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Knitting with Colorburst yarn brings back memories

by Charles Voth

I’ve been knitting for just under 44 years. That’s a lot of yarn that has slid through my fingers, some of it amazing and some of it dismal. I have yarn in my collection that is from 30 years ago…it’s just a few odd partial balls, but they bring back a lot of memories of people and places that were significant on my knitting journey. Colorburst, by Universal Yarns is a multicolored, single ply, medium twist yarn with long color repeats that reminds me of some great knits and yarns from my past.

The blends of colors in Colorburst are perfect for projects that look great with wide or narrow stripes.

Colorburst is 65% superwash merino and 35% acrylic. I remember when back in 1986 I worked at Queen’s Wool, a yarn store in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, superwash wool was introduced to the market. I was so excited to knit with it. I chose a DK weight, bright turquoise skein and made a scarf. By that time, I had felted a few wool projects by accident, so I was eager to put the scarf through the laundry. So much fun when it didn’t shrink! The label on Colorburst indicates that it can be machine washed on warm and tumble-dried on low. As usual, I use swatches for more than just gauge calculations. I washed my swatch to see how it behaves, and no problems happened.

Depending on the number of stitches you work across, the width of the stripes changes.

When I started knitting there were no yarns with long color repeats. I do remember variegated yarns, marled barber pole style, tweed, and heathered yarns. I craved non-solid colors because I wanted to design amazing flamboyant pieces… it was the ‘80s. When yarns like Colorburst started appearing on the market, I was completely enthralled. There are 10 colorways of Colorburst and each one as 3 or 4 dominant colors with gradual gradient shifts in between each color. Some sections are heathered because of how the pre-spun fibers were combed together and some sections are marled. The effect is mesmerizing to me. I really like the challenge of incorporating the stripes that form into the fabric as I work.

Here’s a bright combination of blue, red, orange, yellow and purple, a true Tropical Sunset, the name of this Colorburst colorway.

Because of the amount of twist in Colorburst, 8 to 9 twists per inch approximately, and as it is a single-ply yarn, there’s a slight halo that forms in the knit fabric. So far, as I knit with it and after washing the swatch, I don’t see pills forming, so I think the balance of acrylic, superwash merino, and the twist count are responsible for the sturdiness of this yarn.

The short strands of fuzz don’t pill while I’m handling the yarn.

Knitting with single-ply yarn does rouse some bad (not too terrible) memories. About 30 years ago, I entered a sweater design competition. My piece was a pullover with vines and leaves formed by reverse stockinette on a backdrop of stockinette. I intended to knit a boa constrictor snake out of a multicolored variegated yarn and wrap it around the body and one of the sleeves. I never got to the snake. The yarn I used for the body and sleeves was a single-ply mohair-nylon blend, very expensive, $90 in the ‘90s, about $150 in today’s currency, a lot of money for a recent university graduate with student loans. The sweater was ‘okay’. The yarn fuzzed a lot and the halo obliterated the vines and leaves texture. I never did the snake because there would be no foliage for it to ‘hide’ among. My wife wears it now as one of those off-the-shoulder long tops to wear over tights. Suffice it to say that it was an expensive and unfortunate design choice. But designers learn something from every project they come up with…lesson learned.

Colorburst is different than that yarn from long ago because of the wool content and because the yarn has been set. I’m guessing that at some point after the spinning process it is treated with a steam bath. When I hold about a 2” length between my fingers and try to untwist it and then release, it springs back into its twist. The mohair that I used in my design flop didn’t keep its twist at all, hence the intense halo and eventual pilling. I don’t think I’ll try that design again, but Colorburst certainly is inspiring lots of ideas for designs!

Colorburst by Universal Yarn is a sturdy single ply that has a good twist memory.

This week, I’ll introduce you to some patterns that you can knit up with Universal Yarn Colorburst, a new stitch that I invented that works great with this yarn, and share a design I’ve made with this new stitch. I hope you visit through the week to read about these free knitting projects.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: 4 free knitting patterns for Universal Yarn Colorburst yarn


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