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Variegated yarn can give your projects more snap

If you knit or crochet, you probably have tried a variegated yarn. If you're like most, you use it to make an interesting project without having to do any fancy stitchwork _ the yarn creates the patterning. But many more interesting ways to use variegated yarns should be explored.

First, sample a number of variegated yarns. A wide variety is available. It's difficult to get a sense of the final result just by looking at a ball of yarn without knitting or crocheting a swatch.

Let's start with the use of the variegated yarn in the crocheted afghan shown here. The main color of the piece is white. A single Christmas-toned, varicolored yarn is used for the berries and leaves. You'll notice as you work that it looks as if you are adding many more colors in complex patterning simply by using one variegated yarn. Try other small patterns where you work small amounts of a contrasting color. You can create many looks with this technique.

In general, colorwork with a variegated yarn adds another dimension to your project. Several kinds of colorwork patterning are suitable for these yarns.

You can work with one or more solid tones and variegated colors in Fair Isle patterning. This is effective and easy compared to a true Fair Isle sweater that uses background tones with many other colors. Slip stitch patterns, where one color of yarn is used per row, also are ideal for solid/variegated designs.

You can use variegated yarns for large blocks of color or motifs in either knitting or crochet. For example, if you want to make an animal such as a cat or dog on a child's sweater, try using a tone such as a gray/black/cream variegated yarn that will create a mottled, animal-skin effect. Make fringe for a lion's mane in orange or gold shades. Large flower motifs can be enhanced by flowery-toned yarns. You can also use variegates to make abstract forms or for colorblocking.

The background color or colors you use greatly affect the outcome of your design. Black, white and other neutral solids are an ideal framework for a variegated yarn. The yarn will "pop" against the contrast of the background and create a dramatic look.

You can make a subtle design by using a heathery solid shade as a background. Pair this background with a variegated yarn that has similar tones for an even more subdued look.

Try stripes. This is always a fun way to use color in either knit or crochet. Work with uneven striped rows or even stripes with different patterns for additional texture and dimension. Designs using multiple colors and variegated yarns are the height of fashion.

Try working with a solid and a variegated yarn held together for another interesting effect. If the solid color is a mohair or novelty yarn, you will create an entirely different feeling.

Usually holding two variegated yarns of different colors doesn't work well. It ends up being too murky. But, you can work with two different colors of variegated yarns in the same piece. This makes a variegated piece highlighting the colors of both yarns.

How about using variegated yarns to embellish solid-colored projects? You can make fun tassels and pompoms. You can use it for fringe. You can also use variegated yarns to embroider or chain stitch on top of finished pieces.

Some seasonal warmth

You'll be well on your way to holiday decorating with our crocheted holly and berries afghan. It's simple to make with a single-crochet background and berries and leaves from one variegated yarn in Christmas colors. This afghan is about 47 inches by 52 inches without fringe. It uses a size G (4.50mm) hook. The afghan is made of Red Heart worsted-weight "SuperSaver," an acrylic yarn. Refer to kit HM891019. For the pattern only: Send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Herrschners, 2800 Hoover Road, Dept. M, Stevens Point, WI 54492. To order a kit for $24.99 (postage included), mention code M and call (800) 441-0838 or send to above address.

Hints or questions of general interest will be used in the column when possible. Please send them to Nancy J. Thomas, in care of the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

1997, Universal Press Syndicate