November 15, 2004


One of the things I got in NY this fall was a Morehouse Merino Lace kit. The kit came with a huge 4 ounce skein of laceweight yarn and three patterns. The Contessa, La Scala and Stellina. It was a good deal and I can't say enough nice things about the yarn. It's so soft that it's almost hypnotizing to hold. I find myself fondling the yarn and carrying it around like a pet, stroking it's curved skein and smoothing the label. (I have stopped just short of naming it and giving it a bed to sleep in. Should I do so, you may feel free to cut me loose). When I was at Morehouse Merino I developed a new way of selecting yarn. I would look down, see what I was holding and then attempt to put it down. If, after several honest attempts to Put The Yarn On The Table, I was still incapable, then I took it as a sign. So it was that I came to own the lace kit. Not only that...but that is also why it looks like this.


That's right. Variegated laceweight. I love these colours and was taken by the colourway name "saffron". I was so helpless in the face of this yarn that I forgot several Things I Have Learned Before. It is both a shame and a pity that I can be so stunned by a snazzy colourway that I will forget these things and only remember them in crushing waves as I try to knit the stuff up.


-I cast on "La Scala" and knit a big chunk. The creeping dissatisfaction finally gave way to a repressed memory that I dislike variegated lace. There, I said it. I feel that the changing colours detract from the lacework, and that the lacework detracts from the shifting colours. (For the record, I feel exactly the same way about variegated Arans.) I know that I am in blogosphere minority with this. I can tell because of the immense and overwhelming popularity of Charlotte. I love the pattern, I love Koigu...but together it doesn't suit me. I am convinced that the stunning colours of the variegates hide the clever and lovely lacework. I have tried hard to like it, be one of the crowd, to fit in with the other bloggers, but I can't. This Charlotte secret has been burning in me for ages. I feel lighter now that I have told you.
(To redeem myself a little, I can point out that I quite like Amy's version done in Fleece Artist Silken, but that was way more subtle. You know, like me.)
The chunk of shawl was unceremoniously frogged. The sad thing is that I held out hope for so long... look how much I knit before I accepted the truth.

- I decided that I should have gone with my rule about keeping variegates simple and I cast on Contessa. This was such a crushing disappointment that I didn't even take a picture. The plain stockinette displayed the other challenge of variegates....I love how the colours look in the skein, but am chronically disappointed by the way that they look in the knitting. Pooling, flashing and puddling drive me wild and I end up with blotches of colour that change the whole colour balance of the variegation. The original yarn is subtle, shifting and beautiful. The knitting is not. Then I am sad. So sad that this shawl bit the big one too. (Again, a sizeable portion was knit before I was able to accept it's destiny.)

- In desperation, (by the way? I would really rather not discuss why it was that I kept casting on the entire shawl, instead of a little swatch to see if I liked it. I blame Benylin All-in-one, a cold medication which in my case did not relieve my symptoms as much as it made me way too stoned to know if I had a cold. While this was an unexpected effect....who cares?) so in desperation, I decided to try Cell stitch.


Now, I can't really explain what I was thinking here. I remember spending a lot of time making this choice, but it could be that I was just thinking really slowly. The problems with this shawl are myriad. For starters, I hate cell stitch. (I know. I'm telling you...Benylin all in one.) In addition, I think it's too clunky for the delicate laceweight yarn, and it does nothing to prevent any of the puddling of the colours. I thought about knitting from two ends of the ball, alternating to avoid blotches, I thought about breaking the yarn from time to time and taking out a hunk to alter the rhythm of the dye job so it wouldn't blotch. I thought about living with the blotchiness. In the end, this shawl was dumped faster than a boyfriend who wants nine children.

After much careful consideration (read: when the drugs wore off) I gave the dilemma some real thought. I considered choosing a stitch pattern that I liked and knitting the whole thing lengthways, hoping that casting on 300 stitches might displace the colours enough that it wouldn't blotch. The problem with this idea is that the only way to test it was casting on 300 stitches and seeing what I thought. I thought about it, but decided that seemed, maybe the drugs hadn't worn off enough. I went looking for a little inspiration, and found it in this Shawls and Scarves
book. I chose the "Corner to Corner Shawl".


It's knit diagonally, which I have deluded myself into believing will help with the pooling and unsightly blotching (I'm still ill...let me believe), by providing longer rows and variable stitch counts. It has a simple lace insert that doesn't lose anything to the variegation of the yarn, and the amount of lace on each row varies, which should mean that many of the rows use a different amount of yarn which in turn should also make a difference with the flashing colours.
Clearly the Benylin has worn off, since my ability to over-think, analyse and obsess about a simple knitted shawl has returned.

Posted by Stephanie at November 15, 2004 1:38 PM

I'm with you on variegated yarns and lacey-ish things. ;_; I knit a lovely afghan for a friend one and was very proud of all my fancy stitches and cables and the overall lacey/fancy/complicated-ness of my afghan... then I realized the variegated yarn I'd been using had completely overpowered my work. It looked nice, but I felt like a doofus for working so hard on nice pretty stitches when I could have just done something simpler and quicker *le sigh*

Posted by: Vampy at November 15, 2004 1:50 PM

I agree with you about the variegated yarn and the lace - it's too much going on for me, too. Your solution is lovely.

I have a hard time with wool, but I'm falling in love with the Contessa. How itchy is that yarn?

Posted by: Patti at November 15, 2004 1:51 PM

Also with you on the variegated yarns and wanted to point out that I've also seen many, many Charlottes on the web and was totally suprised to see that it's actually a lovely pattern. Suprised.

Posted by: Amber at November 15, 2004 2:02 PM

Hi Steph -- When I ran into you up at Rhinebeck, you had mentioned you had unsubbed from KBTH. You might, however, have a gander at the very recent Virtual Conference. There's some excellent stuff on working with variegated yarns. Feel better soon.

Elaine in NYC

Posted by: Elaine at November 15, 2004 2:04 PM

I am with you 100% on the variegated lace weight. I also fall in love with the skein, and hate the pooling. I keep falling back on the old "feather and fan" to justify buying another skein. I like the corner to corner solution...I'll have to try that with one of the other skeins that are lurking around my house.
Barb Brown
P.S. I have a feeling that some of the love affair with lace weight var. is like the emperor's new one else has the guts to say in public "I don't see it"

Posted by: Barb Brown at November 15, 2004 2:06 PM

well the idea of using 2 different balls of laceweight really could help you with the pooling. Or, you could send it to me. Seriously. I go to Morehouse all the time and I could just buy you equal amounts of a solid laceweight that you might be much happier with. I have a stash of their laceweight in my house, both in solids and in variagated. The variagated stuff I make gets the oohs and ahhs. the solid stuff, not so much. Perhaps people think I somehow MAKE the variagated stuff do what it does. We both know I don't, but let's not tell the great unwashed OK?

Posted by: anj at November 15, 2004 2:11 PM

I'm currently mid-shawl using variegated laceweight and I don't think I'd do this again for all the reasons you've cited. I think the shawl will actually turn out OK, in large part because the yarn is a mix of dark blues and purples (Helen's Lace Tahoe) and the lace pattern is very simple and repetetive, the two factors leading to less blurring of the detail. Or so I hope.

I don't have a cold, but I currently have the kind of sinus pain that makes you check periodically to see if you can spot the little bastard who's stabbing you in the eye sockets and temples with an ice pick. Ow.

Posted by: Melanie at November 15, 2004 2:15 PM

Glad to hear you're feeling more up to snuff. I think the diagonal version might work okay. I don't see as much pooling in your photo. Why is variegated yarn always so lovely in the skein and so terrible knit into pattern? There must be

Okay, I just couldn't resist after reading your estonian archives. I had to send you this link of a Latvian cardigan (listed as the URL above) from a Woolgathering back issue. Now, don't you think you *need* this cardigan to match the gloves? EG

~ Colleen

Posted by: Colleen at November 15, 2004 2:18 PM

pooling.... blech!! The Very Harlot Poncho I just finished keep pooling so I had to alternate the yarn every few rows...I hate pooling... I also hate sewing in the ends...

Posted by: Caren at November 15, 2004 2:19 PM

Another vote with you for no variegated yarn and laciness. Actually, I'm not that excited by most variegateds in general *hanging head in shame* They do look really nice in a ball or skein, but the craziness with pooling and all is too much for me. What, I can't control when the color changes??

Posted by: Vicki at November 15, 2004 2:20 PM

Entrelac is often a good solution with varigated yarns.

Posted by: Anne at November 15, 2004 2:26 PM

I don't like Charlotte either. Love koigu. Think the lace in Charlotte is lovely. Don't actually like the combo.

Posted by: Christy at November 15, 2004 2:28 PM

Entrelac socks, for example.

Posted by: rams at November 15, 2004 2:29 PM

Ditto the "wow, Charlotte is a pretty pattern?" sentiment. I've oooed over plenty, but mostly for the colors. I even oooed over Anj's which is a really lovely green... wait, she didn't do that? I'm telling!

Go take some more of that cold medicine. It sounds lovely. I agree, in the not-sick-anymore v too-doped-to-tell battle... who cares?

Posted by: Amie at November 15, 2004 2:31 PM

I was going to say, as I read down, that a triangle, starting with one or two stitches, usually solves the pooling problem, but corner to corner diagonal is more or less the same process. I think your diagonal looks very pretty. I've hesitated to do a Charlotte because I'd rather do one in stripes of heathers, going from light to dark or something, not a bunch of random variegated colours. I like Amy's, too. I bought a huge skein of laceweight BlueFace Leicester from Fleece Artist recently in a colour called "Florence" ... yum.

Posted by: Patricia at November 15, 2004 2:34 PM

I always thought I was the only one who didn't like varigated lace wt - I never considered Charlotte for that very reason. I love knitting lace and don't want my yarn competing with my knitting.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

Posted by: Colette at November 15, 2004 2:35 PM

I recently announced to the air around me that I would never buy variegated yarn again (unless it stripes and is meant for socks). Variegated yarn looks so lovely in the skein but I am often disappointed with how it looks knit up. Veeery subtle monochromatic variegated can look nice so I won't rule that out entirely.

Posted by: Kristi at November 15, 2004 2:44 PM

Iím having the same exact dilemma! I always get tricked by the mťlange of delicious colors only to end up with a blotchy soup of despair. I purchased some lovely wool/cashmere/silk blend in a variegated blue. Only itís not as much variegated as it is checkerboarded. The colors change every couple of inches, itís as though they let a 10-year-old with ADHD drink a gallon of coffee and set him to work with the yarn and a paintbrush. Iíve knit and ripped out and re-knitted 8 inches worth of shawl three times, each time with a different sized needle. The pattern in the shawl is completely camouflaged and the little bits of color everywhere look not so much like confetti as they do annoying little bugs all over the thing. Ugh! So I put that away and started on an alpaca scarf. The alpaca has three different color strands spun together and I love the yarn but I am hating the fabric its making. I need to knit something white to clear my palette.

Posted by: Debbie at November 15, 2004 2:47 PM

I have several skeins of yarn that I love best in the skein. I have tried knitting them up and nothing is as pretty as those skeins. I am on the lookout for a big clear glass vase and I'm going to put skeins like that on display. Someplace I can grab the yarn and fondle it once in a while...

Posted by: Laurie at November 15, 2004 3:05 PM

See? You're not alone. I will add myself to the mix of women who don't like the way variegated yarn knits up. I also tend to love it in the skein. Your ball of laceweight is beautiful. Might I make a suggestion? I haven't read all the comments, so it's possible this has been suggested already, but I after hearing something my LYS owner said, I've been realizing the benefit of what she calls "color therapy". Just looking at and playing with beautiful colors is beneficial, and puts people in a better mood. It's true. Think about how fun it is to play with the stash, or better yet, add to it without a clue as to why.

So my suggestion is to ball it, and create a still life with other yarns that it looks fabulous with, or for something more abstract, other variegated yarns that didn't pass the test. Find an artsy bowl. Arrange creatively. Perhaps add some pretty needles. Set it somewhere visible. Walla! Still Life.

Posted by: LauraA at November 15, 2004 3:07 PM

Well, I was going to say you're not COMPLETELY alone -- there's me and there's Alison of The Blue Blog, but now I read your comments and see the numbers are legion. Great. Now what am *I* going to do with this variegated *I* got at Rhinebeck? Bleh. But I do love your diagonal solution, and I think it might be a GREAT solution. I'll be watching in interest and waiting for you to help me when I get there, k?

Posted by: Norma at November 15, 2004 3:13 PM

I agree with the lace + varigated thing and I think Amy's version works precisely because the varigation is more subtle and thus it just gives some depth to what looks like a solid colour, letting the lace work show. When I first clicked on the link for Charlotte, I wondered where the lace was. You have to look at the close up photo to even see it.

Posted by: JoVE at November 15, 2004 3:15 PM


There was a Spin-Off a few years back with several strategies for dealing with variegated yarns (I will look that issue up for you). Seed Stitch, garter stitch and various other knit-purl combinations DO help break up the pooling effect. My personal favorite for fingering weight variegated yarns is brioche stitch on larger-than-usual needles. The alternating knit-one+slipstich, slip-one pattern breaks up the pooling effect yet seems lacey.

Posted by: Laurie at November 15, 2004 3:17 PM

I agree with you that the lovely Koigu masks the lovely lace of Charlotte. I'm planning to make my Charlotte out of some cream-colored Gems Merino figering wool.

Posted by: Susan at November 15, 2004 3:23 PM

I'm for the club too.
I just don't buy variegated for anything.
It is so beautiful in the skein, but I KNOW it will turn ugly when knit.
I had a skein of baby exotic something all hand spun and dyed into lovely soft pastely combos of total visual seduction that I just could not resist, knowing full well that i would knit nothing from it I bought it anyway. I kept it for several years, and then when IK crochet edition came out, i did the little beanie hat. The crochet is much better than a knit, (if the crocheting doesn't drive you batty!) but it is certainly singing another song, not as sweet, not as soft, sort of sad. I gave it to my daughter, as it turned out too small as well.
Same with Koigu, lovely soft, but ugly when knit. Sort of "been there done that" ugly. child of the 70's I am.
some things are best left as is, like the leaves on the lawn. Just look at the beauty, don't mess with it.
I'm not ashamed to proclaim this in public either.

Posted by: kim at November 15, 2004 3:24 PM

dear lord, i am HONOURED! [spelled with a "u" just for you, ms harlot] many thanks from me AND my charlotte.

also, please to feeling better soon. thank you very much.

Posted by: amy/squib at November 15, 2004 3:36 PM

I love my Charlotte, but it is true that its not a shawl you look at and go "Wow, look at that magnificent lace detail!". It's more like 'Oooh, look at the gorgeous colors that look so nice all lacy like that'. But, I totally agree on variegated Arans. I'm making a cabled scarf with some Manos that is perhaps more shaded than variegated that is working, but I have a top down sweater out of variegated purple handspun merino that is just sad. You can't see the cables. I don't kow why I continued to knit it, given that you can't see the cables, but I did, and now I have a sleeve to finish, and it just won't finish. It's been 4 years at least, and still, it taunts me.

Posted by: Gail at November 15, 2004 3:39 PM

When I make a Charlotte, and I assume I will because I am slowly being sucked into the laceknitting vortex, I'll use the Fleece Artist (or Cherry Tree Hill) for that "I don't like varigated lace" reason. In defense of varigation, though, let me just say that I *finally* got to see and touch the yarns from this weekend. Wonderful hand-dyed hemp/wool/mohair blends with beautiful subtle, varigation - I'm halfway through one of those multidirectional scarves and the color is deeelightful. She has sport-weight yarns too. I'm just saying, you know?

Posted by: Donna at November 15, 2004 3:40 PM

Freezer knitting.

(and hope you're feeling better!)

Posted by: Cassie at November 15, 2004 3:41 PM

I agree with you on your dislike of variegated lace. I don't much care for Charlotte, as I think she is a busy-body. There is always too much going on. I do, however, enjoy a nice colid color lace so that one can truly appreciate the texture. (Not that I've ever attempted to knit lace, but I have appreciated the work of others!)

Posted by: Kelly at November 15, 2004 3:49 PM

I must be some kind of freak. I kind of mentally cheer when my colors pool and streak.

Posted by: Ellen at November 15, 2004 4:22 PM

Hope you feel better soon. You know, if you can't tell if cold meds are working on your symptoms but seem to give you that lovely high, might I recommend you stick with Screech or your favourite wine or rum or other alcoholic drink of choice? More bang for your buck, as the saying goes. And tastier too! Let me jump on that bandwagon: hate variegated lace. Recently gave lace a try and fell in love with it. Did it in variegated Fleece Artist and the only redeeming thing that saved the entire project was how narrow the scarf was so not too much opportunity for pooling. And for the lace to show up I have to wear a dark-coloured sweater with it as background. Oh well. Hey, this weekend, I am happy to announce, was the first time my knitting was truly appreciated by the family. Hubby gave thumbs up for wool socks, the kids for wool hats and mittens that stayed warm and dry even when covered in snow! Yes, I just lived through the first major snow storm (read blizzard!!) of the season. Yes, I live on the South Shore of NS. Snow up to my thighs in some spots, past the knees in most (and I am not short - 5'9")! And without power yesterday, knitting by candlelight is a real treat...NOT!! Anyone want to come help shovel?? Pretty please???

Posted by: Barbara from Nova Scotia at November 15, 2004 4:39 PM

I hate to be a me too... however I agree. I love to see lace or Aran knit or crocheted in solid neutral colours. I realize you have already knit a fair bit on your scarf however on the Morehouse site there is the 'Diana shawl' using a variegated yarn. It is knit on the diagonal and has a slightly subtler look than your scarf. Not that there is anything wrong with what you have done... Iím just saying it is a more subtle design.
There is also the Calapotis design which seem to suit a verigated yarn.

Posted by: Paula at November 15, 2004 4:41 PM

Who are you kidding, "tried to be one of the crowd"? As a devoted reader, I knew you would never be a Charlotte knitter - and I took great comfort in that! Variagated yarn always makes me think of baby garments. The scarf is looking good though, you may have found a solution. And a Benylin-all-in-one buzz- thanks, I always learn so much here.

Posted by: alison at November 15, 2004 4:43 PM

I love the look of Koigu in skeins, but am agast at the hideous clothing in their magazine ads... must remember that ad when I ever get to see Koigu in person, so as not to get carried away by the look of the skeins.

Posted by: diane at November 15, 2004 4:45 PM

Could you run it along as an accent yarn with a thicker yarn and make something not lacey? That might detract from the pooling a bit...I think.

Posted by: Nina at November 15, 2004 4:47 PM

A long time ago, I was taught that in knitting you either let the colors speak or the texture you knit. It's been my rule of thumb ever since. And I'm reminded of it every time NMCRS sends me the varigated stuff and I have a temporarily mind block and try to knit up something with texture. While they ooooooo and ahhhhh over just makes me want to run and hurl. I have consented to alternating it with solid on a crocheted ripple so I can use it up. I just wish they'd quit sending it to me.
On another note, I knit up a baby poncho yestereday with a cable up the front in lavendar and a rolled edged cap to go with it...thank you again for the pattern ideas! It's so cute...doll house sized!
Feel better soon!

Posted by: Cathy at November 15, 2004 4:52 PM


Now I'm going to be difficult and defiant and declare out loud that I'm crazy about Koigu and I still love Charlotte, in spite of what you all say (although it's true about the lace and the colours getting in each other's way). It's just so much fun to knit when every stitch brings up a different colour combination, and the lace has such a jazzy rhythm to it. I have to admit that I'm almost finished Keepsake, another Koigu shawl that uses 12 skeins of the stuff.
But variegated yarns look really good in multidirectional designs.
The colours you've got there are just gorgeous, Harlot.
I hope you are really feeling better.


Posted by: Aara at November 15, 2004 4:53 PM

Hope you feel better soon! Another person in agreement here with the whole "variegated yarn/lacy pattern" debate. Doing them together is like wearing stripes, polka dots, and plaid all at once-anyone of them may be fine by themselves, but together...yuck. I am also glad to know that my foolish love affair with variegated yarn is not alone. I am constantly drawn to it, buy it, then decide that it has to be something simple as to not detract from its colors. Then I begin to knit it, only to be disappointed with its pools of color and boring stitches. Oh well, I think you are on the right track now, but as I type you have probably already ripped that back and cast on something new...

Posted by: Teresa at November 15, 2004 4:59 PM

For goodness sake ! The 'corner to corner' shawl in that yarn is ggorgeous.

Posted by: Emma at November 15, 2004 5:07 PM

I knit a chevron cardigan once when I'd succumbed to the siren song of variagated yarn. It was a lovely dove grey to blue mix by Valentina Devine. The chevrons (with yarn overs if you like, (I did) to make it lacey seem to do the right thing with the variagated yarn -- enough happening, not too much, and the color keeps changing direction.

Posted by: Pam at November 15, 2004 5:11 PM

Oh yes, the varigated yarn blues. I've been there. Wait, I still am there. Ugh! How did those Morehouse Merino people manage to get both of us to leave their store with variegated yarns in tow??!! Thank GOD that mine pooled. That all said, I like the openwork on your cell stitch version and your diagonal shawl very much. I think the open areas allow me to enjoy the colors a bit more separately. Too bad I don't like doing lace. Best wishes for a happy end to the shawl saga.

Posted by: alison at November 15, 2004 6:35 PM

I agree with the veriegated yarn and lace. I LOVE veriegated and self paterning sock yarns, but only for straight forward st st socks. If it's lacy it has to be one color or a verigated that is all in one color family, like how Manos has different intensities because of the kettle dying. The final decision looks great. Way to go with the perserverance, I probably would have held onto it until I could find someone to trade with!

Posted by: Johanna at November 15, 2004 6:46 PM

Perhaps it is my fading nightime eyesight (of which I am fully in denial, thank you for noticing!)but the cell stitch looks lot like the shell stitch I crocheted into an afghan (my first real fiber foray!)
I guess you should go back to carrying morehouse around like a pet. Maybe you can knit a small purse to carry it around. Handy!
I send healthy vibes your way.

Posted by: sandy at November 15, 2004 7:03 PM

May I suggest you check out the clapotis at moth heaven. Its also knitted on the diagonal and looks great and is just that little bit different.

Posted by: Wendy at November 15, 2004 7:48 PM

Doesn't this merino feel great...........of course, my merino lace work is in black...hehe....and I'm LOVIN' it. I just love this stuff!! I never thought that I would enjoy working with it nearly as much as I do!

Your diagonal scarf looks nice......and really, it does show of the nice lace work :-))

Posted by: Kim at November 15, 2004 7:50 PM

I agree with you completely and have the exact same issue with variegateds - great on the skein, crappy knit up. Charlotte's web is a strange exception for me, and I'm still not sure why it works. I have a few variegateds in my stash that I was tricked into purchasing, but as soon as those have been knit up or traded away - no more! Knits should be monochrome. There, I said it! (Ironically, I'm knitting a variegated right now...)

Posted by: Julia at November 15, 2004 7:57 PM

Dude, I bought the same kit, tried one of the scarf patterns and dumped it too. I'm now using the gorgeous yarn to make Clapotis from Knitty. It looks great, plus it's fun to drop a stitch every repeat. It's also knit diagonally, which does indeed make pooling more difficult and more interesting.

Posted by: Silvia at November 15, 2004 8:05 PM

Totally on this with you. I love how variegated yarns display and lead you to deception -- lovely on the ball/skein; hideous on the needles. They somehow love to spread and sprawl (pooling) on the needles and climb up against themselves (stacking) that it's impossible to get anything decent. Unless I turn a blind eye to it during the process and cross my fingers that once FOed, it's gonna be fine. Hence, my hubby's variegated sweater still at never got past me.


Posted by: Emy at November 15, 2004 9:30 PM

I just found your blog! I read your entry on Oct, 6th about how you have sucessfully raised your children without twinkies. It really brought back childhood memories of being harassed in junior high school because I had no clue what shapes the marshmellows are in Lucky Charms cereal.

I would just like to share that I too was raised without twinkies, poptarts, anything made by hostess or little debbie- but I was also raised *with* things like tofu, lentils, soymilk, and everything organic.

I'm now 23 and how did I turn out?

For starters there is a yarn stash in my bed room that is threatening to burry my bed. I'm now in graduate school (happily spending my stipend on yarn and organic food) and I fully plan on depriving-er- raising my kids the same way my mom raised me. :) Aside from being made fun of at lunch time in elementary school, growing up to have a yarn habbit (really, i think i need a 12 step program. Do i want one??) and a fridge full of soy products is not so bad really.

Of course my sister and I proudly display bumper stickers on our cars (that we only drive when public transportation isnt avaliable because we are good eco-children) that read "I Can't Help It- My Parents Are Hippies".

Posted by: katie abell at November 16, 2004 12:26 AM

Hooray for cold and flu meds! Isn't it the idea that they zonk you out so that you don't feel ill?

I love variegated yarns, but I don't knit lace. I love colour pooling. I want spots and blots of colour. But I don't knit lace (I don't count feather and fan).

You can always give the yarn to me. We must have some good stuff here in Oz to swap with!

Posted by: Lynne S at November 16, 2004 2:14 AM

i never liked charlotte, either. i've been making solid colored lace lately, too. just because i'm a dork and think it looks...classic and lady-like and mind-blowing.

carry on with your lace idea. i find it interesting.

also, glad you liked the card/tea/stuff. hope it didn't kick your coffee habit too out of whack.

Posted by: suz at November 16, 2004 4:53 AM

*SIGH!* I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about Charlotte... except, I'm not sure I like the pattern so much. I've never seen Koigu in person, so although it looks nice on the internet, I don't have strong feelings one way or another about it. I can't wait to move to Canada and have access to nice yarn.

Posted by: Kate at November 16, 2004 7:35 AM

Years ago there was a survey done by SpinOff that asked what people do with the yarn they'd spun. 84% (this number has stuck with me all this time) said they arrange it in baskets and look at it. THAT is what variegated yarn is FOR, because it's so beautiful and impressive to look at. On the shelf.

Posted by: Kerry at November 16, 2004 8:19 AM

I'm with you, too, on the variegation/lacework semi-debate. there's a time and place, and neither should be seen together! well, maybe not a hard and fast rule, but i totally am on your side fof the fence with this one.

Posted by: heather at November 16, 2004 8:58 AM

Maybe its just that some yarns are best left unknitted .... very sad.. Personally I have a problem with the 2-colour-twisted yarns.

Posted by: Ida at November 16, 2004 9:05 AM

I'm with Ellen (that makes two of us in the world?) in that I cheer when the variegated pools. My daughter was so impressed with me because she thought her Harlot poncho had Nike swoops knit into the design. As if I had used some kind of telekinetic influence over the process.

Of course, if I ever reach the point in knitting competence where I would be knitting lace, I might croak a different tune, eh?

Posted by: Kathen at November 16, 2004 10:08 AM

You might want to check out Morehouse's Melody's Shawl pattern (it isn't available online yet, but you can call for it). It is knit in stockinette, the long way, in the round. 16 stiches are dropped before binding off, and you have built-in fringe. Because it is knit the long way, you wouldn't have those pooling issues. And no lace pattern distracting from the colorway. It will be my next shawl, after I finish Charlotte. Check it out at :

Posted by: Amy Lu at November 16, 2004 10:19 AM

A great big "Mwaahh" from me to all those who were brave enough to admit the not liking variegated wool. I have been experiencing a sort of guilt feeling, each time someone posts a project made from this stuff, and everyone else admires it.
I have a sweater's-worth, in lovely soft, aran-weight wool, in browns/black/burnt orange, purchased at Adela's in Napa Valley, CA.
If anyone wants it, send me your address and it's yours. No trade necessary.
Stephanie, each of your experiments in lace shawls is beautifully knitted. Don't hate me for not liking the colours.

Posted by: judith (the original) at November 16, 2004 10:28 AM

I'm partial to the run-the-offending-variegated-with-a-coordinating-solid school of thought. Even if the variegated yarn is worsted and you run a laceweight solid with it, it can provide enough visual cohesion to make the whole thing worth it.

Or a non-coordinating solid. Your sample could have looked rather splendid knit with a navy or burgandy strand.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 16, 2004 10:38 AM

I'm with you, too. I don't use variegated yarns for anything except plain stockinette, or maybe (just maybe) a bit of ribbing...

Posted by: Beth S. at November 16, 2004 10:38 AM

If your current shawl isn't to your liking, why not embrace the pooling and make the Pooling Colors Scarf from Interweave?

Posted by: Kristin at November 16, 2004 11:14 AM

Amen! I had the SAME EXACT problem / epiphany with not one, but two shawls that I have been working on -- one of which was a Morehouse Merino lace kit. I loved the colors in the skein, but knitted up, sigh...

Posted by: Liz at November 16, 2004 4:23 PM

I have always liked the charlotte best when it is backlit and I can see the beautiful lacework... I thought it was just me!

That being said, I did buy a fiddlesticks shawl kit that uses a variegated fiber... but it is a subtle cranberry to wine to violet which should be ok with me.

I do like the diagonal solution, because the yarn almost seems to be striping, and that's pretty darn cool.... BUT If *you* really can't stand the yarn, (as EZ says) well bless you, don't. RAOK-it. Someone out there LIVES for varied lacework, and life is too short to detest one's own knitting. :)

Posted by: chelsea at November 16, 2004 4:23 PM

I think too that the secret to varigated yarn is in the irregular way it is dyed and the colours used. When I dye, I always use colourways that are complentary and related to each other. I also ensure that the dyes are not in large, regular long blotches, but in shorter, irregular areas on the yarn. I also find that when I buy the hand dyed yarn, that I generally prefer to get yarn that has been rewound on the skein, because that will give you a better vision of what the colours will look like.

I fully agree that most all lace does not go with your regular varigated. I think that entrelac or domino knitting can produce very intersting results. Also doing intarsia where the changing colours give subtle, yet distinct colour variations. I loved the baby sweater you did from Morehouse Merino... how do you feel about that one?

Many people/companies that dye yarn use dip-deying because its fast and easy but the results give variegated the bad name.
Sorry for the rant, but I love deying and also knitting with the yarn. On the other hand, I have read so many comments about people loving NORO what's the thinking on the striping effects?

Posted by: minka at November 16, 2004 10:40 PM