The next step

This is the second part of my documentation of the process of my new design in progress, Sunniva.

As you may know, I have a bit of an obsessive thing about color.  I loved color theory in art school, and rich color is very often what draws me to yarns.  Lately, with my self publishing, I’ve had some ideas about color and about photography, and also about what I want to do and one thing that’s come up for me is that I like making two versions of my patterns, in two different yarns and colors.

In the first place, two versions means, very simply, that I get two chances to become familiar with my pattern and to smooth out problems I’m having.  The first time through, I may find that my ideas are not quite what I’d hoped, that something that looked good on paper doesn’t work out quite as well in practice, or that a transition I thought would be easy is actually rather complicated.  With real problems, I have to rip and rewrite, of course, but there’s something else, where maybe it all works just fine, but I come up with something else I’d like to try next time, I get to do that with version two.

Secondly, I’ve got this idea about what I want to be as a designer, and that has two sides to it.  I like the idea of being able to highlight smaller dyers and unusual yarns, but I also think it’s nice for people to see a version of the project in yarn that is easy to acquire and might already be in their stash.  Two versions means that I get to have it both ways.

And thirdly, two versions means that I can show you what the same pattern looks like in two very different colors.  I am always amazed at how much the look of a pattern can be changed by just a switch in color, and I love the different moods that color can evoke.

I labored a lot over the colors for Sunniva.  When I envisioned the sweater, it was yellow, but not just any yellow.  It was neither a bright yellow, nor a pastel.  It had some gold tones, but was more opaque and greyed out than a true gold.  Finding this color was actually more challenging that one might think!  I went to various yarn stores, looking at heavy lace weights and light fingering weights, and if I found a color that looked right, often it was on a yarn that was the wrong weight.  I love Dream in Color, and their Baby was the right weight, but none of the colors were quite right.  Finally, I found Malabrigo Sock in Ochre.  It’s almost the exact yellow I’d pictured: perhaps a little deeper, but no worse for that.  A nice, sunshiney, but not overwhelming yellow.

So I had my yellow and I swatched it up and all was right with the world.  But when I decided I’d be self publishing, that was when things got complicated again.  I wanted a second color.  It had to be very different in mood and tone from the Ochre, and it had to still have some sort of spring-y, sunny-ish qualities to it.  And most importantly, it had to photograph well with the yellow. Oh, and I wanted to get it from a small dyer.

I actually knew who I wanted to get it from right away.  I’d been admiring Orangeflower‘s yarns for quite a while, and one of the things I really liked was the way the color looked so rich, but also sort of like it was drawn on, rather than dyed.  Maybe it’s just me, but I saw it as looking a little like the yarn had been colored by hand with pens or watercolors.  And I loved that.  So I knew I wanted yarn from Orangeflower, and I contacted Karin, the dyer.

I hadn’t thought in advance just how much goes into yarn choice!  I mean, I’d be laboring over yarns and yarn colors for months, but I hadn’t really considered how much work there really is until Karin got back to me with some questions about what yarn I wanted, and what gauge, and what fiber, and what color.  Well, I knew the gauge and weight, but of course, even light fingering weight yarns can differ from one another quite a bit.  And then there was fiber.  Well, I wanted a wool, that was for sure, but I didn’t want merino.  For one thing, I already had a merino yarn, and for another, I’d been reading about a lack of diversity in sheep breeds and the trouble that’s causing, and for a third thing, there are some fibers I’ve been wanting to try for a while!  Oh, and of course, it had to be comfortable worn against the skin.  Whoa.  OK, deep breath.  Bluefaced Leister?  And luckily, Karin had some amazing Bluefaced Leister in the right weight.  Gorgeous stuff, and smooth and lovely against the skin to boot.

OK, so we’ve got the base picked out.  Color.  Color’s the next step.  This is the idea board I sent Karin.

Oh my goodness, you cannot imagine how ridiculously long I spent making this thing.  Most of these photos are of fabrics, but I also searched Etsy, using the color selector, and Google and Colourlovers, and goodness knows where else.  (The beautiful felt balls featured so prominently are from Smika.)  The idea was to find colors that were paired with the same sort of yellow I’d used, and looked good with it.  Each row represents a different color.  And each color represented was one I thought might look good with the yellow and yet show something very different about the pattern.

All very well and good, but there are five separate colors represented on the mood board, and only one was actually going to be used.  I pored over the mood board again and again, trying to narrow the field, and finding good reasons to use any of the colors.  In the end, the top row and the bottom row were drawing me the most, and finally I picked the top row.  I’ve shown this before, but the color is so gorgeous, I have no problem showing it again.  This is what she did with that top row.


In real life, the color is even more rich and gorgeous.  It shifts ever so slightly depending on the light, so sometimes you see more of the blues in the yarn.  It is amazing.  The Orangeflower BFL is intended for a three quarter length sleeve version of Sunniva.  I’m trying to whip through the first version so that I can cast on the second, because I want to knit with this yarn so so badly. I love this yarn.

As of today, I am at the point on the first sample where I need to begin increasing for hip shaping.  I intend this to be a rather long, almost tunic length garment, to prevent any possibility of accidental tummy reveals.  I have a really long torso, personally, and most shirts bought off the rack leave some amount of risk that at some point during the day, there will be an unsightly gap between my pants and the bottom of my shirt.  People, I have had three kids.  My belly is so not the thing anyone wants to see, but shirt manufacturers seem to think that, “Hey, you know what’s awesome?  Showing people Kristen’s belly!”  No, no, shirt manufacturers.  You are so very wrong.  So I’m taking matters into my own hands, and this garment is going to be long enough, by the soles of my great aunt Stella’s shoes! With God as my witness, I will never reveal belly again!

Ahem.  Maybe that last is taking things a bit far.  But you see where I’m going with this.  I’m not going to make this into a dress or a night shirt, but it’s definitely going to be long enough!

Oh, and I’m still on the first skein of Malabrigo.  This stuff goes for miles.

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4 Responses to “The next step”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    Fascinating Kristen, love the peek into the workings of an artist mind! And the Orangeflower BFL is a fabulous color. I just finished a shawl in a Navy Orangeflower BFL and the color and texture is gorgeous. It’s unlike any other wool I’ve used and I love it.

  2. Jessica Says:

    That yarn is such a glorious color. It’s interesting to read about your designing process and I can’t wait to see the finished sweater.

  3. KellyInTexas Says:

    Wow, this is fascinating! Your color idea board rocks. I think I see some quilting in your future…

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