Gradient yarn cakes can be such a beautiful addition to your yarn stash. Their eye-catching colorways and gorgeous fades are sure to steal your heart if they haven’t already.
Disclosure. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
However, there can tend to be a lot of confusion around these yarns in the knit/crochet world. What exactly makes a cake yarn a gradient cake yarn? Is there a difference?
And where can you buy these lovely cakes?
We’ll be covering all these questions and lots more in this post!
What is Gradient Yarn?
First of all, let’s start with just the word gradient.
According to Adobe, color gradients (aka color transitions) are defined as “a gradual blending from one color to another.”
They go onto say that gradient blending can occur in a variety of ways. For example, a gradient can be made between two similar colors like light green and dark green. But it could also be made between 2 different colors.
When it comes to yarn, this concept is exactly the same.
Gradient yarn creates a gradual change from one color to another throughout the work. The term “gradient” is usually used when there’s some kind of shift in color from light to dark. It could also be a gradual change between two particular colors, or even a combination of the two!
Another term that is often seen with yarn is the term “variegated.” Gradient yarn differs from variegated in the way it is dyed. Variegated colors are usually worked alternately across one row of crocheting, creating stripes with gaps between them. On the other hand, gradients create a self striping effect, with blending between each new color.
What is a Gradient Yarn CAKE?
If you’re new to the world of gradient yarn cakes – it’s quite simple. They come in a large ball that has been dyed in stripes throughout, and they are commonly used for knitting or crocheting projects because of their ability to create beautiful color schemes without having to stop and change skeins all the time.
There is not really a clear line as to what makes a yarn a TRUE gradient cake. Some people say that true gradient yarn cakes are only the very large ones that you can make a full shawl out of. These cakes are generally harder to find, but are very luxurious and are generally not plied.
On the other hand, craft stores sell gradient yarn cakes that are smaller, less expensive, and more readily available. Personally, I just consider these to be a different type of gradient yarn cake. (Also, these are usually plied in contrast to the larger ones).
In this post, I will be showing you some yarns from both of these categories!
How do you make a yarn gradient?
There are many ways to make a yarn into a “gradient”. One way is by tying off different lengths of yarn so that they overlap. Many of the colors of gradient yarn cakes you find in craft stores are actually tied together by tiny knots. Some brands do a better job at this than others. But usually, the knots are not seen in the finished project.
If you want to create your own gradient, you can also do it without buying a gradient yarn! You can do this simply by finding colors that fade well into each other, and then stop and start making more rows with different colors in your project.
This technique will create a gradient in your fiber-art project as it grows larger. Any yarn can create a beautiful color transition when used cleverly and strategically, as long as there’s time between transitions.
However, you’re probably reading this post because you would rather have the gradient done FOR you in a yarn! So let’s jump into the best gradient yarn cakes that I recommend.
5 Best Gradient Yarn Cakes You Need to Try
Gradient yarn cakes are an easy way to add creativity to your next project. The best part about these gradients is the ability to change colors along the way to create a different effect in your project.There are five gradient yarn cakes that are amazing in their own unique ways…you just have to see them!
1. Stroll Gradient Yarn by WeCrochet.com
Stroll from WeCrochet.com is a lot of fun! It comes in 16 color combinations and is great for beginner crochet projects or even crocheters who are looking to experiment with their first gradient project.
Buy now on WeCrochet.com (best deal)
Stroll is 75% Merino Wool so it’s soft, but it also adds in 25% nylon for strength. This makes it perfect for a whole range of projects: scarves, shawls, hats, mittens, and more. Each ball is 3.5oz, and has a total of 458 yards.
If you’re looking for your next crochet project, this one is perfect. And because it’s made by WeCrochet.com, you know it’ll work up beautifully.
This yarn is great for beginners because the colors are so vibrant and the gradients are easy to follow along with. It’s also a good choice for experienced crocheters who want something that is more than just a basic ball of yarn. The colors are so pretty and it works up quickly. It’s great for 1-skein projects and larger projects alike.
You’ll get compliments with every pattern you choose to make with it; your friends will constantly be asking if they can touch and feel the yarn.
Here are my favorite benefits of Stroll Gradient:
- Doesn’t split, but has good stitch definition
- Great for 1-skein projects! You can crochet a good sized shawl with one ball.
- Soft, with good stitch definition.
Keep in mind you will be paying a slightly lower price if you purchase directly on the We Crochet website, rather than shopping on Amazon.
2. Red Heart It’s a Wrap Yarn
Next up, meet Red Heart It’s a Wrap® Yarn—a soft, 100% acrylic fingering weight yarn. The yarn comes in a beautiful rainbow of colors, including shades of pink, purple, and blue, and neutrals too! The gorgeous colors make this yarn perfect for so many projects.
Red Heart It’s a Wrap® Yarn is an affordable yarn that is versatile and durable enough to use for almost any project you might have in mind!
The texture of this yarn is soft and easily workable, making it simple to knit or crochet the items you want. Coming in a 5 oz ball with 623 yards, this yarn can usually be found on sale for a very reasonable price.
This yarn is especially suitable for crocheting items with detailed patterns that need a softer feel.
One thing that isn’t so great about this yarn is the fact that it can tend to split easily. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend it for crocheters just starting out. However, intermediate-advanced crocheters should do just fine!
Some of my favorite benefits of this yarn:
- Makes beautiful 3-colored ombres
- Machine washable even though it is a thin yarn
- Sheds very little even after washing (I washed it in cold water and machine dried on light)
- Available for purchase at places like Amazon.com, Yarnspirations.com, and Walmart.com.
3. Scheepjes Whirl Yarn
For a luxury yarn that is machine washable and comes in an amazing array of colors, checkout Scheepjes Whirl. Made with 60% cotton and 40% acrylic fiber, the yarn is light enough to be used for a variety of purposes!
This luxurious yarn contains 1,111 yards of fingering weight yarn. That’s right, seven-and-a-half ounces! This is the yarn I was referring too earlier when I said that cake yarns are much larger than your typical skein! You will be able to knit or crochet larger projects with this amazing yarn.
There are a few downsides to this yarn. Because this yarn has cotton in it, you will need to lay it flat to dry. It is also quite pricey, at around $30 per ball.
HOWEVER, I still consider it to be a well worthwhile purchase. Scheepjes is considered a luxury yarn and the quality is worth the price. Each ball has an amazing 5 layers of colors that fade into each other beautifully!
4. Lion Brand Mandala Ombre
Lion Brand Mandala Ombre Yarn is an example of a considerably priced yarn that still retains the softness and beauty of its more expensive counterparts. This yarn yields 315 yards per ball and is made with multiple plies of premium acrylic.
The Lion Brand Mandala Ombre Yarn can be machine washed and dried, making it easy to maintain the color of your yarn.
It comes in balls weighing 5 ounces each, that can be purchased for a relatively affordable price (usually around $8.99 per ball). It is worth noting that this yarn is generally around the same price on both Amazon and the Lion Brand Website, so you can shop either place and still get a good deal!
This yarn is ideal for making gorgeous garments and accessories that would be sure to impress your friends, family, coworkers and just about anyone else you meet on a daily basis.
One of the most attractive traits about this yarn is its range of gorgeous colors. It comes in 12 different shades, including teal, silver and navy blue. The gradients typically come with 3 different color shades, but there are also a few color ways with 4-5 shades!
5. We Crochet Chroma Worsted
Okay, so this is not technically a gradient yarn CAKE, but it is such a good gradient yarn that I couldn’t resist including it! We Crochet Chroma Fingering is a single ply yarn that has a thick/thin texture throughout the ball. It comes in exciting gradients and 25 colorways total!
Buy now on WeCrochet.com (best deal)
With a very soft blend of 70% Superwash Wool and 30% nylon, this yarn is easy to work with, feels good on your hands and is beautiful enough to knit or crochet.
This yarn would make an excellent gift for any seasoned crocheter or knitter who already has their go-to brands. It also would make a great project for someone who’s new to the craft since it’s easy to work with and can produce amazing projects, even while you’re still learning.
One important note about buying this yarn is that it is not very common on Amazon. I highly recommend doing an order on WeCrochet.com instead. You will get the best deal on the yarn, and also have more color options!
My favorite project to make with Chroma Fingering is one-skein crochet cowls. However, you could easily buy enough balls for scarves, garments, and more!
6. Wollelfe Yarn on Etsy
Last but not least – if you love the larger, more luxurious gradient yarn cakes, there is a seller on Etsy who hand-dyes some AMAZING ones! She has lots of different blends that in include silk, merino wool and nylon.
These gorgeous yarns come in so many color combos, based on nature, food, or everyday objects. I love that you can see the inspiration behind each color way!
Overall though, I think my favorite thing about the yarn from this seller is that you can choose a variety of different weights/lengths when you purchase—from 100 grams all the way up to 450 grams.
Gradient Yarn Crochet Patterns
Now that I’ve shown you my favorite gradient yarns, it’s time to show you some patterns! With any of these patterns, you can put your new gradient cakes yarns to use over and over again.
1. Wave Shawl
First up is the wave shawl, which uses one ball of Stroll Gradient (the first yarn we talked about in this post!) This shawl features shells and v-stitches in a beautiful pattern. Get the free pattern here.
2. Autumn Leaves Cowl
Next up, check out this beautiful Autumn Leaves Cowl that uses one skein of Chroma Fingering yarn. Unique cluster stitches are used to create lace inspired by leaves…but the colors of the yarn completes it all! Get the free pattern here.
3. Joyful Josie Shawl
Another pretty gradient shawl pattern is the Joyful Josie Shawl by Wilma from Wilmade. This would be a great pattern to use for any of those LARGER gradient cake yarns we talked about (like Scheepjes Whirl for example!) In fact, all of Wilma’s shawl patterns are designed for this type of cake yarn. Get the Joyful Josie shawl or browse more of Wilma’s patterns here.
4. Amore Shawl
As you can see, shawls are pretty much the most common project that gradient yarn cakes are used for! The Amore Shawl uses a cake of Lion Brand Mandala, which isn’t technically a gradient, but is a cake yarn. You could easily use any of the yarns I talked about in this post to make this shawl though! Get the free pattern here.
Gradient yarn cakes are an amazing way to get self-striping, color fading projects that are irresistible to the eye. You can purchase large or small, plied or un-plied cakes. I recommend trying out a bunch of different yarns until you find your go-to favorite!
I hope you enjoyed learning about yarn cakes and maybe found a new one for your stash today.