We love stashbusters! Dig into your stash and knit some ombré stripes with Amy Kaspar!
Do you need to make room in your stash for all of that yarn you received as gifts these past couple weeks? One way to blow through a large quantity of yarn is to use ombré stripes on your next project. The premise behind ombré stripes is that they are gradual instead of harsh, gradient instead of stark. You can blend two strands of yarn at the same time to get a good ombré-stripe effect, and you can knit your projects faster this way as well!
For the demonstration, I am using three different colours of worsted-weight, 100% acrylic yarn. You can use any weight of yarn you want, and they do not even have to be the same weight between them. Keep in mind, though, that you will be multiplying the number of strands throughout the project, so doing yarns in the same weight will keep the stripes consistent in stitch size and fabric density.
When doubling yarn, there is a rule of thumb which will help you determine your general needle size and gauge. It is literally a general rule, and not an excuse to not do a gauge swatch, but doubling yarn of one weight gets you the next yarn weight. In other words, two strands of lace weight gets you a fingering gauge, two strands of fingering gets you a DK gauge, and so on. I doubled worsted, so I should be getting a bulky gauge. Because of this, I chose size 6.5mm/US10.5 needles.
This rule of thumb also means, by the way, that four strands of fingering gets you a worsted-weight gauge. Just remember that it is not necessarily that easy to knit with four strands at once. Especially for newer knitters, two should be the limit.
Determine how you want the stripes to lie – I decided to go from light to dark, but ombré stripes do not need to be in any particular order. They are just the gradual blending of yarn, so I could have gone dark to light as well. To do this, I am doing one stripe with the lightest colour doubled, the next stripe with the light and medium colour, the next one with two strands of medium, the next stripe with a medium and a dark, and the last one with two darks.
If you want to make stripes that don’t gradually change but you still want to have variations in your colours using two different shades of yarn, then mix it up! To do a true ombré, you need to do them in order of shade-level, but if your goal is to make pretty things and get rid of yarn at the same time, make the stripes in any order your heart desires.
To start an ombré stripe pattern, I took two strands of the lightest colour, and cast on with them. Then I knit knit knit. How thick do you want your stripes? I knew I wanted my niece’s poncho to have two panels that were eleven inches by 22 inches, so I figured out my gauge, and determined the number of rows I would need for 22 inches. When it was time for the next stripe…or when it is time for your next stripe, clip only one of the two strands and tie on the next colour.
The next stripe is the light and medium colour together, and the stripe after that is two strands of medium. The word “ombré” means shaded or graduated, so you can do this by substituting one strand at a time instead of using a different solid colour for each stripe.
This technique is great for items such as baby sweaters, which pretty much look cute no matter what colour yarn is used. It is also excellent for afghans and other home decor items, since the density of the fabric is easily changed by the needle size (go smaller for a denser fabric, and larger for a more loose and drapey fabric) and the items can be made to match a wide variety of other items in the home.
A caveat: If you want to use this technique for socks, it is not advised to use two strands of laceweight yarn unless it is plied, or it has a fibre content including nylon, silk, or another more stablizing fibre besides wool. If you use 100% wool laceweight yarn doubled for socks, they will not be quite as strong and long-lasting as socks made with that nylon or silk fibre.
Other ideas: Cast on enough for a side-to-side (meaning the long way, and not the wide way) scarf, and ombré-stripe three different colours at one inch apiece. Use this technique for a top-down sweater and ombré-stripe the yoke. Gorgeous!
If you want to get rid of some yarn, make something pretty out of the colour combinations you aleady have, or just knit something at a thicker gauge than you would normally knit that yarn, then it’s time to ombré. By the way, I showed this poncho to my eight-year-old niece at Christmas so I could make sure it fit her. She originally asked for it to be blue. Upon seeing it, she asked if I could put some pink in it if it is not too much trouble. She’s eight…and she will get pink fringe on her blue ombré-striped poncho.
What are your favourite stashbusting tips? Share them with us in the comments!
Last updated: February 19th, 2015.