I shoulda alternated skeins…dang

See there...right below my...

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We all love hand dyed and hand painted yarns.  All of us.
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We have all heard about buying enough yarn for your project at the start.  Make sure your dye lots match.  Even if you are purchasing yarn from Cascade, Berroco or Rowan.  Just because they are a big company doesn’t mean they are immune from dye lots changes.
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Now, hand dyed yarns are different.  There usually are not dye lots.  So, if you are going to make a sweater out of hand dyed yarns you’ll need to take some extra measures to ensure that you don’t have the same problem I had with the February Sweater above.
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My 3 skeins of Dream in Color Classy color Black Parade, looked exactly the same to me.  I rolled one up and started knitting.  I held off the sleeves and got a few inches more in with the first skein.  Started the second skein and kept right on knitting.  Not noticing at all that the second skein was just a bit off color from the first.  I knit until that skein was gone and then started my third skein, finishing the sweater.
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I blocked it and then hung it up at the shop.  Not noticing the line below the garter stitch section at all until it was hung on the hanger.  Now it is all I see.
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Lesson learned.  Alternate skeins.
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So here is how it works.  It’s easy really…you just need to knit with different skeins every two rows or rounds.  You’ll carry the yarn up the side of the garment, so you won’t have extra ends to weave in.
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Here is one way to do it…
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So, lets say you are knitting stockinette stitch.  You’ll cast on and start knitting with skein 1.   For my example I am using 2 colors of Malabrigo Chunky.

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I knit a bit with skein 1, but you should probably cast on and work the first couple of rows only.  Then I drop skein 1 and start working with skein 2.  There are lots of techniques to adding in a new yarn, whether you are changing colors or simply starting another skein of the same color.   I just simply start working the new yarn.  I don’t tie it up or knot it or knit it together with anything else.  I just start knitting.  The end stitches will be loose for a few rows but as long as you left a 6″ tail, you can go back and weave the ends in later.
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Add a new yarn

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So, then I knit a row and purled a row with yarn 2 (the green yarn).
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Old yarn in front, new yarn in back

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When you are at the end of your row and back to where yarn 1 is, drop yarn 2 IN FRONT and pick up yarn 1 again.
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Alternated Skeins

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I think I could have blended the yarn too, I think the big problem with the sweater is the definite line.  I could have started alternating 15 or 20 rows from the end of the ball.  Then it would have been a softer transition to the 2nd skein.

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Now, things can get tricky when you are using more than 2 skeins (for most garments).  Some people find the skeins are so different that they might need to knit with 3 balls.  So you’d have 2 skeins starting on one side and 1 skein starting on the other.  Some people start knitting with 2 balls and then when 1 ball is half gone they remove that ball and start knitting with a 3rd ball.  Then they go back to the 2nd ball when the 1st ball is done.

I hope I haven’t confused you.  It is easier than you think.  Plus, you spent all that money on beautiful hand dyed yarn.  You should really love the finished product!
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5 Responses to “I shoulda alternated skeins…dang”

  1. Sheridan says:

    I think it looks cool.

  2. Michelle Gross says:

    Thanks for the post. I am hearing so much about alternating skeins lately.

  3. Laurie says:

    Jennifer saved me from not alternating skeins on my most recent project – Mondo Cable Cardigan. Thank you, Jennifer! I was alternating 8 skeins and will post photo of finished project on Ravelry when I finish weaving in the ends and blocking.

  4. Mel says:

    Isn’t the Hombre look in right now? 🙂

  5. Barbara says:

    Thanks, I used that technique when I was forced to use a different dye lot. I had neglected to buy enough yarn initially. It turned out great.

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