“You’re so creative!” How many times have you heard that when someone sees what you’ve knit or crocheted? The thing is, it’s really true. Whether you’ve just followed a pattern to the letter, or you’ve modified it a little, or you’ve designed something yourself from scratch, the fiber arts is that they push us all a little out of our comfort zones. We all feel the urge to try a new technique, put together a bold colour combo, or work with an exotic new fiber, and we grow in our creativity when we do.
When we go to shows and I get the chance to help our customers choose yarns, there’s one creative challenge I’m always encouraging them to try: combining different yarns together in one project. I don’t just mean different colours but different yarn bases — as long as the yarn weights work together, combining different bases can create stunning effects. The members of our Mini-Skein Club know this: the yarns are always fingering weight but the parcels contain different bases, and we’ve designed them to work together.
Combining Yarns Made Easy
Now, I get it — most patterns use just one type of yarn and so we’re all trained to stick to one base for each project. Branching out and combining two different yarn types can be a little intimidating so let me help you out with a combination that works beautifully and creates a stunning result: Maia and Celeste.
First, let’s start with Celeste. It’s a light fingering — a full 490 yards of scrumptious merino per skein — that absolutely loves to be knit on larger needles (think US size 8s) to create a wonderfully light and floaty fabric. And then there’s Maia: it’s nearly the same weight, just a little bit heavier at 400 yards per skein but, with 80% bamboo, it has a drape and lightness that are a beautiful match for Celeste, and you can easily use the two in the same project.
But here’s where the magic comes in: visually, they’re very different. Celeste‘s 100% superwash merino takes on dye with a gorgeous intensity — the colours are rich, vibrant, and delicious — and, most importantly, with a matte effect. Whereas Maia takes on those same colours incredibly lightly — much paler, softer, beautifully delicate — and it’s bamboo content give it sheen that makes the yarn look almost iced. Two yarns that play nicely with each other but give you vibrant colour vs soft… matte vs sheen… You can create distinct stripes even though you’re working with yarns in the exact same colourway! Are you beginning to see why I love this combination?
(See all these images here with two yarns in the same colourway? That’s an illustration of just how distinctly different fiber contents take on the dye. Believe it or not, all of these yarns might actually have been dyed side-by-side in the same dyebath. They really do take on colour that differently!)
But don’t forget your stash! If you’ve in the Mini-Skein Club, I know you’ve got some awesome Maia-Celeste combos you can put together and let the two gradients work together. Or pick one yarn from your Minis and pair it with the other yarn in a semi-solid for contrast. There are all sorts of combinations you can create!
To make this a great combination, here are my best suggestions:
- Celeste and Maia are both fingering, so go for a pattern that’s designed for fingering yarn.
- Any pattern will work if you’re comfortable changing yarns on your own but it’s probably best (and easiest) to choose a pattern with stripes. Then, instead of changing colour for the stripes, you change the yarn. Cool, huh?
- Both of these yarns have wonderful drape, Maia’s high bamboo content makes it perfect for shawls and summer sweaters. But I’d suggest steering clear of things that need a lot of elasticity, such as socks.
- I’m crazy about the way Maia and Celeste look together in the same semi-solid colourway (as you can tell from these pictures) but don’t shy away from mixing a semi-solid with a variegated or creating a contrast. It can look amazing!
Looking for some pattern ideas? Here are two patterns that jumped right out at me…
Sea Grass features bias construction, three-dimensional lace, and garter stitch stripes that create interesting texture and a wonderful chance to play with colour. Working the pattern in the matte and sheen of Celeste and Maia will create an additional level of intrigue for a truly stunning project.