I think variegated and cables can be a bit busy and you don't get the best effect of either. If you like the cables in the yarn you have, then go for it. Aside from personal taste there are exceptions to every rule.
I think it depends on the color range in the yarn. I've made some lovely cabled things with yarn that was variegated in the same shade. If there are lots of colors in the yarn, the cables may get lost.
Try it. You can always take it out if you don't like it.
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I agree, if its a soft variegation it can still be pretty. If it looks like a parrot or is really bright then it might not. You could look up the yarn on Ravelry and see if anyone has done cables with that color. What is is the yarn and color?
I think it all depends on the colors in the yarn and the size of the cables. And how much you want the cables to pop. For the green mug cozy I made a few years ago, I think the yarn was a poor choice. But the more muted colors in the one I just finished looks quite nice, IMO.
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The more I look at the green mug cozy, the more I like it. It's somehow mysterious and draws me in to try to work out how the cable pattern and the variations in color work together and yet make separate patterns of their own. It makes me think of ancient ruins covered with lichens, moss, vines, etc. I think I need to try one with some green variegated I have. I love having my preconcieved notions smashed to pieces! Thank you.
Yeah, I thought both mug cozies were OK, but I like it that the glazed variegated yarn in the second one doesn't compete with the cable. When I'm pairing variegated yarn with a cable st, I always swatch.