Have you ever found a beautifully irresistible skein of variegated yarn that you just HAVE to take home with you?
Maybe like THIS:
You take it home, full of excitement because you just know that it's going to make the most stunning thing you've ever made.
And then you wind it into a cake and it looks more like a weird muddled sort of camouflage. Maybe like this:
Where did all that amazing color go!?
WHAT am I supposed to make with THIS?
Maybe you even try crocheting a little with it, but it still has that muddy camo vibe going.
Then you think maybe it wasn't such a great acquisition after all.
Maybe it should just hide in the back of a closet somewhere. To sit in shame. Abandoned and forgotten.
Well, let's turn that frown upside down with some planned color pooling!
What's that, you say? Well, it's THIS:
Well NOW we're talking right!?
Color pooling can happen without being planned and sometimes it works out great (my mother has a unique talent for fortuitous color pooling happening when she knits; it's a little bit disgusting in all honesty), but sometimes it's not so great and just looks like a mess.
Most of my experiences with variegated yarns have been more mess than not.
But a couple years ago I took a class from Laura Bryant called Intro to IKAT Knitting and Crochet and it changed. my. world. Seriously! It was the coolest technique I'd ever learned. And this was before planned pooling was the hot little trend that it has become, so I didn't see it all over the place like I do now.
In all honesty, I never even planned on writing a pattern using this technique because there are so many variables to this sort of "mindful" crocheting if you will. So much depends on individual tension and yarn choice and even different dye lots in some cases, so it didn't really seem like the kind of thing that I could write a pattern FOR.
But I shared one of my progress pictures of this scarf on facebook and there was such a phenomenal reaction to it that I decided I would give it a try. The catch is that the instructions below are for THIS yarn in THIS colorway with MY gauge. YOUR gauge will almost certainly be different than mine and YOUR yarn, even if you get the exact same color, may have different lengths of color than the skeins I used. So. That means you will probably have to improvise.
I'm going to give you a place to start..
And I'm going to give you a few tips along the way that will hopefully help you achieve your own beautifully color pooled scarf. Or whatever you choose to make - because it doesn't just have to be scarves! And it doesn't have to be argyle, either. But that's a discussion for another day!
Today we're going to talk about how to use planned color pooling to create an argyle-like fabric with Araucania Alumco in Hawaiian Glow with a 4.5mm crochet hook.
Shall we begin?
Araucania Alumco Yarn in Hawaiian Glow, 2 - 3 skeins (400 - 650 yards)
4.5mm Crochet Hook
Using suggested materials as stated above and following directions below, finished scarf should measure approximately 6" wide. The scarf in the sample is about 48" long so if you want a longer scarf, you'll want a third skein of yarn. Ultimately, your gauge depends on your colors, which we will discuss in more detail below.
MY gauge worked out to be 40 stitches in linen stitch (sc, ch 1, sk 1) and 30 rows = 6"
There are three main colors in this yarn: green, pink, and orange. There is also a transition between each color which typically takes up the space of one single crochet. The green stands out the most so that is the color we will focus on in this project (your target color) but you can use the transitional purple and greenish gold colors on each side of the green to further help your stitch placement.
Also, this entire piece is worked in what is known as the linen stitch, or sometimes also called the moss stitch, which is simply single crochets worked into chain one spaces.
Chain a minimum of 42 sts. One way to make sure you have enough chains is to simply chain through an entire color repeat, so with this yarn, start chaining in a segment of green and keep chaining until you reach the green again.
Row 1: Sc in 4th ch from hook. Make sure that this first stitch is at the beginning of the green segment of yarn. I've also found that working into the top AND the back loop of the starting chain works best with the linen stitch, but feel free to experiment with your own hook placement (I'm normally a back loop only kind of gal).
*Ch 1, sk 1, sc in next ch. Repeat from * across for a total of 20 sc and 19 ch 1 sps. Your first six sc stitches should be green. Your 7th sc should be the transitional gold. The remaining stitches should be orange and pink.
The goal is to repeat the linen stitch pattern until you complete a full color repeat and then either take out or add one stitch. This offsets your full repeat by one stitch so that EVERY OTHER ROW stacks just one stitch off from the row before. We will be subtracting a stitch. Bear with me on this, I have pictures!
Row 2: ch 2, turn. Sc in 1st ch 1 sp. This stitch should be purple.
*Ch 1, sk 1, sc in next ch 1 sp. Repeat from * across, with final sc being worked into the space created by working into the 4th ch from the hook. Again, you should have 20 sc. Your 2nd - 7th sc stitches should be green. Then the 8th sc stitch gold.
Row 3: ch 2, turn. Sc in 1st ch 1 sp. This stitch should be purple.
*Ch 1, sk 1, sc in next ch 1 sp. Repeat from * across, with final sc being worked into ch 2 sp from beginning of row 2. Your 2nd - 7th sc stitches should be green and the 8th gold.
Row 4: ch 2, turn. Sc in 1st ch 1 sp. *Ch 1, sk 1, sc in next ch 1 sp. Repeat from * across, with final sc being worked into ch 2 sp from beginning of previous row. (20 sc, 19 ch 1 sps plus one ch 2 sp at beginning of row)
Your 2nd sc should be purple, followed by six green. Beware, as shown below, that sometimes your transitional colors stretch longer than other times, so just make sure that you have 6 fully green sc stitches.
Rows 5 - however many you want: repeat row 4, ensuring that each time you begin a segment of green it is one stitch to the left of the first stitch of green TWO rows below.
By the time you reach 8 - 10 rows, you should start to see the argyling happening!
Then you just keep going in the same manner, always checking to see that the first green sc is one sc to the left of the first green sc two rows below and making sure you always have a total of six single crochets in each green segment.
Here's where that mindfulness comes in.
There will probably be a few times when you come up a little short or maybe you have a bit too much of one color, especially as your target colors (green, in our case) stretch across the ends of your rows since you have one extra chain stitch when you begin a new row. When that happens (should be around row 31), you'll have to pull out a few stitches, sometimes as many as the whole color repeat (back to your last green stitch), and rework them either a little bit tighter if you were short or a little bit looser if you had too much color for your target number of stitches (six green ones here). So you're going to be constantly adjusting your tension as you crochet.
You may find some predictability in when you should work your stitches more tightly, such as when your green is at both the end of one and the beginning of the next row, or more loosely, such as if you forget to loosen back up after turning that row! Some people find it easier to switch to a smaller hook to accomplish this, so don't be afraid to experiment with changing your tools instead of changing the way you crochet, the same as you would anytime you needed to make adjustments to meet gauge on any other project.
The key with this technique is patience. And counting. And swatching! If you try following these instructions and it's just not lining up right, just keep working for a few rows and then count and see how many green stitches YOU have. Maybe you're a tight stitcher and need to have seven instead of six. Or maybe you crochet more loosely and only make four green stitches. That's fine! But that means your count will be different than mine.
So find out how many stitches YOU average in a full color repeat and then make your scarf that wide, minus one. If that doesn't work, try adding one back in. You can even play with this within the same swatch. The most important thing to achieve here is moving the beginning of your target color over by one stitch on every other row. So long as that happens, you should have a nice argyle pattern going before you know it!
And if you're feeling REALLY frisky, you could work through two or more color repeats (minus one at the end) to make a cowl or even a blanket!
I've used this technique with several different yarns with varying results. I find ones that argyle best tend to have fairly even segments of color with abrupt transitions between them that give 5 - 8 stitches per color. Hawaiian Glow has definitely been my most striking planned pooling yet, though!
Oh and one more tip: if you use multiple skeins, make sure the color in the new skein you're adding in is going in the same direction as your first one is. So green to orange to pink and back to green in this example. If you tried to add the next skein and it went green, pink, orange instead, you'd quickly lose your argyle pattern!
I hope you've found this helpful - I know it's a lot of information! Just keep swatching, making minor adjustments with your hooks and/or tension as needed and one of these times it'll all fall into place, just like it did for me. And it'll change. your. world!
Oh and don't forget to finish off and sew in your ends. Then wear your finished piece like the crochet rockstar you are!