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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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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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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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Categories: Knitting Feeds

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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Categories: Knitting Feeds

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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Categories: Knitting Feeds

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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Categories: Knitting Feeds

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.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

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!

Categories: Knitting Feeds

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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Mitt-Worthy Shawls & Wraps

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 13:30
Life has a way of being complicated enough, so when I have a choice, I strive to keep things as simple as possible. Sometimes this succeeds and sometimes it doesn't.

One area where simplicity works (fairly) well is my wardrobe. Many years ago, I committed to basic black and adopted what is essentially a uniform for both casual and business wear. Based on the season, my casual attire consists of black pants and a top along with a vest, sweater or both if necessary, while my business attire features suits and separates with black as the base.

Against this black backdrop, scarves, shawls and wraps are not only exceptionally easy to wear, they contribute a much-needed spark of color. They're also a pretty, practical way to gain a light but welcome layer of warmth, particularly when I'm working in my perpetually cold office,

Because these accessories see so much action, I've been attempting to slowly but surely find ways to make the most of the pieces I have. For me, fingerless mitts are the key. Time and again, I reach first for the scarves and shawls that have complementary mitts, for a look that's less random and more pulled together. So, as time and inclination permit, I've been making mitts to coordinate with my favorite neckwear and wraps.

With all this in mind, let's cut to the chase and see where things stand. (Just click the links to see the FO post.)

Mixed Media: Alaris wrap and Wyndfael mitts
Obviously, the mitts don't match the shawl, but I think the solid colors are a nice complement to the busier variegated yarns. (I'm wearing this set right now.)

BlackberryDojeling shawl and Kintra mitts
What can I say? With touches of merino, cashmere and silk, this combo is deliciously light and luxurious. As a bonus, the mitts coordinate with the Wineberry shawlette, too.

Wineberry: Dojeling shawlette and Kintra mitts
When I'm heading out the door and want to wrap something soft around my neck, this shawlette is the piece I grab, and the complementary mitts create a more pulled together look. If I plan to wear gloves, I simply pop my thumbs out of the mitts, slip them down, and wear them as cozy cuffs or wristers. The plus-factor here is these mitts also coordinate with the Blackberry shawl above.


Oyster Bay: Dojeling shawl and Kintra mitts
The shawl used every last inch of the lovely wool-silk Tern (Quince & Co.), To create coordinating mitts, I swatched many different yarns and colors before I landed on a combination that worked.

Grey Streak: Shawl (personal pattern) and Kintra mitts
This cozy wool shawl and its complementary mitts are active WIPs. Knitting time has been so limited, they're progressing in slow motion, but hopefully they'll be off the needles and ready to wear this week. As an added plus, the Nearly Neutral Kintra mitts also work well with the shawl.

Plumberry: Scarf (personal pattern)
I made this luscious fingering weight scarf several years ago and wear it often, but somehow I neglected to do an FO post. Here the red looks tomato-y, but in real life it's a rich berry. As soon as the grey shawl and mitts are finished, I plan to cast on coordinating mitts.

Because not all wraps and scarves are mitt-worthy, I've focused on the favorites that see the most wear. Also as you can see, these mitts are all about color, so they're not matchy-matchy and don't use the same stitch patterns found in their respective scarf or shawl.

So far, this approach seems to be working, perhaps a bit too well.

There are two afghans, a shawl and a pair of mitts on the needles, which in practical terms translates into more than enough WIPs. This week I couldn't resist temptation, however, so I found myself rummaging through the stash in search of yarn that might lend itself to a medium weight shawl/wrap/mitt combo for spring.

Right now, I'm leaning toward this color combination. What do you think?

If you're looking for the Dojeling Shawl pattern, you can fine it here.
If you're looking for the mitt patterns, you find Kintra here and Wyndfael here.

Meanwhile, I'm connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Grey Streak

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 13:30
In spite of my love of knitting, winter is far from my favorite season.

I'm simply not a cold weather person, and in recent years, our winters have been exceptionally gloomy and overcast, and often bitterly cold. Couple these factors with short days and long nights, and the overall effect can be daunting and dreary.

The perfect antidote, obviously, is vibrant color in all its forms from bright and bold to rich and gemlike. This means my winter knitting is typically filled with saturated shades of red, rose, plum, purple, turquoise, teal and yellow. In a strange turn of events, this year I've been craving neutrals from black and charcoal to stone and cream instead of intense color. Weird, right?

In the weeks before Christmas, I made a quick pair of delightfully soft and cozy mitts (Kintra Nearly Neutral):

And created Lucben swatches to test the effects of different yarn weights on the stitch and gauge:

In early January, I finished a light and lofty afghan (Tikkyn Flagstone):

And cast on a warm, woolly sideways shawl:

To cap things off, I fell off the focus-and-finish bandwagon this weekend and accidentally cast on a pair of mitts to coordinate with the shawl. Between the worsted weight yarn and largish needles, I'm hoping they'll work up fast:

This recent flurry of neutrals finally caught my attention when I was doing the Seeing Red roundup and realized that except for colorful Christmas trees, every project cast on since early December has been predominantly neutral.

Naturally, grey has through the years surfaced in numerous projects, including an almost neutral version of Drumlin and multiple pairs of Wyndfael mitts, but this is the first time I can recall such an uninterrupted stream.

How long will this trend last? That remains to be seen, but for the time being, I'm clearly on a grey streak.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

If I Only Had Time

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 11:00
After six years of consistent blogging, it's sometimes a bit daunting to realize how much you know about me.

You know I'm fascinated by fiber and crazy about color. You know I'm an avid maker of afghans, mitts, shawls, wraps, and the occasional home dec or novelty project. You know I diligently knit from stash but regularly invest in new yarn for specific projects.

You know I'm a slow knitter who gets twitchy when there are too many projects in progress at one time.

Which brings me to my point. Tikkyn Flagstone is finished, but with multiple projects already on the needles, I'm battling the urge to cast on something new.

That doesn't mean a knitter can't dream, right? Here are just a few projects I'd tackle, if I only had the time:

Angletyn in vibrant, narrow stripes ...

or subtle shades of grey.

Lucben in sunny shades of yellow and gold  ...

or rich, royal purple blending from light to dark.

Tikkyn  in bold, saturated colors ...

or shifting tones of sand, taupe and grey.

With luck at least one of these will eventually find its way onto the needles, but for now I'm striving to stay focused and finish work in progress, so I'm not holding my breath.

What would you make, if you only had the time?

Categories: Knitting Feeds

WIPs: What's Your Magic Number?

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 13:30
Facts are facts. I'm a slow knitter with limited knitting time, so achieving a reasonable WIP balance is essential. Otherwise, I quickly become overwhelmed, which prompts frenzied flurries of knitting followed by bouts of indecision, where I simply can't decide which project to tackle.

When this happens the results are completely predictable. I find myself facing a daunting lineup of WIPs in various stages of half-doneness (that's a word, right?), desperately seeking signs of progress. But because I'm splitting my time and energy across so many projects, progress is difficult to spot.

Which brings me to my point. The last time we took a serious look (COAT Weather Returns), there were 10 projects on the needles, which is far too many for me to handle comfortably. To restore some semblance of sanity, I adopted a ruthless focus, finish, fix or frog strategy.

First, I focused on finishing these:

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas Home Dec Project (completed, but no photos yet)

Kintra Mitts Nearly Neutral

Wyndfael Mitts Turquoise

Tikkyn Afghan Flagstone (note to self: get post-blocking photos)

Finishing these projects brought the tally down to five, a much more manageable number. However, I'd promised to be ruthless, so I decided to take things to the next step and frog these:

Mitts. The yarn (Champagne by Grignasco) is luscious and soft, so I'm going to save it for a shawl or scarf and hat set.

More Mitts. I love this stitch but not in this yarn, so into the frog pond it went.

Multi-Color Afghan (bulky weight). Here, I loved the colors, but not the stitch, so I decided to face facts, frog it and swatch to find a more appropriate combination.

Whew! Between finished and frogged projects, the number of WIPs clamoring for attention had dropped from ten to two. As you can well imagine, my knitting world was beginning to feel a bit more in balance.

In fact, it felt so good, I had to cast on something new:

Why? Because my magic WIP number is three. What's yours?

Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Seeing Red

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 11:00
Not long ago I wrote about my blue streak, because it seemed as if every project that was planned, in-progress or recently completed was blue or featured blue flashes. That torrent of turquoise and blue was followed by a spate of colorful knits incorporating a range of rainbow shades.

Winter has arrived, which around here means cold temperatures, cutting winds and grey skies. To counter this, I long to wrap myself and everything around me in heartwarming red and all its variants from rose and ruby to berry and burgundy.

Over the past few years, you've watched me slowly but steadily build a collection of rosy items, so when these longings hit, there are plenty of options from which to choose. Everywhere I look, I'm seeing red (and true confession, I've left out many examples):

Scarves, Shawls & Wraps

Alaris Mixed Media

Dojeling Blackberry

Dojeling Wineberry

Plumberry Scarf (pattern in development)

Fingerless Mitts

Kintra Mitts Blackberry

Kintra Mitts Wineberry

Wyndfael Wine

Afghans & Throws

Angletyn Vivid

Breidan Berry

Drumlin Gemtones

Flashpoint Bold

Lucben Rose

Tikkyn Flagstone

Hearth & Home

Sweet Hearts & Soft Spots

Apparently in my world, there's no such thing as too much red. Add in Valentine's Day which is on the horizon, and it's easy to understand why ...

These swatches jumped onto the needles:

These mitts are in progress:

And this yarn is clamoring to be cast on.

Do you, too, crave warm colors when the weather turns cold? Or do you have a favorite color that helps you battle the gloom of winter?

The embedded links take you to WIP and FO posts. If you're interested in any of these patterns, you can opt to read more about them or buy them here: Patterns.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Beyond the Block: 20 Surefire Configurations

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 13:00
I was planning to tackle this topic one day soon, but a question from a knitter prompted me to move it up in the blogging queue.

Here's her dilemma. She wants to make the Tikkyn afghan for her grandson, and when she asked him what colors he preferred, he chose cranberry and purple.

Now we all know I'm especially fond of that particular combo (Angletyn Vivid and Flashpoint Bright & Bold), but it's not a natural pairing for many people. Our knitter prefers muted autumn colors in shades of tobacco brown, olive and burgundy, so she's struggling to find a way to get this bold combination to work. To tone down the purple and red, she's thinking of adding a third color, such as grey or navy.

As you may recall, Tikkyn features a block-based design worked in five strips rather than separate squares. The simple slipped stitch makes colorwork easy, but it's equally appealing worked solid.

With these factors in mind, let's think beyond the block and experiment with 20 surefire configurations ranging from classic to creative, using either two (purple, red) or three (purple, red, grey) colors.

Two-Color Concepts

1. Solid strips (purple MC for seams and trim):

2. Solid and two-color strips (purple MC):

3. Solid sections with two-color focal blocks (color-matched seams and trim):

4. Solid blocks alternated with two-color blocks (purple MC):

5. Solid and two-color blocks arranged for a diagonal gradient effect (purple MC):

6. Solid and two-color blocks arranged for a diagonal gradient effect (red MC):

Three-Color Concepts

7. Solid strips (grey MC):

8. Two-color strips (grey MC):

9. Solid sections offset with solid focal blocks (grey MC):

10. Two-color sections offset with solid focal blocks (grey MC):

11. Two-color sections offset with two-color focal blocks (grey MC):

12. Solid and two-color blocks arranged to create squares inside of squares (grey MC):

13. Two-color blocks arranged in a simplified Maltese cross (grey MC):

14. Solid blocks arranged in a simplified Maltese cross (grey MC):

15. Solid blocks stair-stepped like subway tiles (grey MC):

16. Two-color blocks stair-stepped like subway tiles (grey MC):

17. Solid blocks in each color (purple MC):

18. Solid blocks in each color (grey MC):

19. Solid and two-color blocks (grey MC):

20. Solid and two-color blocks (purple MC):

Whew! I'll stop here, even though we haven't come close to exhausting the possibilities. (We could quickly multiply the choices just by switching the MC shown to one of the other options.)

The illustrations feature the specific colors our knitter is considering, but the core concepts adapt to any color combo you might choose and accommodate purpose-bought yarn, stash skeins or a mix of both. We've focused on Tikkyn, but these strategies could easily be applied to Color Check, Drumlin, Lucben and Twegen. With a little thought and preparation, they could suit almost any block-based afghan design.

Color play like this keeps knitting fresh and fun. Add in the anticipation of making something special for someone you love, and it's easy to see why the planning process is just as addictive as knitting.

If you're at all like me, one of the toughest challenges is deciding which layout holds the greatest appeal. So tell us, which one would you make? What other configurations might work? Your feedback and suggestions are welcome, as always.

To see no. 11 in shades of grey and burgundy, go to FO | Tikkyn Flagstone.
For more color ideas and inspiration, click here.

Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

FO | Tikkyn Flagstone

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 11:00
From the beginning, I always envisioned a neutral version of Tikkyn as a nice counterpoint to the colorful rainbow version.

I also wanted the light, lofty warmth of wool, which is so very welcome this time of year. To accomplish this, I chose Amherst (Valley Yarns), because the color palette offered a nice variety that included greys ranging from light to charcoal.

I've been enamored with this simple slipped stitch for too many years to count. It's fast, it's easy, and it creates a textured fabric with two different but very attractive sides. 

On the front, the main color (charcoal) dominates, while dots of grey and burgundy appear in disciplined rows and columns. On the back, the contrasting colors are more prominent, forming a chain-like design lightly woven with charcoal.

(Forgive the lumps and bumps. I'm so pleased to have this finished, I'm jumping the gun and sharing this afghan in its unblocked state.)

While Tikkyn Rainbow featured an all-over block strategy, for Flagstone I wanted something different, so I used the Diagonal 2 layout included in the pattern. 

The result is a series of burgundy focal blocks that travel from the lower left to the upper right corner, dividing the top left (charcoal and light grey) from the bottom right portion (charcoal and ash).

On the back, the blocks travel from the upper left to lower right, and the colors are more prominent.

To keep things simple, I opted for narrow seams and trimmed only the far left and right edges. The cast on and bind off resist curling, so there was no need to trim the top and bottom.

Afghan | Tikkyn Flagstone
Yarn: Amherst (Valley Yarns)
Needles: US 10 (6 mm); US 11 (8 mm)
Size: Small (baby)
Dimensions: 28 x 36 ins
Yardage: 984 yards (approx.)

I promise to get better photos once it's blocked. Meanwhile in this stitch, the Amherst yarn created the light, lofty fabric I envisioned with a satisfying drape and feel. Through handling, steaming and blocking, the surface has developed a slight halo that adds to the soft, cozy appearance. 

Flagstone took about two and a half months from the first stitch to the last woven end. It sounds contradictory, but that's remarkably fast (comparatively speaking), since it was my pick-up-lay-down project while I worked on patterns, mitts (Kintra, Wyndfael), and a flurry of Christmas trees in a range of sizes, shapes and configurations.

This time of year, I'm typically drawn to saturated shades that counter our gloomy winter weather, but for some strange reason, I'm still craving neutrals. That may explain why a neutral shawl has already jumped onto the needles, but we'll save that discussion for another day.

The Tikkyn Reversible Afghan pattern is available, so you can:

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Stashbusting Strategies (Part II)

Sun, 01/08/2017 - 13:30
For many of us, the start of a new year brings a renewed focus on stashbusting.

We tidy our yarn bins and flash our stashes. We analyze how much yarn we processed last year, and compare it to the number of new skeins that sneaked in the door. We log new yarn into our stash database, create spreadsheets and swear on our favorite fiber bible to knit first from stash. We begin scouring the internet and sites like Ravelry, searching for stashbusting designs and useful strategies to help us transform stash yarn into something pretty and purposeful.

For some, that's where the whole thing begins to unravel. They're sincere and committed, but have difficulty translating that commitment into action. If that statement resonates, this post is for you.

Color is a very powerful stashbusting tool, so that's where we'll focus today. And because examples are always helpful, let's use the Lucben Reversible Afghan to illustrate some basic approaches. The stitch is easy, the concept is classic, and the blanket is worked in strips rather than blocks so it comes together quickly. As an added plus, the pattern adapts to any yarn weight, and it includes detailed yardage breakouts for each block, strip and finished afghan to make adaptations easier.

So, whether you're devoted to knitting from stash, buying new yarn, or doing a mix of both, here are seven color strategies to try:

1.  Gradient 1  (Lucben Rose and Lucben Tidepool shown above)
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins
Approach: Create a diagonal gradient using five shades from the same color family
Yarn: 1 MC, 5 CCs

2. Gradient 2
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins
Approach: Create a diagonal gradient using three shades from related color families
Yarn: 1 MC, 3 CCs

3. Gradient 3
Strategy: Use orphan and singleton skeins
Approach: Create a vertical gradient using three shades from one color family
Yarn: 1 MC, 3 CCs

4. Tone on Tone
Strategy: Use multiple skeins of the same yarn
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in closely related colors
Yarn: 1 MC, 1 CC

5. Checkerboard
Strategy: Use multiple skeins of compatible yarns
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in contrasting colors
Yarn: 1 MC, 2 CCs

6. Monochromatic
Strategy: Use SQ (sweater quantity) or AQ (afghan quantity) skeins
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in a single shade
Yarn: 1 MC (for illustration purposes, seams and borders are shown in a lighter shade)

7. Rainbow
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins
Approach: Combine a rainbow of colors with a unifying MC
Yarn: 1 MC, 9 CCs

Hopefully, these simple, practical ideas will inspire you to see your stash with fresh eyes and discover new possibilities.

Make the most of yarn on hand by working rectangles instead of squares, adding more blocks, making additional strips, or doing a combination of all three. Be brave and experiment. Mix and match different yarns to achieve the look you envision, just make sure they play well together and have similar care requirements.

Try multi-stranding to use up lighter weight yarns and quickly burn through lots of yardage. (LOSY blanket, anyone?) If you can't find everything you need in your stash, do what I do, and buy the yarn you need to leverage the skeins you have.

If stashbusting is a priority, consider joining the Stash Knit Down group on Ravelry. The folks are fun, supportive and helpful, and it's motivating to see the creative ways they put stash yarn to great use.

Meanwhile, feel free to share your favorite stashbusting strategies, goals for the year and whatever else is on your mind.

PS: If you're seeking more ideas and inspiration, you may find these posts helpful:Stashbusting Strategies (Part I)
Stashbusting? 3 Reasons to Buy More Yarn
Color Talk
Yarn Logic
Best of Both Worlds

Categories: Knitting Feeds