It was love at first sight. I spied the displays of concentric circles from down the aisle at Joanne's, my favorite mega-craft store. Pink, purple, and cream -- light to dark shades of purple -- baby blue, lilac, and off-white -- shades of gray and white to gray to black -- They called my name. When I held out my hand to squeeze their lusciousness, I knew that I had to have some, and someday I would have to acquire them all!. Let the crocheting and knitting begin.
This moment of rapture summarizes my first encounter with Sweet Roll by Premier Yarns. I was attracted by the colors and enticed by the possibilities of the these self-striping yarns. The color combinations were delightful and creative. Left to my own devices, I would not have selected and brought together some of the diverse, harmonious, and complementary shades. Best yet, I would not have to join yarns, and the extent of each color was long enough to made a significant swath in my crocheted or knitted work. This was much sophisticated than my experiences with varigated yarns. Unfortunately, the crafter does not have a lot of control over where the color changes occur. Sometimes they will fall neatly at the end of the line. At others, they will fall midway, creating an uneven appearance. Also, slight flecks of another color sometimes appear while you are creating your project. If you are not a perfectionist, just go with the flow and enjoy the charm of the yarn. While these yarns tend to be more expensive than corresponding lengths of individual colors, store sales and coupons or for individual products and total purchases can significantly decrease the cost. The four major self-striping yarn brands are Sweet Rolls by Premier Yarns, Caron Cakes, Mandala by Lion Brand, and Bernat Pop.For a comparison and analysis based on yardage, fiber, washing instructions, cost, where to buy, number of colors, and hook size, see: http://www.5littlemonsters.com/2017/03/self-striping-yarn-cakes-comparison-of.html. Heart, Hook, Home writes a comparison of Sweet Rolls and Caron Cakes. http://hearthookhome.com/caron-cakes-vs-sweet-rolls-an-independent-and-100-honest-review
My first purchases of Sweet Roll were devoted to constructing my original designs for mismatched, coordinated fingerless gloves. Since I could pull the yarn from the outside or the center of the cake, I was not sure where each color would end, each glove was unique. Sometimes I would cut off contrasting pieces to make my signature flower accent. These gloves are treasured gifts by my friends and sell immediately at craft fairs. I am almost finished working out the details of my fingerless glove pattern and look forward to distributing it. http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/fingerless-gloves-mismatched-coordinated-handwarmers.
Who says a baby blanket or baby cocoon has to be in pastel colors. The color variation alone creates detail. The photos of the cocoons featured below show the lively possibilities. The yellow to coral cocoon was adorned with flowers. The neutral cream to tan, and the several shades of blue are perfect for a little boy. These cocoons keep an infant warm and are attractive photo props. The cocoons featured below were adapted from designs in bevscountrycottage.com. Just be sure not to leave the baby asleep alone in the cocoon for safety reasons.
I did not realize at first that Scarfie by Lion Brand offered a self-striping option to the knitter or crocheter. I have used skeins that carried from black to mixed to accent color. The yarn is classified as bulky (#5). The soft and lofty acrylic (78%) and wool (22%) contains enough yardage (312 yards) to knit or crochet a full length scarf. As the crafter works on the project an ombre effect emerges with a sofisticated blend of solid and heathered shades. Finished pieces can be machine washed if you wish, but should be laid flat to dry. Pieces knitted or crocheted with Scarfie work up quickly and easily. I love the dramatic effect achieved with this yarn. The photos below show pieces from a previous post on crocheting and knitting with black and white. http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/knitting-and-crocheting-in-black-and-white.
Even the rustic yarn, Homespun by Lion Brand, has many skeins with bands of suble color variations. As this yarn has so much texture, I keep my stitches simple. Homespunis an ideal choice for my luxurious shawls. I usually takes me 3 skeins of the thicker yarn ( with some left over) to create a 56" shawl with a 6 inch fringe. I use the remnant for a contrasting band on my textured scarf.
My most recent introduction to self-striping yarn was Caron Cakes (80% acrylic, 20% wool) which is sold exclusively at Michaels. The yarn was designed for Caron's 100th anniversary, but it proved so popular that the manufacture continue to produce it and extended its color line. With over 350 yards in a single skein, it contains enough yarn to complete a 72 inch scarf with border edge. Caron Cakes has quite a cult following with Facebook Groups and Pinterest Boards dedicated to work done with just this yarn. Devotees agonize when a favorite color combo discontinued or when a new one has not come to their locale. My first Caron Cakes project was "Road Trip" shawl, crocheted in shades of red, auburn, and speckled wheat. Since my piece was bigger than the model, I used parts of a second skein to complete the shawl. I was able to use the remainder by cutting out portions to create a pair of mismatched, fingerless gloves and a coordinated headband. The Crochet Club and other designers feature many tutorials and videos on several different scarves, shawls, and other projects. At this point most of the projects have been patterns for crochet.
My brand new "Desert Winds Scarf" is a Caron Cakes crochet pattern published by makeanddocrew.com. The free download was available on Pinterest. The pattern was supposed to be easy, but I found myself frogging constantly when I lost track of my pattern rows. I finally wrote down the row number after each completed row to avoid my own mistakes. When the piece was done, I thought it looked a bit uneven although it followed the picture rather closely. Therefore, I heeded my own advice and crocheted a single crochet row followed by a picot edging. I held my breath as I crocheted my way around the scarf and had inches left when I made the last stitch. Now I can pat myself on the back. I am really proud of the piece.
I am still in love with these products as they are beautiful and easy to work with. The gloves, scarves, shawls, and cocoons that I have created are unique and exciting. When Joanne's has a BOGO or 3 for $10 sale, I try to stock up on Sweet Roll. I make sure I carry my 50% off one item off coupon from Michaels with me when I go out. I have not been able to find Lion Brand Mandala or Bernat Pop at any local stores as of this date.
For the expert knitter or crocheter who is looking for speciality yarns, manufacturers such as Noro offer brilliant colors in wool and silk blends. These yarns are luxurious but tend to be from $10.00 to $20.00 for a small skein. I might consider investing in this yarn when I am sure of the pattern and the results I hope to achieve.
Which self-striping yarn is your favorite? Which projects make you beam with joy? Please post your thoughts in comments at the end of this article or thoughts and photos of your projects when this post appears on Facebook.