Alternating skeins

We love hand-dyed yarns, but there’s no doubt that they can vary a bit, even if you buy them together and check them carefully. Working a larger project with slightly different shades can mean that one half of your shawl doesn’t match the other, or that one sleeve is strikingly unlike the rest of the jumper. What’s more, if your yarn is a semi-solid, the variation can give you pooling, and that’s a prime example up above.

There’s a really easy fix for this. Instead of working all of one skein before changing to the next, alternate the two. After working two rows or rounds with your first skein, drop it and take up the second. Work two rows with that, then drop it and work two with skein one. That’s it. There’s no need to cut the yarn – just carry it loosely up the back of the work. We promise, no-one will ever notice the variation.

In fact, you can use this trick with non-hand-dyes as well. We featured a project a couple of months ago that used it, and we’d bet quite a lot that you didn’t spot it!

This is Little Apple, a modification of our Cute as One Button baby cardigan. By accident, the knitter who made it had three (yes, three!) different dyelots of Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran in Light Grey lurking in stash, so it was alternate all the way. The yoke and sleeves were worked with the first and second ball, so they match each other.

The third skein wasn’t introduced until the body, alternating first with the remnants of the first, and when that ran out, with the second. If you look closely, you can see that there’s something going on. But it looks intentional, rather than having a crashing contrast halfway down one sleeve.

So those single non-matching balls can play happily together after all, and you can work big projects in delicious hand-dyes and keep the colour consistent all the way.

Oh, and the unhappy hand-dye in the top picture? The top was frogged and the yarn is much, much happier as a completely different project, so that story has a happy ending too!