I'm often asked if I plan out colorways and how they knit or crochet up. Truth of the matter is... Sometimes I do plan out how the colors play together if I have a certain project in mind. Take the colorway Tsumani for instance, it was dyed to purposely move the colors in a Bias knit scarf. Tsunami was dyed on either end of the hank and blended where the colors met. Yarns dyed in this manner are easy to distinguish from others, as long as they are not rewound. The colors will appear long in sections and one color will take up the one side while the opposing color will use the other side when skeined up.
Another type of hand dyed yarn is handpainted. True hand painted yarns often do not pool colors. What do I mean by pooling? Take the image above of the Bias Scarf. I planned on the colors to pool creating a unique zig zag pattern in the scarf. Often we shy away from taking the time to do the math in figuring out how much yarn we actually use per round of the colorway. Knowing this tiny bit of information will prevent a lot of... Oh I don't like how this looks, or ripping a project out and starting a new one only to find out the colors pool the same. Why do they do that?
Trust me they do it to everyone out there. It's not just you that they are playing mind games with. So think about this for a moment... If your using a fingering weight yarn and your knitting up a pair of socks and you don't like how the colors are playing out. You then rip it out and figure you will knit a shawl with it problem solved right? Perhaps if you are knitting a lacy shawl or using larger needles. This in essence will make a huge difference in how the colors will play.
Let's look at the above example of Mochaccino in pima cotton. This is another long dyed colorway and knit up in the Antarktis Shawl pattern by Woolenberry. As this was knit along there was times where the colors started to pool until there was more stitches added. Hence the colors were at sort of a stand still, until I was using more yarn per the round in the colorway. Only then did they offset and move away from pooling in the same spot.
If your asking yourself will this type of dye technique stripe and make definitive stripes. Sure they can and will, depending on your gauge (there's that nasty word), how many stitches, and lastly it would have no increases or decreases. In which it would be worked back and forth. These tips also pertain to crochet as well especially when your working with a fairly simple stitch pattern.
So next time you start a project or you want to challenge yourself and learn something new. Take the time to know how many stitches your using per round of the colorway. If you have your yarn already caked up pull out about 60 inches and lay it out on a flat surface. Then pull out another 60 inches and see if the colors are lining up. If they are then you found the basis needed. Most yarns come in either 54 or 60 inches in diameter (circumference).
Then you can use a piece of scrap yarn and do a provisional cast on. I found that I use roughly 64 stitches per round of colorway in fingering weight yarn. This again will vary depending on that nasty word (gauge) and your needle size. Have fun with this! You will have a much better understanding when you find your next (must do) project and how the colors will move or pool. This will save some possible frustration in your near future.