Surprises abound here at Chez Harlot today.

1. Check out the beautiful scarves that Tish mailed as a special thank you for the Afghan sewing up business.


They were sent from Afghanistan by Tish’s sister Jenny, who is serving in the armed forces there. Beautiful, yes? I have a real love for things from far away places, and these are exotic and cool. There are also two of them, so as per Tish’s suggestion, I’ll be putting all the names of the sewer-up-ers into a hat (or bowl or something…don’t fence me in) and selecting a happy recipient. (She sent them to Ann and Kay too…generous, isn’t she?).

2. I have developed a huge case of Startitis. (That, I assure you, is not the surprise.) The surprise came when I discovered that I don’t have the right yarn in the stash for a pair of mittens. Who knew that was even possible? I mean, knowing what you do of my stash, would you think that there was even the scrawniest possibility that I wouldn’t have a wee little bit of the right kind of yarn? It’s not like it’s a sweater or an afghan or something really big where it would be presumed that the stash *might* offer limited choices. It’s mittens. Stunning.

3. There have been some surprising comments on the blog in it’s lifespan. Like when Meg Swansen left a comment, or even yesterday when the guy who wrote my favourite little blogging interface App. Ecto (he called it an App., so I am too. I want to be cool) left a comment. Still, nothing prepared me for late yesterday when I checked my email and discovered that The Mysterious K had left a comment. You read that right. The Mysterious K read my blog. (If you don’t know who TMK is, get right over to Ryan’s place and read up.) She doesn’t even knit. What an honour.

4. This yarn,


Knit up like this.



5. This yarn:


Knit up like this.


I know! Shocking, isn’t it? I mean, who was ready for that? Didn’t you think it would stripe? Didn’t ya? This is why I love knitting. 30 years at it and it’s still just a bag of surprises. You think you know a thing or two about yarn and then Whammo..right out of left field you get that kind of stupefying result.

Every once in a while it’s like finding a stack of magazines under your kids bed, bracing yourself, pulling them out and discovering that it’s a huge stack of “Angler Alive” or something. Weird.

Flashing, pooling and puddling

Yesterday in the comments, Dana asked…

Is there a difference between these: Pooling, flashing and puddling? In knitting, I mean?

Yup. I think so anyway, but I tend to over analyse. Pooling and puddling are simliar, with your overly picky Harlot differentiating them by shape.


Remember the Lorna’s Laces sock I had trouble with? It’s showing symptoms of both Flashing (The part that looks like it’s shaped like lightning) and pooling, which is when the colours stack up on top of each other for a good long time. (Look at Barbara’s Interweave Knits “Pooling colors scarf”) Puddling is when you end up with isolated areas of colour. If you could call it a blotch, I’d probably call it a puddle.

Keep in mind that just because I don’t like these effects, they aren’t all bad. Some knitters love ’em, and there’s tons of information out there on getting yarn to do this (I can’t hardly believe it) on purpose.

Kim has an excellent example of “flashing” here, along with all of the infomation you could ever want about it. Elaine pointed this awesome site out to me, and I highly recommend it for anyone seeking a higher understanding of variegated yarns.

Me? I might be developing an avoidance pattern.

22 thoughts on “Surprise!

  1. You didn’t confess exactly what it is that your stash needed for the mitten that that you were trying to start. Inquiring minds and all that.

  2. Just a random thought here…have you considered the insulating benefits of lining the walls of your new back porch room with shelves of stash? Downright cosy I’ll bet, and beautiful.

  3. Hi, Steph! I think I would have driven to Canada (from Ohio) for the sew-up if it meant I could have my name in a bowl for one of those beautiful scarves! I was also wondering if you might post an instructional on sewing together a bunch of afghan squares. I’m sure I could do a passable job with mattress stitch, but what is this mysterious crochet edging business? Inquiring minds (who are considering an afghan for the bedroom) would like to know!

  4. I don’t like pooling, puddling or flashing yarn either.
    That link Elaine sent you is awesome.
    And you know, in your own defense for not swatching … you can’t tell what a varigated yarn is going to really do in a garment when you knit a little swatch. So, there you go … a good reason not to swatch! 😉

  5. oooooh pretty yarn…. even prettier shawls. I had a shawl from Afghanistan that a friend got me when she went to visit family last Christmas. Unfortunately I lost it at a wedding I went to this past summer, very sad 🙁

  6. Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie, you are thinking way too much about this. Put down the coffee and have a martini instead. Or you could spike the coffee – Bailey’s is nice. Slow down, take a deep breath. It’s just string and sticks.

  7. It’s like that saying about the Eskimo having many different words for ‘snow’. (Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s cool if it is.) Knitters need specific vocabulary for space-dyed yarns and their many characteristics. I only knit with multi-colors when I am in a state of mind where I do not care about pooling, puddling or flashing. Que sera, sera. Very rarely in that mood, and usually only for an accessory or child’s garment. I love the yarns that stripe, though, the Noros, the sock yarns. Thanks so much for the informative link. xox Kay

  8. You got a comment from Meg Swanson! I would faint dead away if Meg Swanson left a comment on my blog. I would be beside myself. You lucky girl! But then you are the harlot.

  9. i was wondering if you could help me with a question, actually. i’m looking into hosting an afghans for afghans sew-up here at my place. i dont know a lot of local knitters, but i know a FEW in the area, and i’m sure some searching would dig up more. but i dont know… HOW one would start something like this. any advice? and dont worry, i painted my house back in august, i dont plan on getting into that again any time soon 🙂

  10. Thanks for the clarification on the pooling, puddling, flashing thing. Those are great terms! And very clearly described – all the reasons why I can’t stand variegated yarns. That said, I love the yarn you’ve got there that striped! Maybe the rule is if it stripes on the ball, it won’t when you knit it and if it’s not stripey in the ball, then it may stripe??? There’s some new self-striping sock yarn at my LYS (called CRAZY) that is so lovely, I may have to get some. If I could just get over hating knitting socks, I might find a way to enjoy variegated yarns.

  11. Thanks for putting a name on the disorder that I seem to suffer from in spurts. Now if I could just get Finishitis, I would be all set. Thanks too for all the info on the variegated yarns-what would we do without you, dear Harlot? Forget it-I don’t ever want to know.

  12. Startitis has a familiar ring… I’ve managed to cast on about 9 of 12 planned Christmas presents and had to restrain myself from going out to buy the needles for the next three (I already have the needles, but they’re in use!). I have however finished ONE present.
    I understand your disgust with the pooling, but I admit to being fond of the ‘flash’ myself… and I hate self-striping yarn like your first example. NOt because it is self-striping but because I AM BROKEN and cannot get it to do that for me.

  13. I am so attracted to variegated yarns in the skein but I rarely like the knitted fabric. I’m much more pleased with variegated yarns when I crochet with them.

  14. I am amused. You see, in some circles, I am internet-famous (none that I would expect you to recognize, Stephanie dear, if so you would have noticed that the Mad Pirate Bippy was posting comments). I’ve met ‘fans’ in real life, which I always thought was REALLY odd, since all I did was be myself online…which is rare, apparently. But it’s always nice to have strangers run up to you and hug you while squeeling like little girls…especially if they’re 6’5 men (that’s mostly for the amusement value).(I was really happy that Ed was there, though, because it was a LITTLE concerning.)
    I cut back on my internet exposure fairly big time a while back, and now when I google for Mad Pirate Bippy, my comments in your journal are some of the highest hits…in fact, it’s the LAST link on the first google page that even has anything remotely to do with what I got quasi-famous for in the first place.
    This is good, and really funny. I don’t feel as exposed as I once was, but that I went from a (very, very) minor celebrity to near obscurity from two years worth of work hiding my tracks makes me laugh.

  15. Ha! I have the same scarf (the plaid-like one) that my husband brought back from Afghanistan last year! Small world.

  16. Colinette advises in all her pattern books, that in order to avoid pooling, one should use two balls of yarn. One round (or two rows,) with one ball and repeat with the other.
    Would this help?

  17. Someone asked me yesterday if I could tell what two yarns held together would look like before I actually knit them. I told them that I could only in a very general way. Now I can tell them “not no, but hell no.” Most sock yarns are a total surprise to me so I just buy ones where I like the colors and don’t let the patterning bother me. Except the Broadripple socks in variegated Fixation were pretty gross.

  18. Meg Swansen, whatever. But when I got a comment a couple of weeks from TMK, I was beside myself. Really. She’s the most famous non-bloggin-blogger I’ve ever not-known, and I was over the moon. Too cool!

  19. All this talk of flash/pool/puddle reminds me of something. Perhaps it’s a Flashdance memory! 🙂
    Those scarves are wonderful! From Afghamistan! They are treasures!
    Did you say MITTENS?!
    Got snow?

  20. I’m so glad to see someone else trying to figure out the mysteries of flashing/pooling. I have a bunch of lorna’s laces, I love the feel of it and I love the colors, but the flashing drives me nuts. I’m thinking I will try some slip-stitch patterns in my next sock, but I’m worried that the sox won’t have enough stretch. I may just try random yarn-overs and ssks to embrace the randomness.

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