Spinning Gradient Yarn (And Knitting It, Too!)

Knitting with gradient yarn keeps your needles clicking as you race for the next color in the yarn. What’s even more fun? Spinning gradient yarn in the first place. In Anne Podlesak’s Cenote Shawl from Spin + Knit 2016, transitions in color and pattern make this asymmetrical triangular shawl a joy to spin and knit. Elizabeth Prose and Deb Gerish teamed up last year to make the shawl together and double their fun.


With long, gentle runs of color, gradient colorways are a handspinner’s dream. Whether you match plies, use singles off the bobbin, or chain-ply, you can enjoy the progression of each color through your fingers.

To make the yarn for the Cenote Shawl, spin two 4-ounce braids individually, end to end, maintaining long runs of color. Then ply the two sets of singles together for a fingering-weight 2-ply yarn. Spinning the singles worsted and slightly underplying allows a nice bloom and drape in the finished yarn. (To try other ways of spinning gradients from top, check out my article on the four easiest ways to spin gradient yarn. To spin gradient yarns from a batt, check out Jillian Moreno’s tips.

A cenote reveals a blue pool beneath bedrock.

A cenote reveals a blue pool beneath bedrock. Photo credit: Dave Mantel, Getty Images.


Beginning at the narrow point, the Cenote Shawl grows from plain moss stitch to an elegant lace pattern. Each right-side row is shaped with the use of increases on one edge and decreases on the opposite edge. The shawl features three patterns: a textured knit/purl pattern, a small lace motif, and a large lace motif.

Kate Larson loves spinning gradient yarns for knitting and crochet as well; she shares some of her favorite tricks choosing the perfect pattern (or adapting a pattern to be perfect!) in her post “ISO Gradient Yarn Patterns”.


Anne Podlesak knitted the original shawl in shades of red, purple, and wine, perfect for desert sunsets. (Anne is the author of Free Spirit Knits, inspired by her Southwest home.) The Cenote Shawl takes its name from the pools of groundwater revealed when limestone collapses above—we also love it in shades of blue and aqua. What colors will you choose?

Anne Merrow

Featured Image: A gradient shawl in two colorways, aqua blues and desert roses.

Discover delightful gradients to spin and knit!


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