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WIP | Not-So-Scrappy Scrapghan

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 12:30
The last time you saw my not-so-scrappy scrapghan, it looked like a hot mess. The strips had been seamed together and I was starting the border when the sun emerged briefly, so I grabbed a quick shot:

I'd hoped to be sharing a finished afghan today, but the past couple weeks have been so hectic and jam-packed, it just didn't happen. 

Luckily some progress has occurred, but you might be hard pressed to spot it. The border is nearly finished, and as you can see, it's curling so madly, I'm a bit concerned. I've used this technique many times because once it's properly blocked it tends to magically relax and lay flat, but at this point it's difficult to believe that will actually occur.

I'm now diligently weaving ends and striving with all my might to work slowly and carefully, because this isn't my strongest skill set and I want both sides to be attractive. If you look closely, you can see the tapestry needle in the upper left:

I can't speak for you, but once a project reaches this stage, I'm so eager to see the finished piece I get antsy. Clearly, patience isn't my strong suit, but if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's an important quality to cultivate as a knitter. 

Like this afghan, it's something I'm still working on.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Knitters' Insider Terms: Deciphering the Code

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 10:30
Recently, we took a quick look at some of the acronyms and abbreviations knitters use in blogs, comments, social media venues and everyday conversations. 

Today, let's tackle another part of the picture, and look at the meaning of some of the most common insider terms knitters use.


Audition. To experiment with different color combinations and/or textures to see which ones play well together.

Cold Sheep. To stop buying yarn and focus on using yarn from stash.

Destash. To sell, donate or give away yarn to reduce the size of the stash.

Dismount. To decide to purchase yarn after a period of cold-sheeping.

Frog. To rip out completed work, because "rippit, rippit" sounds like a frog.

Frog pond. To put a project aside, with the intention of frogging it in the future.

Hibernate. To put a project on hold indefinitely.

Knitworthy. The ultimate compliment, describing someone who appreciates your handiwork and for whom you'd cheerfully knit.

Marinate. To put a project aside for a time, while you figure out the next steps.

Mileage. Refers to how much yarn a specific project may require, how quickly a project progresses, or literally how many miles of yarn a knitter has knit.

Moderate Merino. To take a balanced approach, acquiring yarn as needed without overdoing it. 

Non-knitworthy. Describes someone who doesn't appreciate your handiwork and for whom you wouldn't knit.

Odd ball. Refers to unusual or challenging one-of-a-kind yarns.

Orphan. Refers to one-of-a-kind skeins lurking in the stash. 

Partial. Refers to leftover skeins that are partially used.

Reknit. To rework all or part of a project.

Simmer. To put a project on the back burner and let it evolve slowly.

Singleton. Refers to any lone skein. 

Stash. Large or small, it refers to your personal collection of yarn not in active use. 

Stashbuster. Projects or patterns designed to use large amounts of stash yarn.

Stashbusting. To focus on using yarn from stash.

Stash enhancement. A phrase used to describe recent yarn acquisitions, often used to describe new yarn for which you have no immediate project or plan.

Stitchworthy. Essential stitches to have in your repertoire.

Swatch. As a verb, it describes the act of knitting a fabric sample to test a stitch, establish gauge and determine how the yarn behaves. As a noun, it describes the finished fabric sample itself.

Time out. To put a frustrating project on hold until you have the patience to deal with it. 

Tink. Knit spelled backwards: hence, to undo completed work stitch by stitch.

Unknit. Same as tink: to undo knitted work stitch by stitch.

Unvention. Coined by renowned knitter, Elizabeth Zimmerman, it describes a new-to-you stitch or technique that has most likely been discovered (invented) by other knitters before you.

Yarn chicken. To continue knitting, even though it appears you'll run out of yarn before you finish the piece.

Yarneater. Describes projects or stitches that eat up lots of yarn.

Obviously, this list isn't all-encompassing, but hopefully it captures the most common terms used in knitterly conversations and online venues. Of course, we haven't even begun to tackle the abbreviations and acronyms used in patterns and stitch dictionaries, but we'll save that topic for another day. 

As always, if you spot a term that's missing, just let me know and we'll add it to the list.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Ombres & Gradients: Which Would You Choose?

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 12:30
Knitting time has been as elusive as the Easter bunny. This means my rainbow scrapghan is progressing at a turtle pace, but the finish line is in sight so I'm striving valiantly to stay focused.

Several fresh afghan designs are clamoring to be cast on, however, and a knitter has to plan, right? That may explain why I've been scouring the stash, playing with color, and experimenting with various ombres and gradients as time permits.

Here are five combinations I'm considering:

1. With its blues, lavender and purple, this cool gradient would make a nice counterpoint to the vivid brights of my rainbow afghan, but don't you think it looks a bit bland and boring?

2. With livelier shades of green, turquoise and purple, this cool gradient offers (to my eye) a bit more visual interest and appeal.

3. With shades of teal, sage, jade and grayed greens, this tonal ombre speaks to me, partly because green has recently been on my radar screen.

4. With soft yellows, varied pinks and a subdued red, this gradient feels slightly tropical. (You'd think my stash would be overflowing with shades of red and rose, but I've done such a good job of knitting orphans, partials and leftovers, the choices are limited.)

5. With bright yellow and warm coral tones, this spicy gradient has an earthy look that lands somewhere between the heat of August and the harvest colors of fall.

I confess I'm stumped. I like all of them for different reasons, and most will eventually find their way into one project or another. That said, if I had the opportunity to cast on tomorrow, I don't have a clue which one to pick.
If you were in my shoes, which would you choose?

Meanwhile, I hope you're having a lovely weekend, and I wish a Happy Easter or Happy Passover to those who celebrate.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

FO | Colsie Mitts Green Gradient

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 12:00
Slowly but surely, spring is creeping forward. Several untimely freezes managed to zap the buds of early blooming trees, shrubs and flowers, so the colorful display that makes this time of year so appealing is more subdued than usual.

On the other hand, tender shoots and leaves are beginning to emerge and the grass and dandelions are growing at an alarming rate. To celebrate all this burgeoning greenery, I finished another pair of spring-weight fingerless mitts, this time in seasonal shades of green and teal.

Mitts | Colsie Green Gradient
Pattern: In development
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Size: M
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Yardage: ~81 yards

With it's blend of cotton and wool, Cotton Fleece is perfect for the season, offering warmth without a woolly feel. As a bonus, the mitts were super fast and easy, and allowed me to use up several small balls of leftovers and scraps, Right now, the only thing they complement is my Lucben Tidepool afghan, but they should work with a teal and lake shawl in the planning pipeline.

In contrast to the Colsie Rose mitts, this pair incorporates a seven-stage gradient created with just four colors. From top to bottom, they are:
  • Rue
  • Light Jade
  • Sage
  • New Age Teal
I suspect it makes me sound like a simpleton, but I'm having such fun making these gradient and ombre mitts, I've already selected more leftovers for future pairs. A few weeks ago, I casually said I could see these in every color of the rainbow. Considering the array of Cotton Fleece leftovers tucked in the stash, that possibility seems more likely every day.

What knitting obsessions have captured your imagination this week?

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

WIP | Fresh Slant on Scrapghans

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 12:30
I love the colorful, dynamic look of the random scrapghans so many knitters and crocheters make. Some are vibrant, some are tonal, but each one is unique. Whether they're lively and bright or subtle and blended, they're an excellent way to transform leftovers into something attractive and useful.
As much as I admire these makers and their beautiful projects, random is not my natural approach. So when I found myself eyeing an ever growing pile of colorful Cotton Fleece scraps and leftovers, I faced a personal challenge: Could I create an appealing scrap-eating afghan design that allowed me to put small quantities of yarn to good use?

So, while we've been talking about other things like gradients, ombres and grey streaks, I’ve been quietly working in the background. To get started, I spent much of one weekend weighing partials and leftovers, calculating estimated yardage and playing with color combinations. I drew up a series of sketches, scribbled lots of notes, and began swatching.
After a fair amount of experimentation, I decided to start with a fast and easy concept that featured a single unifying main color, used nine partial skeins and appealed to my simple self. I went back to my collection of Cotton Fleece partials, targeted those with sufficient yardage, selected a rainbow of colors that played well together, and cast on.
The last time you saw this project, it looked like this:

Since then, some progress has occurred:

It looks like a hot, royal mess, doesn't it?
Of course it does! In the photo above, I had just finished the seams when the sun came out for 3.5 seconds, so I dumped the afghan on the work table and grabbed a quick shot. In spite of the way it looks here, I'm pleased with how it's coming together. It's bright, it's colorful, and it's putting a noticeable dent in my leftovers.

With luck and a bit of time, I'll finish the borders and edging this weekend. Then, it'll be time to tackle the edging and weaving ends, followed by blocking and the never-ending struggle to get semi-decent photos. 

If all goes well, sometime this week, this fresh slant on scrapghans will be completed and ready to share, then you can tell me what you think.
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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Knitters' Acronyms: Deciphering the Code

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:00
Like any dynamic, creative field, the world of knitting is awash in acronyms and insider terms. Knitting is a living, breathing endeavor, so like the craft itself, the terminology is constantly evolving.

This profusion of terms can be quite daunting, especially for new knitters. To help all of us decipher the code, I've compiled two lists that attempt to capture the most commonly used acronyms and insider terms, along with brief definitions for each.

Today, let's focus on acronyms.


ABD. All but done, as in a project that's almost finished.

AFO. Almost finished object.

AQ. Afghan quantity of yarn.

ATT. All the things.

COAT. Cast on all (the) things.

DAISY. Dubiously averaged individual stash year (how long it will take to knit yarn in stash).

FO. Finished object.

FOFri. Finished object Friday, a tradition in knitting blog world.

FRAT. Frog all (the) things.

HO. Half object (e.g., one mitt, one sock).

ISO. In search of something such as yarn, patterns, books, old knitting magazines, tools, etc.

KAT KATT. Knit all (the) things.

KWIP. Knitting | Work in Progress (this blog).

LOSY. Leftover sock yarn OR leftover stash yarn.

MAT MATT. Make all (the) things.

OTN. On the needles.

PIP. Pattern / project in progress.

SA. Stash acquisition.

SQ. Sweater quantity of yarn.

SABLE. Stash accumulation/acquisition beyond life expectancy.

SSS. Second sock/second sleeve syndrome.

TBD. To be determined.

TO. Time out, putting a project aside because you've run into difficulties.

UFO. Unfinished object.

UNO. Unamed object.

WIP. Work in progress.

YMD / YMMD. Your mileage may differ, referring to variable factors such as how fast a project progresses or how much yarn a project may require.

YMV / YMMV. Your mileage may vary, in the same vein as above.

YT. Yarn time, how long it would take you to knit all the yarn in your stash.

This list doesn't claim to be all-encompassing, but it reflects the most common acronyms used in knitterly conversations and online venues.

Soon, we'll take a look at common insider terms, but in the meantime, if you spot a missing acronym, just let me know and we'll add it to the list.

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FO | Colsie Mitts Rose Gradient

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 12:30
Spring has arrived, which in this region means erratic temperatures coupled with cold and stormy weather punctuated by tantalizing flashes of sun and warmth.

To celebrate the latter, I broke my grey streak by making a quick pair of spring-weight fingerless mitts in cheerful shades of red, rose and pink. The last time you saw them they looked like this.

And here's what they look like today:

Colsie Rose | Reversible Mitts
Pattern: In development
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep), Four Seasons (Classic Elite, discontinued)
Size: M
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Yardage: ~80 yards

Colsie, an old-fashioned Scottish word for cozy, captures the everyday simplicity of these mitts. The stretchy ribs hug my hand, offer plenty of give, and are fully reversible. Cotton-wool blends are perfect for this time of year, providing warmth without a woolly feel.

Each mitt incorporates six colors. From top to bottom, they are:
  • Red & White Variegated
  • Medium Pink
  • Provincial Rose
  • Cherry Moon
  • Clear Red
  • Barn Red
As humble as they are, these mitts represent a knitting trifecta. They were super fast and easy, made with leftovers from stash, and served to illustrate one way to create a five-color gradient in the Ombres & Gradients series. Plus, the colors complement a fuchsia shawl (purchased, not handknit) I wear often, so that's another win.

If you read Going Green, you know there's another pair already on the needles, and this morning I selected more leftovers for future pairs. Long ago, we agreed there's simply no such thing as too many mitts, so I may make a whole series in a rainbow of colors. What do you think?

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

How to Create a 5-Color Gradient (Option 2)

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 15:17
Five-color gradients are next on our list in the ongoing saga of ombres and gradients.

Last time, we looked at option 1 for a five-color gradient. Today, let's dive in and explore an alternate approach. As you can see, unlike some of the other items in Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own, example five was compact, quick and easy.

5. Five-Color Gradient (Option 2)

Yarns. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep), Four Seasons (Classic Elite, discontinued)
Stitch. This fast and easy slipped stitch creates a very stretchy, reversible 3x2 ribbed fabric, and the occasional slipped stitch helps blend the colors.

Strategy. Each section consists of two colors worked in alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose six related colors.
  • Pair them by value: dark with dark, medium with medium, light with light.
  • Work section 1 with two dark colors, CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 2 with one dark and one medium color, CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 3 with two medium colors, CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 4 with one medium and one light color, CC4 and CC5.
  • Work section 5 with two light colors, CC5 and CC6.

    In the example shown, the colors were worked as follows:
    • Section 1: Barn Red, Clear Red
    • Section 2: Clear Red, Cherry Moon
    • Section 3: Cherry Moon, Provincial Rose
    • Section 4: Provincial Rose, Medium Pink
    • Section 5: Medium Pink, Red-White Variegated

    No matter what colors you choose, it's especially fun to work this gradient and see how different shades blend in each progressive section as your work grows.
    The sample is still on the needle for one simple reason: I'm making another and turning the pair into gradient mitts. I like to keep the stitches live until both are ready to finish. That way, if I decide to adjust the length or alter the bind off color and technique, it minimizes the fuss factor and ensures the two match.
    I was highly motivated to tackle this example for selfish reasons. When both are finished, several small balls of leftover yarn will finally be gone, and I'll have a fresh pair of mitts for spring. Win-win. (When I wrote this, there was snow on the ground, so yes, in this region mitts are an essential part of any sane person's spring wardrobe.)

    Meanwhile, I'm working on a fast and fun color-block afghan, testing stitches for a new design, and making samples for upcoming ombre and gradient posts. To complicate matters, knitting time has been tough to find, but when it appears, I can choose from a nice assortment of small and large projects, which is definitely a good thing.
    Your comments are always welcome and if you have questions or need clarification, let me know and I'll do my best to clear up any confusion.

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

    How to Create a 5-Color Gradient (Option 1)

    Sun, 03/26/2017 - 12:30
    Creating your own custom ombres and gradients is a fun and effective way to combine colors and use up leftovers and partial skeins, so it's one of my go-to solutions. 

    One of my favorite approaches is the simple five-color gradient, the fourth example highlighted in Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own. With just three colors, you can produce very different looks depending on whether you use high-contrast or closely related shades.

    Let's take a quick look at the basics.

    4. Five-color gradient (option 1): Kintra Mitts
    Yarn. Tajmahal (GGH, Lane Cervinia; discontinued), Charlemont (Valley Yarns)
    Stitch. The slip stitch produces a reversible fabric with stretchy, hand-hugging ribs.

    Strategy. Solid areas are separated by transitional sections worked in alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose three compatible colors.
    • Arrange them from dark to light or light to dark.
    • Work the first section with the darkest shade only, CC1.
    • Work the second section with one dark and one medium, CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the third section with the medium shade, CC2.
    • Work the fourth section with one medium and one light, CC2 and CC3.
    • Work the fifth section with the lightest shade only, CC3.

    The overall strategy couldn't be easier, but it produces very attractive results. For those who like specifics, the accent stripe was worked in Charlemont (Burgundy) and the mitt body was worked as follows:
    • Section 1: Black
    • Section 2: Black and grey
    • Section 3: Grey
    • Section 4: Grey and cream
    • Section 5: Cream

    The Kintra Greyridge mitts below illustrate the same strategy, worked in closely related charcoal, pewter and silver shades for a tonal or ombre effect.

    Five-color gradients work with any color combination, so they're a highly effective stashbusting strategy and easy way to transform a simple pattern into a standout piece.

    Try using fine yarns with a soft hand for a stunning scarf, cowl, shawl or stole. Or use assorted cotton or cotton-blend leftovers to create a rainbow of gradient dishcloths, towels, placemats or table runners.

    However you choose to use this particular gradient strategy, I can guarantee you'll have fun. Just be forewarned, experimenting with different combinations can quickly become addictive.

    To see more ombre and gradient concepts, click here.

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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    How to Create a 4-Color Gradient

    Wed, 03/22/2017 - 10:30
    Periodically, we've been talking about various strategies for creating your own gradients. We've already looked at simple, basic and three-color gradients, so it's time to tackle another one.

    Today, let's delve into one way to craft a four-color gradient, so you can create one of your own. Our focus is example three from the overview post, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own.

    3. Four-color gradient: Twegen Coffee

    Yarn. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)

    Stitch. The fluted rib stitch produces a reversible, tweedy fabric with fluted columns on the front and fluted ribs on the back. 

    Strategy. Each strip consists of two colors worked in alternating rows. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose five shades in related color families. 
    • Pair them by value: dark with dark, medium with medium, and light with light.
    • Work the first strip with two darks, CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the second strip with one dark and one medium, CC2 and CC3.
    • Work the third strip with two mediums, CC3 and CC4.
    • Work the fourth strip with one medium and one light, CC4 and CC5.

    In Twegen Coffee, the strips were worked as follows:
    • Strip 1: Cavern, Slate 
    • Strip 2: Slate, Teddy Bear Brown
    • Strip 3: Teddy Bear Brown, Milk Chocolate
    • Strip 4: Milk Chocolate, Cotton Ball

    Arranged dark to light, the strips were seamed and trimmed with Cavern (black). Unfortunately, several of these colors are no longer available, but comparable ones are. Twegen Harvest features a similar strategy, using eight colors instead of five. In both instances, I chose this approach to make the most of yarn on hand and leverage the interesting woven look the fluted rib stitch produces.
    The beauty of crafting your own ombres and gradients is the opportunity to tailor them to suit your tastes, make the most of yarn you have, use up oddballs and uglies, and more. I think this particular gradient would be striking in shades of burgundy, wine, claret, red and rose, in blues ranging from deep navy to summer sky, in greens ranging from forest to mint, or in subtle shades of grey.
    Want to make a dent in your stash? From afghans to accessories, a four-color gradient is a great solution, because it's the ideal way to combine colors to get the yardage you need for a larger project.

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

    Yarn is Dangerous

    Sun, 03/19/2017 - 12:30
    Knitting is fraught with fascinating conundrums. For instance, no matter how large your stash might be, there's a better than average chance the yarn you need (or want) for your next project isn't there.

    Five skeins of grey? Lovely! Unfortunately, they're all the wrong shade, fiber or weight for the project you have in mind, so five fresh skeins join the ranks. (Added: 545 yards. Used: 366 yards.)


    Need some very special yarn for a gift? How thoughtful! Almost certainly, whatever you have on hand isn't quite right, so you acquire several skeins of blue and teal to ensure you have enough yardage and some color choices. (Added: 1600 yards. Used: 400 yards.)


    Working on a project specifically designed to use up leftovers and partials? Great idea! Unfortunately, as you're heading into the final stretch, you realize the blues on hand are all wrong. So, you order two similar but different saturated turquoise blues, because surely one or the other will work right? (Added: 430 yards. Used: 40 yards.)

    Want to get a jumpstart on this year's batch of Christmas ornaments? Sounds smart! Uh-oh. Every green yarn on hand is way too yellow (or blue or brown or boring), so you simply must get some in a more suitable shade. (Added: 550 yards. Used: 100 yards.)


    Indulging in a spate of rainbow knits? What fun! However, thanks to your diligent stashbusting efforts, your supply of rainbow shades is depleted. To be on the safe side, you wisely decide to replenish your supply. (Added: 1505 yards. Used: 968 yards.)


    As you know, I knit from stash as often as possible, but invest in yarn without guilt when the need arises. What triggers those yarn buys? The examples above (gifts, specific design needs, desire for the perfect color) are good illustrations. 

    These were logical, well-reasoned acquisitions, but that doesn't negate the fact that in this roundup, yardage in temporarily outweighs yardage out. That's okay, because with the help of some creative stashbusting projects, all of it will eventually find its destiny. Eventually.

    That said, it's important to recognize reality. Let's face it, lush and lovely or plain and practical, yarn by its very nature is seductive and very, very sneaky. Apparently, like the herd animals that produce my favorite fibers, yarn is happiest when it's safely stabled in a cozy spot with an ever-growing flock of siblings and cousins for company.

    That means alone and collectively, yarn strives to entice us with its soft hand, gentle halo, rich color, subtle sheen, and possibilities real and imagined. And that makes it very dangerous indeed.

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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    How to Create a 3-Color Gradient

    Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:30
    Light, soft and warm, Plumberry is one of my all-time favorite scarves. For years, this yarn languished in the stash, because it was so luscious I was terrified whatever I made wouldn't do it justice. I tested countless stitches and design ideas, and nothing seemed quite right.

    After years of frustration, I hit on the idea of a three-stage gradient, and couldn't be more pleased with the result. The cashmere-silk blend is luscious, the colors suit my tastes, and as simple as it is, this scarf garners compliments every time I wear it.

    Plumberry was highlighted in the overview post, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own, and the strategy is so simple, I almost skipped this post. But many knitters tell me they struggle with color and prefer step-by-step directions, so today we'll explore one way to create a custom three-color gradient.

    2. Three-Color Gradient: Plumberry Scarf

    Yarn. Richesse et Soie (Knit One Crochet Too). Sadly, this yarn has been discontinued.
    Stitch. The easy, fluted rib stitch produces a reversible fabric with fluted columns on the front and fluted ribs on the back.

    Strategy. The cranberry and purple sections are worked solid, while the center plum section was created by working alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose two colors.
    • Work the first section with CC1 only.
    • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the third section with CC2 only.
    The strategy couldn't be more simple, but with the right stitch, it produces very attractive results. For those who like specifics:
    • Section 1: Cranberry 9249
    • Section 2: Cranberry 9249, Purple 9713
    • Section 3: Purple 9713
    The finished scarf is 4 inches wide and 60 inches long, so it offers lots of wearing options.

    Because a basic three-color gradient works with any fiber or color combination, it's a wonderful way to transform orphans, singletons and yes, shrine of precious yarns into something pretty and useful. 

    The possibilities are endless. To create your own unique gradient or ombre, try pairing turquoise with white for a summery look, turquoise and grey for a sophisticated one, or turquoise and teal for a tonal effect.
    If you haven't done so already, take time now to rummage through your stash to see what interesting combinations you discover, then have fun and experiment with this easy but effective gradient strategy.

    To read more about ombres and gradients, click here.
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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Going Green

    Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:30
    The Pantone Color Institute has declared Greenery (15-0343) the color of the year. It's a lovely, fresh shade that looks a bit like this:

    I'm not much of a trend-watcher, but the current focus on green prompted me to wonder why I don't use it more often. The truth, of course, is it appears on a regular basis, but because I tend to favor clear, deep or blue-green shades that better suit my coloring and home decor, it's not always obvious.

    That said, once I started hunting for examples, I was amazed at just how often varied shades of green surface in projects. Here's a quick roundup:


    These super-simple gradient mitts represent a knitting trifecta: They're fast and easy, designed to use up small balls of leftover yarn, and serve as an example for a new make your own ombres and gradients post.

    I'm still experimenting, but one way or another the lovely teal and lake yarn below will find a home in a stole, shawl or wrap. In this photo, the colors appear a bit bluer than they are in real life.


    When it's finished, this afghan will have flashes of vivid mint and deep teal.

    Angletyn Rainbow features a soft shade of teal.

    Breidan Baby incorporates a minty green.

    Color Check Meadow features six shades of green ranging from soft sage to rich teal.

    In Drumlin Gemtones, the color appears aqua here, but in reality the strip at the upper right is a rich, saturated teal.

    In Drumlin Bright, two shades of green were worked in two-row stripes, which made both colors pop.

    In Lucben Tidepool, a mix of purpose-bought yarn was combined with green leftovers to create a simple custom gradient.

    In this shot of Tikkyn Rainbow, you can see a few of the teal color blocks that stairstep across the front.


    When I'm making Christmas Trees for the holidays, yarns in shades of pine, balsam and spruce climb out of the cupboards, scamper around the studio, climb onto the needles, and eventually turn into WIP piles like this:


    In Moore Colors, the mint green stripes peeking out at the right lead into various shades of green, teal and blue that occupy the back.

    Last but not least, 20 years ago, I made a lovely teal sweater-jacket in soft, tweedy wool. It's held up beautifully, so I still wear it fall through early spring. Unfortunately, I don't have photos, but I'll try to get some soon.

    Meanwhile, daylight savings time has arrived, St. Patrick's Day is a few days away, and spring with its fresh young shoots and leaves is on the horizon. If you're choosing yarn for a new project, try going green. Not only is it right on trend, it's the ideal way to celebrate the bright promise of this lovely season.

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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    7 Reasons Thumbless Mitts are Best

    Wed, 03/08/2017 - 11:00
    As you well know, I love fingerless mitts and have through the years made so many pairs, I've lost count. You also know that long or short, practical or pretty, all my mitts are thumbless as well.

    This must seem incomprehensible to many of you, but there are seven reasons why thumbless mitts work best for me:

    1. Less fiddly. Let's face it, working simple thumbless mitts means you can look forward to a quick, fuss-free project, whip up a last-minute gift, or work them when you need a break from larger or more complicated WIPs.


    2. Adaptable. One of the things I like most is there's no second-guessing, because you can wait until the seaming stage to decide where you want to place the thumb hole and how large to make it.


    3. Nearly mindless. Simple and soothing, thumbless mitts are ideal for knitting on the go or decompressing at the end of a demanding day.


    4. Purposeful swatching. Because they're streamlined and compact, thumbless mitts allow you to play with different stitches, yarns, colors and needle sizes, while still creating something useful.


    5. Practical. Wearing mitts while I work and knit keeps my hands and wrists warm and flexible, which reduces aches and pains, but my fingers and thumbs remain unencumbered and able to move freely. If I need my hands free for chores or something similar, it's easy to pop out my thumbs, push the mitts down and tackle the task.


    6. Multiple wearing options. Because they can be worn as mitts, scrunchy gauntlets and folded cuffs, thumbless mitts are extraordinarily versatile, infinitely more wearable and less fussy because you don't have to keep putting them on and taking them off.


    7. Short thumbs. Apparently, I have very short thumbs. I learned this when I was a little girl, just starting violin lessons. My teacher, a very talented musician from Czechoslovakia, was always bellowing (literally) that I wasn't holding the instrument properly. One day, he grabbed my hand, examined it intently, and declared my thumbs were too short to play the violin.


    For what it's worth, I continued to study and play for years, but no, I never became a renowned violinist. Instead, I became a knitter, designer, author and blogger, and I'm okay with that.

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    How to Create a Simple Custom Gradient

    Sun, 03/05/2017 - 13:30
    In the Ombres & Gradients: Create Your Own series, we've been exploring ways to make custom ombres and gradients using purpose-bought yarn or skeins from stash. Not only are they attractive, fun to create and easy to do, ombres and gradients are the perfect way to put orphan and leftover yarns to good use.

    Some folks have asked for more details, so periodically I'll share the how-tos in targeted posts like this one. Let's start at the beginning.

    1. Simple Custom Gradient: Color Check
    (From Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own)

    One of the easiest ways to create a gradient effect is to choose different shades from the same color family. The biggest challenge is to find the same or compatible yarns in the range of light, medium and dark shades you need.

    With four simple gradients, Color Check illustrates the basic strategy quite well:

    Yarn. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)

    Stitch. The fast and easy slipped stitch creates an all-over windowpane check. 

    Strategy. Each section consists of solid colors worked with black as the unifying main color. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose one main color and three related colors for each strip.
    • Arrange related colors from dark to light.
    • Work each related color in sequence.

    In this Color Check version, colors were worked in conjunction with MC Cavern as follows (left to right):
    • Strip 1: Blue Paradise, Malibu Blue, Nymph 
    • Strip 2: Raging Purple, Prairie Lupine, Lilac
    • Strip 3: Plum, Berry, Pink-a-Boo
    • Srtip 4: Barn Red, Cherry Moon, Tea Rose
    This version incorporates 12 purpose-bought colors (plus black), and launched my addiction to Cotton Fleece yarn. It also played a pivotal role in building the stash, since each color block only used a portion of the skein. To see another example, look at Color Check Meadow worked in shades of blue, teal, green and yellow.

    1. Simple Custom Gradient: Lucben Tidepool
    (From No. 1, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own) Yarn. Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
    Stitch. The easy twisted double seed stitch produces a reversible fabric with identical textures on both sides. 

    Strategy. Each section consists of solid blocks worked with cream as the unifying main color. To achieve a similar look:
    • Choose one main color and five related colors.
    • Arrange related colors on the diagonal from light to dark.
    • Work related colors in the sequence described below.

    In Lucben Tidepool, colors are separated by MC Cotton Ball and worked as follows:
    • Strip 1 (upper left): Light Jade, Rue, Mint 
    • Strip 2 (middle): Wild Sage, Light Jade, Rue
    • Strip 3 (lower right): New Age Teal, Wild Sage, Light Jade
    I find the resulting diagonal gradient appealing, so it also appears in shades of berry, rose and pink in Lucben Rose. As an added bonus, both Lucben versions were created straight from stash, using yarn acquired when I started working on Color Check.

    Hopefully, these examples and simple how-to instructions will help you to look at new buys and stash yarn with fresh eyes, inspiring you to experiment with ways to create simple, custom gradients of your own.

    If this is helpful, let me know, and if you have questions or need clarification, do the same and I'll do my best to respond.
    To read more about ombres & gradients, click here.
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    FO | Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl

    Sun, 02/26/2017 - 13:30
    The last time you saw these pieces, the mitts were fresh off the needles and the shawl was about halfway done. Temperatures were well below freezing and the skies were overcast.

    Today, the shawl and mitts are finished, and the timing couldn't be more perfect. After a few tantalizing days of occasional sunshine and mild weather, the temps have plummeted, winds are whipping, and the skies are once again grey as far as the eye can see. I'm especially delighted, therefore, to have these warm, worsted weight pieces completed.

    Both the shawl and mitts were relatively fast, straightforward knits. For the mitts, I simply followed the Kintra pattern, adjusting the stitch count to accommodate worsted weight yarn. The shawl, which is worked sideways (tip-to-tip), is a concept piece, but it came together smoothly with only a few minor tweaks,

    Right now, I'm relishing the light, lofty coziness of soft wool snuggled around my neck and warming my hands as I write. And as simple as these pieces are, they look especially nice set against the black turtleneck and sweater I'm wearing. I'm also wallowing in the satisfaction of finishing this project, along with the pleasure of adding another coordinating shawl and mitt set to my slowly growing collection.

    Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl
    Pattern: Kintra Mitts
    Pattern: Shawl (personal pattern)
    Yarn: Amherst (Valley Yarns)
    Colors: Burgundy, Natural, ThistleNeedle: US 10 (6 mm)Mitts: ~100 yardsShawl: ~370 yards

    With this set safely off the needles and already in the active rotation, the grey streak is coming to a temporary halt. I'd also love to cast on another shawl, but that will have to wait. Other projects, including a follow-up post on more ways to create ombres and gradients, are demanding attention, so I'd better get busy.

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    A Little Swatching

    Wed, 02/22/2017 - 13:00
    Remember when I said my primary goal for the year was to stay focused in order to finish projects that were already in progress? And remember when I also confessed that in a spirit of pure contrarianism, I had this overwhelming temptation to indulge in some swatching?

    Luckily, reader Kat reminded me that finishing a swatch is in it's own unique way an FO, no matter how small.

    So, let's take a quick peek behind the curtain.

    From left to right, this snapshot of the studio work table shows:
    Black swatches with CC bands (red, magenta, teal), which are stitch and gauge swatches for a design I'm itching to start. I'm convinced the concept will work, but it needs The Right Stitch.Red swatches, which are stitch and shape tests for a design concept that's been knocking around in my portfolio for more than a year.A purple and magenta swatch, which was a preliminary test for Lucben, using bulky weight yarn.Two purple swatches, which are stitch and gauge tests for an upcoming shawl wrap.Teal swatches, which have appeared before. I love both the yarn and color, so periodically, I pull them out to re-evaluate their future. (I think I have an idea that might work, but let's face it, I've thought that before.)Grey and cream swatches, which are gauge samples for Lucben to calculate how yarn weight (worsted, sport) affects finished dimensions.A blue feather and fan swatch, which is an oldy but goody that periodically creeps out of the swatch drawer as a reminder certain classics are worth fresh attention.A dark teal/blue swatch, which was a sample for the another gradient and ombre post, but the green and teal shades are so close in value, they're almost indistinguishable in photos. (The differences are more evident in real life.)A light green swatch, which was another Lucben test to see how two closely related colors (light green and mint) appeared when worked in alternating rows. (Answer: They blend into a For what it's worth, there are a few more swatches floating beyond camera range, but this captures the majority that are in progress or active consideration.

    Swatching is by it's very nature both a process of discovery and a process of elimination. These 23 swatches, as simple as they are, revealed many things, but a few key questions remain unanswered, so I'm thinking just a little more swatching might be required.

    What do you think?

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    Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own

    Wed, 02/15/2017 - 11:30
    From fashion and decor to all things knitting related, ombres and gradients are a big color story right now. Shading from light to dark or soft to bright, they're packed with appeal and add visual interest without being overly distracting, so it's easy to understand their popularity.

    If you're a regular, you know I'm a long-time fan of ombres and gradients, which appear in many designs and projects.

    For our purposes today, let's agree a finished ombre or gradient consists of at least three shades, which can be created using various techniques. With that as our starting point, let's look at five easy ways to build your own combinations.

    1. Simple custom gradient.
    • Choose three or more colors in the same family.
    • Arrange them from dark to light or light to dark.
    • Work colors in sequence. (Color Check: three in each color family)
    • Or situate them on the diagonal. (Lucben Tidepool: five shades in one color family)



    2. Three-color gradient. 
    • Choose two related colors.
    • Work the first section with CC1 only.
    • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the third section with CC2 only.


    3. Four-color gradient.
    • Choose five shades in related color families. 
    • Pair them by value: dark with dark, medium with medium, and light with light.
    • Work the first section with CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the second section with CC2 and CC3.
    • Work the third section with CC3 and CC4.
    • Work the fourth section with CC4 and CC5.


    4. Five-color gradient.
    • Choose three related colors.
    • Arrange them from dark to light or light to dark.
    • Work the first section with CC1 only.
    • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
    • Work the third section with CC2 only.
    • Work the fourth section with CC2 and CC3.
    • Work the fifth section with CC3 only.

    Building your own ombres and gradients is a superb way to burn through stash, because suddenly awkward orphans and singletons can be combined in fresh and interesting ways. The key is to pick a strategy and swatch, swatch, swatch.

    In knitting, there are many fast and easy ways to blend two colors. Try multi-stranding and simply carry one strand of each color. Consider working a basic garter or stockinette stitch, alternating colors every other row. Do the same, but substitute seed or double seed stitch to produce stippled stripes that blend closely related shades. Or choose something like the fluted rib stitch, which systematically weaves colors in and out.

    The possibilities are endless, of course, and hopefully these strategies will inspire you to experiment. As time permits, I'll share additional techniques and examples to illustrate more ways to create your own custom gradients and ombres.

    Just remember no matter which strategy you choose, the closer the colors are in tone and value, the more blended they'll appear in the finished fabric. Speaking of which, I'm off to play with different approaches to see if I can turn these yarns into my own custom blue-green gradient:

    For more examples, see:
    Ombres & Gradients: What's the Difference? 
    Ombres & Gradients: 5 More Ways to Create Your Own (coming soon)
    Stashbusting Strategies (Part II)

    For more color talk, click here.

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    WIPs | Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl

    Sun, 02/12/2017 - 13:30
    So far, this winter has been a temperature rollercoaster. Cold. Warm. Cold. Warm. Cold. In other respects, it's been remarkably consistent: Grey. Gloomy. Grey. Overcast. Grey.

    Since I'm not a winter person, I happily welcome the comparatively warmer days, but knitting-wise it leads to a split personality. Some days, it's absolutely impossible to have too many warm, woolly knits on one's self, the needles or both. Other days, it's difficult to resist the lure of lighter-weight fibers and spring-like designs. 
    At the warm and woolly end of the spectrum, I've been working on a cozy shawl and coordinating fingerless mitts.

    The mitts are finished, ready to be blocked and worn. 

    The shawl is worked sideways (tip to tip) and the second wing is underway, so it's a little more than halfway done.

    I'd hoped to finish the shawl this week, but knitting time has been scarce so that didn't happen.

    Grey Daze Shawl & Mitts
    Pattern: Kintra Mitts
    Pattern: Shawl (personal pattern)
    Yarn: Amherst (Valley Yarns)
    Colors: Burgundy, Natural, ThistleNeedle: US 10 (6 mm)Mitts: ~100 yardsShawl: ~450 yards

    Spring is hovering on the distant horizon but it's as capricious as winter, so I'm highly motivated to finish this set, knowing there'll be plenty of opportunities to wear it in the coming weeks (or months).
    Once the shawl is completed, the grey streak will come to a temporary halt. There's another predominantly grey project in the planning pipeline, but there are also concept swatches and colorful afghans loudly demanding immediate attention. When projects are complaining at the top of their lungs (as these have been), undivided attention and quality knitting time are the only ways to restore order, soothe their hurt feelings and silence that annoying, high-pitched whine.

    What projects are clamoring for your attention?

    Happy Valentine's Day one and all!

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    Ombres & Gradients: What's the Difference?

    Wed, 02/08/2017 - 13:00
    What's the difference between ombres and gradients?

    Great question. It seems most people use the terms interchangeably, and I've not seen a good definition that distinguishes the two. For those of us who like to wallow in the details, however, there are subtle distinctions (at least in my mind).

    An ombre scheme, whether it features commercially dyed yarn or a build-your-own approach, focuses on one color family and incorporates varied shades that progress from saturated to pale or dark to light. This Kintra mitt illustrates a very basic DIY ombre with neutrals that move from dark (black) to medium (grey) to light (cream).

    A gradient, 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 flows one color into the next. This slip-stitch scarf illustrates the basic principle, blending red and purple to create plum.

    Gradients have long been one of my favorite strategies for optimizing yarn from stash. Twegen Harvest is a good example. With warm shades ranging from lemon squash to heritage pumpkin, it effectively transformed eight related but different singletons into something useful and attractive.

    Ombres and gradients are a hot color story in knitting world for obvious reasons. It's certainly difficult to beat their visual appeal and versatility, whether you choose to build your own or opt for a commercially dyed version.

    So, tell me, how do you define ombres and gradients?

    To read more about color strategies, including gradients and ombres, click here.

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