Oct 15, 2017

Where Fiber Meets Fingers Redux

Yesterday was national I Love Yarn Day (ILYD), so it seemed fitting to revisit this post from a few years ago. However, you choose to celebrate, I hope this weekend you find a way to spend some quality time with your favorite fiber and craft. Enjoy!

One of the best ways to celebrate ILYD (or weekend) is to visit your favorite LYS.

This is on my mind because through the marvels of Ravelry, I recently had an interesting exchange regarding the symbiotic relationship among yarn makers, yarn dyers, yarn buyers, designers and LYS owners. 
As part of that discussion, I commented that LYS owners ...
occupy that unique space where fiber meets fingers. You know what appeals to your customers, and you’re the ones who face the challenge of guiding them through the process of matching the right yarn and needles to the right patterns and vice versa.

The designer/knitter/yarn maker/seller relationship is complementary and when these factors come together, a little magic happens and everyone wins. As an added bonus, fiber folks are a generous lot, so loved ones and strangers frequently gain something too: 

It's easy to participate in ILYD, just visit your local yarn store. Inhale fiber fumes, pet some yarn and connect with those who share your passion. Find the perfect yarn and pattern so you can create something special. Take along a stubborn stash skein and pair it with new yarn to make something fresh and delightfulIndulge in a coveted set of needles. Work on a WIP or cast on a holiday gift. Teach someone to knit, attend a class or master a new stitch.

If you knit, crochet, design, dye, spin, weave or work with fiber in any way, it's likely your LYS plays a pivotal role in your creative endeavors. Celebrate your craft by doing what you love with others who love it, too, in that unique space where fiber meets fingers.

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Oct 8, 2017

Ombres & Gradients: 5 Fresh Ways to Create Your Own

In recent months, we've been exploring ways to create your own custom DIY gradients, ombres and fades. Whether you use purpose-bought yarn or yarn from stash, they're the perfect way to leverage singletons or orphans and put leftovers or odd balls to good use.

Because gradient is a more inclusive term, I tend to use it more often than ombre in these how-to posts. Briefly, here's how I distinguish between the two
Ombre schemes focus on one color family and incorporate varied shades that progress from saturated to pale or dark to light, whether the yarn has been dyed in graduated hues or features colors you've selected for a custom effect.
Gradient schemes, 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 blends one color with the next.
In the first overview, Ombres & Gradients: 5 Ways to Create Your Own, we explored strategies ranging from basic to five-stage gradients. Today, let's pick up where we left off and look at five fresh ways to mix yarns to create custom ombre, gradient and fade effects.

(Most of the bold titles below contain two links: Click the gradient link to read more about that technique. Click the project name to learn more about the project shown.)

1. Six-stage gradient: Colsie Plumberry

Strategy: Solid colors are separated by transitional sections consisting of two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose three colors that play well together. 
  • Arrange them in your preferred sequence.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC1.

Strategy:  Solid sections are connected by transitional sections with two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose four related colors. 
  • Arrange them dark to light or light to dark.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 7 with CC4.

3. 9-stage or double-take ombre gradient: WIP swatch

Strategy: Double the number of ombre stages by working a series of solid sections followed by transitional sections featuring alternating two-row stripes. This works with any number of colors, but to achieve a look similar to what's shown:
  • Choose five related colors and arrange them light to dark or dark to light.
  • Work section 1 with CC1.
  • Work section 2 with CC1 and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with CC2.
  • Work section 4 with CC2 and CC3.
  • Work section 5 with CC3.
  • Work section 6 with CC3 and CC4.
  • Work section 7 with CC4.
  • Work section 8 with CC4 and CC5.
  • Work section 9 with CC5.

4. Five-stage mirror gradient: Colsie Mirror Gradient

Strategy: Turn two shades into a five-stage mirrored gradient. To achieve a similar look:
  • 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.

5. Three-stage variegated gradient: Colsie Berry Tonal Gradient

Strategy:  Each section is worked in alternating two-row stripes. To achieve a similar look:
  • Choose one variegated yarn and three related solid shades that blend with the variegated.
  • Treat the variegated yarn as the MC, because it will appear in each section.
  • Work section 1 with MC and CC1.
  • Work section 2 with MC and CC2.
  • Work section 3 with MC and CC3.Do a mismatched pair: 

Infinitely adaptable and completely customizable, ombres, gradients and fades never become boring, so hopefully, these strategies will inspire you to look at your stash or next yarn acquisition with fresh eyes and a sense of adventure.

Over the years, I've used these techniques in countless projects, and with three gradient projects on the needles as we speak, there's no doubt I'll be using them in many more to come. I hope the same will soon be true for you, too.

To see all ombre and gradient posts, click here.



Oct 1, 2017

Ribs & Revelations

Here's the scoop. Recently, I was sorting through recent FOs, works in progress and projects in the planning pipeline. The goal was to set some priorities, but instead I made a strange discovery.

In addition to my long-standing obsession with ombres and gradients, I appear to be equally obsessed with ribby knits and rib stitches in all their forms. Here are just a few of the many examples that led to this revelation.

Colsie Mitts

I've made ... wait a minute while I go count ... five pairs of mitts featuring this super-easy slipped rib stitch, and another pair is on the needles. In addition to being a great way to blend colors into a DIY gradient of my own choosing, this stitch produces a wonderfully stretchy fabric that's perfect for mitts, hats, cuffs, cowls and anything else that requires elasticity.

Colsie Cowl

In spite of the fact that I have too many projects already on the needles, winter is coming. I need all the cozy knits I can muster, so I went ahead and cast on this cowl-scarf. Worked on larger than typical needles, it features an adaptation of the same ribbed slip stitch used in the Colsie mitts, and it's producing a fabric that's light, lush and flexible.

Kintra Mitts

This pattern is yet another example of my ribby obsession. It includes two slipped rib stitches, both of which are useful and adaptable. I love all my Kintra mitts (X pairs and counting), and I'm wearing this pair as I write. The neutral mitts above are my current favorites, however, which leads me to my next example ...

Kintra Cowl

Okay, technically, this isn't a project yet, but the yarn is sitting out waiting to be cast on, so I'm including it in this mini-roundup. The goal is to create a cowl or scarf to complement my nearly neutral Kintra mitts, as part of my plan to create coordinated sets that make the most of the knits I have.

Wyndfael Mitts

I know, I know. You look at this design and think: Wait, those are cables not ribs! And you're correct. This simple little stitch produces mini-cables on the front side and 2x2 ribs on the back. As a result, it's suited to afghans, bands, cuffs, collars, hats, mitts or anything that calls out for a decorative touch coupled with a bit of stretch.

Riblet Afghan

This project is also in the planning pipeline. I've worked countless swatches in search of a stitch that's reversible, easy to execute and produces an attractive, plush texture, and so far this one is at the forefront. It, too, is a slipped rib, and due to the way it's worked, it's moderately stretchy, holds its shape and produces a slightly syncopated effect I find appealing. As an added plus, you can create interesting effects by working it in two colors (more on that later). 

If you're like me and knitting is woven into your daily life, it's likely you have an obsession or three of your own. Meanwhile, I'm off to pursue this passion for ribs see where it takes me. 

What knitting passions are you pursuing this week? 

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