A big thank you to Kath Atkinson for getting to grips with self-patterning yarn and writing this blog for us.
Most of us have seen yarns which are designed to create a nice pattern when used but can a ball really produce a plaid pattern?? When Shirley got some balls of Himalaya Everyday Ekose (Plaid), which claimed to do just this, I had to investigate.
The yarn is a combination of four complementary colours and comes in several colourways. Everyday (Ekose) Baby adds pastels to the range. Both come in 200g (330m) balls and are anti-pill acrylic with a recommendation for 5mm needles or 5.5 hook.
I used the pink and grey colourway. I found the yarn very nice and soft to work with. It did not split and after being worked, unravelled and reworked several times it still looked as good as when it first came off the ball.
The plaid technique is called ‘planned colour pooling’ and can be done in knitting or crochet. It seems to have been around for a few years but was a new one for me. In this blog I’ll explain what it is and what it could be used for.
To get self-patterning yarns to create their design you need to work over a certain number of stitches. This is no different. However, achieving the sharp lines of the plaid pattern is a bit more fiddly. Crochet produces the design with fewer stitches compared to knitting, so it is easier to try it out using crochet if you can. Moss stitch works particularly well.
The basic idea is to continually offset the colour sequence to create the diagonal lines. To try it out, work a complete colour sequence. Then work an extra stitch before working back again. This will offset the sequence so that it won’t create solid columns of the same colour.
Before starting the third row look down to the colour of the stitches in the first row. To create the diagonal line effect of the plaid, each new stitch on row 3 should sit diagonally above a stitch of the same colour on row 1. If you made 1 extra stitch when you began, the offset should be by 1 stitch. This sets the pattern. Continue working every row in this way, always looking at the colour in the row before last (not the very last row you did) and a pattern of diagonal lines will emerge.
Image showing how the black stitches are offset by 2 stitches compared to the penultimate row in order to create the diagonal line
The offset can be more than one stitch. The image above shows an offset of 2 stitches which often works well for knitting. This is due to knitting stitches being quite small and offsetting by one stitch would create an almost vertical line rather than a diagonal.
There are several good videos on YouTube which show how to make a sample. If you wish to have more input into the design or create something specific, there is a free internet tool which will enable you to take things a step further. A separate PDF file, which you can get here, covers both of these options with links to internet resources.
It is essential that you check your stitch colours to ensure a plaid design is being created. Sometimes this may mean reworking stitches to get the colours to fall correctly. As this requires some attention whilst stitching it means that creating plaid is not a project to work on mindlessly whilst watching TV or chatting. Don’t let all this put you off though. Take it carefully and the amazing result will be well worth the effort.
Stitch count is critical to this technique so it lends itself best to items like blankets, throws and cushion covers where a straight edged block of fabric is required. Increasing and decreasing stitches for a jumper would necessitate some extremely fiddly work to keep the plaid accurate.
If you are still intrigued and want to know more read How to create a plaid pattern using planned pooling. Click the link and it will open as a separate PDF file.