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Swatch Stories: The Search Continues

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 14:08
The Valere pattern is almost ready for release and Herlacyn Heatwave is perking along in the background, Meanwhile, I'm diligently experimenting with stitch patterns destined for a fun, colorful afghan design I'm itching to cast on.


In a perfect world, said stitch would be fast, easy and reversible (of course!), have an interesting texture, and be attractive in both one- and two-color applications. I want this to be a quick knit, so I'm planning to use bulky yarn. This adds an interesting fillip, because not all stitches hold up well when worked in heavier weight yarns.

These photos leave a lot to be desired, but you get the gist. As you can see, I've worked my way through quite a few options, and while several have potential, I've not yet found the one that clearly says, I'm the one.

While the search for the right stitch continues, I'd value your feedback. Try to look past the wobbly edges and curling borders (these things can be fixed) and focus on the stitches themselves. If you spot one that catches your fancy, let me know.


If all goes as planned, Valere will be released on Sunday, so mark your calendar and take advantage of the substantial savings!

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Angles Are Attitude

Sun, 07/16/2017 - 12:30
From a dashing hat worn at a daring slant to knit items worked in triangles and diamonds, there's something jaunty and appealing about angles. That may explain why lately, half my projects feature angles in some way, shape or form, and I've been thinking about this quote:
Cock your hat, angles are attitude. ~Frank SinatraSuddenly, I started seeing angles everywhere. On the accessory front, there's Alaris, which features four diamond panels and can be worn multiple ways.


Dojeling, on the other hand, combines triangular wings with a center diamond panel for a classic triangle shawl worked in an easy but non-traditional manner.  
The Grey Daze wrap, with its off-kilter kite and angular wing shapes, produces a longer, more shallow triangle shape that's versatile and easy to wear.


Angles abound in afghan world, as well. Angletyn, for example, features a series of classic chevrons writ large ...



while Flashpoint is composed of over-sized triangular components accentuated by raised seams and trim.



With its bright, cheerful rainbow shades, Valere sports a parade of triangles that resemble colorful banners ready to wave in the next breeze.


Then of course there's Herlacyn Heatwave, my current afghan WIP, which uses a series of diamonds and triangles to create a modern take on the classic harlequin design.


With so many angular projects in use or underway, you'd think I'd be over this obsession, but subtle and sweet or bright and bold, it's hard to argue with Frank. Angles do indeed have attitude, which is precisely what makes them both fascinating and fun.


Looking for the patterns? Valere, with its cheerful rainbow banners, will be released soon, and Herlacyn and the Grey Daze shawl are in development. To see all available patterns, click here.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

WIP | Heatwave is Growing

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 10:00
We've experienced a few hotspells this summer, but so far nothing on the weather front has come close to a true heatwave. The same can't be said on the knitting front, where my Herlacyn Heatwave is coming along slowly but steadily. 

The last time you saw it, the first strip was less than half completed:



Since then, that strip has been finished. I know, I know. It doesn't look like much yet, but so far I'm pleased with how it's shaping up. From experience, I know blocking will cure the curl, relax the stitches and smooth out the wayward bumps.



Overall, the colors are also playing well together and the black background helps the warm, cheerful colors pop. There have been a few surprises. The original scheme included a partial skein of Cherry Moon (bright pink below), which turned out to be just a few yards short of what I needed. Because I wasn't in the mood for yarn chicken, I set Herlacyn aside, ordered more yarn and waited for it to arrive.
I get antsy if I don't have something on the needles, so while I waited, I made swatches for upcoming projects and the ombres and gradients series. Now the yarn is in hand, strip two is on the needles and I'm striving to play catch-up. (No photos yet, it's too gray and overcast to get a decent shot.)
A real heatwave saps strength and makes everyone generally miserable. My knitterly version, on the other hand, consistently makes me smile. so I'm happy to say this particular heatwave is growing.

Looking for the pattern? Herlacyn is in development and the upbeat rainbow Valere is nearly ready for release.
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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Tonal Gradients that Glimmer & Gleam

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 10:30
If you've been following along, you know I've been having fun playing with various ombre and gradient combinations and sharing how-to tips so you can create your own. I've also been swatching up a storm for various upcoming projects and seeking ways to leverage lovely yarns from my stash.


These three yarns recently captured my attention, so the time seemed right to test them in a subtle gradient featuring the two closely related solid shades paired with a variegated yarn with metallic flecks. Here's the result:

If you study the swatch closely, you can see how the color shifts from bottom to top. The first two inches are worked in teal Champagne paired with the variegated Blue Heron, the center section is worked in Blue Heron, and the last two inches were worked in lake and Blue Heron. 
What doesn't show up well in these shots are the sheen of silk in the Champagne yarn and the flickers of metallic gold that add glimmer and gleam. Here it is again from a slightly different angle:



Tonal gradient: Shawl swatch
Yarn. Champagne (Grignasco) and Deep Blue Sea (Blue Heron)
Stitch. This features the fluted rib stitch, one of my all-time favorites.

Strategy.  The top and bottom sections are worked in alternating two-row stripes, while the center is worked solid. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose three related colors. 
  • Designate one color as your MC, because it will appear in each section.
  • Work section 1 with MC and CC1.
  • Work section 2 with MC only.
  • Work section 3 with MC and CC2.

                  In the swatch, the colors were worked as follows:
                  • Section 1: Teal and Deep Blue Sea
                  • Section 2: Deep Blue Sea
                  • Section 3: Lake and Deep Blue Sea

                  This super-simple strategy is packed with possibilities. I chose a variegated for the main color, but you could use a solid, heathered, tonal, tweedy or textured yarn just as easily. To deal with variegated yarns that pool in unattractive ways, pick another closely related solid yarn and work every section in two-row alternating stripes. The key is to pick one yarn to carry through every section.
                  The next time you're choosing a color strategy for a project, consider a tonal gradient with or without the flash of metallic accents. It's an easy, effective way to create a custom ombre or gradient that's uniquely your own.

                  To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.
                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  7 Tips for Choosing Yarn Colors

                  Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:30
                  As makers, one of the greatest challenges we face is trying to picture a fabric that does not yet exist.

                  Sometimes, this challenge can feel overwhelming, because we know every choice we make from stitch and fiber to color combinations will affect the end result. By definition, these unknowns mean makers are intrepid folk, daring to go where few are willing to tread.

                  When it comes to choosing yarn colors, we all have our own methods. My approach is fairly simple, but because some of you might find them helpful, let's look at seven practical tips and tricks.



                  1. Choose yarn under the right type of lighting.

                  Typically, natural daylight is the logical option, and if it's not available, aim for full-spectrum lighting (which comes close to emulating natural daylight).Why is this important? It's the best way I know to see how colors appear under normal daytime circumstances.

                  On the other hand, if you're making an evening shawl that will primarily be worn under artificial or subdued lighting, choose your yarn (and beads) under similar lighting conditions so you can better envision the end effect.

                  Just like paint chips, you'll want to test yarn and swatches in various lighting conditions ranging from bright to overcast daylight, full spectrum light, fluorescent light, dimmed light, etc., to see how the colors behave.

                  If I owned a yarn store, I'd invest in good daylight lamps and fabric or tablecloths in a range of solid colors, so customers could audition yarns under balanced lighting against a background similar to its future use conditions.

                  2. Audition colors against the right background.

                  If the piece you're making will be worn with black, used against a black background, feature black stripes or modules, or constructed with black seams and edges (something I often do), test colors against a solid black background. I keep a large piece of black fabric near my knitting work table, so I can spread it out as a backdrop for yarn auditions. Black tends to intensify light or bright colors and mute deeper shades, so it's important to see how your colors are likely to behave in their future form.

                  The same is true with white. If what you're making will feature white (cream, natural), test the colors you're considering against a similar background. White tends to lift and brighten colors, so they appear pure and clear. It can also wash out light or faded hues, creating a subdued effect that can either be pleasing or precisely the opposite of what you hoped to achieve.

                  Valere is a good example. Four of the colors are the same (coral, light green, fuchsia, deep blue), but they take on different qualities based on the background and other surrounding colors.



                  Adopt a similar strategy for everything. Making an afghan to drape on a gray couch? Test yarns against the couch or a similar fabric. Choosing yarn for a sweater? Test it against whatever tops and bottoms you're likely to wear with it. Making a pillow? Test the yarn on the couch, chair or bed where it will reside. Making a table runner? Test it on the table surface or tablecloth with which it will be paired.

                  3. Test all the colors you plan to use.

                  It seems obvious, but it bears emphasizing: Every color you add to the mix influences every other color and shifts the overall color balance. A butter yellow that seems soft and subdued in isolation picks up intensity when its placed next to another color with yellow or blue undertones.

                  In combination, colors produce interesting, unexpected effects, some of which may delight and others which may not. For instance on its own, this purple strip knit with two closely related colors worked. When it was placed with its sibling strips, however, it raised more questions than it answered.


                  The solution, of course, was to frog the nearly-finished strip, keep the deepest shade, and rework it with a lighter color that offered greater contrast and echoed its siblings.



                  4. Test yarn on multiple backgrounds. 

                  From cowls and sweaters to afghans and pillows, if you plan to use an item against a patterned background, audition yarn colors against that pattern. The same applies to things you're using on wood surfaces, since the grain and wood tones introduce both color and pattern.

                  Once you've selected colors you feel work well, test them again on a similar solid background. Confirm they blend or contrast in a way you find appealing, because busy backgrounds can confuse the eye, making it difficult to spot a potentially perfect combination or color clash.

                  Obviously, the opposite is true as well. If you're making a runner or mat for your table or buffet, test yarns against those wood surfaces to see if they produce the effect you desire.

                  5. Decide whether you want colors to pop or blend.

                  In general, warm or light colors tend move to the visual forefront, while cool or dark tones tend to recede. Saturation and intensity play a role in this, however, so it's important to see colors in context. The typical trope is to avoid colors of similar value, but I break this rule on a regular basis. Angletyn Vivid is just one example.


                  If color value is the key criteria, then this version is a complete failure because the values are so similar. The black boosts intensity, however, and the interplay of red, purple and blue amplifies the effect, creating a look that certainly won't appeal to everyone but which does appeal to me.

                  6. Shift your color strategy to suit the circumstances.

                  The most important thing is to adapt your color strategy to the yarn, your tastes, the recipient and the project. Like many of you, I'll cheerfully make gifts using less-than-favorite colors if they suit the intended recipient.

                  7. Swatch.

                  Please do swatch. It is, of course, the only way to see if yarn, stitch and color interact in a way that appeals to you. And even then you may find, that yes, swatches do lie.




                  What are your favorite tips and tricks for choosing yarn colors?


                  For more color talk, click here.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Afghans Year Round

                  Sun, 07/02/2017 - 12:30
                  People often ask, How on earth can you make afghans in the middle of summer?

                  It's a logical question and the answer is simple: Modular construction.

                  Herlacyn Heatwave

                  Modular construction keeps the project compact and portable. When time is short, it allows me to work a few quick rows because rows are short, too. And, it makes it possible to knit afghans anytime and anywhere without the weight of a full blanket in my lap (or dangling from my wrists).

                  Yarn choice makes a difference, obviously. Cotton Fleece contains a touch of wool but has a soft cottony feel, so it's an especially good option for summertime knitting and use. That little bit of wool helps my stitches stay even and adds the spring the cotton needs to keep from stretching out of shape during use.

                  Drumlin Brights
                  Four Seasons, another cotton-wool blend, was one of my favorites, but sadly it's been discontinued and I'm still searching for a comparable substitute.

                  Breidan Berry


                  Wool-silk or wool-bamboo are also good choices. A couple summers ago, I spent a very hot and sweltering July knitting this wool-silk version of Flashpoint, but because it was worked in components, it was no problem whatsoever.

                  Flashpoint Blue
                  There are several small and light weight projects on the needles and drawing board, but contrary to logic, much like last spring and summer, many others feature wool. Luckily, the wools I'm working with are merino so they're light and lofty, not fuzzy and hot. I'm still swatching for this afghan-to-be, but hopefully it will be on the needles before the month is out.


                  It's hot, humid and the height of summer, so it may sound crazy, but yep, I'm still making afghans.

                  If you're in the US, I wish you a fun, fiber-filled and very happy Independence Day.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  FO | Valere Summer Rainbow

                  Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:30
                  My knitting is so often out of sync with both trends and weather, I'm as surprised as you to find I've finished this summery version of Valere while it's actually summer. And the timing couldn't be better.

                  Mornings and evenings have been delightfully cool, and this blanket is the perfect weight to throw over bare legs or drape around bare shoulders (yep, I've been known to do that) to ward off the chill. The fact that it's made with soft Cotton Fleece adds to its summery feel.
                  The last time you saw this, the borders were curling and the usual lumps and bumps found in works in progress were highly visible. Blocking worked its magic, so the borders lay flat, the stitches have relaxed and the bumps have disappeared.
                  This version features five fresh shades plus four colors from the Vivid version, and it's interesting to see how differently the repeats (Lapis, Cherry Moon, Mint, Tropical Coral) appear when placed against a cream rather than black background. From bottom to top (in the order worked), the colors are:
                  • Left strip: Lapis, Hawaiian Sky, Provincial Rose
                  • Center strip: Sugar Plum, Light Jade, Tropical Coral
                  • Right strip: Cherry Moon, Mint, Buttercream

                  There are other differences as well. Somehow, I managed to cast on with the wrong needle size (that's what happens when most of your knitting is done late at night after a full work day), and by the time I realized my error, I'd completed one full strip. 
                  Rather than frog and restart, I decided to continue as I'd begun and work a deeper border to offset the slightly smaller dimensions. The end result is actually wider than the first Valere and only one inch shorter, so it was a good solution.

                  Valere Summer Rainbow AfghanPattern: Coming soon!
                  Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
                  Needles: US 7 (5 mm), US 8 (5.5 mm)
                  Size: Small
                  Dimensions: 27 x 35 ins
                  Yardage: ~630 yards
                  Playing with fiber and color is such fun, I'm sorely tempted to cast on another to experiment with different combinations. I keep picturing this design worked in various shades of gray, or striped banners against a solid background, or solid banners in light colors worked with darker shades for the background, or red banners set against a white border and framed in blue, or ... You get the picture.
                  For now, those color experiments will have to wait. Eager to see how Herlacyn Heatwave plays out, I am (at least for today) motivated to stay focused. We'll see just how long that lasts.

                  Looking for the pattern? It's almost ready and should be released within the next week or two.
                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Simple Mirror Gradient

                  Sun, 06/25/2017 - 12:30
                  Mirror gradients and ombres are one of the easiest ways to transform a few colors into something interesting and dynamic.

                  As the name implies, mirror gradients feature a series of colors worked in sequence then repeated in reverse to create an echoed or mirrored design. The basic strategy is straightforward and nothing could be simpler than this version, which requires only two colors.

                  Mirror Gradient: Colsie Mitts 
                  Yarns. Champagne (Grignasco)

                  Stitch. This the same fast and easy slipped stitch I've been using for a range of quick mitts and gradient examples. It creates a very stretchy, reversible 3x2 ribbed fabric, and the occasional slipped stitch adds interest as you transition from one color to the next.

                  Strategy. This version features five equal sections. To work it:
                  • Choose two colors.
                  • Work section 1 with CC1 only.
                  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
                  • Work section 3 with CC2 only.
                  • Work section 4 with CC1 and CC2.
                  • Work section 5 with CC1 only.

                  In the example shown, the colors were worked as follows:
                  • Section 1: Teal
                  • Section 2: Teal and Cloud
                  • Section 3: Cloud
                  • Section 4: Teal and Cloud
                  • Section 5: Teal

                  The end result is a pleasing, balanced gradient with infinite possibilities. The version shown features one complete five-stage gradient sequence, an approach that works for any piece large or small. Or, you could repeat it multiple times to create a scarf, cowl, shawl, stole, sweater, hat or afghan. (If I didn't already have so many projects on the needles, I'd be working Twegen in a series of mirror gradients.)

                  This example features equal segments, but you could create a very interesting effect by working more rows in the solid sections and fewer ones in the striped sections, or vice versa. Just remember to consistently mirror the sequence as you work the piece.
                  From stockinette and garter to seed and slipped stitches, mirror gradients work in almost any stitch you might choose. Seed stitch is particularly attractive, because it creates a wonderfully blended effect in the transitional striped sections.

                  If you're in the mood to experiment, try pairing two lonely singletons from stash. Start swatching, or do what I often do and make a quick pair of mitts. Opt for contrasting colors as shown or for closely related shades to create a tonal ombre effect. 

                  I can't speak for you, but I'm heading to my stash now to look for interesting combinations that might shine in a simple mirror gradient.



                  PS: For those who've inquired, the Colsie Mitts pattern is in development and will hopefully be available soon.
                  To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
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                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Blame It on the Champagne

                  Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:00
                  Like many of you, I have more things on my to-do list than any reasonable person could hope to accomplish in a month of Sundays. Nonetheless, this hasn't stopped me from adding another task to the roster. Here's what happened.

                  As you well know, I have for years worked diligently to ensure my entire stash fits into its designated cupboards in a reasonably organized fashion.

                  The problem? Inside the cupboards, yarn is stored in assorted non-matching bins acquired over time. Many are a tad too long to fit comfortably, so they sit lengthwise on the shelves, eating up valuable real estate. Others fit okay, but they don't stack securely and teeter precariously. Add in the wear and tear some are showing after years and years of use, and a litany of minor annoyances has grown into a true aggravation. 

                  I inadvertently added to the problem when I ordered a handful of Grignasco skeins to supplement those already in stash. Lush and lovely in subtle shades of steel and cloud, this yarn became the tipping point. 


                  I prefer to keep like yarns with like but to accomplish this, I had to empty, rearrange and repack several bins, just so the Grignasco skeins could share a common home.

                  During the process an ancient bin gave out, cracking at the corner, which prompted a fresh spate of rearranging and repacking. Technically, everything still fits in the cupboards, but now, bins that were once comfortably full are close to overflowing, and more containers are teetering precariously than ever before.

                  All of this is a long way of saying I'm now on a mission to find clear containers that fit neatly on the shelves and stack securely. I could be knittting, swatching or designing something new. I could be cleaning my home or weeding the garden. 

                  Instead, I've been totally preoccupied, scouring the interwebs for affordable storage solutions that won't break the bank.



                  So yes, indeed, I blame it on the Champagne.


                  PS: If you have yarn storage suggestions, feel free to share.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Swatch Stories

                  Sun, 06/18/2017 - 12:30
                  As a dyed-in-the-wool swatcher. I love experimenting with new stitches, testing different types of yarn, and playing "what if."

                  What if I:
                  • Change the yarn or fiber? 
                  • Change the needle size?
                  • Use a different yarn weight? 
                  • Work alternating rows in different colors? 
                  • Twist a stitch or slip it instead?

                            Test Swatch: Drumlin Reversible Afghan

                  My fascination with reversible stitches helps fuel these what-if scenarios, and there are weeks where I happily devote every hard-won knitting minute to the soothing task of swatching.


                            Test Swatch: Breidan Reversible Afghan and Wyndfael Reversible Mitts


                  For better or worse, this obsession has existed for a very long time, so through the years, I've compiled an extensive list of reversible and potentially reversible stitches.



                         Test Swatch: Tikkyn Reversible Afghan

                  Lately I've had little time for anything but the projects and patterns already in progress, so recent swatches have been practical rather than experimental. The sole purpose of these was to illustrate how yarn weight affects scale:


                           Test Swatches: Lucben Reversible Afghan


                  Frankly, I miss the fun of experimental forays.

                            Test Swatch: Which is the right side?


                  It's time to mend this hole in my knitting life, so periodically I'll be spotlighting some of my favorite stitches in varied yarn combinations.
                            Test Swatch: Twegen Reversible Afghan


                  We can examine them, discuss the pros and cons, explore their best uses, play with fiber and needle combinations, and see how these variables influence the end result.
                            Test Swatch: Dojeling Shawl

                          Test Swatch: Alaris Wrap

                  Along the way, we'll have a chance to share our best go-to stitches and perhaps discover some new ones to add to our personal lists of all-time favorites.

                  So what's your swatch story: Do you avoid it altogether? Swatch for fun? Swatch only for upcoming projects? Do some mix of the three?


                  Wishing you and yours a very Happy Father's Day!

                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  WIP | Herlacyn Heatwave

                  Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:00
                  Have you ever had a project simply elbow its way onto the needles? That's precisely what happened here:



                  As a general rule, I try to have no more than one large project on the needles at a time. Since I was already eyebrow-deep into work on the summer rainbow afghan, I was determined to wait, but this hot little number just wouldn't take no for an answer.



                  This is the first project using one of the gradient combos we looked at a few weeks ago, and I'm eager to see how it works out. Each strip will incorporate a slightly different mix of these colors, ranging from light to deep:
                  If things work out as planned (feel free to laugh, I am), the colors will create a warm gradient that travels across the finished afghan on a diagonal path, from the lower left to the upper right.

                  There's no doubt about it, having two afghans on the needles slowed knitting progress to a crawl, but hopefully the final results will be worth the wait. The rainbow design is currently in the finishing stages, and once it's done, I hope to see this project move from a snail's crawl to a turtle's ponderous but comparatively peppy pace.

                  What unexpected projects have found their way onto your needles lately?


                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  WIP | Summer Rainbow

                  Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:30
                  Knitting time has once again been quite limited, but slowly and steadily progress is occurring. The last time we saw this summery rainbow afghan, it looked like this.




                  Since then, the strips have been seamed ...




                  and the afghan body has been assembled. You can also clearly see the jade and mint banners that depleted two favorite greens and temporarily put a planned gradient project on hold.

                  At this stage, with all the lumps, bumps and curling edges, I always have to remind myself not to panic. The vivid version looked like a hot mess, too, until the borders corrected the curl and blocking eliminated the lumps.
                  The combination of fresh rainbow shades, cottony feel and light drapey fabric make this the perfect choice for cool summer mornings and evenings. Between that cheery prospect and the fact there are multiple projects standing on the sidelines clamoring for attention, I'm eager to turn this WIP into an FO and get it into the rotation.

                  Looking for the pattern? It's now in the tech editor's hands and should soon be ready for release.
                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  The Yarn Always Wins

                  Wed, 06/07/2017 - 15:50
                  Remember when we looked at different color lineups, so you could help me choose an ombre or gradient for a new afghan? I was experimenting with various combinations designed to use up leftovers, partials and orphan skeins, and asked for your input.

                  Here's a quick update. Based on your feedback to date, the green gradient is your top pick ...

                  while this cool combo is running a very close second.

                  With your sound counsel in hand and a fresh design concept in mind, I was ready to cast on.
                  Unfortunately, I immediately ran into a hitch. Several greens in the winning combos above wormed their way into the summer rainbow afghan, which means the mint is nearly gone, and the jade and teal shades are severely depleted.
                  I can't speak for you, but sometimes my need to cast on outweighs every other consideration. Because it was a grey, rainy day, this warm, cheery combination seemed the ideal way to counter the gloom.In a relatively short period of time, I'd made just enough progress to begin easing my need to get this project on the needles. Since then more progress has occurred, but that's a topic for another day. 

                  Meanwhile, I'm dealing with the classic knitter's dilemma: On the upside, I'm accomplishing my goal to put leftovers and partials to good use. On the downside, as colors dwindle or disappear, so do my options.
                  For a very brief moment, I thought about standing firm and trying to find a way to work with just the colors that remain. In the end, the yarn always wins, so I'm off to search replacements for the mint, jade and teal, and yes, start the whole cycle all over again.

                  To see all the options and cast a vote for your favorite, visit Ombres & Gradients: Which Would You Choose? and share your picks in the comments.
                  To read more about ombres and gradients, click here.
                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  What the Rabbit Hole Revealed

                  Sun, 06/04/2017 - 12:30
                  My search for yarn to supplement the soft and lovely teal and lake Grignasco Champagne had me poised to leap down the rabbit hole, and leap I did. Here's what the rabbit hole revealed.

                  First, I found this lovely turquoise Tajmahal, which in terms of color and fiber blends nicely with the teal and lake Champagne.


                  Then, I managed to track down several skeins of Champagne in two understated neutrals. Cloud (left) is a pale blue-grey, while stainless steel (right) is a warmer grey with wheaty undertones.



                  Both work well with the lake and teal, but cloud with its subtle blue notes is the better option.



                  Both also work beautifully with the turquoise Tajmahal. (This photo shows the cloud and stainless steel colors most accurately.)



                  At first, stainless steel seemed a bit ho-hum and I was certain what to do with it, but I quickly discovered a silver lining. It's the perfect complement to these neutral shades of Tajmahal, which have lived in the stash way too long.



                  So there you have it. The stash has grown by a hearty handful of skeins, but since everything still fits comfortably into the stash cupboards, that's okay. 

                  This mix of old and new yarns offers so many possibilities, I'm eager to begin testing color and stitch combinations for a stream of shawls, stoles, scarves, wraps, mitts, cowls, sweaters, vests and more. 

                  But with several afghans and small projects on the needles, my logical side keeps whispering, finish a few WIPs first. Seduced by the tantalizing prospect of fresh yarn fumes, my knitterly side whispers back, resistance is futile.


                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Down the Rabbit Hole Again

                  Wed, 05/31/2017 - 10:30
                  As you well know, I try to work from stash when possible, but am equally happy to invest in yarn if it leverages skeins on hand. For the most part, this is a calm, rational and well-reasoned strategy, but every now and then it hits a decided snag.

                  Here's the most recent example. Several years ago, I purchased four skeins of Champagne (Grignasco), a luscious sport weight merino-silk yarn, in teal to make a shawl for my lovely Aunt K, but in the end I used a different yarn in a cornflower blue that better suited her coloring and tastes.

                  Thinking the Champagne would make a scrumptious sweater, I acquired four more skeins in lake for a tone-on-tone effect (left: lake, right: teal).



                  Time has passed, a new plan is afoot and — yep, you guessed it — to make that plan work I need a third color. Experimenting with different yarns from stash, I thought this combination held possibilities:




                  Colorwise, the blue Zaffiro (Madil Yarns) worked, but the cotton-rayon-silk blend isn't nearly as springy and soft as the Champagne. Often, that wouldn't matter, but it could become an issue for the project I have in mind.

                  For better or worse, I've been scouring Ravelry and the interwebs for more Champagne, which in a perfect world would be in the blue-green color family, but contrasting or neutral shades are viable contenders, too.

                  Feel free to check my math, but what started as four skeins quickly grew to eight, and it's likely several more will soon be joining the clan. I can't speak for you, but I've certainly been down this particular rabbit hole before, and apparently I'm ready to jump down it once again.


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                  WIP | Still Making Rainbows

                  Sun, 05/28/2017 - 12:30
                  The simplicity of this afghan design makes it a fast, fun knit, precisely what I need right now to offset the demands of life and work. It's Memorial Day weekend in the US, so I was sorely tempted to set it aside and whip up something quick for the holiday, but I resisted the urge and focused on making rainbows. 

                  The last time we looked at this project, the first strip was finished:




                  Since then, the second one has been completed:




                  And the third one has been, too:




                  Like the first version, this one features Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep). To keep things fresh and interesting, I opted for a slightly different rainbow scheme with several muted shades and fewer brights. The off-white background prevents the muted shades from turning muddy and keeps the saturated shades pure and clear. The colors are:
                  • Strip 1: Lapis, Hawaiian Sky, Provincial Rose
                  • Strip 2: Sugar Plum, Light Jade, Tropical Coral
                  • Strip 3: Cherry Moon, Mint, Buttercream
                  Now that the strips are completed, seaming can commence, and with a little time and luck, the body may be fully assembled before the weekend is over. Then, I can begin tackling the simple border and final finishing steps.

                  With its soft cottony feel, light background and cheerful rainbow colors, this version is perfect for summer, so I'm eager to finish it and get it into the active rotation.

                  Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans, and wherever you are, I hope you're having a lovely weekend.

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                  How to Create a 7-Stage Gradient

                  Wed, 05/24/2017 - 10:30
                  By now, it's obvious I'm a fan of ombres and gradients in all their forms, but there's something particularly appealing about seven-stage gradients, the next topic in our ongoing series.

                  Recently in How to Create a 6-Stage Gradient, I mentioned an easy way to adapt that strategy to create a seven-color gradient. Today, we're focusing on a different approach, but it works equally well.

                  6. Seven-stage gradientColsie Green Gradient

                  Yarn. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
                  Stitch. This fast, easy slipped rib stitch is stretchy, reversible and does a respectable job of blending colors.

                  Strategy.  Solid sections are connected by transitional sections with two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
                  • Choose four related colors. 
                  • Arrange them dark to light or light to dark.
                  • Work the section 1 with CC1.
                  • Work the section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
                  • Work the section 3 with CC2.
                  • Work the section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
                  • Work the section 5 with CC3.
                  • Work the section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
                  • Work the section 7 with CC4.

                                  In this instance, the colors were worked as follows:
                                  • Section 1: New Age Teal
                                  • Section 2: New Age Teal and Sage
                                  • Section 3: Sage
                                  • Section 4: Sage and Light Jade
                                  • Section 5: Jade
                                  • Section 6: Jade and Rue
                                  • Section 7: Rue

                                  Seven-stage gradients work with any color combination, and because they're infinitely adaptable, they hold universal appeal. As a bonus, adding a fifth color makes it easy to expand this seven-stage gradient into a nine-stage version.
                                  Uncertain where to start? Try creating a neutral ombre using four shades of grey ranging from deep charcoal to light silver, or four earthy tones ranging from dark brown to light sand. Or try a vivid scheme using saturated shades of fuchsia, purple, turquoise and lime.

                                  Small, quick projects like these mitts, which feature leftovers generated by a steady stream of projects worked in shades of green, are an effective way to transform remnants and random skeins into something fun and functional. I'm off to tackle more examples for the next round of ombre and gradient how-to posts, and hopefully make some headway on the way-too-many WIPs on the needles.

                                  Meanwhile, I encourage you to choose four colors that speak to you, cast on something simple, and experiment with the rich possibilities of seven-stage gradients. And if you do, be sure to come back and tell us about it.

                                  To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
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                                  Risky Business

                                  Sun, 05/21/2017 - 12:30
                                  I'm still enamored with the vivid colors and clean lines of the not-so-scrappy rainbow afghan, so I decided to cast on another.




                                  As luck would have it (ahem), there are enough Cotton Fleece partials and leftovers to make a second one featuring a slightly different mix of rainbow banners set against a creamy background. The first strip is done (and the second is underway):




                                  So far, so good, right? Sure, except another colorful design has been loudly clamoring to get out of my head and onto the needles.

                                  From experience, we all know working multiple large projects at the same time can be a risky business, especially if like me you're a slow knitter with limited knitting time.

                                  Of course the mature, disciplined approach would be to ban new cast ons, focus on what's already on the needles and finish ... which is precisely what I kept muttering under my breath as I started this new number:


                                  It doesn't look like much yet, but there are a few interesting twists ahead, so I'm optimistic. 

                                  For those of you who've inquired, the pattern for the not-so-scrappy rainbow afghan is heading to the tech editor.

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                                  How to Make a 6-Stage Gradient

                                  Wed, 05/17/2017 - 10:30
                                  It's time to tackle the joys of six-color gradients, next in our ongoing series on ombres and gradients.

                                  There are, of course, countless ways to create such a gradient, but this one happens to require only three colors, so it's easy and highly adaptable.

                                  6. Six-stage gradientColsie Mitts Plumberry
                                  Yarn. Richesse et Soie (Knit1 Crochet 2)

                                  Stitch. The fast, easy slipped rib stitch is stretchy, reversible and does a respectable job blending colors.

                                  Strategy.  Solid colors are separated by transitional sections consisting of two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
                                  • Choose three colors and arrange them dark to light.
                                  • Work section 1 with CC1.
                                  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
                                  • Work section 3 with CC2 only.
                                  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
                                  • Work section 5 with CC3 only.
                                  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC1.

                                  In this instance, the colors were worked as follows:
                                  • Section 1: Jet
                                  • Section 2: Jet and Plum
                                  • Section 3: Plum
                                  • Section 4: Plum and Cranberry
                                  • Section 5: Cranberry
                                  • Section 6: Cranberry and Jet

                                  I paired rich gemtones with black, but you could use any color combination that appeals to you. Try red, yellow and blue to create a fun rainbow effect, or select three colors in the same color family for a graduated ombre. As an added plus, you could quickly turn this into a seven-stage gradient by working a final section in whatever color you designate as CC1.
                                  While I continue to work up samples for upcoming posts, why don't you spend some quality time at your LYS or with your stash. Choose three colors you love and make something fabulous featuring your own custom six-stage gradient. 

                                  To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
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                                  Knitter's Choice

                                  Sun, 05/14/2017 - 12:30
                                  Designers in designing mode tend to gravitate to two types of yarn: Desirable evergreens or newly released yarns.

                                  This makes sense.

                                  Evergreens have gained popularity due to their sustained performance over time. New releases are fresh and current, which creates buzz and appeals to knitters, publishers, producers and yarn store owners. In both cases, patterns written for a particular yarn boost the chances the design and yarn will attract attention, capture a following and be promoted across more venues. This is a very good thing, whether you're a designer, yarn producer or yarn seller.



                                  Naturally, I've taken a slightly different approach. My patterns identify the yarns used, but they're deliberately written to accommodate the yarn of your choice, along with easy modifications if you want to adapt the pattern.
                                  To me this makes the most sense, because it gives you the maximum flexibility. It's frustrating, both as a knitter and designer, to see how quickly many lovely yarns are discontinued, but with knitter's choice, you can work from stash, invest in something new or do a combination of both.


                                  If you're a relatively new knitter, you're probably thinking, What's the big deal?

                                  If you're a long-time knitter, you intuitively understand my point. Back in the day, the universal assumption was every knitter would use the specified yarn and work the pattern precisely as written. This viewpoint was so pervasive, producers knew demand would skyrocket and manufactured massive quantities of the pattern's featured yarns in the colors shown.




                                  Many of us have always bucked this mindset, choosing yarns and modifying patterns to suit our preferences, an approach that used to earn quizzical looks from fellow knitters and puzzled LYS owners alike.

                                  Today, thanks to bloggers, designers and Ravelry, independent inclinations aren't merely accepted, they're actively encouraged. This is a welcome advancement, producing a crafting environment that's fluid, flexible and accommodating, just like the knitted pieces we love so much.

                                  No judgments here, but I'm curious: Do you use the yarn recommended in the pattern? Make your own choice? Do a mix of both?


                                  Have a happy Mother's Day!

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