Planned Color Pooling with long color changing variegated yarn

Yarn pooling is an interesting phenomenon which can be both a wonderful blessing and a massive bother, depending on what you are doing. With this post I am aiming to lift the fog around color pooling a bit.

Op verzoek heb ik deze uitleg ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar. 

Huh? Color pooling? What’s color pooling?

If you have never worked with color changing yarn before you might not know what color pooling is. Color pooling occurs in a fabric worked with a color changing yarn when the same colors from different parts of the yarn line up over several rows or rounds of the pattern. Usually this is an unwanted phenomenon because most people use a color changing yarn to get random colors. But you can use this phenomenon to create some pretty awesome effects too.

argyle-socks-1178646_1920

How planned color pooling works

Color pooling is based on the principle that when a color changing yarn is manufactured it is done with a steady rhythm in the colorway. For example, the yarn will be repeating the colors redgreygreenblueorange. So when the strand comes to the end of the orange bit, it starts again with red and the sequence is again redgreygreenblueorange. The color cycle keeps on repeating and it is this repetition which we can use to our advantage.

To get planned color pooling to work you need to work in sync with the color rhythm of the yarn. This implies per definition that working in the color rhythm means that your rhythm will be unique because each one of us has a unique tension and way of working. But, before we get into dealing with personal differences, lets first look at how to apply color pooling.

Take a look at the image below. Each square represents a stitch, this can be any stitch, a single crochet, a double crochet, or a group of stitches, doesn’t matter. But what is important is that the stitch is the same for each square. Now let us assume that we are using a color changing yarn that consists of 5 colors of an even length in the color sequence redgreygreenblueorange and let us assume that it takes 5 stitches to work each color. This means that if we start the first stitch of color 1 (stitch A1) after working 25 stitches we will be at the end of the sequence (stitch Y1).

For row 2 we turn our work and repeat row 1. This means that row 2 will  be exactly the same as row 1, but in reverse order. To make it more easy to follow I have added arrows to the graph to indicate the working direction.

Row 3 is again a repetition of row 1 and 2, but now a bit of magic starts to happen in the colors. As you see in the graph, the colors for row 3 line up EXACTLY with the colors from row 1. It is this intentional alignment that we call planned color pooling. When you keep on working more rows according to the graph you will see that for every second row the colors align and this gives stripes over your work and you have created a planned color pooled fabric.

Color Pooling in yarn

How argyle color pooling works

Now that you know how planned color pooling works, you can take it to the next level; argyle color pooling. In essence argyle color pooling is the same process, but now you are both aligning AND moving the color sequences to get the characteristic diamond shapes associated with argyle patterns. Please, don’t stress. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Let me take you through it step-by-step.

Assume we are using the same yarn as in the example above, so a color changing yarn with the sequence redgreygreenblueorange and we again work a row of stitches starting with the red and the last stitch is an orange stitch.

BEFORE continuing with row 2, remove stitch Y1 and then continue with row 2. This means that the new pattern will be one stitch shorter than the previous example, and it is the one stitch that causes the colorway to shift over. You will notice in the graph below that there are no stitches in column Y; this is the shift I am talking about.

Stitch Y1 is now worked at position X2, which means that all the consecutive stitches in row 2 have to move one position also. By the time you get to the end of row 2 and move to row 3, the shift becomes 2 stitches. This steady shift of 2 stitches per two rows causes the colors to move. In the middle of the fabric the colors will cross over and this can look a bit muddled, but the argyle diamond will be present moving outward and inward repetitively. In this pattern the blue diamond is the most pronounced.

Argyle color pooling

Requirements for the yarn

In theory color pooling and argyle color pooling should work for any yarn that has a color change, but there are a few things that I have found work, and a few that don’t. I have tried 7 different yarns and investigated different methods looking for what does and does not work. My conclusions:

  1. The yarn must have clear and distinct color changes. This means that yarns that show a gradual color change will not work. You need that sudden change from one color to the next to be able to identify when you have completed a color sequence.
  2. There must be a steady rhythm to the color sequence. The amount of colors in the sequence is not important, it can be 3 colors or 10 colors, but they must be organised in the same repetitive way. So for example Color A, Color B, Color C repeated in a sequence will mean the yarn is A-B-C–A-B-C–A-B-C etc.
  3. I have found that the length of each color in the color sequence is not critical, but color pooling is easier if the color segments are shorter rather than longer. The longer a color segment is, the more important consistent tension becomes to obtain the planned color pooling effect. Color pooling is most easy if the color segments in a colorway are about 10 to 20cm each, but I have managed to get color pooling to work with color segments up to 2 meter. Tension is key here.
  4. If your total color sequence is over 20 meter, don’t try color pooling. Trust me on this.

Here you see an example of the color sequence in a variegated yarn. This is Scheepjes Invicta Matterhorn showing the color rhythm. As you can see some parts of the color sequence are long and others are short. This is not an issue at all. It will simply means that some of your stripes will be thicker than others.

identify-colors-for-color-pooling

Requirements for your work

By far the most important requirement is consistency. Your tension needs to be as consistent as possible. The longer the color sequence, the more important tension becomes and the more prominent changes in tension are. In the worst case scenario your tension changes to such a degree that your stripes don’t shift evenly and you get jerking. This is what happened to me in my first attempt at color pooling. See how the stripes suddenly jump in the last 3 rows? I have indicated the most obvious point with arrows, but if you look more closely you will see that there are more places where the color pooling jumps. Sometimes this is due to my tension not being steady enough, but it can also be due to slight variations in the length of the color sequences in the yarn. The slight jump is almost inevitable and the longer the color sequences, the more pronounced a slight change in tension or color length will be. Personally I don’t mind, it gives my work a natural and playful look.

jump-in-crochet-color-pooling

Another important requirement is that you ignore specific stitch counts given to you by well meaning others. The number of stitches you make per color sequence will depend on the yarn you use, the lot number of that yarn, the stitch you are making, the hook size you are using, your personal tension and maybe even your mood that day. So ignore all stitch advises such as start with 10dc, ch20, or whatever. The amount of stitches you need will be unique to you. The best thing you can do is adapt on the fly. I will explain this in a moment.

My method for Color Pooling

I have devised my own method for color pooling based on what I have noticed works for me. If this doesn’t work for you, no hard feelings. Adapt and change as you need it.

  1. Investigate your yarn and find the color sequence.
  2. Make a slip knot on your hook at the start of a color sequence. Choose a point that is easy to identify, e.g. the sudden change from pink to blue. Something that is impossible to miss.
  3. Work a row of foundation hdc stitches using 2 full color sequences. This row is not part of your pattern, consider it row 0 in the argyle graph above. Stop with the foundation stitches when you have the same color yarn on your hook as you started with in step 2.
  4. Turn and work your pattern row until you have the same color yarn on your hook as you started with in step 2. This is equivalent to row 1 in the argyle graph above.
  5. Undo 1 stitch. If you are working a group of stitches which you are repeating, undo one group of stitches.
  6. Turn and work your pattern till you get to the end of the row. This is row 2 in the argyle graph above.
  7. Turn and repeat working each row. After about 10 rows you will start to see a pattern emerge.
  8. KEEP YOUR TENSION STEADY!
  9. Attach new yarn at the correct point
  10. Continue till your project is the size you want it to be. Then tie off and work away your yarn tail.
  11. There will be foundation stitches left unworked. Cut the stitches off at about 10cm from your work. Undo the stitches till you get to the start of your fabric. Work away the starting yarn tail you just created.

color-pooling-steps

Video

I have taken the liberty of also making a video showing how to work my method for color pooling. I have included this video in my series on Crochet Fundamentals. I hope this video can help to take away any final doubts or questions you may have.

Attach new yarn

Obviously, the chance that you will use more than one ball to make a project is rather high, so how to you cope with that? First of all, don’t stress and don’t panic. Follow these steps to get your yarn connection as smooth as possible

  1. Find the end point of the color sequence on the old ball. Cut your yarn about 20cm after the end of the color sequence.
  2. Find the starting point of the color sequence on the new ball. Cut your yarn about 20cm before the start of the color sequence.
  3. Knot the two yarns together at the point where the old ball’s color sequence ends and the new balls sequence starts. If you are really good at getting the joining position right you could use a Russian join, but if you are unsure, just knot the two together.
  4. Crochet over the knot and work a few stitches.
  5. Unpick the knot you just made and work away your yarn tails.

adding-new-ball-in-color-pooling

BIG NOTE: You must attach a new color sequence if you find a knot in your ball. I promise you that the pattern you are working will jerk if you just continue crocheting. Cut out the knot and attach the color sequence at the correct point.

My challenge: A Color Pooled Lapghan

I have set myself the challenge to make a lapghan using the color pooling method with Scheepjes Matterhorn. The Matterhorn has a relatively long color sequence, this means that my tension has to be steady. I have worked a set of foundation hdc, then a row of dc, pulled out 1 stitch, and then I continue to work dc’s for many more rows. I have made a small start and I am just loving the pattern that is emerging. This is super easy crochet; perfect for watching TV. I will keep you posted about my progress.

yarn-pooling-with-matterhorn-sock-yarn

With love,

Esther

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How to C2C – Corner-to-Corner Crochet

Corner-to-Corner crochet, or C2C for short, is a fun and relaxing technique to work everything from very simple to very intricate designs and graphghans. In my series on Crochet Fundamentals I would like to help you master C2C.

how to c2c corner-to-corner crochet

The basic idea….

The basic idea of C2C is that you start in one corner and work along the diagonal to the other corner; hence the name corner-to-corner. Making squares and rectangles is the easiest, but as such you could also make other shapes by increasing or decreasing the diagonal as needed.

Flow of the method

Below I give you a universal pattern for making a C2C project. The idea is that you start in the bottom-left corner at point O and then work the first pixel. You then turn and come back to work 2 pixels in the opposite direction, turn again and work 3 pixels in the opposite direction again, and so on and so forth. You follow the arrows on the chart working one diagonal after another.

Initially you are increasing your work in two directions, direction A and B. At a certain point A is large enough and then you start decreasing your diagonal in direction D. If you are making a square A = B, which means you decrease the diagonal in both directions, both direction C and D. Otherwise you keep A constant and increase B till B is the correct size, and finally you decease both A and B by working in directions C and D.

Checkerboard C2C

Video help

And after that very mathematical explanation I have you all confused, right? Maybe it is just easier to watch a video in which I show you exactly how to do C2C.

In the video I use a small square design with a two-colored diamond to show you the steps involved in C2C. It is the way I do it, maybe there are others that do the method in a different way, but I have found that this works for me. I show you how to increase and decrease your diagonal as well as how to change color.

C2C design example


General written pattern

If you prefer a written pattern, here I have a general pattern for C2C. This does not specify any color changes nor does it say when to start decreasing. This is to help you see the similarities between any given written C2C instruction and the video.

Abbreviations

Please note that US Crochet Terminology is used for this pattern. If you are more familiar with UK terms, please use this conversion chart as needed.

  • ss – slip stitch
  • s – stitch
  • ch – chain
  • dc – double crochet
  • RS – right side
  • WS – wrong side
  • pixel – ch3 and 3dc worked into a ch3-space

Increasing the diagonal

In the first part of the pattern increase the diagonal till the width of the main part of the blanket is reached, this means the A is the correct length.

Row 1 (RS)

Ch6 (counts as ch3 and 1dc), 1dc in fourth ch from the hook and in each of the next 2 ch to the end. Turn your work. [1 pixel]

Row 2 (WS)

ch6 (counts as ch3 and 1dc), 1dc in fourth ch from the hook and in each of the next 2 ch to complete a pixel. With the WS of pixel 1 facing and the RS of the pixel of Row 2 just worked facing, line up the top of the dc just worked with the top of the dc’s from Row 1 so that the 2 pixels are touching. ss in the space created by the ch3 at the top of the pixel of Row 1. ch3, 3dc in ch3-space. Turn your work. [2 pixels]

Row 3 (RS)

ch6 (counts as ch3 and 1dc), 1dc in fourth ch from the hook and in each of the next 2 ch to complete a pixel. Rotate the pixel just worked so that you can ss in the ch3-space at the top of the last block worked from Row 2. ch3, 3dc in same ch3-space as the ss. ss in ch3-space at the top of the next pixel, ch3, 3dc in the same ch3-space as the ss. Turn your work. [3 pixels]

Row 4

ch6 (counts as ch3 and 1dc), 1dc in fourth ch from the hook and in each of the next 2 ch to complete a pixel. Rotate the pixel just worked so that you can ss in the ch3-space at the top of the last block worked from the previous row. * ch3, 3dc in same ch3-space as the ss. ss in ch3-space at the top of the next pixel. * Repeat from * to * until you have worked a ss in the ch3-space of the last block of the previous row. ch3, 3dc in the same ch3-space as the ss. Turn your work. [1 pixels more than the previous row]

Rows 5 – α

Repeat Row 4 till the correct width of A is obtained.

Constant diagonal

In this part the diagonal is kept constant. This means that the number of pixels per row is the same for each row. Looking at the checkerboard, this means that A is kept constant and B is increased. If you work a square, i.e. A = B, then skip this part and go to the next stage.

Row (α+1)

Turn your work. ss into the next stitches and into the ch3-space. * ch3, 3dc in same ch3-space as the ss. ss in ch3-space at the top of the next pixel. * Repeat from * to * until you have worked a ss in the ch3-space of the last block of the previous row. ch3, 3dc in the same ch3-space as the ss. Turn your work.

Row (α+2)

ch6 (counts as ch3 and 1dc), 1dc in fourth ch from the hook and in each of the next 2 ch to complete a pixel. Rotate the pixel just worked so that you can ss in the ch3-space at the top of the last block worked from the previous row. * ch3, 3dc in same ch3-space as the ss. ss in ch3-space at the top of the next pixel. * Repeat from * to * until you have worked a ss in the ch3-space of the last block of the previous row. Do not work a pixel on top of the last pixel from the previous row.

Rows (α+3) to β

Repeat Rows (α+1) and (α+2) till B is the correct length.

Decreasing the diagonal

In this part of the pattern the diagonal is decreased to form a square, if A = B, or a rectangle. You are now working in both direction C and D.

Row (β+1)

Turn your work. ss into the next stitches and into the ch3-space. * ch3, 3dc in same ch3-space as the ss. ss in ch3-space at the top of the next pixel. * Repeat from * to * until you have worked a ss in the ch3-space of the last block of the previous row. Turn your work without working on top of the last pixel. [1 pixels less than the previous row]

Rows (β+1) … end

Repeat Row (β+1) till you have filled out the square or rectangle.

 


I hope this tutorial has helped you see the logic behind C2C; it a very mathematical and rhythmic method. I first did C2C for Last Dance on the Beach CAL in which I worked stripes by changing color at the end of a diagonal. Seriously, the sky is the limit here. I would love to see what you have made using C2C. Feel free to share on my Facebook page.

 

With love,

Esther

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How to Crochet: increasing and decreasing stitches

In lesson 3 on ‘How to Crochet’ I showed you how to do slip, chain and single crochet stitches. Today I am going to show you how to decrease and increase stitches.

increase and decrease crochet stitches

How to increase stitches

Increasing crochet stitches is actually really easy. All you have to do is work more than one stitch in the same position. Easy, right! Let me show you in a video

So in a nutshell,  if a pattern says to increase (or you somehow don’t have enough stitches and you need to fudge) you simply work more than one single crochet, double crochet or whatever stitch the pattern calls for in the same stitch. You can work anywhere from 2 to 20 stitches in the same position, all depends on the design.


How to decrease stitches

Unfortunately decreasing stitches is not quite as straight forward as increasing stitches. To decrease a stitch means that you work two stitches together. It depends on which stitch you are working exactly how you do it, but in essence it comes down to this.

Work your stitch to the point just before the last yarn-over and taking off the last two loops, this means you now have 2 loops on your hook (except for a hdc, then you have 3 loops on your hook). Now start the next stitch and do exactly the same; so stop just before the last yarn-over. In general you will now have 3 loops on your hook, take them all off in one go.

In these two videos I show you how to decrease from two to one single crochet, this stitch is called a sc2tog (single crochet 2 together)

and how to decrease from two to one double crochet, this stitch is called a dc2tog (double crochet 2 together)

The same concept applied for working 3, 4 or even 10 stitches together! So if you see the method behind the madness, you are going to be just fine. 😀


Lesson 5

You have now learned a few basic stitches and techniques, now time for a small project. Next time we will be making a small purse using single crochet stitches.

See you next time,

Esther

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How to crochet: slip, chain and single crochet stitches

In this lesson on ‘How to Crochet’ I show you how to make slip stitches, single crochet stitches and chain stitches. All three these stitches have the same name in US and UK terms, so that makes life a little easier this time. In three videos I show you step-by-step how to make these stitches.

slip chain and single crochet stitches

How to make chain stitches

The very first stitch to learn is the chain stitch, always abbreviated as ch. This stitch is often used as a starting point for other stitches to build on. When making chain stitches it’s important to make them all the same size and not pull them too tight. If the stitches are too tight you are going to make life hard for yourself when you have to work in them.  In this video I show you how to make chain stitches.

Often a pattern will say ‘chain xx stiches’ and then you work the next row in those chain stitches. Tip: when you make chain stitches as a base for your work, work the base chain with a hook size larger than the rest of your project. That way you prevent working the chains too tight which in turn could cause your work to pull at the bottom edge. Especially in the beginning when you are still learning to keep your tension even throughout your work it can be hard to keep your base chain at the right tension.


How to make single crochet stitches

Single crochet stitches, abbreviated with sc, are one of the smaller crochet stitches and used in a zillion ways to build a gazillion projects. Again a short video to show you step-by-step how to make single crochet stitches.


How to make slip stitches

Slip stitches are usually used to close a row or connect two parts of a project. It’s a really small stitch and that is why I use a different color yarn in the video because otherwise it can be hard to see. With slip stitches it’s important that you don’t pull your yarn too tight, especially when working many slip stitches in a row, for example as a decorative edge. The reason is that slip stitches have very little room to expand in comparison to other stitches.


Lesson 4

You have now learned a few first stitches, next time I show you how to increase and decrease your stitches. And when you know how to do that we can make a first project, “at last” you must be thinking!

See you next time,

Esther

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