What is Pooling and how is it accomplished?
19 Feb 2023
What is yarn pooling and how is it accomplished?
The term pooling is when the colors of a variegated, speckled, or tonal yarn start to stack or come together in one place when knitting or crocheting. This happens because the combination of stitches and the colors of the yarn meet at the same place during several rows of stitching. Pooling is a personal preference. Some knitters or crocheters do not like pooling at all and will do anything to avoid it while others embrace the idea. Yarn manufacturers and dyers are dying yarn specifically with this effect in mind. When planned, pooling can add a special effect to your project. When not planned, however, the results can be disappointing. I know because while knitting on a sweater last year, I decided to add bust darts. This change caused zebra marled yarn to begin to pool which left me with two unwanted blobs of black knitting. I corrected it, but not before ripping back several rows.
Is there a way to avoid pooling?
Yes, the best and easiest way to avoid pooling is to change skeins or balls of yarn every few rows when working flat or every row when stitching in the round. This holds true whether you are using variegated or speckled yarn and even tonals.
What if you are using only one ball of yarn?
You can try altering your gauge by using a slightly smaller or larger needle. Another option would be to add or delete a few stitches to alter the pattern. You would just need be aware that it could alter your size if working on a garment. Whether planned, intentional or assigned, pooling can be fun and interesting.
What are the differences of pooling?
Organic pooling happen when the stitch count and yarn come together naturally such as in this cowl knit using variegated yarns.
Planned pooling happens when the stitches are manipulated along with the color changes in the yarn to form a specific stacked pattern when knit in the round often seen in socks.
The technique called assigned pooling, is a whole different idea and has become my latest obsession. Dawn Barker of Barker Wool has designed over 13 patterns using this technique. You can read her blog about assigned pooling here and find her patterns in Ravelry.
Dawn's Float Shawl (available on Ravelry) was the beginning of her journey into assigned pooling. While not the "inventor" of assigned pooling, according to some Reddit posts it's been around since since the early 2000's, Dawn has developed and promoted the process.
Why my obsession with assigned pooling?
Because it’s fun and addicting. Earlier this year several of my favorite yarn dyers sent emails about ordering yarn especially dyed for assigned pooling. I wasn’t sold on the idea. After all, what is so special about assigned pooling. Then a few of my customers began asking about it and that got me thinking about this technique. After all, I still have vivid memories of frogging back that sweater. But I researched the technique, found Dawn’s blog and became interested. At that time I didn't stock yarn specific for assigned pooling so I searched the shop and came across LITLG Sport Merino in the colorway Hinoki, a deep dark green with beautiful orchid color running through it. While I loved the colors together, I wasn’t in love with my pooling stitch, so I started over with one from Dawn's pattern. Since then, I haven’t been able to put it down. There is still a long way to go before it’s finished and of course blocking, but I'm hoping I can have it finished soon.
What will I do with my new learned technique?
Why teach you how to do it of course! During the month of March, I will be teaching a one hour class specifically how to do assigned pooling. Sure you can learn on your own, but wouldn't it be more fun in a group? Oh, and I've order new yarn dyed specifically for this class. I hope you will get as excited about trying this newfound (or at least newfound to me) technique.
Does pooling happen only when knitting?
Absolutely not! In fact some very talented crocheters have developed a color pooling calculator. You can read more about learning how to crochet argyle patterns by clicking here. Regardless whether you are a knitter or crocheter, I invite you to try this technique. Fair warning, if you are going to attempt planned pooling, get out your calculator. There is a lot of math involved.