Variegated vs Self-Striping Yarn - What’s the Difference

Is variegated yarn better than self-striping? Is it the other way around? What is the difference between the two anyway? Is there one at all? We’re here to answer your questions and dispel any doubts you may have about using variegated and self-striping yarn. So without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.

What Is Self-Striping Yarn?

Self-striping yarn is a multi-colour type of yarn that, as the name suggests, creates stripes while you crochet or knit. This effect is achieved thanks to the gradually changing colour of the yarn itself as you go down the strand. Usually, these yarns come in complementary colour combinations, and the intervals at which the colours change are always the same. The intervals are usually determined based on common stitch lengths.

Want to try knitting with self-striping yarn? We suggest using this free baby blanket pattern for practice!

Self-Striping Yarn - Pros and Cons
Multi-coloured yarns in general, including self-striping yarn, are one of those things that you either love or hate working with. While they can be quite challenging, they still allow for easy pattern creation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main pros and cons of self-striping yarn.

Advantages of Self-Striping Yarn
However, there are also some drawbacks to using self-striping yarn:
- Requires skill. All multi-colour yarns can be a little difficult to work with, and self-striping yarn is no exception. If you’re still at the beginning stages of learning to work with multi-colour materials, be ready for a lot of trial and error.
- Interfering with patterns. While self-striping yarn can create beautiful stripes, the changing colours can interfere with stitch-based patterns. So if you’re planning to add a lot of texture to your project, such as with a seersucker knitting stitch, you might want to stay away from more vibrant or clashing colour combinations.
- Limited creativity. Most self-striping yarns are designed to create a striping pattern when knitting socks, mittens, hats, and other smaller items. If you’re working on something bigger, such as a sweater, the striping effect might not happen the way you want it to.

What’s Variegated Yarn?
Variegated yarn and self-striping yarn are quite similar. In fact, variegated yarn is basically any multi-colour yarn, which includes self-striping yarns. However, there are other types of variegated yarn, such as ombre or gradient.

Unlike self-striping yarn, variegated yarn doesn’t have to have even colour-changing intervals. They can be shorter, longer, or entirely uneven. The colours may or may not repeat, and if they do, it could be in a fixed or random order. Basically, variegated yarn is like self-striping yarn without the rules.

Want to give variegated yarn a shot? Check out this variegated cardigan pattern.

Variegated Yarn - The Pros and Cons
As with its self-striping counterpart, variegated yarn also has some advantages and disadvantages to it. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Advantages of Variegated Yarn
The pros of variegated yarn include:
- Wide colour choice. Since there are no rules, variegated yarns can come in all kinds of colours and combinations. This provides more freedom than the more uniform self-striping colour combinations (it is fair to mention, however, that this isn’t always the case — there are self-striping yarns that come in out-there colour combos, too).
- Endless creativity. Due to this lack of uniformity, variegated yarns can be used for anything from trinkets to blankets, and you can successfully make beautiful colour patterns on all your projects, regardless of size.
- Multi-colour stitches. Some stitches simply look better with variegated, rather than solid-coloured yarn. This includes, for instance, the mitered square (you can practice it using our free mitered square throw pattern) and modular knits.

Disadvantages of Variegated Yarn
The cons of working with variegated yarn shouldn’t be ignored, either:
- Requires skill. Much like self-striping yarn, variegated yarns require some skill to work with. Sure, you can just ignore the colour changes and work as you would with a solid yarn, but then you run the risk of unplanned colour pooling.
- Not great for pooling. If you want to learn how to pool yarn, you’ll be much better off using self-striping than other multi-coloured yarns. The potentially uneven colour intervals can make pooling with variegated yarn quite difficult.

So which is better, variegated or self-striping yarn? The truth is that there is no straightforward answer. One will be a better choice for certain projects, the other will be a good option for others. Of course, it all eventually comes down to personal preference and what you’re trying to get out of your project.