Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Flashing in the Pool

I like random patterns. No, I don't stare at the clouds, looking for Elvis, or examine my grilled cheese sandwiches, either before or after taking a bite, looking for the Virgin Mary in the burned spots, and even if I saw her, unless she was cranking out some serious bloody tears, I'd just finish my lunch.

Knit or crocheted fabric made with variegated yarns (yarns with sections of different colors) can sometimes produce interesting epiphenomena known as "pooling" and "flashing." Pooling describes the grouping of one of the repeated colors in the same area. Flashing tends to look more planned, with diagonal "stripes" of colors or other more organized-appearing color placement.

Pooling examples:
The purple keeps pooling into small spots

I totally love this argyle look

Both are just a function of the length and regularity of the color repeats combined with how much yarn you're using on each row of knitting. It seems random, but if someone really wanted to take advantage of it (or avoid it), they could do a lot of math.

I'm posting about this now because I just finished two sweaters which have some serious flashing and pooling going on.

Flash! Aaaa-aaaah...
Savior of the universe!

Some people are really anti-pooling. Some yarns are even marketed as guaranteed not to pool, which I assume is accomplished by shortening and randomizing the length of the color sections. While I've seen some unfortunate examples of pooling, usually of color pooling and highlighting specific areas of a garment, most are usually benign and some are even really cool. I really like seeing what turns up.

1Some people may say this is more a strange form of pooling than flashing. I'm going to call it flashing because it's a borderline case, and the stitch used makes the colors look more continuous across rows than they would if the color distribution happened in a plain stockinette piece.

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