I love this pattern for Noro yarns, and in aran weight Kureyon (100% wool, 100m/110yds per 50g ball) we managed to squeeze a quick gift knit out of 2 balls of shade 277. Is it too early to mention gift knitting?! Compare the blended tones with stocking stitch/stockinette in bright Gifted (p/hop pattern for Médecins sans Frontières), beneath.

Stick to the palette in the long-colour change yarn, but blend the colours together.

Stick to the palette in the long-colour change yarn, but blend the colours together.

These are also Noro Kureyon, but so much brighter in plain stockinette.

To show the difference, these are also Noro Kureyon, but so much brighter in plain stockinette.

Lastly, I went as far as I could with challenging colour: neon. And not just in one shade of neon, either. I struggle to imagine wearing a whole project in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Holi Festival, though I know some people will do this. But put it with navy Ink and the neon pops just the right amount. I had fun making this combination work! This took over half a skein of the navy with just under half a skein of the neon. You could definitely make three projects with two tame skeins and one wild choice (and if that sounds like gift knitting ideas again, you’re right).

Yarn Tamer - Tosh Merino DK in Ink & Holi Festival - flat

Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Ink and Holi Festival

Obviously you don’t have to use a yarn that presents you with a personal challenge. It’s just that this is a rare opportunity to do so.

Knit Play Colour is available to pre-order now as an ebook on Ravelry, or as a printed book (including a download code for a free copy of the ebook). Patterns are being shared during September, with the book released on the 29th.

Book images © Jesse Wild 2015. Yarn, swatch & Gifted images © Louise Zass-Bangham 2015 & 2014

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