Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Argyle Planned Pooling

I wanted to write about a cool technique that I learned from a couple of really inventive women on Their user names there are "Statnerd" and "Wenat". I first came upon this technique reading a blog post from yarnfloozies.

The idea was to take hand painted yarn. Instead of allowing it to stripe and move about like it wants to, you instead take control over the colours. Wenat showed how to get the colors to stack up instead of stripe. My first attempt came out okay. I was not tight on the colours but the technique was really fantastic.

I loved this new way of thinking about hand painted yarn. Not only can the knitter start to control the colors of the dyer, but the dyer could provide calculated color segments for this type of technique. What has really gotten me excited is what Karla (statnerd) then did. She began to make the colors move in a planned way so that they started to make an argyle pattern. I really loved what she was doing and wanted to try it myself. The only problem was finding the right hand painted yarn. For months I looked in my two Local Yarn Stores but with no luck. All the hand painted was done in a way that would not work. Then I read about a third LYS in my area and stopped in. After opening up many skeins of yarn, in which Connie, the owner, had to then put back together ..thanks Connie for your patience... I finally found the perfect skein.

It was a merino fingering weight hand painted yarn from Tanis Fibers Arts.

The color was prism and I knew immediately it would work perfectly. You can see in the yarn how the Blue, Green, and Pink on both sides of the skein match up. The purple and Grey are at the ends. Man was I excited.

Argyle Pooling

Okay so now let me try and explain how this technique works and how I best found to plan it out.

The first thing I had to do was figure out how many stitches each colour would knit up. I was going to do garter stitch so I only had to worry about a knit stitch. I cast on about 30 stitches and then began to knit. As I did I counted how many stitches were in each colour. Now, one thing I will say about planned pooling is that you really get to be intimate with your stitches. It can really show you how your tension will fluctuate at times. The other reason you have to test this is that the dye segments can vary a bit also. So what I did was set up a chart.

There were four main colours that I was going to worry about.


And so after my swatch of about 10-15 rows I found the following stitch counts

Purple 18, 20, 19, 21, 20
Green Blue 16, 16, 15, 17
Gray 13, 13, 12, 12
Pink 8, 10, 9, 9

From this I was able to take some averages. Also I knew that if the choice was between 19 or 20 stitches for a colour I would use the lower number. It is easier to get a bit looser but there is a limit to how tight you could get. Okay so now I have the following:

PURPLE 18st GREEN/BLUE 15st GRAY 12st PINK 9 st

The next thing to decide was how they would work on the needles. By pulling out the yarn and looking at it I could see that with purple on one end and grey on the other, the other colours would meet up with themselves when knitting the back of the garment. Look back up at the skein and you will see what I mean.

So based on the colours and stitch counts above it would mean the following total stitches

PU 9st (1/2)
GB 15st
PK 9st
Gray 6st

TOTAL 39 stitches

But that would not be quite enough so I though about it more and decided I could put purples on each end with the gray in the middle. Doing so would still cause all the colours to match up.


And if I used 9 stitches for each purple, then I would have a total of 9+15+9+12+9+15+9=78 stitches. Now to make the colours move to form an argyle pattern I needed to cast on 2 more or less stitches. In this case I chose less and cast on 76 stitches. If I was going to slip the first stitch on each row I would have added one more stitch, but I decided to just knit everything.

So then I used the backwards "e" cast on, starting halfway down the purple. Once this was done the rest was so easy.

All I had to do was to use the stitch counts for each color that I had above, and count away. The two less stitches would then automatically takeover. easy.

Now if I came near the end of a color and there was too much of that colour still to go I would loosen up my tension a bit. And if the colour looked like it was going to end before the amount of stitches I needed for that colour then I would knit tighter. Sometimes I would even take my left needle and tighten or loosen stitches already knit on the needles.

And so that is about it. There are so many incredible things that can be done with this planned pooling technique and so many talented knitters out there tackling it. I just hoped I could help anyone to understand this technique so they can have some fun with it too.


  1. I know this is a really old post, but I just came across it in my search for a way to hand paint yarn for a customer to create a natural zebra stripe pattern. I just want to say thank you, thank you! Your post is a god-send!

  2. Neat! I've just created a website that I think might help with planned pooling:

    I'd love to hear what you think.

    1. David your calculator was recommended by Nastazia's YouTube. It got me excited enough to try planned pooling with a super saver variegated yarn. It's inconsistent in lengths but in crochet I am throwing n a few hdc with sc to pick up the slack and the argyle looks great. It certainly requires planning but the outcme is awesome!

  3. Great job! It was just what we were looking for today at the store!

  4. Just found this, thanks for the extra info, lovely result!

    1. Funny enough I was reading through your blog about planned pooling today, clicked on a link and ended up back on mine. I think that is the first time anyone linked to my blog or instructions. I can't thank you enough. It is really nice to know it helped someone and they could get what I was saying. THANKS>

  5. wow Stuart that is impressive work! I wish I would get the time to "play" with knitting the way you do. Truly amazing work you do.

  6. Good to know this group still exists. I have some yarn from CRAFTSMART color scheme Fiesta which is very similar to RH Papaya. I'm wondering if anyone used this Fiesta yarn successfully pooling?