Archive for the ‘Color’ Category

Orange you glad

February 19, 2012

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2012 is Tangerine Tango, an orangey red or a red orange that screams, “HEY! I’m right HERE!”.

It is a coincidence that my new sweater is a similar red orange, but not an inappropriate one. I’m still here! I’m still hard at work. I’ve just reached pathological levels of mostly happy busyness. This frenetic, happy color seems apropos of my feelings lately, and I think it’s just gorgeous to boot.

The above sweater is of course the Jewel Lake Pullover, but for me this time, and with lengthened sleeves and torso. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in Poppy, and it is soft and cozy and warm. I really like Shepherd Worsted for its wooliness. A lot of superwash wools are smooth, slick, and quite different in texture than a wool that is untreated. I like that sort of texture quite well, but there’s something really special about the fuzziness of untreated wool, and Shepherd Worsted manages to maintain that quality. It comes in a whole mess of gorgeous colors to boot, but I had to pick the Poppy after realizing that I was drawn back to it every time. I’m so glad I did!


Collection design and me

May 14, 2011

First things first – thank you to everyone who entered my raffle for earthquake relief in Japan, and congratulations to Natalie, Rosemary, Jenny, and Hanne, who won the prizes! I sent them off yesterday, and ladies, my apologies for the weird handwritten notes in blue marker. I couldn’t find grown up writing implements. Yup.

It’s been a long week. I had all three kids at home for a lot of it, and then I caught whatever bug they had, which meant that there was one ugly day where they were getting better and I was coming down with what they had, and they had a lot more energy than I did and basically ran the show all day. There was also one blessedly easy day where two of the sickies slept for the vast majority of the day, so I suppose it evens out.

Heyo! I’ve returned, slowly, to the ebook I was working on prior to Understory. I had it in my head that it was best not to show anything from that enterprise until it was done, but frankly, that no longer seems to make as much sense to me, and I can’t quite remember why I had that idea. I’m planning for the collection to have 9 or 10 accessory patterns, but which ones are still in flux.

The general idea is that each of these projects, with the exception of a shawl that is not pictured, would use relatively small amounts of yarn, enabling a knitter to get some pretty matching accessory sets out of one or two skeins of yarn. I like this idea because, I hope, it would give knitters a chance to try some luxury yarns without spending as much as one would on yarn for a large project. I also got excited about this because, like many knitters, I have a lot of pretty scarves and hats and mitts and other cool weather accessories and most of them cannot be worn together without making me look a little silly. Matching accessory sets can make an outfit look neat and tailored, and I’m hoping that many of the items in the collection can be mixed and matched as well.

As it stands, I’m currently planning on the collection consisting of two hats, two shawls, one cowl, one neckwarmer, one mitt set, a pair of boot socks, and a headband. Work on it is sporadic, as it comes between deadline projects, but I’m still excited about it.

This is the first ebook I started, but has become my second ebook. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I thought I’d talk a little about how I plan a collection. I don’t claim to be speaking for anyone but myself, and I suspect there are better, more efficient ways to work. However, for me, a pattern or a collection starts with a color palette. I want the different items in the collection to be harmonious with each other, but also to showcase different colors. I also think color can set a mood and a connecting theme behind a variety of disparate items.

In Understory, the colors were meant to reflect the setting of the collection – the understory of a forest after spring rains. The basic palette was suggested by Hannah Thiessen, and I had some leeway to choose my own colors, picking spring greens, yellows, greys, and a flash of bright red. The current project, Jolie With Pointy Sticks, is somewhat vintage inspired, more urban, and has a palette primarily of reds and yellows with beiges, golds, and purples, not currently in the picture. I have an idea board for a future collection as well with a completely different palette of bright and dark colors meant to convey youth and energy.

Colors tell a story, whether we mean them to or not, and it seems to me that any design is itself a story that we’re selling. There are many patterns out in the world, but the ones that speak to us as knitters and consumers are the ones that tell a story we want to hear or be a part of. My personal rule for knitting patterns is that I have to have fun knitting them myself before I’m willing to sell them to other people. I also try to tell stories I want to hear. None of us can please everyone, and I think in trying, we tend to create something pretty bland that doesn’t reflect our personal vision. (The painting experiment form of this is Komar and Melamid’s Most and Least Wanted series, in which they created paintings based on polling information from different countries.) This isn’t to say that the opinions of others should be disregarded outright, but that if a project doesn’t speak to you, it probably won’t be one you invest in wholly. I start with colors because they set a tone, literally, that lets me know which way I want to go with the project as a whole.

The colors sort of direct the aesthetic for me a bit. The reds and yellows I picked are less high school mascot colors and more warm tones that I have seen used in a lot of vintage dresses. I started looking at movie stills and vintage fabrics and picking up on ideas and details I liked from them. The end results are not necessarily going to reflect their inspiration to everyone who looks at them, but if the story is harmonious to me, the projects fun to knit and wear, and the end result feels whole, I think at least I can be comfortable with what I’m offering.

A little more on Atalanta

February 5, 2011

When I posted about the new Atalanta pattern, I neglected to talk a little about my thinking behind the shaping and sizing. Atalanta is sized with positive ease down the entire length of the sweater. For those unfamiliar with the term, ease refers to how loose or tight the fit is meant to be. A sweater with one inch positive ease in the bust would be meant to fit one inch larger than bust size. A sweater with one inch negative ease would be meant to fit one inch smaller than bust size. In the case of a sweater without shaping, positive ease can result in a comfortable but baggy and unflattering end result. The idea behind Atalanta was to create an easy to knit, easy to wear tee that was flattering to a woman’s figure in any size, so although Atalanta is loose fitting, it is also shaped for an attractive fit. I find that women’s clothing usually benefits from shaping, even if it is minimal, and even if it is meant to be loose, because baggy clothing without shaping makes the waist disappear and tends to exaggerate the largeness or smallness of the hips and bust. Additionally, I wanted a neckline that would be flattering to many different bust sizes without being overly revealing. There’s a slight scoop, but the top should offer full coverage.

Atalanta comes in seven sizes, from 28 to 52, like Sunniva and Maude Louise. However, I tried something a little new here that I think could be useful in future sizing. In the past, I’ve usually sized patterns with a set amount of ease in inches. This means that no matter the size, there is meant to be one inch positive ease or two inches negative ease, etc. However, discussions on Ravelry’s Designer board got me thinking about different ways of using ease. It was rightly pointed out that one inch positive ease looks different on a 28 inch bust than it does on a 40 inch bust. Instead of sizing with set inches, I used percentages to size Atalanta, which has 7% positive ease at the bust. On a size 28 inch bust, this means around 2 inches positive ease, while on a size 52, this means around 3 and a half inches positive ease. Hopefully this will result in a sweater that fits more as it was designed to in all sizes.

I am very pleased to be able to offer this sweater through the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program for a number of reasons. For those unfamiliar with the IDP, Knit Picks has partnered with independent designers to offer PDF downloads of original patterns directly through their site. The designers get all the proceeds of their sales, which means that it’s not all that different from purchasing directly from a designer, but Knit Picks offers the option of creating a kit with the yarn needed to knit the pattern bundled right in. The Knit Picks yarns that are available for an Atalanta kit are very affordable, placing kit costs from $22.42 to $31.90, pattern inclusive. If you’re interested in putting together a kit, you can do so at Knit Picks.

The sample is knit in Shine Sport in the colors Serenade (purple) and Leapfrog (green). Leapfrog has been discontinued, so Knit Picks recommends using Green Apple if you want to duplicate the sweater shown above. It can be hard to come up with color pairings sometimes, so I’ve attached some ideas that I considered when I was planning the sweater. I hope this is helpful to anyone considering making an Atalanta!

My First Wollmeise

May 25, 2010

My skein of Wollmeise arrived.  Remember how I said I wasn’t thrilled that I’d ordered teal and that I might want to trade it for another color?  Maybe not so much.  It’s so so pretty!  Like prettiness hyped up on steroids!  The color is really, really rich and intense.

In the skein, the base feels surprisingly like cotton to me – sort of firm and string-like.  But while I can be critical at times, I’m basically a yarn lover, and softness is not at the top of my priorities list most days of the week.  I didn’t order Wollmeise for the base.  I can get any number of merino yarns with much greater ease.  I ordered it for the color, and it has certainly lived up to the hype on that end of things!

One of the loveliest things about this skein is how very, very subtle the color shifts are.  Some parts of the yarn are greener, and some are bluer, but it’s so very illusive that the overall impression is of a solid colored yarn.  My guess is that this will knit up to create an illusion of depth.

I don’t know…maybe I should trade it for another color.  But maybe I can live with one more blue-green item, especially when it’s so beautiful.  I’m thinking La Cumparsita by Marnie MacLean.


My magically terrific test knitters are speeding along on Surtsey, and I hope to have the pattern released very soon.

The next step

March 9, 2010

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.

The blues and the bees

October 29, 2009

Ugh.  Seasonal changes and we all have minor colds.  I’m grateful that it’s not flu, believe me, but I’m still a little tired of feeling under the weather.  On the other hand, my classes are going pretty well, Entrechat is well on its way to release, and I have something of a jump on holiday gifts because I was smart enough to start knitting them over the summer.  My hat production continues, with Gabriel the next victim recipient.  Actually, he really needs a new hat, since he loses every single one I ever make for him almost as soon as he receives it (grr!) but I’m hoping for better luck this time.  He’s had his eye on the lovely Jitterbug I got from Mai’s blog contest some time back, and so I held the yarn doubled to make Stephen West’s new hat pattern, Windschief.

Not the most flattering picture of the boyo, but he looks adorable in it.  And I love the way the yarn knit up.  Jitterbug has really grown on me.  Some of the colorways are really spectacular.  I love how this one gives an overall impression of blue, but still has strong greens and reds in it.  The hat is ready just in time for hat weather, so yay!

Here’s a sneak peek at a Christmas present project, about which I shall say little. I’m just so happy with the color (Malabrigo Sock in Cote d’Azure) that I had to share.

I’m on a blue kick, as you see.  I don’t really wear blue, but I love it, and am very happy to have other people in my life who can be provided with blue things.  The above blue makes me think strongly of Japanese indigo dyed fabrics, and I am enjoying it immensely.  I’ve actually had my eye on the skein for months now, and I was lucky because no one bought it before I could get to it.  It was one of only two skeins of Sock left at the store!  How no one else came along and snapped up this beauty I will never know, but I’m very happy that I’m the one who got it.

We’ve been very busy with planting the winter garden and starting to get ourselves ready for the upcoming holidays.  I love working in the garden, even if I’m only a half-competent gardener.  There is nothing more rewarding than cooking with food you’ve grown for yourself.  Yesterday, in service of the cold Mr. Kninja and I are sharing, I made a tortilla and albondigas soup using the last of the heirloom tomatoes, and celery, cilantro, and oregano from the garden.  We have two varieties of oregano right now, as I accidentally purchased hot and spicy oregano on my first time out.  It’s very tasty, but the kids want nothing to do with it, so I had to get a second plant of the more traditional Italian variety.

I made pickles with the baby green tomatoes we harvested, but now no one wants to eat them.  They taste marvelous at first bite, but have an odd aftertaste that makes us unhappy.  I’m disappointed, especially as I finally perfected my pickle brine recipe.  (Hint: lots of vinegar.   Most kosher dill recipes I’ve found just don’t have enough for a truly sour pickle.)  However, I’m very thrilled with the plant that produced the tomatoes, and know for sure that it’s a variety I want to repeat.  They were Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, and holy moo, but that plant made some amazing fruits.  They were about the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever had, and they came in profusion.  The color was marvelous too – a yellow that bordered on orange and sometimes crossed over.  So if you happen to be on the lookout for a good tomato variety, I’m going to put my word in for the Sun Gold.

We’re lucky that our climate supports a winter garden.  It’s not as profuse as summer, of course, but we’re putting in a lot of lettuces, spinach, and arugula, plus the aforementioned celery, herbs of all sorts, onions, peas, and I need to pick up a few more plants.  The artichokes have begun to replenish themselves (they are plants that love abuse – after a growing season you hack them to bits and then they rise, phoenix-like, from the debris) and the fennel is working overtime to take over the yard.  Our strawberries are an alpine variety, so they’re happily still at work, trying to produce autumn berries, and sending out runners every which way.  And then there’s my tree.

I was on a walk with Nora this summer when I saw a sign, “Free apple tree” and not being a person to look a gift apple tree in the mouth, I managed to half carry, half drag a wee potted apple tree home with me.  It was in a rather sad condition, but after some weeding and watering, it perked up pretty well.  We’ve yet to plant it, so it remains in its pot, looking small and withered, but cheerful.  It went so far as to blossom, even, though that was clearly a premature attempt at adulthood.  So there’s that, too.  The yard remains a rather sorry looking place, but I’m proud of all the work we’ve done so far.  It’s solely in our care, which is quite a privilege for apartment dwelling renters, and I truly think we’ve fixed it up considerably from the time we moved in.  It’s slow going, and we’re not the best at it, but it’s such a pleasure.

Green seas

August 13, 2009

Just a peek at some of the projects currently underway.


May 21, 2009

Muench Sir Galli, now discontinued, is a silk tweed, and while it’s not actually practical for rustic use, something about it, from the subdued natural tones to the tweedy flecks and nubs, screams rustic.  It has a gnarled, woody look, and when I finally made use of it, I felt that I wanted to turn that woody look to the advantage of the garment.

This isn’t the most practical cardigan I’ve ever made, but I’m excited nonetheless, because all the elements of this experiment worked out rather as I wanted them to.  I had a vision and the end result looks an awful lot like that vision, despite a certain lack of knowledge when it comes to shaping lace.  You can see that in the rumply shape of the front panels, but the raglan shaping itself went very well.

I need to get a picture of the back of this so you can actually see the Fir Cone lace.  It’s a fine old Shetland pattern, closely related to Razor Shell and Fern lace, but it doesn’t lie as flat as either of these.  This is where the silk yarn came in handy: the sheer amount of drape causes the lace to lie relatively flat, something I don’t think would be possible in most fibers.

As I said in my last post, I have no plans to write up a pattern for this one, but I do like the construction enough that I’m planning a similar garment that will be written up.

I’m still unwell and still on crutches, and am overall unhappy with my body and its inability to stay healthy for any space of time longer than a month.  The crutches are leaning against a nearby wall in the above photo, and to be honest, soon after it was taken I was too tired to stay upright.  It’s just a bit discouraging.  Use of the crutches creates pain in parts of my body other than my foot, and then my fibromyalgia flares up and I’m exhausted and painful all the time.  It’s making me crabby.

I have deeper thoughts, mostly inspired by Emily, that need to be written through, but I’m afraid I’m too tired to get to them now.  So for the moment, it’s just the new sweater!

Rainbows and flappers

March 10, 2009

Liam’s rainbow jacket doesn’t actually have any rainbows yet, but it’s nearly done.  While he stuck to his guns on the pink edging, the actual yarn he picked out from my yarn cabinet is a bit more nuanced than I’d been expected.  It’s some lovely mohair blend stuff from Giff – she sent me a couple of skeins, and this is the last of it.  It’s more a soft red than an actual pink.  I’m not crazy about it with the colors of the jacket, and would still have preferred a gold, but I think it’s OK.

He’s given me leave to use my own taste on the rainbow, so I think I’ll pick some pretty fingering weight yarns and chain stitch the rainbow.  I will probably use some white unspun wool for the clouds.

I knitted myself the Sideways Grande Cloche from Boutique Knits.  The book was my birthday present from Mr. Kninja, but this is the first pattern I’ve knit from it.  I love the end result, but I made a lot of mods to get there.  The pattern as written will make an absolutely collosal hat.  I cast on 33 stitches, down from 42, and used size 7 needles for most of the hat, rather than size 10.  I went down only one size, to 6, for the front of the hat.

I also did the top in garter stitch, and made the cable much shorter than what the pattern called for.  I actually made it the same length as suggested, at first, and it looked ridiculous – baggy and hanging off the hat – so I ripped it down and now I love it.

The whole thing was a bit of an experiment.  I wanted to try to Louet Riverstone Chunky, because it’s a nice looking yarn that comes in a wide variety of colors for an excellent price.  Using just one skein was a good way to take the yarn for a test drive, and as it happens, I really, really like it.  It’s a plain wool, but soft and servicable, and the color is lovely.  My pictures are a little greyed out, but it’s a dark, rich blue, greener than pictured.  The other experiment was in using blue at all.  It’s a color I love, but do not wear near my face, as it often makes me look jaundiced.  This shade, however, had enough green that I thought I might be OK, and I think it works.  Nice to think I found a blue I can wear!  Between this and my O W L S sweater, I may be able to find a shade of each of my forbidden colors that looks all right.

Paulette is currently being test knit, but will be available shortly, and I’m trying to have Maude Louise II done by the end of the week.  I’ll keep you posted!

Resembling ripe lemons and egg yolks

February 5, 2009

Let’s talk about yellow.  The most noticable color on the spectrum, it’s been largely mistreated for years, misused, and under appreciated.  Until recently, when I thought of yellow clothing, I thought of that hideous pastel yellow that comes out in spring, often paired with pastel pinks or blues, or a set of primaries, often used in stripes.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with these yellows, but I’ve never found them appealing.  Yellow is a color that I can wear, but usually don’t.

But lately, I’ve been drawn to yellow.  It seems like yellow’s finally getting its due – it’s been used lately by designers in such interesting and attractive ways that I can’t help seeing its virtues.

I was trying to figure out why yellow’s been so mistreated for so long.  It is a difficult color for many people to wear.  A little goes such a long way.  But that can’t be the only reason.  A trip to the dictionary indicated that our discomfort with yellow goes back a long way.  Yellow is cowardly, yellow is morbidly sensationalist, yellow is envious, yellow is sallow, yellow is an offensive racial slur.  Yellow is the color of jaundice, poisonous beasties, gall, quaratine, disease, stinging insects, old age.

But yellow is also the color of filling foods, first light, hair browded in a tress, precious metals, fluttering songbirds, chattering monkeys, taxi cabs, Spring.  It’s not a color that is willing to be passive.  Yellow is loud and boistrous, even in its more muted shades.  There’s something a little bit uncomfortable about a color that is so indecently itself at all times, but there’s also something enticing about yellow.

When I was a small child, yellow was the only color I couldn’t pronounce.  I called it reh-roh, which probably made me sound like Scooby Doo.

The word yellow comes from a line of words leading back to the Indo-European gelwa, which meant to shine or glisten.  Yellow was not much distinguished from green in its early etymological stages.  It’s funny to think that so much of how we see color derives from how we say color.  The distinctions we make between, say, blue and purple, are fairly arbitrary, and need not have existed.  The etymological course of gelwa shows that it developed into words meaning white or green in some languages.

I’ve been craving something yellow lately, but I’m not sure what.  It’s not actually a color that I have a lot of.  I’m going to think on this a bit more, but I think there’s a lot of yellow in my future.