Category Archives: Yarn

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!

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!

 

Cloudborn

Recently Craftsy has begun producing their own brand of yarn which has a HUGE range. They sent me a cute little bag with samples of each yarn in the ‘Cloudborn’ yarn range.

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There is a big variety of yarns in this new range, in fact so many that it was initially overwhelming. I have however narrowed it down to a few favourites to get started with :-) The prices are very reasonable so there isn’t a huge cost investment in trying them out.

IMG_4211I don’t know yet what I’m going to knit with the Superwash Merino Bulky but it feels amazing, soft and fat. The double stranded twist in the yarn gives it a very distinctive look and texture. I think this will be a good one for big chunky oversized hats or even a heavy winter jacket/cardigan? It would be a lovely one to knit my free pattern, Iced with. I knit the swatch using 8 mm (US size 11) needles and got a gauge of 10.5 sts and 17 rows per 4″.

IMG_4235Coming down the thickness ladder the next one I tested out is the Highland Worsted. IMG_4213

Again this yarn has got a high twist but it’s not a super soft as the chunky yarn (but it’s not scratchy either, but durable feeling). I think this will be a great yarn for sweaters and larger projects. It’s got a nice bounce and stitch definition that should show cables off really nicely. The swatch was knit with 4 mm (US size 6) needles and I got a gauge of 20 sts and 32 rows per 4″.

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Here we have the Merino Alpaca Sport.

IMG_4216This one wins on softness. I want this one for a cowl or maybe a big oversized scarf or shawl. It feels good next to the skin but I’m always wary of using alpaca in garments, it frequently loves to grow so use it in a project where growth is a good thing rather than a problem (or knit it at a tight gauge to reduce the issue). The swatch was knit with 4 mm (US size 6) needles and I got a gauge of 21 sts and 32 rows per 4″.

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The baby sister of the Highland worsted is the Highland Superwash Twist Sock.

IMG_4219This yarn has got a very visible high twist, which should be really good for durability. Sock yarn is very versatile, it can of course be used for knitting socks but frequently it’s the go-to yarn for shawls both solid color and striped. If you combined one of their solids with a handpainted yarn it would be a great combination for Penrose Tile.

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The swatch was knit with 3.5 mm (US size 4) needles and I got a gauge of 24 sts and 36 rows per 4″.

Over the coming months I’ve got a few more kits coming out with the Cloudborn Yarn, the range is large enough that it may keep me busy for a while!

What yarn do you think you’ll try first?

The links given in this post are affiliate links for Cloudborn Yarns.

Gradients Part 2: Stave Gradient Sweater

If you read through my blog post, Gradients Part 1, you’ll know that I’m loving gradients right now!

If you want to learn more about gradients with me over the coming months then read on!

The first type of gradients I want to look at is DIY gradient sets. What I mean by that is a set you’ve put together yourself from stash or combined different colours together. For the contrast between the colours to be obvious you want to use a range of tones, from light to dark. When I talk about ‘tone’ I mean the depth of the colour rather than the colour itself. To see the tones of the colours you have chosen you can take a black and white photo which will will remove the colour and just show you the tone.

Here is a photo with a set of yarns that have got a range of colours – but look at it in black and white, they’re very similar in tone!
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Now take this set –  you can see that in black and white there’s a big variety of tones.
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To demonstrate working with a DIY gradient set I designed a new pattern, Stave Sweater.

This sweater uses Navia Duo yarn that is a nice sticky yarn that is perfect for stranded colourwork.
The colours range from cream, through light grey to dark grey. This colour palette makes it very obvious what I’m talking about when I’m discussing ‘tone’ – it’s effectively like looking at a black and white photo!
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However you can of course use a big variety of colours in this sweater; just watch your tone variation (perhaps check in b&w)! I’m starting a thread on my raverly board here where you can share your colour choices (show us both the colour and b&w photos).

Now that I’ve discussed the colour choices the next step is figuring out how to blend the colours. This sweater uses a textured stranded technique that scatters purl stitches within the work. If you look carefully at the colourwork, when you have a purl stitch on a row that the colour changes it shows both the old and new colour together on that row. This allows for a more subtle blending of the colours rather than a harsh division.

I’ve put a little video together talking through the Stave Sweater; I show the 2 different ways the same texture colourwork pattern is used and I walk through the construction.

I hope you enjoyed the first gradient colourwork installment, check back for more!
If you need some guidance on 2 handed colourwork Lorilee Beltman’s class ‘Knit Faster with Continental Knitting‘ has got some great pointers. (Note that this is an affiliate link.)

Gradients Part 1: EYF Gradient Sets

Over the last few months I’ve become rather obsessed with gradients. I’ve been putting a collection together and it’s really inspiring me for the EYF class I’ll be teaching in March. When people talk about gradients they can mean several different things; sometimes it means a colour that graduated from light to dark within the same colour family  (also referred to as Ombre) or alternatively  it may be a gradient that graduates from one colour to another. The terms are often used interchangeably.

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Colour graduating from light to dark within the same colour family. (Shades of Turquoise from The Knitting Goddess)

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Colours moving from yellow, through orange and rust into a dark brown. (Autumn Harvest from Fiber Optic Yarns)

There are many different way to create gradients. Here I’ve outlined a few that I’ve come across with photo examples of each. Knitting with gradients is so much fun, you can’t wait to see how the next colour looks knitted up!

1. Mini-skein gradients

This is very much as it sounds, a larger skein is broken down into several mini-skeins (could be any number but 5 seems to be fairly common).

IMG_0034Here is an example of a single colour gradient going from light to dark green (Shaded Olives from The Knitting Goddess). This set has 5 different colours.

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This graduated set moves from a deep pink to a pale pastel pink (Party of 5, Sweet Georgia, Hanami).

IMG_0012This is an example of a mini-skein set that had related colours graduating from dark to light and then to dark again in a different colour (Dragonfly Fibers sock gradient set, Winter Woods).

2. Single skein gradients

This is a single skein of yarn that has been dyed so that it gradually moves from one colour to another. This can be one single colour graduation over the entire skein or it can be shorter colour gradients so that it goes through a few colour changes (this is a pretty close sister to some of the more subtle self-striping yarns).

IMG_0020These yarns are an example of a single skein gradient that moves from one colour to another across a single skein (Knitcircus Greatest of Ease ‘Gnarly Dude’ and Lavish ‘Brass and Steam’).

IMG_0022Here again we have a single skein gradient but it moves from a very pale/white to a deep pink in the single skein (Freia fine handpaints Ombre Grande ‘Valentine’)

IMG_0033This is a single skein of yarn that graduates through a range of colours in a gently graduated set of stripes that repeats (Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn)

3. DIY gradients

There is nothing stopping you from creating your own gradients. If you’ve got an extensive yarn collection gather similar weight yarns together and see if you can create a pleasing gradient with what’s in your stash. Any yarn supplier that has a wide range of colours is perfect for creating gradients. Look for a yarn supplier that would typically supply yarn for complex colourwork and you should easily be able to create your own gradient with their yarn.

IMG_0026Here is a range of Navia Duo colours that are close enough to each other that they can be combined to create a gradient.

EYF Students

If you’re taking the ‘Painting with Rainbows’ class with me at EYF you’ll want to bring a selection of gradient colours with you. You can either come with a pre-purchased pack or alternatively you can make your own. I’ve been digging through the EYF vendors to see who has some gradient yarn in their shops and this is what I’ve come up with, so you can either stock up before the class or grab some in the marketplace afterward to practice your new skills!

Mini-Skein Gradients:

La Bien Aimée
Easy Knits
Fyberspates
The Knitting Goddess
Purlescence
The Little Grey Sheep
Rainbow Heirloom
Ripple Crafts
Snail Yarn
Skein Queen
Eden Cottage Yarns

Single skein gradient:

Bilium
Namolio
The Wool Kitchen

Wide Colour ranges for DIY gradient sets:

New Lanark
The Skye Shilasdair
Jamiesons

Final Destash

Most of the destash went yesterday, there are some of the cotton and linen blends left.

I’m going to break them down into the individual yarns with suggested prices. Postage costs (shown below) will be added again.

1. Spud & Chloe Sweater, 1 full, 1 partial, 161g: €3 reserved

IMG_40492. Drops Safran x 2, 100g: €2

IMG_40893. Drops Paris and collection of partial Cotton Classic, 270g: €2

IMG_40904. Blue Sky Alpaca skinny cotton, 1 full & 1 partial, 116g: €3

IMG_40935. Rowna Handknit cotton x 2, 100g: €3 reserved

IMG_40956. Tedman & Kvist Colina 1 full & 2 partial, 205g: €3

IMG_40437. Southwick, 1 full, 1 partial, 91g: €2 reserved

IMG_40508. Drops Ice x 1, 50g: €1

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Postage rates:

Postage for Ireland:

500g €4.50

1kg €7.00

1.5 or 2kg €8.25

Europe:

500g €5.90

1kg €8.40

1.5 or 2kg €11.65

World:

500g €5.90

1kg €11.65

1.5 or 2kg €17.90

 

Destash – part 2!

Here is the last of my destash – some is is free for postage and some (with complete skeins) have a suggested value, with postage to be added. I’ve put postage rates at the bottom of the page.

I’ll try to keep track of offers – but there’s coming in from a few different directions! If a yarn pack is going to you I’ll contact you to confirm by email and will send you on a paypal invoice. Today is New Year’s Day so I’ll be in and out all day!

I’d prefer to sell the shown bundles together but if after today there isn’t any offers on the complete bundle I’ll break it up tomorrow. Please leave your offer in the comments here so I can track more easily! If you want something individually put it in the comments and they will be ordered on a first come first served basis from the comments.

1. Wool and wool blends 1100g: €25 plus shipping for total. CLAIMED

Yarn’s pictured are cone of Donegal aran tweed, Araucania nature wool, cushendale wool and mohair, drops Neapal x2, mystery orange (may be Quince & co), classic elite lush x2, Jamiesons dk, jamieson & smith soft spun, Portuguese wool, rowan felted tweed.

IMG_40762. Cascade Eco+ 250g : €5 plus shipping CLAIMED

20151230_152223-1_resized3. Cotton/Linen and blends 1424g: €40 plus shipping SIERRA ONLY CLAIMED

Included is 1 full 2 partial Tedman & Kvist Colina, 1 full 2 partial spud & chloe sweater, 2 drops saffran, drops ice, drops paris, collection of partial charles stacy cotton classic, 3 cascade sierra, 1 full 1 partial blue skys alpaca skinny dyed cotton, 2 rowan handknit cotton, 2 valley yarns southwick.

IMG_40804. Alpaca yarns from Peru 532g: Free for postage costs CLAIMED

8 alpaca dk (4 full 4 partial), 2 skeins fingering alpaca/acrylic blend.

IMG_40875. Lace weight yarns, 294 g: Free for shipping CLAIMED

Malabrigo, Knitpicks, mystery lace (silk?), Rowan kidsilk.

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Postage rates:

Postage for Ireland:

500g €4.50

1kg €7.00

1.5 or 2kg €8.25

Europe:

500g €5.90

1kg €8.40

1.5 or 2kg €11.65

World:

500g €5.90

1kg €11.65

1.5 or 2kg €17.90