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Hover Craft

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:30
I've begun describing my growing pile of WIPs as hover craft, because frankly, they've hovered way too long in that twilight zone known as almost-but-not-quite-done.

Several were started in spring, but now Thanksgiving is just a few days away, winter and Christmas are right around the corner, and the end of the year is in sight. Just the prospect of this rapid march of events means I'm torn between the desire to cast on all the things, finish all the things, or tackle some combination of both.

One way or another, it's clearly time to come up with a plan.

Colsie Mitts
I kid you not, these supremely simple tone-on-tone mitts have been on the needles since March. Initially, I planned to do a three-stage gradient using two shades (lake and teal), but then I got distracted. First I added turquoise but the effect wasn't quite right, so I shifted to jade green. This worked a bit better, but in the end, I frogged the experiments and returned to my original plan. With both mitts now off the needles, I could have the ends woven and mitts seamed in one evening if I just buckled down, so that's my top priority.

Colsie Cowl
This cowl was put on hold while I figured out exactly what strategy I wanted to pursue. I'd planned to do something similar to the mirror gradient mitts, but I'm finding the subtle tone-on-tone look appealing, so I've decided to work a five-stage tonal fade to complement the mitts above. With that decision in place, I can quit fussing with colors and get on with the knitting.

Kintra Cowl
I'd hoped to have this ready to share today, but time was not on my side. The last section is nearly finished, so I just need to work a few buttonholes, bind off, weave ends and attach some buttons. With luck and a little attention, it might be ready to wear along with my Kintra mitts on Thanksgiving Day. (My goddaughters, who are learning to knit, love it when I wear hand knits.)

Herlacyn Afghan
This blanket has been patiently waiting for time and attention. It's soooo close to completion, all it needs is a border, a few ends woven and a good blocking, so it's close to the top of the list.

Gradient Shawl-Wrap
Working this swatch helped me realize I need to move up one needle size and recalculate gauge, then I'll be ready to cast on. The yarn is light, soft and warm, so the end result should be ideal as an extra layer when deep winter arrives. I'm eager to get this project fully underway, but am valiantly waiting until I turn a few of the WIPs above into true FOs.

Yet Another Gradient Shawl-Wrap
In spring, I cast on and worked a few rows of this gradient shawl, but knitting time has been so scarce since, it's barely progressed past the skimpy start above. For now it's on hold, while I focus on other things.

In recent years, I've knit a ton of Christmas trees and holiday items, but this year may be different. I have something fun, fast and easy on the needles, but it's not a gift, so if it's finished in time for the holidays, great! If not, it just means I've gotten a headstart on next year's holiday knitting, right?

There may be a few more projects skulking around in the background, but for now, these are my top priorities. In a perfect world, all of them would be finished, well underway or frogged before the end of the year, so I can start 2018 with a clean slate and fresh focus.

Meanwhile, have any of your projects become hover craft that linger in WIP-land but never quite get done?

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Roundup | 10 Ways to Create DIY Ombres, Gradients & Fades

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 11:30
In knit-world, ombres, gradients and fades continue to be a big color story, which is why we've spent much of the past year exploring numerous ways to create your own. 

The reasoning is simple. Fads come and go, but gradients remain one of the most versatile strategies you can use to maximize a prepackaged kit, leverage a few skeins of newly acquired yarn or transform stash skeins into something fresh and fabulous.

Whether they fade from light to dark or soft to bright, you can distinguish between ombres, gradients and fades based on the color strategy involved. Briefly, in my world:
Ombres feature a monochromatic approach using shades from a single color family.
Gradients typically incorporate multiple shades from two or more color families.
Fades may do either.These guidelines are open to any interpretation that works for you, but in general, it takes at least two colors and three stages or shifts to achieve a gradient or ombre effect. Anything less, and you're essentially working some variation of stripes or color blocking. With this in mind, let's revisit 10 easy strategies for creating your own DIY gradient and ombre combinations.

(Click the titles below to see the original posts, each of which highlights five different strategies. Click a bullet item to see how-to directions for that technique.)

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own

This post shares strategies for creating:

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Fresh Ways to Create Your Own

This post shares strategies for working a:

As you can see, you can begin creating gradients with as few as two skeins, which makes these different approaches especially useful for stashbusting. By mixing and matching awkward orphans and singletons, it's both fun and easy to create combinations that are uniquely your own.

With more than 20 posts exploring different facets of ombres, gradients and fades, you'd think we would have exhausted this topic, but au contraire! From useful stitches and techniques to untapped color strategies, several new gradient posts are hovering on the horizon. 

Meanwhile, I hope these ideas will inspire you to experiment, because the possibilities are endless where ombres, gradients and fades are concerned.


 Ombres & Gradients:
What's the Difference?
  Stashbusting Strategies
(Part II)

To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
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Categories: Knitting Feeds

10 Terrific Fall Color Combos

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 11:30
Now that autumn has arrived and the leaves are turning, fall color combinations are on my mind. After a slow start, the trees are now ablaze with color and the ground is lightly coated so every footstep is accompanied by a satisfying rustle and crunch.

Twegen Harvest
To mark this transition, the summer-weight afghans have been stowed and their autumnal siblings have been released from captivity. There's at least one afghan draped on a couch or chair in every room (including my office), so something cozy is at hand as the days grow shorter and the temps grow cooler.

 Twegen Coffee
I love neutrals, but as the temps fall, I become ever more enamored with rich, hearty colors to offset the growing grey and gloom. Mother nature seems to feel the same, since she pulls out the stops this time of year, delivering a true visual feast of heartwarming colors.

While I work to finish up Herlacyn with its warm, vibrant hues, I've been entertaining myself thinking about various color combinations particularly well-suited to fall. If your thoughts have been traveling in the same vein, you might find some of these options useful.

Here are 10 terrific fall color combos:

Classic I
Coffee, currant, squash

Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg

Bark, olive, pumpkin

Rosemary, sage, thyme

Sage, pumpkin, ginger

Classic II
Olive, currant, honey

Lake, deep rust, gold

Old pewter, ruby, old gold

Sugar maple, oak, aspen

Apple, pumpkin, butternut

As always, these concepts don't come close to exhausting the full range of possibilities, but if you're on a quest for fall color combos, they'll get you started.

Spice, Greenery and Foliage would look lovely worked as three- or five-stage tone-on-tone ombres or gradients, and you could create a fun rainbow effect by mixing and matching colors from different clusters.

If you're seeking surefire combinations for the guys on your knitting list, it's difficult to go wrong with autumn-based schemes, which most men find naturally appealing. Whatever course of action you choose, have fun and experiment.

Meanwhile, I can't think of a better way to make the most of this colorful season than by knitting something in enticing fall shades. Can you?


  11 Color Combos for Kids  11 Rich Color Combos

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Categories: Knitting Feeds


Sun, 10/29/2017 - 10:30
I'm happy to report I'm making headway on the Kintra Nearly Neutral Cowl. The last time you saw it, it looked like this. The first section was completed and the second was underway:

In spite of very limited knitting time, I've managed to complete the black-and-gray striped section, tackle the solid grey center section, and start the second striped section in grey and cream.

I love how the plump, rounded rib creates a deeply corrugated fabric that takes on an almost quilted appearance when its worked in alternating stripes.

This progress was hard-won. Life and work are quite hectic, but I managed to tuck a few quick rows into my morning routine before I went to work, squeeze in a few more at lunch, and knit some more in the evenings. Luckily, this reversible slip stitch is simple and the colorwork is equally easy, so it's a great project for late-night/TV knitting.

The goal is to create a plush, narrow cowl that will wrap twice around my neck. As you can see by the photo above, it's already quite long (about 32-inches). To get the existing length to fit into the lens frame, I had to fold the finished sections into overlapping layers.

This shot provides a better overview of the color strategy, as the cowl fades from black to black with grey then transitions to grey and grey with cream. (I'm working a five-stage gradient.)

So far, I'm delighted with how this is shaping up. Tajmahal yarn (superfine merino, silk, cashmere) is so delectable, it's a delight to work with and promises to feel incredible snuggled around my neck. As far as the knitting goes, I'm about half way through the current striped section, then I'll add one more solid section worked in cream. If I can carve out some time today, I should be able to finish my Kintra sometime this week.

Which will be none too soon! The weather here has turned cold and snow was dusting the ground this morning, so I'm eager to have this plump, cozy cowl and coordinating mitts to wear to work, running errands and everywhere in between.

Looking for the Kintra Cowl pattern? It's nearly ready to send to the tech editor, so it's coming soon!


Pattern | Kintra Mitts
Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl

Categories: Knitting Feeds

WIP | Kintra Nearly Neutral Cowl

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 12:30
Neutrals have lately been dominating my thinking lately for several reasons. They're a central component in a work project and they've surfaced on the needle in the form of this new cowl, so one way or another, there are neutrals everywhere I look.

Trendwise, the neutral landscape is beginning to shift. From silver to charcoal, shades of grey have been the neutral of choice for close to a decade, but earthy tones in taupe, sand, khaki and brown are once again surfacing in home decor and designer fashions. And while saturated colors are often at the heart of my personal knitting projects, through the years, neutrals have routinely appeared in the form of mitts, shawls and neckwarmers, and home dec items such as afghans, pillow covers and more.

Last fall, for example, I was busily knitting Kintra mitts in all sorts of color combinations. While I love and wear them all, this pair is a particular favorite:

Worked in three shades of Tajmahal (cream, grey and black), they're so light, soft and remarkably warm, I've been longing for a coordinating cowl to snuggle around my neck when the weather turns cold. With winter on the horizon, the time seemed right to cast on and continue my mission to make the most of my handknits by creating a complementary set. And unlike the Grey Daze duo, which features a very cool grey coupled with cream, the Tajmahal grey is quite warm with definite brownish undertones.

Kintra Cowl:  Nearly Neutral
Pattern: In development
Yarn: Tajmahal (Lane Cervinia, GGH)
Needles: US 8 (5mm)
Dimensions: ~6 x 45 ins

Because lately we've been exploring DIY ombres and gradients in all their fascinating forms, I'm using just three colors to create a five-stage gradient that fades from black to gray and from gray to cream. The first two sections are complete, and I'm ready to begin the middle section, which will be worked in solid grey.

Meanwhile, there are decisions to be made. Add the red accent stripe or skip it? Seam the cowl or use a button closure instead? Block it aggressively to maximize the width or use a light touch to preserve the plush, corrugated texture? As luck would have it, there will be plenty of time to contemplate these deep issues while I tackle the remaining sections.

Looking for the Kintra Cowl pattern? Hang in there, it's in development and nearly ready to send to the tech editor!


  Pattern | Kintra Mitts  How to Create a 5-Stage Gradient (Option 1)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Where Fiber Meets Fingers Redux

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 10:00
Yesterday was national I Love Yarn Day (ILYD), so it seemed fitting to revisit this post from a few years ago. However, you choose to celebrate, I hope you find a way this weekend to spend some quality time with your favorite fiber and craft. Enjoy!

One of the best ways to celebrate ILYD (or weekend) is to visit your favorite LYS.

This is on my mind because through the marvels of Ravelry, I recently had an interesting exchange regarding the symbiotic relationship among yarn makers, yarn dyers, yarn buyers, designers and LYS owners. As part of that discussion, I commented that LYS owners ...occupy that unique space where fiber meets fingers. You know what appeals to your customers, and you’re the ones who face the challenge of guiding them through the process of matching the right yarn and needles to the right patterns and vice versa.
The designer/knitter/yarn maker/seller relationship is complementary and when these factors come together, a little magic happens and everyone wins. As an added bonus, fiber folks are a generous lot, so loved ones and strangers frequently gain something too: 
It's easy to participate in ILYD, just visit your local yarn store. Inhale fiber fumes, pet some yarn and connect with those who share your passion. Find the perfect yarn and pattern so you can create something special. Take along a stubborn stash skein and pair it with new yarn to make something fresh and delightful. Indulge in a coveted set of needles. Work on a WIP or cast on a holiday gift. Teach someone to knit, attend a class or master a new stitch.

If you knit, crochet, design, dye, spin, weave or work with fiber in any way, it's likely your LYS plays a pivotal role in your creative endeavors. Celebrate your craft by doing what you love with others who love it, too, in that unique space where fiber meets fingers.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Fresh Ways to Create Your Own

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 12:30
In recent months, we've been exploring ways to create your own custom DIY gradients, ombres and fades. Whether you use purpose-bought yarn or yarn from stash, they're the perfect way to leverage singletons or orphans and put leftovers or odd balls to good use.

Because gradient is a more inclusive term, I tend to use it more often than ombre in these how-to posts. Briefly, here's how I distinguish between the two
Ombre schemes focus on one color family and incorporate varied shades that progress from saturated to pale or dark to light, whether the yarn has been dyed in graduated hues or features colors you've selected for a custom effect.Gradient schemes, on the other hand, can incorporate shades from any color family, related or radically different. Both simple and complex gradients typically feature a transitional section that blends one color with the next.In the first overview, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own, we explored strategies ranging from basic to five-stage gradients. Today, let's pick up where we left off and look at five fresh ways to mix yarns to create custom ombre, gradient and fade effects.

(Most of the bold titles below contain two links: Click the gradient one to read more about that specific technique. Click the project name to learn more about the project shown.)

1. Six-stage gradient: Colsie Plumberry

Strategy: Solid colors are separated by transitional sections consisting of two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose three colors that play well together. 
  • Arrange them in your preferred sequence.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC1.

2. Seven-stage gradient: Colsie Green Gradient

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 section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 7 with CC4.

3. 9-stage or double-take ombre gradient: WIP swatch

Strategy: Double the number of ombre stages by working a series of solid sections followed by transitional sections featuring alternating two-row stripes. This works with any number of colors, but to achieve a look similar to what's shown:
  • Choose five related colors and arrange them light to dark or dark to light.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 7 with CC4.
  • Work section 8 with CC4 and CC5.
  • Work section 9 with CC5.

4. Five-stage mirror gradient: Colsie Mirror Gradient

Strategy: Turn two shades into a five-stage mirrored gradient. To achieve a similar look:
  • 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.

5. Three-stage variegated gradient: Colsie Berry Tonal Gradient

Strategy:  Each section is worked in alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose one variegated yarn and three related solid shades that blend with the variegated.
  • Treat the variegated yarn as the MC, because it will appear in each section.
  • Work section 1 with MC and CC1.
  • Work section 2 with MC and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with MC and CC3.Do a mismatched pair: 

Infinitely adaptable and completely customizable, ombres, gradients and fades never become boring, so hopefully, these strategies will inspire you to look at your stash or next yarn acquisition with fresh eyes and a sense of adventure.
Over the years, I've used these techniques in countless projects, and with three gradient projects on the needles as we speak, there's no doubt I'll be using them in many more to come. I hope the same will soon be true for you, too.


   Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own  Stashbusting Strategies (Part II)

To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Ribs & Revelations

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 16:50
Here's the scoop. Recently, I was sorting through recent FOs, works in progress and projects in the planning pipeline. The goal was to set some priorities, but instead I made a strange discovery.

In addition to my long-standing obsession with ombres and gradients, I appear to be equally obsessed with ribby knits and rib stitches in all their forms. Here are just a few of the many examples that led to this revelation.

Colsie Mitts
 Colsie Berry Gradient Mitts
I've made ... wait a minute while I go count ... five pairs of mitts featuring this super-easy slipped rib stitch, and another pair is on the needles. In addition to being a great way to blend colors into a DIY gradient of my own choosing, this stitch produces a wonderfully stretchy fabric that's perfect for mitts, hats, cuffs, cowls and anything else that requires elasticity.

Colsie Cowl

 Starting Over

In spite of the fact that I have too many projects already on the needles, winter is coming. I need all the cozy knits I can muster, so I went ahead and cast on this cowl-scarf. Worked on larger than typical needles, it features an adaptation of the same ribbed slip stitch used in the Colsie mitts, and it's producing a fabric that's light, lush and flexible.

Kintra Mitts

 Kintra Mitts Nearly Neutral
This pattern is yet another example of my ribby obsession. It includes two slipped rib stitches, both of which are useful and adaptable. I love all my Kintra mitts (X pairs and counting), and I'm wearing this pair as I write. The neutral mitts above are my current favorites, however, which leads me to my next example ...

Kintra Cowl

Okay, technically, this isn't a project yet, but the yarn is sitting out waiting to be cast on, so I'm including it in this mini-roundup. The goal is to create a cowl or scarf to complement my nearly neutral Kintra mitts, as part of my plan to create coordinated sets that make the most of the knits I have.

Wyndfael Mitts
Wyndfael Turquoise Mitts
I know, I know. You look at this design and think: Wait, those are cables not ribs! And you're correct. This simple little stitch produces mini-cables on the front side and 2x2 ribs on the back. As a result, it's suited to afghans, bands, cuffs, collars, hats, mitts or anything that calls out for a decorative touch coupled with a bit of stretch.

Riblet Afghan

This project is also in the planning pipeline. I've worked countless swatches in search of a stitch that's reversible, easy to execute and produces an attractive, plush texture, and so far this one is at the forefront. It, too, is a slipped rib, and due to the way it's worked, it's moderately stretchy, holds its shape and produces a slightly syncopated effect I find appealing. As an added plus, you can create interesting effects by working it in two colors (more on that later). 
If you're like me and knitting is woven into your daily life, it's likely you have an obsession or three of your own. Meanwhile, I'm off to pursue this passion for ribs see where it takes me. 
What knitting passions are you pursuing this week? 
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Categories: Knitting Feeds

How to Create a Double-Take Gradient

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 16:09
Technically, this post should be titled "how to create a nine-stage gradient, but I think of this as the double-take gradient for one simple reason: Work the colors as described below, and you can literally double the number of shades embedded in your project. 

If you have difficulty picking and pairing colors, this strategy is for you. Simply buy a pre-packaged gradient or ombre yarn collection and you're ready to get started. 

For this example, I choose a mini-skein pack featuring five shades of blue-green, but the double-take strategy works with any number and any color. Choose three colors and you can turn them into a six-stage gradient. Choose four and you can turn them into an eight-stage gradient. It takes advantage of the growing array of mini-skein ombre yarns, and helps you achieve a more subtle, gradual transition as each color fades into the next.

Let's dive in and take a peek at the particulars.

Double-take gradient: Shawl swatch

If you carefully study the photos, you can see the gradual shift of colors. (Try to ignore the loopy effect at the right edge. The yarn tails are tucked under the swatch to reduce visual distraction.)

Yarn. Mad Hatter Shillings & Pence (Wonderland Yarns by Frabjous Fibers)
Stitch. This features the fluted rib stitch. Not only is it one of my all-time favorite reversible stitches, it does a lovely job of blending colors.

Strategy.  Solid sections are worked plain, while transitional sections are worked in alternating two-row stripes. This works with any number of colors, but to achieve a look similar to what's shown:
  • Choose five related colors and arrange them light to dark or dark to light.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 7 with CC4.
  • Work section 8 with CC4 and CC5.
  • Work section 9 with CC5.

                  How easy is that? The swatch shows five colors worked in a nine-stage gradient, but you could quickly double it (hence the name) to a ten-stage gradient by working CC5 and CC1 together. This approach works no matter how few or many colors you've chosen.
                  Like all the gradient strategies we've discussed, this super-simple approach is packed with possibilities. The swatch features five very closely related hues, but from rainbow shades to neutrals, you could use any color combination that appeals to you. 
                  I worked this swatch to determine needle size and gauge for a shawl I'm itching to cast on, one that's been in my planning pipeline far longer than I care to admit. So, whether you're working with a pre-packaged yarn collection or using yarn from stash, give the double-take gradient a try. It's a fun, effective way to take simple projects to entirely new levels and create a custom effect that's completely your own.

                  To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.
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                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Crossover Combos

                  Sun, 09/17/2017 - 22:17
                  My core wardrobe is compact and built on basics, so I rely heavily on accessories to change up the look, especially when the weather turns cool. Some time ago, I began slowly but steadily making mitts to complement my favorite scarves and shawls. It's a three-way win. I stay warm, indulge my love of knits, and still appear somewhat pulled together.

                  It's time to take this thinking to the next level. 

                  Two-shawl weather is on its way and I'm determined to be prepared, so I've decided to create a cozy collection of coordinating wraps, cowls and scarves that aren't matchy-matchy but work well together. Because yes, indeed, I've been known to wear two scarves or cowls twisted together, or a cowl and scarf combo, or a small shawl topped with a larger wrap.

                  In other words, I'm on a mission only a fellow knitter can understand: I want to leverage the knits I have by making more knits. With this in mind, there are two color combos on my radar screen.

                  One involves various shades of teal. According to some interior designers, it's the most versatile hue for home decor, because it blends well with virtually any color scheme. I'm beginning to believe the same is true for clothing and accessories, since it seems to complement any skin tone and plays beautifully with black, grays, earth tones, reds, roses, purples, blues, golds and oranges, especially deep pumpkin shades. (Hmmm, I see another color post on the horizon.)

                  In practical terms, that helps explain why many recent posts feature shades of teal, either on its own, paired with neutrals, or blended with closely related tones of turquoise, lake and sea.

                  The other combination involves a mix of reds, wines, plums and purples. For me, the scarf below hits all the marks. It's soft. It's light, It's warm. It's reversible. It features some of my favorite colors worked in a simple three-stage gradient, and it's long enough to wrap multiple times without becoming overwhelming. 

                  There's enough of this exquisite cashmere-silk blend (Richesse et Soie) in the stash to make a coordinating cowl or scarf, but if I blend it with another yarn, I could make a shawl or wrap. I was playing with various combinations, when I discovered this.

                  I'm still in the concept stage, but this interesting mix may be just the crossover combo I need to tie this whole whacky plan together.

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                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  WIP | Herlacyn Heatwave

                  Sun, 09/10/2017 - 12:30
                  Slowly but surely, Herlacyn Heatwave is making headway. The last time we talked about this afghan, the first strip had just been completed.

                  As soon as that strip was done, I cast on strip two. It looks an awful lot like the first one, doesn't it? It's true, all three strips are quite similar, but each one features a slightly different mix of colors worked against a black background, which creates an interesting ombre or gradient effect once all the elements are assembled.

                  Speaking of finishing, let's cut to the chase. After a bit more knitting, all three strips were ready for seaming. Normally, I wait until the end and weave ends once the entire blanket is finished. Knitting time is so scarce these days, I decided to try something different, and weave ends as I seamed.

                  If you look closely below, you can see that as I picked up stitches along the strip edge, I wrapped (trapped) the contrasting color with the black working yarn during the pick up process. This created a tidy braided effect, and it will definitely save time during the finishing process.

                  Now the seams are completed, and it's waiting patiently for the next stage. So far, I like how things are coming together. 

                  Mornings and evenings have been slightly cool, a reminder that fall is right around the corner, so I'm eager to get this finished. All it needs is a simple border, so I'd better get busy. I confess, I'm already fantasizing about greeting each fall day with this happy harlequin afghan draped over my legs, while I sip a steaming cup of coffee and watch the sun rise.
                  Looking for the pattern? It's in development and will soon be heading to the tech editor for review.
                  Meanwhile, I'm connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.
                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Starting Over

                  Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:37
                  As knitters, we often talk about how knitting is both a survival tool and metaphor for life. We use it to unwind after a difficult day at work. We use it to productively pass time while we wait in lines or watch a kid's soccer game. We use it to project an image of calm serenity as we sit in a doctor's office waiting to learn the potentially fearsome results of recent medical tests.

                  I've spent the past two weeks working on what is literally the simplest project in the world, a skinny cowl/scarf. Craving a low-key knit that let the subtle sheen of this yarn (Grignasco Champagne) do much of the work, I cast on with the hopes of creating something soft, light and cozy to wrap around my neck on a cool fall day.

                  Two weeks into this project, it should be done, or nearly so. Instead, I've cast on, knit, ripped and restarted so many times I've lost count. First, I had an idea that would make the finished piece more versatile. Naturally, that enhancement needed to occur in the first inch, so everything had to be frogged. Then, I thought maybe a larger needle size would produce a slightly lighter fabric. It did, but I didn't care for the look.

                  So today, I'll be starting over once again, but it's no big deal.

                  Elsewhere, of course, the story is different. Throughout the US, hundreds of thousands of families and businesses are starting over again in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the challenges they face are daunting. 

                  To help those dealing with the loss and destruction this storm has wrought, every single dollar you spend on patterns between now and midnight tomorrow (Sep 4, EDT) will be donated to Harvey relief efforts. In exchange for your kindness and generosity, all patterns are available at a 30% discount, which will automatically show up in your cart at checkout.

                  Whether you buy a pattern you've been eyeing for some time or simply making a purchase to contribute to the recovery efforts, your actions are appreciated. To browse the catalog and buy a pattern now, just click here. Thank you!

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                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Stashbusting Strategies (Part III)

                  Sun, 08/27/2017 - 10:30
                  Beautiful fall and winter yarns are beginning to arrive in yarn stores, which always makes this the ideal time for some serious stashbusting. Stashes are a natural part of our creative life as makers, but to avoid becoming overwhelmed, it's important to have a full range of use-it-up strategies at our fingertips. Almost any project can become a stashbuster, but some fulfill that role more readily than others.

                  Today, I'm focusing on afghans, but the basic concepts can be applied to many projects, especially shawls, scarves and wraps. With that in mind, let's look at a few designs and explore their stashbusting potential, and if a particular design captures your imagination, you can click the bold title to learn more about the pattern.


                  The possibilities here are endless. You could:
                  • Create a Missoni-like effect by using numerous CCs and changing colors every few rows. 
                  • Use a mix of broad, medium and narrow color bands to make the most of yarn on hand.
                  • Work the top and bottom triangles in your MC, then work alternating MC and CC stripes. 
                  • Work each chevron in a different handspun set against a contrasting MC.
                  • Create a tone-on-tone effect by working the MC and chevron bands in closely related colors.

                  Herlacyn (WIP)

                  Derived from an Old English phrase that referred to colorful harlequin patterns, Herlacyn by its very nature offers great stashbusting potential. You could:
                  • Pair six related CCs with one MC as shown.
                  • Reverse the look by working the diamonds in CCs and the triangles in an MC.
                  • Choose three colors and one MC, then work each strip with the MC and one CC.
                  • Choose four colors and one MC, then use the same CC for all the triangles in one row.


                  This fast and easy design has nearly infinite use-it-up potential. You could:
                  • Work every block in a different rainbow color using partials and leftovers.
                  • Make a simple grid using one MC for seams and trim, and one CC for blocks.
                  • Create a diagonal gradient similar to what's shown by using multiple shades of the same color
                  • Produce a checkerboard using just two CCs and working blocks in alternating colors.


                  Tikkyn, too, has great stashbusting promise. Instead of rainbow colors, you could:
                  • Work each block in different neutrals such as shades of cream, sand, tan, taupe and brown.
                  • Pair two closely related colors for each strip and work two-tone strips rather than blocks. Go bright and vibrant, subtle and sophisticated, or rich and gem-like.
                  • Emphasize texture rather than color to use up stashed afghan or sweater quantities. Simply work the entire blanket in one color such as creamy yellow for a baby or grey for a guy.
                  • Adopt one of the color strategies featured in Beyond the Block: 20 Surefire Configurations.


                  Faced with a growing pile of leftovers and partial skeins from many multicolored projects, I needed a design that offered infinite ways to put these lovely leftovers to good use. Valere was the result and to maximize its potential, you could:
                  • Work it in an array of rainbow colors, similar to what's shown.  link to cream version
                  • Put leftovers to good use by making striped rather than solid banners. 
                  • Focus solely on two colors (one MC, one CC).
                  • Produce a gradient effect by working each banner in yarn from the same color family.

                  Afghans and blankets are easily adaptable and ideally suited to stashbusting efforts. After seven years of diligent stashbusting, my stash is at a comfortable size (not too big, not too small), and it all fits into the designated storage space. It's also been reshaped to more accurately reflect my current fiber, color and project preferences, which is a decided plus.

                  Because the thought of being entirely stashless makes me twitchy, I can't envision a day without yarn in reserve for midnight forays, quick gifts and experimental swatching. That's why periodically, I buckle down and focus on stashbusting projects. It puts lovely yarns to good use and frees up space for fresh infusions of fiber.

                  Hopefully, these ideas will provide ideas and inspiration for transforming your stash into unique and useful hand knits worked from the treasure trove hidden in your stash.

                  What are your favorite stashbusting tips and tricks?


                        Stashbusting Strategies (Part I)   Stashbusting Strategies (Part II)

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  Houston, We Have a Problem

                  Sun, 08/20/2017 - 10:30
                  In 1979, the phrase "Houston, we have a problem" entered the American vernacular when the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 discovered a major electrical fault that threatened their lives and their mission.

                  Luckily, knitting is rarely a life and death endeavor, but because we feel passionately about the things we make, it's easy for knitting problems to gain exponential importance. 

                  My current issue is all too familiar: There are too many projects in progress, and it's driving me bonkers. Here's a quick roundup.

                  Herlacyn Heatwave is is the assembly stage and would soon be finished, if I could get a couple blocks of concentrated knitting time.

                  Herlacyn Breeze is ready to cast on as soon as Heatwave is done. Technically it's not on the needles yet, but the selected yarn waiting in the wings is now clamoring loudly for attention, so it feels like a WIP.

                  It's in the 80s today, but winter is hovering on the horizon, so I'm knitting the lovely Grignasco Champagne into a simple gradient cowl or scarf (haven't decided yet) ...

                  and the first of a complementary pair of Colsie gradient mitts is already on the needles. (It's subtle, but if you look closely, you can see the colors shift from lake to teal.)

                  Working with the soft, delectable Champagne is so enjoyable, I couldn't resist casting on a shawl-wrap. There's not much to see yet, but it will feature a tonal gradient that glimmers thanks to the metallic flecks in the Blue Heron variegated yarn.

                  To counter the sea of blue, teal and green, I felt the need to cast on a Christmas Tree in bold, bulky red.

                  I know, I know. That's only six WIPs counting the one waiting for cast on, but for me that's way too many. Two weeks ago, there were eight, but I managed to buckle down and finish both the Colsie berry and mirror gradients mitts. To add to the problem, I keep stopping periodically to swatch for a future project. The motley assortment below represents just a smattering of the many stitches I've tested in the search for the just-right stitch.

                  The solution, of course, is obvious: Stop casting on projects. Stop browsing through stitch dictionaries. Stop swatching for future projects, and focus on what's already on the needles.

                  It's time to stiffen my knitter's resolve and make it happen. Heatwave is the largest project but it's close to completion, so this week's goal is to finish the seams and start the borders and trim. When I need a truly mindless knit, I can pick up the mitts and see if I can bring them closer to FO status. 

                  If I hold off casting on the second Herlacyn, that will effectively take me down to three active projects. And for WIPs, three is my magic number.

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                  FO | Colsie Mitts Mirror Gradient

                  Sun, 08/13/2017 - 10:30
                  Knitting time has been scarce, so I've continued to focus on small, manageable projects like simple mitts and swatches for designs in the pipeline. On one hand, this is good, because small things are getting done. On the other hand, it means larger projects like Herlacyn Heatwave are languishing from temporary neglect.

                  That said, I've managed to complete another pair of mitts, and like so many of my projects, they're both functional and experimental. 

                  They feature a mirror gradient worked in one of my favorite stretchy reversible slip stitches, but there is a twist. I discovered that introducing a minor modification to the plush, rounded rib (left) produced a more compact rib (right). Look closely, and you can see the subtle differences. 

                  Both stitches are attractive, stretchy and fully reversible, and on the hand these differences are nearly imperceptible. (Plush rib, left. Compact rib, right.)

                  Colsie Mirror Gradient Mitts
                  Pattern: In development
                  Yarn: Champagne (Grignasco)
                  Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
                  Yardage: ~100 yards

                  This yarn is delicious. The blue undertones in the Teal accentuate the hint of blue in the icy Cloud yarn, which comes and goes based on the lighting, as you can see from the photos. This yarn also knits up beautifully, and looks great even without blocking. And thanks to the superfine merino and silk blend, the mitts have a soft sheen and feel like a dream, which means I'm already fantasizing about wearing them when fall weather arrives. 

                  Meanwhile, I'm so enamored with this combination of yarn, stitch, color and mirrored gradients, I'm thinking of casting on a complementary cowl or scarf. Long ago, we agreed there's no such thing as too many mitts, and I'm beginning to believe the same is true for soft and cozy coordinating shawls and scarves.

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                  Categories: Knitting Feeds

                  FO | Colsie Mitts Berry Tonal Gradient

                  Sun, 08/06/2017 - 12:30
                  It may be August, but fall is on the horizon and winter won't be far behind. With that in mind, I'm making simple fingerless mitts to add to my collection. It's no secret how much I love mitts and how often I wear them, so for me they're the ideal quick knit, something to occupy my hands as a respite between larger projects or when my brain needs a soothing knit after a taxing day.

                  As simple as they are, this pair incorporates several small elements that helped keep things entertaining. The first, of course, is the tonal color combination, which fades from rose and red into deep burgundy, and was featured in this post about tonal gradients and variegated yarns.

                  The second fillip is the stitch, a plush reversible slipped rib that's become a favorite, because the stretchy fabric produces mitts that hug the hand without the need for shaping. To change things up a bit, I began experimenting and came up with an adaptation that produces a slightly boxier reversible rib that's as simple, stretchy and attractive as its sibling.

                  Colsie Mitts | Berry Tonal Gradient
                  Pattern: In development
                  Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
                  Yarns: Babe (Euro Baby), Charlemont (Valley Yarns), Happy Feet (Plymouth Yarn)
                  Yardage: ~100 yards

                  As an added plus, these mitts coordinate nicely with my Dojeling Wineberry shawlette, a fall and winter staple, so they'll see lots of wear once cooler weather arrives.

                  There's nothing like a fresh FO to boost the spirits, which may explain why there's another pair already on the needles. I want to test how my stitch adaptation works in a different yarn, and we all know in my world there's no such thing as too many mitts.

                  What's on your needles right now? Summer things? Winter things? A mix of both?

                  Looking for the mitt pattern? It's in development and nearly ready to send to the tech editor.

                  Categories: Knitting Feeds