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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.


Angletyn

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.

Lucben

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

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.

Valere

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?


RELATED

      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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Categories: Knitting Feeds

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

Pattern | Valere Reversible Afghan

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 12:30
With striking triangles and clean geometric lines, Valere is a versatile unisex afghan packed with possibilities.


Latin for valiant or worthy, Valere features jaunty banners perfect for every occasion. Whether you’re valiantly knitting for a worthy little knight or princess, anticipating a new arrival, or celebrating the heroics of a favorite team, simply shift the color strategy to adapt Valere to any circumstance or recipient.


Fast, easy and reversible, this afghan sports a subtle texture on the front and plush texture on the back. The compact triangles are great for mini or partial skeins, and one easy color change per row creates crisp diagonal lines. Strip construction keeps your project contained and portable, while the modified three-needle technique makes seaming a breeze and preserves drape.
With Valere, the:
  • Crossed stockinette stitch is easy to execute and creates a stable fabric with an appealing texture.
  • Color work is a breeze and one easy color change produces crisp diagonal lines.
  • Strip construction keeps your work compact and portable, so you can work on your afghan anytime and anywhere.
  • Elements like simple accent stripes allow you to tailor each pair to your tastes or those of the recipient.
  • Pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. It's concise but complete, and includes directions, stitch counts, yardage and dimensions for three sizes.
  • Yarn is worsted weight or its equivalent, so your project grows quickly.
  • Design is versatile and unisex, suitable for all ages, and can be worked in different yarns and countless combinations. 


Valere Afghan  | Fast, Easy & ReversibleSkill Level 2: Easy
Yarn: Worsted weight; adapts to any weight and multi-stranding
Shown: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Sizes: 3 sizes (baby, lapghan, throw)Yardage (approx.): 765 to 1315 yards                                   
The pattern includes three popular sizes from baby and lapghan to throw. Written for worsted weight yarn, it readily adapts to other weights and multi-strand strategies. Work the pattern as written or use the handy Quick Reference guide, schematic, tips, tricks and easy modifications to tailor it to your tastes.
The version shown features cheerful rainbow shades, but the design adapts to whatever color strategy suits your style. Work the banners in one color and background in a closely related shade for a tone-on-tone effect. Choose soft shades for a baby or team colors for your best guy. Or create an eye-catching effect using self-striping yarn for the banners and a solid, contrasting color for the background.


Vivid and bright or subtle and sophisticated, the only limitation is your imagination. 



Head to your favorite yarn store to select precisely the colors you prefer, or use partials and leftovers to turn Valere into the perfect stashbusting project. Whatever approach you take, the end result is a striking afghan so inviting and versatile, you may find yourself making one for everyone on your knitting list.

Valere is fast, fun and easy, so whether you're welcoming a new baby or getting a jumpstart on holiday knitting, buy the pattern now to save 30% (through midnight Aug 2 EDT). Enjoy!

To read more about this design, see FO | Valere Summer Rainbow and FO | Valere Vivid Rainbow.
To explore different rainbow color schemes, see 7 Cheerful Rainbow Color Combos.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Tonal Gradients Tame Variegated Yarns

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 12:30
Unfortunately, I'm going through one of those annoying phases where yarn fumes have so clouded my brain, I can't seem to stop casting on projects great and small. This is true, even though as a slow knitter, there are already enough WIPs on the needles and in the pipeline to keep me busy for weeks if not months.


Instead of doing the rational thing and focusing on finishing the tasks already at hand, I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to experiment with variegated yarn and tonal gradients. 


Variegated yarns can be tricky, so pairing a closely related solid with variegated yarn is one of my favorite tips and tricks. It's an easy way to prevent pooling, and here I've simply taken it to the next step.



Tonal gradient: Colsie Mitts (WIP)

Yarn. Happy Feet (Plymouth), Charlemont (Valley Yarns), Babe (Knitting Fever)
Stitch. This 3x2 slipped rib creates a stretchy fabric perfect for fingerless mitts.

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 your 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.

                  The variegated Happy Feat incorporates shades of red, orange, pink and purple, so I choose rosy solids and worked them as follows:
                  • Section 1: Variegated with burgundy
                  • Section 2: Variegated with red
                  • Section 3: Variegated with rose

                  Overall, I'm happy with the outcome. The three related solids create a pleasing tonal gradient, and it was fun to see how each one either accentuated or obscured different colors in the variegated yarn. As an added plus, when these mitts are finished, they'll make a nice complement to my Dojeling Wineberry shawl.
                  I've said it before, but it bears repeating. DIY gradients are one of the most effective ways to leverage yarn from stash. So, if you have lovely variegated yarns that pool in patterns you find unappealing, try tonal gradients, they're the ideal way to tame virtually any variegated yarn.

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

                  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!

                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

                  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.
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                                  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.
                                  Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

                                  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

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