Self Striping Yarn for Crochet

What It Is, How To Use It, Pros and Cons

Colorful Striped Yarn

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Self striping yarn is a particular type of yarn. As the name suggests, it creates stripes as you crochet. You do not need to change colors. In fact, you do not need to do anything at all. You can crochet in any stitch, working on any project, and self striping yarn will give you stripes. It is magical.

How well this effect is achieved varies depending on the crochet pattern and the yarn itself. The "rows" (or stripes) might not be exact. For example, when you look closely, you might see that a blue row actually begins with a bit of green yarn. However, the overall effect is one of stripes. The idea isn't for it to be perfect but rather for it to be easy.

Self striping yarn can have as few as two colors. However, it typically has several different colors. They change from one to the next to the next in rotation. The color changes may be very subtle or very bold. The colors may repeat in order or change up throughout the skein. For example, you might have blue, red, purple, green, then purple, red, green, blue.

Often there are long lengths of each color before the color changes to the next, although there are examples of short-length self-striping yarn colors as well.

Advantages of Self-Striping Yarn

There are many reasons that people choose to try self striping yarn. The magic of watching the stripes simply form is a primary reason. Some other common reasons include:

  • It is a simple way to make color changes. Many knitters and crocheters want to create very colorful, eye-catching projects but they don't want to have to change colors over and over again. Beginners may not feel confident changing colors. Some people don't like to weave in ends. Others don't want to purchase many colors of yarn to create one colorful project. They just want to buy one or two skeins. Whatever your reason, if you want to create a colorful project using a single ball of yarn then self-striping yarn can be a great choice. Of course, you can also choose different multi-color yarn, such as variegated yarn skeins. Self striping yarn is specifically for creating stripes.
  • The colors in a skein naturally go well together. With self-striping yarn there is no need to worry about whether or not your colors will look good together; the manufacturer has most likely done a great job of picking harmonious colors. This is helpful for crafters who lack color confidence. It's also helpful when you're purchasing yarn on the Internet, and you can't see it in person before you buy it to get an idea of whether or not the colors will work together well when you actually see them in real life. Self-striping yarn allows you to create multi-colored projects without requiring a lot of time picking out the exact colors.
  • You can create interesting patterns using color. The advanced technique of planned color pooling in crochet allows you to create patterns, such as an argyle-style of print, using a single skein of yarn. It relies entirely on long-stranded self striping yarn.

Disadvantages of Self-Striping Yarn

Of course, every yarn has its pros and cons. Self striping yarn is a great item to add to your stash but you'll want to know the drawbacks about using it so that you can make the most of it.

  • The yarn changes color when it changes; you don't get to decide. One downside to self-striping yarn is that the crafter has very little control over where the color changes fall; they might fall in the middle of rows or rounds even though they are intended to create rows. Sometimes the stripes created look nice and neat, but other times they could end up looking a bit sloppy or uneven. There are techniques to use to get around this (as in planned color pooling mentioned above) but if you want a very specific striped design with color changes exactly where you plan them then self-striping yarn might not be your first choice.
  • Self-striping yarn tends to be more expensive than solid-colored yarn is. If the same yarn is available in both solid and self-striping colors, check and compare how many ounces of yarn you're getting per ball in the solid vs. the self-striping. You might find that both balls have the same retail price, but you might also find that you get less yarn in the self-striping ball. This isn't always the case (and if the alternative is to buy lots of balls of different colors then the cost could go up with solid colors anyway) but it is something to be aware of as you purchase yarn.
  • Not every pattern looks good in self-striping yarn. It might take some experimentation to find a pattern that will work well with the yarn that you've chosen, varying hook size, etc. The good news is that there are a lot of self-striping crochet patterns out there where the designer has solved the problems for you!

Expect Surprises

When you work with any sort of variegated/multi-color yarn, including self striping yarn, your project is likely to turn out looking different than you might expect. It isn't easy to tell from looking at the ball of yarn how the colors are going to turn out when they are worked in the project itself. If you are following a crochet pattern for a solid color design, you may or may not like how the pattern comes out in the self-striping yarn. If you are creating your own design, then it may take some trial and error to get the effect you want.

This element of surprise is neither a disadvantage or an advantage. It's impossible to predict whether you'll be pleasantly surprised or unpleasantly surprised. It is just important to know going into any self-striping yarn project that you can't predict the results, so you want to approach these projects with an open mind and a willingness to change track if it isn't quite working out for you.

How to Use Self-Striping Yarn in Crochet

If you are new to using self-striping yarns as a crocheter, here are some tips that will help you out:

  • Look for yarn that is specifically labeled or reviewed as a self-striping yarn. There are many types of multi-color yarn and they don't all do self-striping, so if that's the effect that you want then look for it.
  • Choose patterns designed with self-striping yarns. Crochet designers have specifically created self-striping yarn crochet patterns that work out the kinks and let you make the most of this yarn. Play with those as you get started.
  • Try double-strand crochet. Combine the self-striping yarn with a second same-color yarn all throughout the project. For example, use a solid blue yarn double-stranded with your self striping yarn. This will give the project a very cohesive look (because one yarn is the same color throughout) regardless of the color changes from the self-striping yarn.

Self-striping yarn is a great yarn to use for all kinds of different projects, as long as you are aware that it has some drawbacks and might have unexpected surprises. Embrace the mystery. Have fun with it.

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