Yarn coloration terminology

What is the difference between terms of multi-colored yarns? I see “ombre”, “variegated”, and others classifications, but if I go into a yarn store and want to buy yarn, I’m not sure which to buy based on what kind of effect I want. The problem is that most of the multi-colored yarns I noticed knit into a striped pattern, but what I’m really looking for is a random multicolored pattern, or maybe a tone-on-tone color (a darker color with lighter toned “highlights”). If I wanted to dye my own yarn for that kind of effect (a more random pattern), how would I go about doing it? I’m clueless. :oops:

That’s a good question, but I’m not sure of the answer. I’m sure someone will be along to clarify soon.


There are yarns like you describe to be had so you wouldn’t necessarily have to dye your own, although you could. This one is sort of variagated, sort of striped:

Edited: I had written that ombre meant solid colours but quickly found out I was wrong. I have no idea what ombre means. Sorry :oops:

Some people define ombre as meaning variations of the same shade (such as a yarn that goes from deep to medium to light blue), but on the other hand I worked with some ombre Christmas yarn last year that went from cream to red to green, so go figure. :slight_smile:

However, this site gives a completely different explanation, saying that ombre is three distinct colors (which would describe my aforementioned yarn) that can create a pattern when worked up, and variegated contains many different colors that change more frequently and randomly.


There’s also ‘jacquard’ which forms a bit of a faux fair isle look.

I don’t think there’s a clear consensus on what each one means, but you can look at examples of different types of yarn by using google images. Just type in “ombre yarn,” “variegated yarn,” etc.


Maybe a tweed yarn is what you are looking for? A solid color with other colored “flecks” in it…

Ombre comes from the spanish word hombre, meaning ‘man’. It was also a popular card game in the 18th century. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the color of yarn.

Variegated would be what you are looking for (I think)- it’s a general term for multicolored yarn. Most of the variegated yarns knit up into stripes of some sort, others don’t. Sometimes, depending on the width of your project, the variegated yarn when knit will look like blobs of color instead of stripes.

Other yarns are just solid and tweed, to my knowledge.
Update!!!: I was wrong I found these definitions of different yarn types whilst searching on google:

*  heathered or tweed: yarn with flecks of different colored fiber
* ombre: variegated yarn with light and dark shades of a single hue
* colorway: variegated yarn with two or more distinct hues (a "parrot colorway" might have green, yellow and red)
* self-striping: yarn dyed with lengths of color that will automatically create stripes in a knitted or crocheted object[/size]

So maybe you would be looking for ombre or colorway?

According to this site, ombre means “shaded fabric”, which sounds like it comes from the French (ombre = shadow) rather than from Spanish like the card game. This would make sense if it meant different shades of the one colour.

Yea, that’s probably where the coloration for yarn comes from, but people say “Ombre” down here a lot just meaning “hey man”. I got that definition from merriam webster, but the other website you found about it being french makes a lot of sense.