Three balls of yarn

Casablanca wound in balls - long
stretches of color
There is a common wisdom that hand-dyed yarns should be worked 2 balls at a time, mixing rows from both balls, to minimize the dye-lot variations that happen with hand-dyed yarns.  Working between two balls of yarn can also help mix things up a bit so the colors don't pool so drastically.  Thing is, with two balls of yarn, you have to work two rows of each before switching.  With crochet rows being fairly tall, that can be pretty stripey.  As an alternative, I started working with three balls of yarn, changing yarn at the end of each row.

I recently started a sweater using Cascade's Casablanca yarn, which has long stretches in each color.  If I used only 1 skein at a time, the short rows of my sweater would have wide stripes, and the wider parts of the sweater would have skinnier stripes, and it would all look fairly color-blocked - an effect I didn't want.

By starting with three balls of yarn, each starting at a different point in the color sequence, my sweater is coming out with a more fair isle look. Still need to make more progress on the sweater to see how it all works out.

I also used the 3 balls of yarn trick on a toddler sweater, this time with one ball each of two solid colors and a coordinated ball of a variegated that includes those two colors.  Because they all blend, the variegated yarn helped soften the stripey effect of the solid colors, and made the whole piece more lady-like.

If you use 3 different colors (A, B, and C), changing every row, the color sequence will be ABCABCABC - a 3-row repeat.  If you use four colors (W, X, Y, and Z), and switch yarn at the end of each row, picking up the yarn that has been waiting the longest, you end up with an 8-row repeat:  W-X-Y-Z-X-W-Z-Y.  That puts the colors in slightly different sequence, making the fabric look fancier.  It's another easy way to look clever.


Debbie said…
I love the cardigan, and would like to try the pattern. Your work is so inspiring!