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Updated: 5 days 20 hours ago

Knit the Rainbow

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:55
Our weather has been all over the place. Gray and gloomy. Violent and stormy. Cold and damp. The occasional mild, sunny and inviting days have been so rare, it's clearly time to take matters into my own hands.

When this lovely yarn (Valley Yarns Charlemont) went on sale, the cosmic timing was too perfect to resist. I'm going to knit the rainbow.

I've worked with this yarn before (Dojeling Wineberry wrap), and it has a nice hand, soft sheen and wide range of colors. It also has a healthy 439 yards per skein, so the six skeins below offer loads of options.

While I've not yet decided on a specific design or pattern, I'm certain of one thing. This yarn is destined to become a shawl or wrap, because next to fingerless mitts, they're the handknits I wear most often. In this yarn weight and fiber mix (merino, silk and nylon), the finished piece would be the ideal weight for spring, summer and fall.

Even better, when back-to-back gray days become too much to bear, I can wrap myself in a rich, vibrant rainbow and chase the gloom away. 

Want to see more posts on rainbow knits? Click here and your wish will come true.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Binge Swatching

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 18:59
For better or worse, my binge swatching streak has continued. It's not that swatching isn't productive, it is. But couple that with a fondness for color play and what-if scenarios, and a full-blown obsession can't be far behind.

In other words, I'm still preoccupied with the syncopated slipped rib stitch in all its forms. It handled the highly variegated Happy Feet so well, I found myself scouring the stash for similar short-print yarns. Eventually, I discovered a single skein of Panda Cotton (Crystal Palace), which rapdily cycles through several shades of blue punctuated with a stretch of black. 

Since one key to taming busy variegateds is to add a closely related solid, I first tried pairing Panda with black Tajmahal (Filatura Cervinia). This combo created interrupted stripes, a look I initially didn't care for, but it's grown on me. I can see how over the course of a larger piece, the irregular stripes could make a simple shawl or cowl dynamic and visually interesting. Working the variegated Panda with a solid blue (Zaffiro by Madril Yarns), minimized pooling but caused the vertical stripes to virtually disappear.

I could've cheerfully continued working through every variegated yarn in the stash, but decided instead to experiment with some color blocking. I've always loved purple and red together, so I combined black (Tajmahal) with violet Aspen (Baah) and burgundy Charlemont (Valley Yarns). The slipped stitches produce an interesting notched or serrated transition from one color to the next, an effect I rather like.

And therein lies the problem. From jewel tones to neutrals, my stash is filled with many lovely skeins that might lend themselves to this technique, which means my fingers are itching to start (yet another) series of swatches.

Perhaps it's time for an intervention.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Swatch Stories: The Saga Continues

Sun, 04/28/2019 - 18:24
In retrospect, it was totally inevitable. What began as a quick experiment turned into much, much more. 

It started quite innocently, as these things often do. My initial objective was to work a series of  small swatches to demonstrate how very different the same stitch can look in various yarns and color combos. The swatches featured the syncopated slip stitch which can be used to create vertical stripes.

One swatch was worked in the two deepest shades from the ombre mini-skein set above (Mad Hatter Shillings & Pence by Wonderland Yarns). The result was attractive but understated, because the vertical stripes were almost indiscernible in such closely related colors.

And this is where things began to go sideways. There are plenty of projects on the needles clamoring for attention, but I simply couldn't resist taking the experiment just one step further. So, I paired the medium shade with the lighter of the two deepest colors, and worked another section.

Uh oh, that new section looks rather appealing. Surely I should try just one more combo and blend the medium with the second-lightest shade, just to see what happens?
Well look at that, the third section is also attractive, perhaps I should just keep going? For one full day, I held firm. Then I buckled and started working the last section with the two lightest shades.
The good news? I love the overall effect, and for sheer versatility and stashbusting potential, this stitch is definitely a keeper. 

The bad news? The Mad Hatter yarn is technically slated for a different project, but I may have to rethink that plan. Meanwhile, I'm already searching through the stash to see what other yarns and combos might lend themselves to this approach. 

The reality? The saga continues. (And I see lots of swatching in my future.) 
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Same Stitch, Different Looks

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 21:51
Something as simple as changing yarns and/or color combinations can completely transform the look and feel of a project. That's only one of the many things that makes knitting both fascinating and challenging.

For example, I have as you know been somewhat obsessed with this charming little slip stitch. It creates an appealing texture that's almost-but-not-quite rib-like. In solid shades, the spotlight remains on the texture.

Add in a second color, however, and this simple stitch takes on fresh interest. It's a quick and easy way to produce vertical stripes that resemble corrugated ribs, but it offers more advantages. The fabric is stretchy, and the stripes are worked without the fuss of stranding. With two contrasting colors worked in a springy worsted merino (Valley Yarns Amherst), the stripes are clearly defined.

If you pair a variegated yarn (KFI Indulgence Eggplant) with a high-contrast solid (Sugar Bush Bliss Platinum), however, the vertical stripes take on a new dimension. Because Indulgence features slow or long-print color changes that shift from eggplant to plum and rose, the transitions create an interesting gradient effect.

Work the same long-print variegated with a tonal yarn in a compatible shade (Baah Aspen Violet), and the results are quite different.

To tame a yarn that's prone to pooling, work a rapid color changing variegated (Happy Feet Berries) with a closely related solid (Valley Yarns Charlemont Burgundy). Because the colors blend together, the vertical stripes are still visible, but they're much more understated.

Or you could really get carried away as I did, and match two very closely related tonals (Wonderland Yarns Mad Hatter Shillings & Pence) for vertical striping so subtle, the two shades are almost indistinguishable.

Life and work have been demanding in ways I won't even attempt to describe, so as you can see, I've been knitting swatches as a small but invaluable diversion. Each one uses the same syncopated slip stitch worked in a variety of yarns to demonstrate some of the many possibilities when you let color do much of the work.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Ombres (not Hombres)

Sun, 03/10/2019 - 23:50
Every time I search for information related to ombres and gradients, Google very kindly suggests I might want to search for hombres instead. As thoughtful as that suggestion is, it's not terribly helpful, since I continue to be obsessed with ombre effects and the many fascinating ways they can be created in knitwear.

FO | Rose Gradient Scarf

The easiest way to create an ombre is to simply buy a gradient yarn, pick a pattern and work it up, right? That was my initial intent when I invested in this Mad Hatter Shillings & Pence (Wonderland Yarns by Frabjous Fibers).
So much for plans. 

Once I had the yarn in hand, I realized I wanted something that leveraged the wonderfully subtle color transitions the producer has managed to achieve. To accomplish this, I needed just the right stitch, one that was easy to work but which created a smooth segue from one shade to the next.

Unfortunately, that means I've been spending more time swatching than knitting. This is frustrating, because right now, I'm not just eager, I'm desperate to cast on a shawl or wrap that can carry me through the remainder of winter and the wet, chilly spring so typical in this region.

I worked the swatch above in just two colors. The top portion features the lighter shade, the bottom shows the medium shade, and the center is worked in alternating rows of both. I like the weight and drape, and the slightly syncopated texture which helps break up the transition rows and visually blend the colors.

I'm off to figure out a few more details, then maybe ... maybe ... I'll be ready to cast on.

To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Color Does All the Work

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 23:39
Not long ago, I stumbled across a Kaffe Fassett profile in Let's Knit Magazine. (It's well worth the read, so I hope you'll take time to check out the link.) 

I've never knit one of his designs, but I've admired his work for longer than I care to admit. Like countless others, I've always found his jubilant use of color inspiring, albeit a bit daunting with all those ends to weave. Much of what he shared in the profile resonates, but one quote really captured my attention:
Because my main interest is colour I feel no need for fancy stitches like lace and raised textures. The colour does all the work, particularly in good pattern structures ... 
Whew, what a relief! 

While I admire and respect knitters who delight in intricate shapes and complex lace or cable designs, these are not the things that continue to fascinate me after decades of working with needles and yarn. 

Instead, I'm drawn to designs that feature simple shapes, subtle textures and a focus on color. I'm not now nor shall I ever be in Kaffe Fassett's league, but if pursuing these qualities is good enough for him, then it's more than good enough for me.

To see all posts related to color, click here.

Categories: Knitting Feeds