Working on those gradients

So last weekend we had a wonderful photo shoot for the gradient book – I think it’s going to be called ‘Knitting with Rainbows’. Very fittingly we found some fantastic graffiti downtown in Cork that makes the perfect backdrop for the book. We also found this spot behind the disused Beamish & Crawford brewery. It was across the river so we couldn’t reach it, but so beautiful!
IMG_5921I’ve been working like a crazy person for the last few weeks putting tutorials together and reviewing pattern edits. In my head up to this point I keep saying ‘it’s just going to be a small book‘, just a few patterns and tutorials. Well apparently I can’t do anything small! I’ve got 11 patterns, additional stitch patterns and tutorials and at the very minimum I think this book will be around 80 pages long. It would explain why feeling somewhat overwhelmed, a little bit panicked and exhaused. I haven’t acknowledged what a substantial project I was taking on. It is however going to be an information packed and very pretty book. My son’s girlfriend is a very talented illustrator and next week she is getting started on book illustrations and I can’t wait to see them. I’ll share some with you as she works along.

Just to give you a flavour of the book, 2 patterns have already been produced and are out in the world. The first is Probys Armwarmers which was the last pattern from the Irish Yarn Club 2016. (All patterns are also on ravlery now from that club). This pattern is a great example of how a slip stitch pattern can be used to blend a gradient kit that has big jumps between the colours.

The first version was in Townhouse Yarns:

I’ve also had a sample made using a second yarn to give an idea of what another set of colours would look like.
The second version uses Fyberspates yarn:
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The second pattern that you’ve seen before is Stave Hat. I’ve previously published the child’s sweater version of this chart and the hat has been used in my Textured Colourwork classes. This hat uses textured colourwork (purls worked into a stranded pattern) to blend the colours together. It works really well for either a gradient set that has big colour jumps or for a collection of colours you have put together yourself that you want to blend smoothly.
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(Yes, that really is a giant cockerel mural behind her….)
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So if we keep working at this pace I think the book will be ready to go by the autumn. I hope you’re all getting as excited about this as I am – it’s getting real now :-)

New pattern & KAL almost here!!

Anyone out there who has been following me on Instagram or Twitter will have spotted my newest pattern – Dusty Road!

A few months ago Anzula told me that they were releasing a brand new yarn, Ava, and would love me to design something for the TNNA fashion show. In May we got the yarn and my sample knitter knit like the wind :-) The end result, Dusty Road, is both stunning and wearable. It’s a top down raglan sweater with lace details on the sleeves. The body has a side panel of lace running down each side with gentle waist shaping.

Anyone with a sharp eye will spot that I’ve used the same lace pattern on the sleeves of Dusty Road that appears in my newest KAL, Santa Rosa Plum. Sometimes as a designer your fall for a stitch pattern and just want to see it used in a few different ways; once just isn’t enough :-) I’ve just added a new tutorial here showing how to work a yarnover between knit and purl stitches (which is used both of these patterns).

AND…are you all ready? The Santa Rosa Plum KAL is starting this Saturday! First clue will go up then and everyone is ready to go!

A week of sunshine & a giveaway!

So we’ve got a rare week of sunshine here in Ireland and it feels good!
Its making me want to knit all the summer yarns. Right up on the top of that list is linen. Linen is a fantastic fiber to wear in the summer and best of all it just improves with use.
The most recent design I did with Linen was Nouri for pom-pom quarterly. (Print & digital version here). This uses Quince & Co Kestrel which is a heavy worsted organic linen that is spun using a ribbon structure.

© Nicole Mlakar

If you want to knit a version of Nouri for yourself I’ve got a great giveaway courtesy of Quince & Co! They will give a sweater quantity of Kestrel to the winner of the giveaway.
In the comments below just let me know what color of Kestrel (there are 17!) that you will knit your version in. Only comments on my blog will go into the raffle. I will draw a prize on the morning of the 10th of June (Irish time).
Note: If you live outside of the US you will only have to pay shipping costs, yarn costs are free.

The Book of Haps

There’s a very exciting launch today –  Kate Davies, The Book of Haps! Just in case that wasn’t exciting enough I’m also on the cover :-)

Over the next few days Kate will be revealing the other designs in the book. I haven’t seen them yet so I’m eagerly awaiting them as well! To preorder your copy go to Kate’s website here. And keep an eye out on ravelry for each day’s reveal!

Copyright Tom Barr

Last year Kate Davies asked me to be part of this very special project where she wanted to explore the concept of a Hap as an everyday piece of clothing. Each of us used this as a starting point to design a shawl that we would like to use for everyday wear.

As I started thinking about the concept I began to realise that my surrounds needed to be my inspiration. There is nothing I enjoy more on a daily basis than walking my dogs in the Irish countryside. Kate has put my essay on the topic up on her blog here.

IMG_1444 This is how the colours and shapes of the shawl came together. The cream and green curves across the top of the shawl echo the hills and crazy green countryside during an Irish summer. As I was designing the road outside our house was littered with Monbretia flowers. They grow wild everywhere here along with blackberries. So the orange welts and bobble edging finish the full shawl concept out.

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Fortunately for me one of the most amazing dyers in the world works within 30 minutes of my house, so using yarn from Hedgehog Fibres helped keep the full shawl concept local! I used her Sock Yarn; Silence for the light colour, Swamp for the green and Copper Penny for the bright orange pops. Copper Penny has got some green running through it as well so it blends particularly nicely with the Swamp.

I’m so very honoured to be part of this project, keep watching out for the upcoming shawls and fantastic designers!

Making Lists

So it would appear I’ve got a lot going on. Between family commitments, travel (both me and my husband), teaching, book, magazine and yarn company projects I’m stretched pretty thin.

However, I do appear to be just about holding it together. Certain things (such as regular housework!) aren’t always getting done but I’m staying on top of everything.

The only reason I’m actually still sane is lists and reminders. Every day I write and rewrite lists. I break projects into short lists and cross them off as I go. At the end of the day all unfinished business gets scooped up and rewritten into the next day’s list. That’s the theory at least. Some weeks my head is much more in the game and I go charging through lists, other weeks the list looks the same at the end as it did at the start.

Combining that with calendar/reminder apps means that I don’t forget stuff. If I get a text from school that someone is finished early – pop it into the calendar with a reminder far enough in advance that I can deal with it. Putting all these little things in as automatic reminders has saved me so much mental space. It’s such a relief to not have the worry of forgetting about something hanging over me!

My lists extend into projects as well – my Gradient book list is getting shorter by the minute… just take a look at my growing pile of finished samples. Just a few more left to go and we’re ready for photography :-)

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My biggest job now is expanding on the book text and getting the remainder of the illustrations done. My ‘Painting with Rainbows’ class from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival class has formed the backbone of the book structure. The divisions I’ve used for different types of gradients in the class will form each section of the book with pattern examples of each type. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a really useful, pretty little book!

In other work, I’ve got 2 new published patterns to share with you!

© Nicole Mlakar

The first is from Pom-Pom magazine, issue 17. I was so proud to be part of this magazine, and very flattered to have my pattern, Nouri, on the front cover. It’s a simple but effective design; the great linen yarn is just perfect to get the drape and heaviness that it needed. Knit in the round from the bottom up there is a large lace detail up one side. At the armholes you divide for the front and back, each side is knit separately and short rows shape the sleeves and shoulders before they’re rejoined. The yarn used is Quince & Co, Kertrel – watch out for a giveaway here for some yarn to make your own Nouri sweater very shortly!

The second pattern I’ve had published recently is Parcel.

© Crissy Jarvis

This is a pattern that was first published in the Twist Collective in Winter 2010 using Classic Elite Magnolia yarn.
They have reknit it in Black Trillium Fibre studio Sublime for a completely different look that gives it a great update. This yarn really makes the delicate twisting cables in this sweater pop, plus that scooped neckline is so flattering to wear. To get some inspiration on different yarns and shapes in this sweater take a look at some of the projects that knitters have added to ravelry.

Just in case you think that’s not enough check back here on Thursday for some very exciting news I’ve got to share with you :-)

 

Summer KAL here we come!

Have you spotted my new KAL – Santa Rosa Plum?

We’re just getting started with yarn choices and sizing on the ravelry board here.  So some on and join us so you can have a great summer cardigan :-)

Tina from Blue Moon Fiber Arts had been planning to do some gradients colours for a while and as you all know I’m a little gradient obsessed. We schemed for a while and came up with this yarn and colour combination (Marine Silk Sport in Plum Crazy) for a perfect summer cardigan, Santa Rosa Plum. My challenge now was to do justice to the yarn and create a cardigan that would be perfect summer evenings.

I settled on a top down raglan cardigan with wide lace panels.

The raglan shaping happens between the lace panels which creates a really interesting visual detail with minimal knitting work. Always a bonus :-) As the number of stitches in lace panel doesn’t change this makes it much easier to work than most lace in garments, no increases or decreases.

After the yoke is done the waist shaping happens inside the lace panels so they are again allowed to move across the cardigan. This way the lace creates a feature but all the shaping happens in the st st portion of the garment.

Working with gradients has it’s own set of challenges. You want to try and balance the color use out and smooth the transitions. This is a little easier for you all as the overall yardage has already been calculated by me which means you can use divide your different colours evenly so that the gradient runs through the whole cardigan. A big part of the pattern notes deals with this, explaining how to reserve enough yarn for sleeves and the alternating stripes between the colours. Discussions in the ravelry group will also be very helpful if you run into problems.

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Blue Moon has been very busy, they’ve put together some custom gradient kits and written a lovely blog post about the KAL. When you purchase the pattern you’ll get an exclusive 15% discount on the KAL yarn (Marine Silk Sport). What colour do you think you’ll knit your cardigan in, looking at this basket I’m actually tempted by them all!

 

Winner & new pattern!

Announcing the winner – Whistle Stop – thank you Jennifer, there’s a pattern winging it’s way to you :-)

If you want to get your own copy of the pattern you can find it’s pattern page on my website here or on ravlery here.

It’s time to give you a few details on the construction now. The cardigan begins at the center of the saddle on the back with a provisional cast-on. First you knit the saddle for the right side and hold the edge/sleeve sts and then you go back the the cast-on and work the left saddle out the other way. If you check your skeins at the start you can find 2 that are fairly close together in color and use one of each to work the saddle for each side. This will help give as close a match there as possible.

Now each of the saddles are held to be worked with the sleeves at the end. I marked each of the saddle skeins as right and left and kept them to work the sleeves when the body was finished. That way I could ensure that the color from the saddle would match up when I began the sleeve.

Once the saddle is finished you begin work on the back – stitches are picked up along the saddle and rows are worked (with increases) all the way to the underarm. When this is finished you will do the same for both the right and left front sides. Once they are all complete to the armhole you will join them with underarm stitches and work the whole body together flat. The yarn from the left front will be used to work the full row – but it can be a bit tricky for all 3 sections to be at the same place with the color run!

Dyeshavi on Ravelry:

I wound off some yarn to try color-matching the fronts to the backs. It didn’t quite work, because of the long color repeats and the fronts using less yardage than the back. But I also don’t mind that they’re not an exact match and love that long stretch of acid green on the back.

Groundhog67:

The pattern was such a fun knit and I really liked the construction. The yarn/color I chose turned out a little different from what I expected – less muted, more color variations, and more regularly striped – but worked well with the pattern in the end! Because the yarn had so many different transitioning colors, the only color management I did was continuing the arms with the skeins I had used for the saddles (I had 4 x 100g skeins to be on the safe side – used only about half but from all 4 skeins).Cardigan](http://www.ravelry.com/projects/groundhog67/cardigan)

Naming my new pattern

As I explore gradients further I find myself experimenting with patterns. I’m nearly ready to release the latest gradient pattern….BUT I don’t have a name :-) If you’ve got a name suggestion leave it in the comments and if I pick it you’ll get a free copy of the pattern….even if I land on another name I’ll do a raffle for all the comments.



This pattern uses a gradient yarn that gradates in a series of stripes. The short sleeved version uses Spincycle Dyed in the Wool and the long sleeved version uses Kauni Effectyarn.
Using yarn that runs through a series of colours brings it’s own set of issues and potential pitfalls. When I release the pattern I’ll talk a bit more about the constuction used and how you can juggle your yarn so that you get as much colour continuation as possible. Maybe some of my testers might like to tell you a little bit about their experiences knitting it…
But for now I need a name!


New April patterns

So even though it’s only 11 days into April I’ve already got 2 patterns to share with you :-)

The first pattern, Kompeito, is the April installment of the Irish Yarn Club 2016.

I wanted a bright, speckled yarn from Hedgehog Fibres and she delivered a fantastic yarn with pops of colour. The challenge for me now was to design a pattern that enhanced the yarn.

I decided on a drop stitch pattern as that works really nicely to distribute and break up the colour. I started at one tip, increasing slowly to the back width. Here I’ve included an optional armhole before working the back. There are a few short row wedges worked across the back to give it a little width at the bottom and then the other side is decreased at the end. A few width options are given so it’ll fit a wide range of shoulder widths. If you work the armholes and want to wear it as a shawl/scarf just turn it around and use the opening as a spot to hold the shawl tails!

The next pattern is a tank top, Jessica Tank, from Knit.wear Spring/Summer 2016.

I just love the photos of this top, I think they’re just stunning!

This tank uses a simple cable wave up each side to create a slinky hourglass shape by working waist shaping inside it. The clean lines would make this a great top for workwear under a jacket. The sample is knit in MillaMia merino but if you wanted a lighter weight top you could swap to a cotton or linen yarn for a very different look.