Tonal contrast and dye lots

I accidentally finished my pink Love Note before Monday’s Zoom knit nite, so I was desperate to put something else on the needles. This is the downside of being a monogamous knitter.

I poked through my tiny stash, and decided to cast on a second Half the Knit Sky, just to see how far 2 400 yard skeins could take this. The original only has 388 yards in the gradient sparkle skein.

You know the mono tonal contrast camera trick? Put your camera phone in monotone to see if your colors have tonal contrast. Based on this picture, it looks like the speckled yarn would show up well against either of the two blues I have here. I opted for the lighter of the two, because I had tried the darker before and I thought the colors looked muddy together.

But you really don’t know until you try it. Where are my stars?

I think the issue is in the dye lot. The one I’m using is in the upper corner. It looks like the speckles are longer/heavier than the speckles on the one in the lower corner, which is leftover from my Both Sides Now shawl. The light background of the speckle is an ok tonal pop with the background color, but the big star stitch stars are getting lost because there’s too much of the speckle dye in them.

I only have half a ball (44g) of the older version, not enough to do the whole shawl.

I really like the way the older speckle yarn pops off the dark background. When I swatched the dark yarn before with the new speckle, I thought it was a bit muddy. Whyyyyy?

The other difference between these two speckled yarns? The older one is whiter, and the newer one has a more natural/cream background. This isn’t a knock on the yarn; dye lots can vary quite a bit. It’s only when you have your heart set on a particular vision that it becomes problematic.

I do think the darker background is the better choice.

What to do? I think I can make this work if I use the whiter yarn for the single stars and the tall star stitch rows, as well as the final border. I can use the creamier, more heavily speckled yarn in most of the star trail rows (the long white lines). That would be like natural variation in the sky, and it would also vary the perceived length of the lines.

As with most knitting, I’ll have to try it and see. I just have to decide whether to rip back to the beginning of the second set of star trails, or let those bright trails stand. What do you think?

11 responses to “Tonal contrast and dye lots

  1. I think you’re right: use the cream-ish one for the trails, Michele ..
    That beautiful project is truly a work of inspiration; and you could make several shawls utilizing all the blues and whites and creams and pale yellows in the world ! 🙂

  2. Y'vonne Cutright

    Michele, whatever you do will be wonderful! Enjoy it again.

  3. Shopping Jam

    You do what feels right to you. But you are a detail person, so guessing you will rip it out to do the stars in the lighter/whiter yarn and the star trails in the darker/beigier white. That way the stars will pop as you desire them, while allowing you to maintain consistency throughout the entire project with each yarn playing its own role/stitch portion and without fear or running out of the left over yarn. for the stars!

    • You called it; that’s exactly what I’m doing! Except I didn’t take out the first set of star trails; they’re small and I wanted more white to show on those. The later ones are longer and can stand more speckle in them, but the first ones get overwhelmed.

      Well on my way now!

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    I think that is just gorgeous!

  5. Beautiful, thank you for sharing.


  6. Darker one definitely has more pop

  7. The darker one is definitely better for the background, and I think your solution for the star yarns is your best option. It will be a really interesting look! It is really interesting how sometimes yarns that look OK together in as skeins really don’t work that well in a pattern 🙂

    • Yes! I think the lighter blue would have been fine, if the speckle yarn were lightly speckled. but since I only have 44g of that, the dark yarn provides a good contrast for both versions of the speckle. Just finished my last set of increases, so it should be done soon…although the rows are now 294 sts long, so it’s taking twice as long as the previous rows!

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