Ok, that might need a little explanation. Here goes: When yarn is dyed, it's in a loop, and is usually laid out as a very flat oval. Then the dye is applied in stripes. You can see what I mean here:
This is some lovely (very lovely) baby kid mohair from Fleece Artist. You can see purple was applied to the one end (where the loop turns a corner), and green to the other end, and yellow and white in the middle.
Yarns dyed like this look very pretty in the skein (as above); and sometimes can even look pretty--albeit very mixed together--wound into a yarn cake (as below):Troy thinks this ball could hang on the wall as is and be counted as art,
but I'd rather knit with it.
But what often happens when you just knit with it is that it turns into something that is very technically termed, clown barf. I have no picture, but I'm sure you can imagine what I mean. A knitted item with colours just mixed indiscriminately everywhere looking a lot like barf in clown colours.
This doesn't always happen; sometimes you get a repeating pattern--most often a sort of argyle a little like:but it's very much out of your control.
I have jumped onto the "pooling scarf" trend, I believe started by one or both of the Yarn Floozies, wenat and Dotty. There was a class [that I didn't take] at Red Purl that first brought it to my attention, but when I was ready to learn, I just read a few of their posts and went from there. (Try these posts, if you want to see for yourself--minus the first one.)
So in yarn pooling, you work with the yarn to determine where the colours are going to go, and then work to keep them there as you knit. You knit across a row with either half a loop or a full loop of the skein and then turn around and go back the other way repeating the same colour pattern.
I am using the full loop because that worked out closest to the width I needed for the pattern. And this gives me green-yellow/white-purple-white/yellow-green:*Isn't that freaking amazing! It's a wonder. And yes, I am obsessed. (For example, I only have to work in the ends on my Odds & Sods socks to cross it off my Spring to Finish list, and I haven't because I'm working on this scarf!)
*A half loop would have given green-yellow/white-purple.
The picture is actually showing a large swatch and practice piece. It could have been the beginning of my shawl, but I didn't get the tension even enough and if you look close enough you'll see the left side is bigger and longer than the right. That was me trying to keep the colours lined up. If the dying isn't perfectly uniform then you have to work some stitches a little looser or tighter to keep things lined up. But I think I took it a little too far. And now my shawl is a large swatch. I'll be starting over shortly.
Anyway, it's a really fun project. The stitch pattern itself is easy and repetitive, but I do have to think about the colours constantly. There's been a lot of tinking too so I can adjust the tension. It all just feeds the obsession... (Stripes are a good way to keep me interested, but this has really consumed my attention, making me have to knit just "one more row" to see how it's going to come out!)
And what's this going to turn into? I'm planning to make the Belinda shawl from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. (Top left pic here.) Another simply brilliant idea. Two layers of mohair lace in different colours that, when combined, give an illusion like plaid. It's great!
Time to go, I've got a pooling scarf to knit!