Saturday, April 2, 2011


Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have. 

What a treat this week, looking back at past projects and yarns, and seeing everyone else's too! For day 6 of KCWB, however, we are looking forward. In general, I am a pretty proficient knitter in terms of the techniques I tend to use--stockinette, lace, and cables--but recent forays into colorwork have pointed out whole other worlds of knitterly exploration. In general I tend toward monochromatic outfits and projects, and get anxious about being the crazy frizzy lady who wears fourteen shades of purple and a multicolored sparkly shawl/caftan. It seems a slippery slope.

But obviously, there lies, in between, a gorgeous safe middle ground. Blankets and other household items seem like a good start. Here are some sublime examples from Ravelry:

(ETA, color scheme is by Harrysmum, click through for colorway/yarn info)

Oh lovely colors!

For wearable knitted items, I think stranded colorwork is probably the best bet for not sliding down the slippery slope of hypercolored doom. This past year my Nightscape cardi taught me that even when mixing just two colors, you need some contrast in the brightness (on the gray scale) for any pattern to show up. Oops, and lesson learned.

The other thing that really improved my stranded knitting was figuring out how to knit with both yarns in the right hand. I am a "thrower" or English knitter, and actually learned how to knit continental (or "pick") only in order to do stranded knitting holding one color in each hand. But as I did more projects in this fashion I realized that the gauge for the yarn held in the left hand ended up way loose, and the yarn held in the right hand got pulled too tight. Here's an example, the Fair Enough cardi.

So I'd have to spend a whole lot of time jiggling all of the stitches afterwards, ending up with big loose loops on the wrong side of the fabric.

And blocks of the contrast color would end up poofing out kind of funny. (Here, on the Alice mitts.)

Eventually I figured out how to hold the yarns both in the right hand, throwing the highlighted color with the middle finger and the background color with the index finger, and twisting the yarns when needed by pronating the wrist. It's hard to explain, and I'll try to make a video when I get a tripod. The end result is the fabric turns out a lot smoother (like the Hippocampi below), and now I'm emboldened to try a more complicated and color-ful project.

I love the Bohus sweaters, except that they are yoked, and would love to design/knit a bohus-inspired cardi with set-in sleeves. Also, I have been promising DH an argyle vest for a long time, and this seems like a good year to try! Ooh, I'd like an argyle cardi too. So begins the hunt for vibrant but sedate-not-crazy patterns for sweaters/vests.

Do you have any good pattern suggestions?


Karie B. said...

Oh, there is a fine line between "wow, stunning colours!" and "wow, I better stay away from tthat lady..", isn't there?

Sharripie said...

I've been thinking about Bohus sweaters too, but a Fair Isle (with genuine Shetland yarn!) is probably next for me.

Anonymous said...

I love color, I guess I better learn where that line is before I start color work XD

rachel said...

I like how you've shown the progression in your colorwork. You've done some amazing stuff while perfecting your process. And I've been lusting after the Babette for years. Then again, I suppose I'd need to learn crochet for that.

Kepanie said...

That is so awesome that you've got Fair Isle down. That's something I'll need to work upon. Those blankets are so awesome. I'm sure you'll get to one this year.

Julie said...

I can't remember where I first read/saw it, but one of the factors you're talking about is definitely the idea of yarn dominance with colourwork. Very interesting!

tamdoll said...

Love that Babette! Thanks for the link. I'm planning on making one for my sister and giving myself a year to tackle it before she turns 40.