Well, maybe it's never happened to you, or maybe I'm just a yarn snob, but I tend to shy away from commercial variegated yarn. I'm not talking about the delicious hand-dyed stuff that's so good you should be required to get a prescription to buy it. Nope, I'm focused on the big name, usually crunchy-feeling 3-4 color yarn. Variegated yarn, by it's nature almost always gives you some pattern, just because the color repeats itself in fixed intervals. But knitted items made from this yarn usually turn out pretty cool looking. No one ever thinks of us hookers who want to achieve that same look.
(Neither one of these items were made by me, by the way. They're just examples of the color patterns)
Alas, I am working on a custom order right now for a kid's camo hat, I can pick the design, it just has to be camouflage colors. First of all, that's a pretty big range of color palettes, but I narrowed it down and and started searching the 3 places in my little town where I can buy yarn (Walmart, the high-end LYS, and a modest little craft store). Instead of buying 4 solid-colored skeins (most of which would not be used in the hat and I'd have a lot of yarn in colors I don't normally work with) I broke my rule.
I settled on a skein of surprisingly soft commercial yarn from the craft store (not Red Heart!!!!!) and got to work. I knew I couldn't bring myself to do a simple hdc or dc hat because I'd end up with exactly what I'm trying to avoid. Sometimes I like that variegated pattern, it's just not what I was looking for this time. I tried alternated rounds of hdc and sc. It was working for a while, but soon, a pattern started to emerge. It wasn't as obvious as the all-one-stitch hat would be, but I wasn't happy with it. Aside for the fact that I'm making this hat for my boss's kid, I knew I could create something much much better. The frogging began (frogging = ripping out your work. rip-it, rip-it, get it?).
I remembered an interesting stitch texture I saw once and thought, I could do that. It's called a 'basket weave stitch". basically it's a sc hat, but you work a ch between each sc and on the next round, work into the ch-space. Here's what resulted. There's still a pattern, but it's a little more subdue with a little more texture.In the end, I'm happy with it.