Category Archives: colour-work

A brief hat interlude

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on the previous post about why fall knitting is so awesome. I am pretty much in agreement on all counts, that it’s so great to have cooler weather to draw you towards the warm and wooly knits – both to knit with and to wear!
For the giveaway in that post, I’m pleased to announce that a copy of the full Skein Theory issue will be headed to…

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Commenter number 229, “hknits”, who I have duly been in touch with via email. Thank you all so much for your comments! If you want to feel extra cozy about fall knitting, I recommend having a quick read through some of them. It’s a good season to be a knitter, that’s for sure. Are you stocked up on yarn and needles for the projects you’re thinking about this season?

After the Skein Theory issue went live last week I was ogling my sweaters again and decided in a fit of delusion that I needed to cast on a Ravine pullover once more, for myself (it’s always so hard having to part with the samples!), and why not throw that in the ring for Rhinebeck knitting? I mean, sure, my pile of orange cables that is my current Rhinebeck sweater is still missing 2 fronts and a sleeve before it’s a real sweater. But surely a pullover with no button-band or fancy collar to worry about… that’ll be super quick to add in too, right? Maybe? Sure. I can totally do that in just under 3 weeks. Or at least attempt it. (Glad you’re all coming with me on that one. I knew I could count on you for support.)

Oct1-Colourwork

So naturally, though i have no shortage of cabled knits to be getting going on, I got distracted with a bit of colour-work knitting these past few days, working up a little hat pattern to give my Stranded Colour-work 101+ students. (A class i’ll be repeating in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto later this season!) And colour-work really is hard to put down once you start.
I decided to do up a second hat and tweak the original chart just a tad, so now here we are. (It’s Ultra Alpaca in beetroot and cream, for those curious.) Just a quick bit of colour-work and then it’s back to the cables.

Or at least until I decide the hat needs mittens.

Happy knitting this October 1st!

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Randomly on a Saturday

Earlier today I started thinking about the fact that the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic is coming up, and so I started pondering all the wonderful yarn-purchasing options that await. And then because I am me, and because my knitting brain has been rotating lately between cables and lace and colour-work and just about any kind of project imaginable, I also started thinking about shopping for colour-work projects and the sort of colour combinations I could look for.

And so naturally, I started to wish I had a portable-sized colour wheel to bring along, in case I needed a colour theory consult at a moment’s notice. (As one does).
And so then I decided, hey, I have a box of 96 Crayola crayons and some index cards in my desk drawer, and I can fix this.

Apr7-Wheel2

I have to say this is a pretty satisfying (and also pretty geeky) way to spend five minutes of your time. You get a wallet-sized colour wheel card to take around with you and feel artistic whenever you want (which, let’s face it, can come upon you in the darndest of places), AND you get to play with crayons, so that’s pretty much a win-win.

And do you know what else I learned? The good folks at Crayola have actually made this process pretty easy. They have crayons labelled with the main 6 red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet colours, which one might expect and is pretty nice. Filling in the next 6 blended hues, though (such as blue-violet or red-orange), I thought I was going to have to sift through all the other crayons to find the right ones (as for example, is ‘macaroni-and-cheese’ more of a yellow-orange or orange-yellow? And where does ‘razzamatazz’ fit in on the red-violet wedge?), but you know what? The Crayola people have thought of that, too.

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Done and done. I expect before the weekend is over I will be yanking out my yarn and pondering some projects as a result, which would be about par for my knitting brain this week.

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But you know? Colour is pretty awesome. The end.

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Colourful progress

I don’t know if it’s the impending spring, or the crazy up-and-down-by-15C-every-3-days temperatures, or just a little bit of March Madness, but I’m starting to feel a bit of Start-itis coming on. I know it’s not just me – knitters in the Twitter-verse have been saying the same thing all week, which makes me feel a little bit better about rounding up big piles of pink, red, green, and orange yarn earmarked for various projects which, apparently, are all about to be “next.” Of course, they can’t all be next, but the knitter in my head has always had a rich fantasy life, and she never fails to provide the ambition.

I’ve been resisting (so far – i make no promises about the coming weekend) casting on All The Things in favour of making progress on the things already on the needles. The knitter in my head had sort of hoped that I would be done with my Velvet Morning cardigan already by now, but then I reminded her that it’s only been a week since I started it, and that perhaps having almost the entire body completed in that time is really nothing to sneeze at.

Mar30-Velvet1

I mentioned in my post about this last weekend that I’m modifying this cardigan to include a steek, so that I may work it in the round. A few of you had some questions about that and how it’s going to work. If you’re just tuning in here and haven’t heard me wax on about steeks before, or if you’ve never encountered this technique before or even heard the word ‘steek’ until you happened by my post the other day, I’m very happy to tell you more about it. As I work through this project I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what I’m doing, but here’s the basic gist of it.

In modifying Velvet Morning for work in the round, all I did was cast on as-written for the size that I wanted, in the appropriate needle size to get gauge, and add enough stitches to create a steek panel where the cardigan gap will be located at the front of the body. The rest of it will proceed as normal, with the exception that the body will be done in the round except for flat or ‘back-and-forth’.

The steek is a relatively old technique (exactly how hold, I’m not sure, but…a long while, let’s say. Norwegian knitters and Shetland knitters have been all over this for a long time), and all it is is a panel of stitches located in a spot where you want to have a gap, but avoid putting the gap in to begin with because you want to be able to work in the round. The steek stitches are not at all involved with the pattern stitches for the actual garment, except in the sense that you need to know where they are.

Mar30-Velvet2

So, essentially, this is a technique that allows you to only work “Right Side” rows by working continuously in the round, without turning back to do the “Wrong Side.” The times when you want to use this technique are the times when working in the round and later cutting a steek is a preferable option to working “Wrong Side” rows. The most obvious and frequent application of this is for stranded colour-work, and the place where you’re most likely to encounter this technique is for things like Fair Isle sweaters (where you want gaps for armholes, cardigan fronts, etc), colour-work blankets (where you want to make a square but knit a tube first, then cut it up one side), or intricately cabled cardigans (where the cable twists occur every round or 2/3 rounds, rather than neatly alternating between RS and WS rows).

There are many different ways to work with steeks, and to reinforce them (which is something I get into when I teach this ;) ), but it always involves cutting. It’s a bit scary the first time you do it, but generally everyone still lives to tell the tale afterward.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted as progress occurs, dear knitters – I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the final cutting and sewing up! Tomorrow I’m off to Collingwood to spend a day with knitters at Grey Heron Yarns’ Knit Fest, and teach some classes (no steeking, but there will be colour-work!). I’m sure it’ll be a great time.

Happy knitting this weekend!
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Filed under colour-work, fearless knitting, steeks

Lickety split

One thing that I learned last weekend during my stint at the yarn shop was how easily knitters reach for bulky wool this time of year. It seemed like every 2nd person was asking about what bulky yarn options were there, and more likely than not it was because they were knitting gifts and they wanted them to go quickly. (Who would have thought? Gifts that knit quickly? You mean not all gifts have to be on fingering weight? Dude, I’ve been going about this all wrong.) While I was there I also fondly petted my Frostbite hat and mitt samples, which currently reside at the Purple Purl along with several hard copy patterns.

And you know, darned if people weren’t knitting it. I mean, we always hope for this, as designers, but it was a new thing for me to watch it happen in real time. (Admittedly, it tickled me to no end. I kept my glee on the inside and attempted to remain professional.)  Over the course of the weekend a few folks purchased yarn to make Frostbites (some for themselves, though, of which I approve – knit yourself something over the holidays too, I always say), which tickled me to no end. And then after a weekend of watching people snap up the bulky yarn like crackers, and then after the beginning of a week week that saw me finishing a sizeable deadline project before carrying on to all the other many deadline projects on my list, and sometimes I just miss the knitted samples I have to part with, and I arrived at Wednesday and just wanted something that I could start and finish in less than a week and said “I WANT A QUICK HAT TOO. SO THERE, TO-DO LIST. I’LL DEAL WITH YOU LATER. Me and the bulky yarn, we have GOT THIS.”

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So this is all a long way of saying that I am knitting myself my own hat and mitt set. I cast on the hat on Wednesday night and by dinnertime on Thursday I was already ready to start the first mitten. Like, this thing practically blinks itself off the needles. (It’s in some stashed Wool of The Andes Bulky, from Knit Picks. Judging by how many colours they seem to need to re-stock, I’m guessing there are a few more bulky knitters out there.) I love it. Why have I neglected bulky yarn for so long? More bulky knits in 2012, I say.

A good thing I finally came to my senses on this, because it’s all in time for December to finally declare itself known. After November failed to make up its mind on what season it was in, we are going into the second weekend of December with a little bit of this on the ground:

Dec9-Snow

The weekend ahead is threatening a bit of Christmas-tree-getting, cookie baking, and yet more knitting. (Probably some adult beverages, too.) So all in all that’s a pretty good docket. I hope you’ve got a great weekend ahead of you as well, and that the knitting is under control! And you know, even if it isn’t under control, well, it’ll still be fine. Have a cookie anyway.

Catch you next week!

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[ETA] Jen, the multi-colour sock knitter from my previous post, reports that it was these socks (Ravelry link) that she was knitting. Free pattern, and easy with sock yarn leftovers. Very groovy.

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Just in time for some colour

I think it’s safe to say that fall has arrived. The chill blew across Ontario this past weekend and I’m sure more than a few knitters were happily reaching for their knitted socks and sweaters. I know I was! Uh, how quickly do you suppose I can knit five more sweaters?

Last week several of you were asking about the hat pattern I was working on, and I’m pleased to announce it’s here and available for sale! The instructions give you not just a hat but a hat and mitten set, and the option of working the hat as a plain cap or with earflaps. (And also the option of the pompom. I know people have very strong opinions about pompoms.)

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The Frostbite set is available for download through Patternfish, or in my Ravelry store. Let me tell you, this is a pretty quick little undertaking. The plain hat took me about an afternoon, so if you’re new to colour-work and want something to ease you in slowly, this would still be a project you could have done in short time! In the pattern notes I also offer resource suggestions if you are new to the technique. If you’re already familiar with colour-work, though, you’ll easily have this done in a weekend. And once you’ve got the hat, then, well, of course you need the option of matching mittens, right?

Oct1-Frostbite3

This is worked up in bulky yarn – here, Mirasol Kutama, a 50% wool/50% alpaca blend that is pretty delicious to work with – and a variety of yarns suitable for 14-16 sts/4 ins would work well, like Araucania Nature Wool Chunky, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky, Cascade Eco, and probably many more that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Oct1-FrostbiteEarflap1

I need to thank Bridget at Needles in the Hay for her hat modelling turn when I was up in Peterborough this past Saturday. I must have done a good job of getting her used to being accosted for knitwear photography when I lived there last year, because this time she didn’t bat an eyelash.

Oct1-ColourworkClass1

I was there this past Saturday for a fabulous all-day teaching extravaganza, with colour-work in the morning and then steeking in the afternoon. It was a ton of fun and we practiced lots of technique, talked about colour, and then cut up some knitting at the end. All in a day’s work.

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If you’re interested in joining me in a class, I’ve got several more coming up this fall and my Teaching page is up to date with several in the Toronto area.

And finally, I hope your Monday is getting your week off to a good start – or at the very least not too painful a start. Keep the knitting close by!

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You never can tell with knitting

You know, I often say that I love knitting because you can never really see the bottom of it. There’s always something more to learn or something new to knit or some challenge waiting around the corner. Sometimes that challenge involves designing your own Rhinebeck sweater as you knit it, with less than 4 weeks from start to finish.

Other times, that challenge involves figuring out exactly how big (or not) and floppy (or not) you should make the pompom that’s going to go on top of your chunky earflap hat.

Sept28-PomPom

That knitting, man. It’ll keep you guessing. (And I do love the pompom, even if it might be a little bit too floppy.)

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Just one more row

Like other specialized techniques in knitting, I know stranded colour-work often gets a reputation. It looks so impressive as a finished result that, if you’ve never done it before, it’s easy to hesitate. And I get that, I mean, it does take a bit of concentration to get into it, and if you’re only used to knitting with one colour at a time, knitting with two colours at once can be a little daunting.

But if you ask me, this isn’t the true challenge of stranded colour-work. Once you figure out how it goes and get a bit of practice at it, you’re all good to go and can start using it on projects as big as blankets or as small as mittens. You can go as fine as laceweight and knit yourself some Sanqhar gloves, or go chunky on a Cowichan style cardigan. No no, the real challenge isn’t learning how to do it.

The real challenge is figuring out how to put it down.

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I’m so sorry, Other Sweater That Is So Close to Being Finished. And Pair of Socks and Yarns Waiting Ever So Patiently To Be Swatched, I owe you an apology as well. Dearest Yarn Purchased At Sock Summit, well, I’m very sure I meant all those sweet things I said to you about all the good times we were about to have with each other. I’m going to get to you all really really soon.

I just have to knit a few more rows on this colour-work cardigan and then I’ll TOTALLY be right with you.

Really.

…Well okay. Probably.

(Relatedly: progress on the Longbottom cardigan is going well. More on the rest soon enough! Happy knitting today.)

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