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Feb 15, 2017

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own

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.

The difference between ombres and gradients can be blurry, so recently I shared some simple definitions that distinguish one from the other. No matter what they're called, I'm a long-time fan, so they appear in many designs and projects.

For our purposes today, let's agree an 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 colors.
  • Work the first section with CC1 only.
  • Work the second section with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work the third section with CC2 only.

 PLUMBERRY SCARF


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.

  TWEGEN COFFEE


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 leftovers, partials and 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.

Feb 12, 2017

WIPs | Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl

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, Thistle
Needle: US 10 (6 mm)
Mitts: ~100 yards
Shawl: ~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 attention. When projects are complaining at the top of their lungs (as these have been), undivided focus 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!

Feb 8, 2017

Ombres & Gradients: What's the Difference?

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.




Because the possibilities are endless, 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?


Seeking ideas and inspiration? Try Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own
To read more about color strategies, including gradients and ombres, click here.

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