Have you ever knit or crocheted with a multi-colored yarn and been surprised to find the colors forming patterns as you work? This is due to the regular, repeating color sequence with which most multi-colored yarns are dyed or printed.
Sometimes this patterning can have unfortunate results (a big yellow blob on one side of a sweater, for instance). But you can harness these repeats to create intricate looking patterns with very little effort.
Planned pooling, or intentional pooling, is the technique of using the repeating color sequence of your yarn to make geometric patterns in your knitting or crochet. A quick search on Ravelry or Pinterest will show you dozens of eye popping projects using planned pooling.
We love a simple two-color yarn, like Everyday® Go Team, as a first planned pooling project. With fewer colors, the pooling patterns shows up faster, and it's easier to predict the look of your finished project. For our sample, we used Everyday® Go Team in color ED300-14 Blue Friday.
The first thing you'll need to know for a planned pooling project is how many stitches you'll get with each stretch of color. So make a little swatch using the stitch pattern you intend to use for your project. For our sample, I used basic single crochet. With a size I-9 hook, I got 14 stitches with the navy blue and 14 stitches with the green. This pattern repeated pretty consistently. So my color pattern repeat is 28 single crochets.
To produce an argyle-style pattern of diagonal bands intersecting to form diamonds, you need your row length to be 1 stitch longer or 1 stitch shorter than your color pattern repeat. I chose to work with 27 stitches in each row for my sample. At my gauge of 14 scs = 4", that made my piece just under 8" wide, or just about perfect for a scarf. Two balls of Everyday® Go Team will make a generous scarf; add a third ball for a lush fringe at each end.
If you want to play more with planned pooling, take a minute to check out www.plannedpooling.com. This is a brilliant little interactive calculator you can use to help predict the appearance of your color pattern. You enter the colors of your yarn, how many stitches in each color, and how many stitches in your row. The app shows you a picture of how the colors will align! Here is how it looked for my Everyday® Go Team sample.
Add more colors to match your yarn. Change the stitches per row to see how that changes the color patterning. Fair warning - this is an endlessly fascinating rabbit hole. Be sure you've turned the stove off before you start exploring on this webpage.
There are a couple of keys to success with planned pooling:
1) Consistent gauge - The alignment of the colors depends on your always getting the same number of stitches in each repeat of the color sequence. Small changes in the tension of your work can accumulate over the width of a row to completely change the way the colors line up. You can see in my sample where the diagonal bar of navy blue wobbles at it travels from lower left to upper right. That's because my tension changed when I put down the project and then picked it up again. Practice working at a consistent gauge to make your planned pooling look great.
2) Consistent number of stitches in each row - Planned pooling works best for pieces which are essentially rectangular. If you are shaping a garment with increases or decreases, you'll be changing the number of stitches in a row, which will change the way the colors stack.
3) Consistent color repeat in the yarn - If there is any interruption in the regular color repeat of your yarn, it will disrupt your planned pooling pattern. If you come across a knot in your ball (not ideal, but it happens), cut out the knot. Go back to the last color change and rejoin the yarn to continue the color sequence without interruption.
Have fun experimenting with planned pooling. We think you'll find it really satisfying to take control of your knitting or crochet and get the results you want with your yarn. And send us a photo! We love seeing what you make.