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Updated: 3 days 17 hours ago

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

Living Coral: Color of the Year

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 20:02
Every year, the color experts at Pantone designate a color of the year. For 2019, they've chosen Living Coral (16-1546), a color that hovers somewhere between apricot/pink and peach.

Trend-watching isn't my thing, especially in knitting. I want to make what I want in colors and fibers that appeal to me, regardless of whether or not they're on trend. In fact, one reason we choose to knit, crochet, sew and weave is to create specific items that reflect our personal tastes and preferred color palette. 

That said, I always find it interesting to peruse projects past and present to see how often (if at all) a hot-right-now color appears.

Off hand, the only project that came to mind was this version of Herlacyn, which features a soft coral worked as part of a diagonal gradient that shifts from banana and butter yellow to warm pink, fuchsia and red.

Then I remembered this project, where soft coral also appears in something every knitter needs, a quick pair of spring-weight mitts worked in gradient shades that match the new afghan.

A deeper dive turned up this rainbow Valere, which has a coral banner positioned top and center ...

along with its sibling. It incorporates the exact same coral in the same location (top center), but it's taken on a pinkish hue due to the other colors surrounding it.

In Twegen Harvest, the third and fourth strips pair coral/peach speckled yarns with light and medium clay for very different effects.

That's not a lot of projects, but clearly hints of coral and apricot have been been surfacing in my knits for awhile. I would never knit a specific color just because it's fashion forward, but Living Coral is attractive and versatile. This might be one time where the color of the year deserves to be highlighted in a project of its own.

Going Green
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Organizing the Stash: The Result

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 22:52
Last year was a watershed year on the knitting front, not for the number of projects completed or yards processed, but because I finally managed to wrangle the stash into some form of submission. 

Don't get me wrong. As I explained last week, the stash has been relatively functional for some time, but my long-term goal was to find a way to organize it more efficiently to make the most of space available.

After lots of measuring and weeks of research and comparison, I invested in a daunting collection of clear storage boxes from the Container Store in three sizes (women's shoe, men's shoe and sweater boxes). These boxes stack securely and make it possible to see at a glance what's in each container. The shoe boxes are just the right size for smaller quantities and finer yarns, while the large ones — aptly dubbed sweater boxes — hold heavier weight yarns and sweater (or afghan) quantities.

All that planning, measuring and agonizing paid off. Once the containers arrived, I emptied the old bins and began reorganizing the yarn. My strategy was simple: Whenever possible, I wanted same/similar yarns together, so I sorted first by weight, then by fiber, then by quantity and finally by color (weight > fiber mix > quantity > color).

The end result has been immensely satisfying. Sweater quantities occupy their own dedicated boxes. Stash staples like Cotton Fleece occupy multiple containers organized by color type (cool shades, warm shades and neutrals). 

Smaller quantities and mixed colors are stored like with like (shrine of precious, lace weight, workhorse worsteds, etc.), and in some cases, I've tucked in an oddball, singleton or variegated skein that works well with the yarn in question.

The entire stash now fits into two built-in, half-height cupboards that flank the fireplace. One holds all lace, fingering, sport and DK yarns, while the other holds worsted, aran and bulky. 

I've lived with this new system for awhile, and so far, I'm delighted. It's much more efficient and works beautifully. If I want a specific yarn or weight, I know precisely where it's stored, and I can access or restash it with a minimal amount of fuss.

As an added plus, consolidating the stash freed up several large drawers and smaller cupboards. One goal for this year is to reduce the number of knitting-related things that tend to sit out, so I hope to use this storage for WIPs, FOs, knitting tools, swatches, blocking mats and more. But first, of course, I'll need another plan ...

          Organizing the Stash: The Plan
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Organizing the Stash: The Plan

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 01:28
January is traditionally the time when we vow to reduce clutter, get organized, and gain control over our lives and surroundings. For many knitters (including me), that means the yarn stash is a prime target.

The good news is that thanks to some diligent stashbusting, my yarn has for several years fit into its designated cupboards and drawers. The bad news is it's been plagued by a persistent problem: It's been stored in various plastic bins of different sizes and brands acquired over time.

As a result, a number of bins that fit just fine in the previous storage areas were now just a smidgen too deep, so they had to be placed sideways on cupboard shelves. After years of use, some bins and lids were beginning to crack with age, while the mismatched sizes meant stacking bins was a precarious business. 
In short, my stash was organized, contained and functional, but it was far from efficient. Retrieving or restashing yarn involved a frustrating juggling act, and the entire setup hogged far more space than necessary. Tools such as the yarn winder, swift, blocking wires and mats often sat out because there was no convenient place to store them.
I was determined to solve these problems, but first I needed a plan. I carefully measured (and remeasured) the primary built-in cupboards that flank the fireplace and smaller ones in the sideboard, where most of the yarn resided. I created only a rough inventory of yarns on hand, because it was evident more efficient storage would allow the same amount of yarn to fit into less space.

Then the hard part began. To find the right containers, I did lots of research, asked for advice from the ever-helpful Stash Knit Down group on Ravelry, and read tons of online reviews. A number of perfectly viable containers were eliminated from consideration because the dimensions were wrong for the spaces in question or the retailer didn't provide actual measurements.
Eventually, I narrowed my choice down to bins from The Container Store. They were clear, so I could readily see the yarn inside, and they came in a range of sizes. After more measuring and lots of calculations, I gravitated toward two options. 

Option 1 relied on a single bin size (men's shoe box) used consistently throughout.

Option 2, on the other hand, utilized three different sizes (a mix of women's and men's shoe boxes, plus sweater boxes) and offered significantly more flexibility. 

Once the details started to come together, I was eager to set things in motion. Ordering a boatload of containers in one fell swoop represented no small investment, however, so I decided to slow my roll, carefully consider the two possibilities, and think through the pros and cons of each. I also took the time to review my stash again, focusing on things like the number of sweater quantities and heavier weights yarns that lurked behind closed doors but which might require larger containers.

After much agonizing over options, alternatives and quantities, I pulled the trigger on Option 2. The outcome was even better than I initially envisioned (a rare thing indeed), so next week, I'll share the results.


    Organizing the Stash: The Result 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Santa Delivered

Sun, 12/30/2018 - 14:00
This year, Santa delivered precisely what I wanted most — a sweater quantity of yarn in a lovely shade of charcoal.

It's Valley Yarns Amherst, a 100% merino wool in worsted weight. This is the same yarn I used for Tikkyn Flagstone, so I know for a fact it's not only soft and light but very warm. It's also quite affordable, which is important since this will be a casual, everyday cardigan that's likely to see heavy wear.
I already have several projects on the needles, but as you can see, I couldn't resist swatching. Right now, I'm leaning toward the slipped rib stitch shown, because it's easy to work, produces a moderately stretchy fabric, and has an interesting texture. I'm also experimenting with different needle sizes to determine which one produces the right mix of drape and density.
I'm a slow knitter, so it's a toss up whether this will be finished in time for wear this winter, but it really doesn't matter. Sooner or later, I'll have a cozy, warm sweater that suits my style, goes with everything in my closet and fills a very real need.
And that's the best gift of all.

Wishing you and yours a bright and happy New Year!
Categories: Knitting Feeds

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sun, 12/23/2018 - 18:31
For the first time in many, many years, there's no last-minute Christmas knitting on my needles or to-do list. This is not just a relief, it's a gift — one that came early.

Real life has been so demanding and hectic, instead of striving to whip out a few final items, I decided to relax, enjoy knit decorations created for Christmases past, and put a moratorium on stress-inducing deadlines.

Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of projects in progress and more in the planning pipeline, but choosing to not go nuts trying to finish them in time for Christmas has been freeing.

Today, I have to visit the grocery store one last time, and finish decorating the house and tree. Once these tasks are completed, I plan to spend some time with a few of my favorite things: a relaxing knit worked in soft, luscious yarn, a glass of wine, and a full-blown marathon of Christmas films old and new. Doesn't that sound indulgent!?

To those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! And happy holidays to all! 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Christmas is Coming!

Sun, 12/16/2018 - 15:26
All of a sudden, Christmas is just a little more than a week away. If you're like me, you're scrambling to find fast and easy gift-giving solutions.

I'm a slow knitter as you well know, but even I could complete several of the following projects in time for gift-giving. To add to the holiday cheer, all patterns are on sale through midnight Dec 18 EST. Thank you all, the sale has ended!

Christmas Trees
Worked from the top down, these classic reversible Christmas Trees are ideal as ornaments, mug mats, hotpads, table accents and more. As an added plus, they can be knit in any gauge, any yarn weight, and a wide range of sizes from extra small to extra large. 

To buy the Christmas Tree pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Graefen Cloth & Towel Set
This fast and easy pattern produces a set of reversible cloths and towels. They work up quickly in DK weight, but you could speed things along even more by using worsted, aran or bulky weight yarn for a single towel, set of cloths, or both.

To buy the Graefen pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Sweet Hearts & Soft Spots
Designed to function as coasters, hotpads, placemats and decorative accents for your table or tree, Sweet Hearts & Soft Spots are ideal for gifts. Celebrate the season by working them in holiday colors, use rainbow hues for a range of recipients, or get a jumpstart on Valentine's Day using rose, pink and red.

To buy the Sweet Hearts & Soft Spots pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Whimsy Owls
Know someone who loves owls? This design works up quickly, and the pattern includes instructions for three different sizes, so you can create an entire owl family if you wish.
To buy the Whimsy Owl Family pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Kintra Mitts
Kintra is not only fast and easy, it features a versatile unisex design. Choose soft and sumptuous yarn for a woman, or something sturdy and tweedy for a man. As an added plus, the pattern is written for sport weight but readily adapts to any yarn weight, so opt for heavier weight yarns to quickly work up several pairs. 

To buy the Kintra Mitt pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Wyndfael Mitts
A combination of classic two-stitch mock cables and ribs make Wyndfael fast, easy and versatile. Because the pattern is written for worsted weight yarn, these mitts work up very quickly. Simply follow the pattern as written, or use the tips, tricks and easy modifications to tailor each pair to suit its recipient.

To buy the Wyndfael Mitt pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

Dojeling Shawl
This is a bit more ambitious, but if you choose to use large-ish needles, you could easily create this reversible triangular shawl or scarf in time for gift-giving or holiday wear. The pattern readily adapts to any gauge and yarn weight from fingering to bulky, while the innovative construction keeps work in progress manageable for knitting on the go.

To buy the Dojeling pattern now, click here.
To read more about it, click here.

From afghans and accessories to holiday and home accents, there's something for everyone. Each pattern includes a range of sizes, detailed yardage breakouts, and handy tips, tricks and easy modifications. For many of you, this means you can dip into stash to make the most of yarn on hand, to save time, money and headaches.

It's crunch time, fellow knitters, so let's get busy. Christmas is coming!

Want to acquire several patterns? Click here to go straight to my Ravelry pattern store.

Categories: Knitting Feeds


Sun, 12/09/2018 - 22:20
Earlier this year, I was rummaging through the stash searching for inspiration when a few variegated skeins caught my eye. I quickly put together some working combinations, including this version that emphasized the red, rose and plum shades in the variegated yarn.

That's as far as things progressed. Then a couple weeks ago, I realized there were several skeins of a lovely soft platinum grey (Sugar Bush Bliss) lurking in the stash. The limited yardage restricted project options, but it occurred to me if the colors worked, it might serve as a nice foil for the variegated yarn (KFI Indulgence).
Once I opened up to the possibilities, one thing quickly led to another, as is so often true where knitting is concerned.

The initial swatch using my new-favorite slip stitch turned into the first of a pair of fingerless mitts. The cool platinum created solid vertical stripes that to my eye play nicely with the lateral bands of color produced by the long-print variegated yarn.

As soon as the mitts were bound off, I cast on for a matching scarf. My original plan was to go long and skinny, a shape I find especially versatile, but then I realized something intriguing. If I turned the long scarf into something more compact such as a cowl or neckwarmer, I'd have enough yardage to make a shawl, something I desperately need now that cold weather has settled into our little valley.

The holidays are just around the corner and there are a bazillion things I should be doing. Instead, I suspect I'll spend the evening snuggled under a warm, wool afghan, knitting a soon-to-be shawl.  

Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.
Categories: Knitting Feeds