A great question come up in the Perfectly Knotty Facebook VIP Group about how to get your self-striping yarn stripes to match.
When you’re making a garment and the parts and pieces are different sizes, and your yarn is self-striping, the color blocks are not going to be the same number of rows. A lot of people don’t like to have the color blocks and stripes misaligned all over the place, so is there a way to solve that?
Yes, there is, and I’m gonna talk about that in this post, and the video below.
The garment example that initiated the question is a duster length cardigan. I’m not sharing a photo of that as it’s not mine to claim, but I’ll try to be as descriptive as possible.
It’s made in rectangles that are seamed together, which is a really, really great way to make a cardi.
You have your back panel, then you have two front panels which are each basically half the width of the back; then you have two more rectangles for the arms that are attached at the shoulders and the underarms are seamed.
The example pattern was done using a gradient self-striping yarn. It starts with the back piece, at the bottom working up. I do recommend in a case like this that you do start with the piece that has the widest rows, as this will set your color block row heights.
If you simply make each piece working through the yarn as it comes off the cake/skein, your stripes aren’t gonna match. And for some people that is going to make them a little crazy, and we don’t want that!
I want you to love and wear what you stitch, so we’re gonna talk about some different ways that you can get those stripes to line up. (p.s. this also applies to socks by the way, for people who want the stripes to match on their socks)
I will tell you, to be honest, it takes more yarn to make stripe matching really work, so be prepared for that. How much more yarn you will need is going to depend on the yardage of the skein, the number of color repeats in the overall “pattern” of the self-striping yarn, and the number of individual pieces your garment requires. There is no simple formula for that unfortunately.
To begin, you have to understand the color repeat of your particular self-striping yarn. Every single skein that you bought is going to start at a different point in the color cycle too. Plus, you will want to start each piece of your project at the same point in the color cycle in order to get the stripes to line up at the seams.
In the example of the duster sweater, you’re gonna make that back panel first, starting at the bottom and going up. Additionally, if you have to use more than one skein to make the back, you are gonna have to figure out how you’re adding in the next skein so the colors stay in synch, so pay attention and notice how the colors are playing out. You might have to start mid-skein.
Next, you make the two front halves. You could make them at the same time using different skeins of yarn, to help make sure that you are adjusting the color changes at the same point, but it’s not an absolute necessity. You will want to start the front panels with the same point in your color cycle as you started the back; for instance you have a gold color to start with on the back, and that might work up to be five rows, and then it changes to the next color.
For the shorter rows of the front panels, you’re gonna want to stitch for maybe 1 row less, then cut the yarn, and pull ahead on your skein to where it’s in the gradient transition phases of the color, reattach your yarn and stitch more rows. Then cut, pull ahead to the next closest color match and begin again.
I really hate to tell you that, but that is the truth.
If you want your stripes to match and you’re making garments using self-striping yarn to make separate pieces that you’re seaming together, you are going to have to cut the yarn, you are gonna have all of those ends to weave in, and you’re gonna have a pile of bits and chunks of left-over yarn.
If that bugs you, that’s OK! It bugs me too! For me, it feels like a waste of yarn.
For other people, it’s not wasted yarn because they are creating a garment that is exactly what they envisioned. Maybe you use all those cut out parts to make fringe on your cardigan, because fringe is popular again!
Stitcher … know thyself.
I don’t wear stripes myself, but my grandkids do. When I am making a garment with stripes (maybe I’m blending stuff from my stash, and making do with what I have) I would intentionally plan and make stripes and color blocks. I might say, I’m going to do six rows of this color, five rows of that color. Three rows of this color and intentionally stripe them. Also consider making all of your pieces at the same time, so you can integrate even amounts into each piece, and have more confidence playing “yarn chicken”!
Perhaps you’ve seen the Blind Auditions on this season of The Voice? The new coach, Chance the Rapper, wears a gray, white and black striped hoodie. It’s a kind of a cross between a hoodie sweatshirt and a sweater. It’s got stripes that match, and I think that’s gonna be a really popular look for the next season or two. I mean, it’s on trend because it’s on tv right?
So there you go.
In order to really make matching stripes work, you have to count the number of rows that each color is and either change to a different skein of yarn, or cut your self-striping yarn. There’s no easy way of getting around that.
If that’s something that’s going to bug you, I really would like to challenge you to rethink your yarn choice.
If you’re up for the challenge of watching for your color blocking and counting the number of rows and figuring out where in the transition your color is changing so that you can cut the yarn and move forward to make all the colors lined up, then GO FOR IT! You will have accomplished something beautiful!
I wish there was an easier way, but I hope this helps a little bit.
If you have a stitching question I might be able to feature for you in a future video or blog post, CLICK HERE to send me an email and let me know what question I can answer to make your stitching better!