Jun 25, 2017

Simple Mirror Gradient

Mirror gradients and ombres are one of the easiest ways to transform a few colors into something interesting and dynamic.

As the name implies, mirror gradients feature a series of colors worked in sequence then repeated in reverse order to create an echoed or mirrored design. The basic strategy is straightforward and nothing could be simpler than this version, which requires only two colors.

Mirror Gradient: Colsie Mitts 

Yarns. Champagne (Grignasco)

Stitch. This the same fast and easy slipped stitch I've been using for a range of quick mitts and gradient examples. It creates a very stretchy, reversible 3x2 ribbed fabric, and the occasional slipped stitch adds interest as you transition from one color to the next.

Strategy. This version features five equal sections. To work it:

  • Choose two colors.
  • Work section 1 with CC1 only.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2 only.
  • Work section 4 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 5 with CC1 only.

In the example shown, the colors were worked as follows:

  • Section 1: Teal
  • Section 2: Teal and Cloud
  • Section 3: Cloud
  • Section 4: Teal and Cloud
  • Section 5: Teal

The end result is a pleasing, balanced gradient with infinite possibilities. 
The version shown features one complete five-stage gradient sequence, an approach that works for any piece large or small. Or, you could repeat it multiple times to create a scarf, cowl, shawl, stole, sweater, hat or afghan. (If I didn't already have so many projects on the needles, I'd be working Twegen in mirror gradients.)

This example features equal segments, but you could create a very interesting effect by working more rows in the solid sections and fewer ones in the striped sections, or vice versa. Just remember to consistently mirror the sequence as you work the piece.

From stockinette and garter to seed and slipped stitches, mirror gradients work in almost any stitch you might choose. Seed stitch is particularly attractive, because it creates a wonderfully blended effect in the transitional striped sections.

If you're in the mood to experiment, try pairing two lonely singletons from stash. Start swatching, or do what I often do and make a quick pair of mitts. Opt for a contrasting combination as shown or choose closely related shades for a tonal ombre look. 

I can't speak for you, but I'm heading to my stash now to look for unloved yarns that might shine in a simple mirror gradient.

PS: For those who've inquired, the Colsie Mitts pattern is in development and will be available soon.

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Jun 21, 2017

Blame It on the Champagne

Like many of you, I have more things on my to-do list than any reasonable person could hope to accomplish in a month of Sundays. Nonetheless, this hasn't stopped me from adding another task to the roster. Here's what happened.

As you well know, I have for years worked diligently to ensure my entire stash fits into its designated cupboards in a reasonably organized fashion.

The problem? Inside the cupboards, yarn is stored in assorted non-matching bins acquired over time. Many are a tad too long to fit comfortably, so they sit lengthwise on the shelves, eating up valuable real estate. Others fit okay, but they don't stack securely and teeter precariously. Add in the wear and tear some are showing after years and years of use, and a litany of minor annoyances has grown into a true aggravation. 

Ordering a handful of Grignasco skeins to supplement those in stash simply magnified the problem. Lush and lovely in subtle shades of steel and cloud, this yarn became the tipping point. 

Because I prefer to keep like yarns with like, I had to empty, rearrange and repack several bins, just so the Grignasco skeins could share a common container.

Naturally, this flurry of activity caused one of the older bins to give up the ghost and crack at the corner, prompting yet another spate of rearranging and repacking. (Cracked containers have a nasty way of snagging yarn. Ask me how I know.) Technically, everything still fits in the cupboards, but now, bins once comfortably full are close to overflowing and more are teetering precariously than ever before.

I'm now on a mission to find clear containers that fit neatly on the shelves and stack securelyI could be knitting, swatching, finalizing a pattern odesigning something new. I could be cleaning my home or weeding the garden. 

Instead, I've been totally preoccupied, scouring the interwebs for affordable storage solutions that won't break the bank.

So yes, indeed, I blame it on the Champagne.

PS: How do you store your yarn? Feel free to share what works (and doesn't work) for you.

Jun 18, 2017

Swatch Stories

As a dyed-in-the-wool swatcher. I love experimenting with new stitches, testing different types of yarn, and playing "what if."

What if I:
  • Change the yarn or fiber? 
  • Change the needle size?
  • Use a different yarn weight? 
  • Work alternating rows in different colors? 
  • Twist a stitch or slip it instead?

          Test Swatch: Drumlin Reversible Afghan

My fascination with reversible stitches helps fuel these what-if scenarios, and there are weeks where I happily devote every hard-won knitting minute to the soothing task of swatching.

          Test Swatch: Breidan Reversible Afghan and Wyndfael Reversible Mitts

For better or worse, this obsession has existed for a very long time, so through the years, I've compiled an extensive list of reversible and potentially reversible stitches.

       Test Swatch: Tikkyn Reversible Afghan

Lately I've had little time for anything but the projects and patterns already in progress, so recent swatches have been practical rather than experimental. The sole purpose of these was to illustrate how yarn weight affects scale (cream is sport, grey is worsted, red is bulky):

         Test Swatches: Lucben Reversible Afghan

Frankly, I miss the fun of experimental forays.

          Test Swatch: Which is the right side?

It's time to mend this hole in my knitting life, so periodically I'll be spotlighting some of my favorite stitches in varied yarn combinations.
          Test Swatch: Twegen Reversible Afghan

We can examine them, discuss the pros and cons, explore their best uses, play with fiber and needle combinations, and see how these variables influence the end result.
          Test Swatch: Dojeling Shawl

        Test Swatch: Alaris Wrap

Along the way, we'll have a chance to share our best go-to stitches and perhaps discover some new ones to add to our personal lists of all-time favorites.

So what's your swatch story: Do you avoid it altogether? Swatch for fun? Swatch only for upcoming projects? Do some mix of the three?

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Father's Day!

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