I’ve been buying some more exciting hand-dyed yarns of late, which has propelled me into the mathematical world of self-patterning yarn. I recently wrote about a hat I made using some absolutely stunning yarn.

Princess of Power Hat

Variegated yarns come in many flavours, most commonly self-striping. When the pattern creates large sections of similar colours, this is known as pooling as in my Princess of Power hat above.

I had an issue when I first started when I wasn’t happy with the patterning and ripped the hat out. All the while, I was thinking that there must be a geeky way to model how the stripes will knit up using technological wizardry. Once I finished making the hat, I was left with a problem and a question.

The problem: The hat is slightly smaller than I would like.

The question: Can I increase the size of the hat while maintaining this awesome pattern?

After knitting a couple of swatches on needles of different sizes, it finally occurred to me to go to the source of all modern knowledge. Google revealed that, of course, someone before me has had a similar query about working with self-patterning yarn and someone else has set up a website where you can model how your self-patterning yarn is likely to look at different stitch counts. Amazing!

This is how the app predicted that my hat would look.

Pretty close, right?
I compared the computer model to another real swatch.

I think this yarn is dyed to give a zigzag effect that could only be fully modelled if I put in loads more data, which I was too lazy to do. I was more interested in finding the ‘magic number’ stitch count that would give the effect I am after.

Anyway, unfortunately this experiment has revealed that I can’t make a hat with the same pooling pattern and a slightly larger size. Since the pattern I currently have is the one I’m crazy about, I think I’ll do the finishing on the hat, decide whether duplicate stitching over the purple stripe increases my hat love, and add a gigantic pompom. I will also give the hat a solid blocking to see if that helps.

It’s a little bit heartbreaking that the hat of my dreams cannot be completely realised, but I’m pleased to have learned so much about variegated yarns. This will be something I will definitely bear in mind if I want to work with a pooling yarn again.


Talya made a helpful suggestion in the comments that I think is worth addressing in the post. She proposed knitting the hat flat and adding a rectangle of knitting to increase the size.

The point this highlights is that self-patterning yarns knit up differently when worked in the round vs flat. This is because you are always working in one direction in the round, whereas flat you work left to right, then right to left. This means that yarns will pool differently depending on how you work them. To demonstrate this, I generated a prediction of how my hat would look worked flat. You can see that everything else is same, the only variable is method of working. The app very cleverly allows you to look at both methods.

Cool argyle, right?

Anyway, anyone considering using this app for a project should have a look at how their yarn will pool in the round vs flat during the planning stages.

Thanks Talya for joining the conversation and highlighting this interesting feature of self-patterning yarns. It’s so nice to get everyone’s lovely and thought-provoking comments.