Texture is the siren’s call of our craft, an allure that delights our hands and captivates our attention. It isn’t always easy to capture the depth, impressions, or structure we envision for our stitches, though. The magic that makes cables pop or knit-purl combinations sing begins with the yarn. While it is usually best to use the recommended yarn in a project (the designer often takes great care in selecting a yarn that suits the overall drape, wear, and structure of the piece), there are two notable areas to consider when pairing yarn for a textured pattern. Here are our tips to make them work in your favor.
First, look at the number of plies, or strands, that are twisted together. The more plies you have, and the tighter they are twisted, the more definition your stitches achieve. This is because it makes the yarn more “round” and round enables individual stitches to pop. Single-ply yarns and yarns with less plies (and/or are loosely plied) plied give a softer effect to patterning because the yarn itself takes on a textured appearance.
Colour falls into three groups (or four if you consider the splashed/speckled yarns, but I lump those in with variegated). Depending on the stitch, colour can move and shift across the fabric, adding or reducing the depth you’ve planned for your piece. Remember: the more variation or contrast you have in colour, the less visible your stitch patterning may be.
Semi-Solids are where texture shines, taking on a new depth with the delicate shifts in a colour.
Tonals sit in the middle between semi-solid and variegated. Soft shifts in the hues are noticeable, but they aren’t contrasting enough to be considered variegated. The effect on patterning is softer, more muted, but it doesn’t erase the texture altogether.
Variegated yarns are intoxicating but highly contrasting. The short bursts of colour changes lessen the visibility of complex stitchwork. Simple stitches shine, allowing the colour to take over the show.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as “wrong” in knitting or crochet. That is especially so when it comes to texture. Whether you want a soft effect or a bold one, these tips will guide your hand for the perfect fabric for you.