I saw some scarves and blankets recently where variegated yarns were used to make argyle and plaid designs. I read a couple of forum posts and realised that it wasn’t that difficult it just took finding the right skein and some planning:
The first thing to do is lay the skein out. If the colours line up on top of each other then it should be able to be knitted into a pattern.
Notice how both sides of the skein line up with the same colours, this is a good indication that a pattern will come out if the right stitch count is chosen.
Next you need to work out you stitch count.
Cast on using a backward loop or e cast on. The reason for this is that it uses the approx the same amount of wool per stitch as a knit stitch. Start at one end of the skein and finish at the other end. I started at the yellow and ended up at the purple, casting on 48 stitches.
Knit one row and then count the stitches on the needle by colour. Continue knitting and writing down the stitch counts of each colour until you have knitted a few rounds of the skein and you can see a pattern forming.
The skein above turned out to be 29 purple 30 green 11 yellow 30 green 29 purple 30 green 11 yellow…
So I had a 100 stitch repeat. My row length to get stripes was therefore 50 stitches and when graphed looked like this.
I only marked the 3 main colours, the knitted piece will have a lot of tonal variation that is not shown here.
To get an interesting pattern you need the stripes to move diagonally across the knitting so I tried reducing the stitch count by 1 and graphed 49 stitches, it turned out like this: