Variegated yarn poses a set of challenges when you are using it. Sometimes it plays nicely and other times it doesn't. Everyone seems to have a slightly different attitude towards it as well. Some people like pooling and others find it frustrating. Some do everything they can to see pooling and others do everything they can to prevent it.
I sit in the second camp. I find pooling frustrating and try to avoid it if I can.
I have been knitting a jumper for myself. It's a top down raglan using a variegated yarn and while working on the top portion of the jumper, the yarn behaved beautifully. No pooling, lovely variation through it all. Once I put the sleeve stitches on hold and started working on just the body however, things changed.
Pooling started to appear. It was spiraling thickly one way and then took a sharp turn and went the other. There were big blocks of single colours. As I knit I tried to convince myself that this was ok, it's the nature of the beast. I persevered. After a couple of inches work, I couldn't do it anymore so I pulled it back and alternated yarn from both ends of the ball to see if that would break it up. The same thing happened, this time with alternating rows of light and dark as you can see in the photo above, but still big patches of single colours. I reached the end of the straight portion of the body and started the hip increases for the A-line shape and all of a sudden, the patches of colour were spreading out. The pooling was getting broken up! My problem had been the number of stitches in each round and by changing it up by as little as 8 stitches, this had completely changed the fabric that was being knit. So this afternoon, knowing it would be well worth the effort, I pulled it all the way back to the armholes again, rewinding the two strands of yarn as I went. This time instead of having 11 stitches under each arm I cast on 15. Such a small thing to do to make such an important difference.
I have been knitting on my jumper this evening, and it is such a different fabric now, so very much more pleasing than before. After a very small section of thicker pooling at the underarm height, it is pooling below that in a set of very narrow spirals around the body, it is essentially striping. The colours are spread evenly, there are no big blocks of colour and most importantly I'm not wondering whether I'm going to want to wear it once it is done. This will definitely get worn!
I will have to remember this next time I am playing with variegated yarn, the difference between a pleasing outcome and one that really isn't, can be the difference of just a few stitches.