Color Pooling: Some Troubleshooting and Hints

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A blanket in progress…

A few weeks ago I got interested in color pooling. This is a crochet technique using variegated yarn (with certain specific characteristics) to produce certain color patterns by planning your stitches. The worst part is starting, but there is a good tutorial on that. Your first tip is to pick the right yarn. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some yarns and colorways that have been found to work. You can find others by following the rule: the yarn must have regularly repeating colors (no random combinations), with each color length no shorter than about six inches (and not too long either, but there are some hints for dealing with long color changes). For beginners I would suggest no more than three colors. Life is hard enough.

I started with cotton yarn and made a dish cloth which is a great beginning project. This one is made using Sugar and Cream yarn in pink lemonade.

[viewed sideways] This being my first project, it had some wobbles in the lines.

The next project was a table runner. I used Vanna’s Choice yarn in autumn print.

[viewed sideways]

I didn’t immediately start on the baby blanket. First I tried and failed to use three different yarns, proving the case that not every variegated yarn works. Darn it.

The baby blanket was and is more ambitious, and starting it was an absolute bear. I ripped it back to a simple chain more times than I can count. This yarn is Caron Simply Soft Ombre in baby brights, and has six colors. The full sequence is Blue-Purple-White-Purple-Blue-Pink-Orange-Yellow-Orange-Pink, so really ten color changes. Each color change is no more than six inches long so I really pushed the envelope of what was possible here. Using seed stitch (recommended) I get about two stitches per color before the change. That leaves veeery little room for error. On the other hand, in the process of making this I learned some very helpful things which I will share with you. This is most helpful for short color changes and many colors, but it is equally applicable to fewer colors and longer color changes. [Note: I am making the blanket to have four complete sequences across (because I wanted the larger size). That’s why it’s so long.]

First let’s look at what a normal progression is supposed to look like. Each alternating row advances the color one stitch to the right/left (depending on which row you’re looking at). This is what makes those lovely diagonal stripes, which when layered with diagonals going the other direction, results in an argyle pattern.

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So now we come to the nuts and bolts and troubleshooting. For the first 3/4 of the blanket I had been paying more attention to the whole pattern than each individual stitch. This sounds like a good idea, but you need to do the exact opposite. If you keep careful track of where each color changes then the overall pattern will take care of itself. Keeping things tidy all the time results in beautifully crisp lines on your finished product. (Even if you have a couple stitches here and there that are a little off you won’t be able to tell as long as the vast majority of it is on track.)

Because of slight variations in yarn color changes, and slight variations in your tension, you can find that you’ve gotten behind or ahead of where your color changes should land. Recognizing that early is the key to lower frustration and less unraveling. First let’s look at what to do when you’ve gotten behind:

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Now let’s see how to fix the problem of getting ahead:

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This is not a complete tutorial on color pooling and probably won’t fix all of your problems with it, but I hope it helps to smooth the way!

4 thoughts on “Color Pooling: Some Troubleshooting and Hints

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