By no means do I consider myself an expert adviser on the subject of making patterns pop. I’ve made a lot of squares—enough to know that there are no rules, or if there are, they elude me. If I say, “Use high contrast,” along comes a pattern to defy that rule—it’ll show up better in two subtle tints of the same color. (I have such a square in my collection, but can’t readily lay hands on it.) And don’t get me started on “Use complementary colors”—that rarely works.

Because I have too many squares and it’s been waaaay too long since I looked at most of them, I’ve decided to limit my subject today to the topic of using variegated yarn in pattern weaves.

First, let me say I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE variegated yarn, but I think it looks best in plain weave squares.

Here are some general guidelines on using variegated yarn:

  • Avoid it.

    Left pattern: “Home, Sweet Home:
    Right pattern: “Home Is Where the Heart Is”

Variegated yarn tends to compete with the pattern. Even though there’s no white in the variegated yarn of the right-hand square above, the bright colors eclipse the cute pattern (house with a heart inside it).

  • There are exceptions to this guideline. Variegated yarn that’s very subtle in its colors can make an effective background color.

    In this all-over texture pattern, the soft colors make a pleasant background and give the square a little more interest than it might otherwise merit. (Pattern is called “April.”)

  • A variegated yarn that’s a complementary-color to your main color might make a pleasant contrast.

    Again, this all-over texture pattern is enhanced by a complementary variegated yarn. Note that the color changes are still subtle. (Pattern is “Horizontal Xs.”)

    I could post A LOT of examples of disastrous use of variegated yarn in patterned squares. I’ve made a lot of good examples too. In general, avoid variegated yarn, but if you want to use it, use yarn with subtle color changes and use it in a textured pattern rather than a figured pattern (a figured pattern being something like a tree or a house with a heart in it).


    Just to prove my original point—sort of—here’s a patterned square where variegated yarn makes the square (NOT the pattern) absolutely outstanding. (I’m not sure the square would have turned out like this if plain woven.)



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