Sit & Knit ….What images do these words evoke for you?
Katharine Hepburn-esque beauty married to needle & yarn?
Or maybe you walk through your idyllic life wearing a gorgeous Fair Isle tam plus a glorious Shetland sweater?
Perhaps your favorite knitting group friends come to mind?
I often feel more and more stress as the end of December approaches. Have I purchased gifts for my family that they will like? What will my children remember about their childhood Christmases? Should I attempt to Martha Stewart the Christmas meal or should I keep it simple? Did I walk out the door with the hem of my skirt tucked into my underwear or is it really that cold outside?
Although for the moment I’m immersed in the bustle of holiday preparation, soon it will pass. I know I’ll be ready for a small project & the camaraderie of my knitting friends. I hope you will be, too. This year, I’m kicking off a Sit & Knit right after the end of the winter holidays.
Why? Because I need a break.
Because I need to set aside time to chat with my friends.
Because I am running out of handknit socks, and I can’t wear my knit pattern samples. (Doesn’t everyone have this problem?)
I hope you will join me for an unusual Sit & Knit….because otherwise I will be chatting to myself (and they lock people up for that!). The Yarn Love Sit & Knit will have multiple facets – you choose which ones you will participate in. Best of all, it’s just for fun. No deadlines. No stress. And if you run into a problem working through the pattern, we’ll be here to help you out.
The knit-a-long. We’re voting right now on what pattern we’ll knit together. Cast your vote, then cast on with us! All the pattern choices are small accessories so we can maintain our sanity post-holidays. Cast your vote, and you can help me re-establish a decent handknit sock wardrobe again!
- We’re fun. And who couldn’t use a little more fun?
- Get help if you need it from myself or other knitters
- Discount codes for the Yarn Love. That means if you need the pattern or some yarn, you’ll save some moolah!
- KAL Exclusive Colorway: I’ll be releasing this the first week of January.
- We’ll also provide encouragement/dire warnings so that you actually finish.
It has been suggested that we do a read-a-long with our knit-a-long. I’m totally game. I’m addicted to listening to audiobooks while I dye yarn. That means your yarn is extraordinarily well-read even before it arrives on your doorstep.
- Virtual escape into wonderful readerly adventures.
- Tell yourself/family/significant other you can do something other than knit.
- Fabulous discussion of plot, characters and more.
Ok, I admit it. This idea came to me right after Baking Day….somewhere between the 4th & 25th piece of Honey Vanilla Caramel that I ate. If you, like me, perhaps ate a few a lot too many cookies this celebratory season you may find that you’re a little more, ah, padded than you prefer to be.
If you’re up for a doable fitness challenge, this group is for you. I’m committing to doing a 15 minute ab workout every weekday for the entire month of January. I want you to workout with me because I really have no willpower when it comes to working out. I’m not a total flake – I can be very committed and very determined, but just not when it comes to biceps, and triceps, and quads, and whatnots.
The workout is simple, if you have a floor and eyeballs, you can do it. (Ok, you have to have some abs that are ready for toning. And please make sure you’re healthy enough for moderate exercise!) It takes about 15 minutes, and seems to actually work. Great abs (or non-saggy, baggy, post-kids midsections) here we come!
- Trimmer waist & a fit, fabulous you!
- Get rid of all those cookies we baked/ate/loved.
- Motivation – I’ll be there for you, if you’ll be there for me.
- Show your spouse/family/significant other/pet that you actually do something other than knit.
Now let’s continue talking about designing colorwork socks. In the last post I told you that successful colorwork requires contrast. You can achieve contrast via saturation (light vs. dark) or pairing complementary colors (color wheel opposites naturally contrast with each other). But that’s not the end of the discussion on contrast. You can also achieve visual contrast by varying texture.
That’s right. By adding textured stitches, you can create contrast and dimension in your knitwear. (You can also do this with other textiles, but for now we’ll talk about knitwear.) While this might not be 100% relevant to traditional colowork, it is still a useful design concept, and I would feel remiss about skipping it. And, let’s face it, it’s not unusual to see textured stitches paired with colorwork, so let’s discuss.
3.) Texture – creates visual contrast
Using both knit and purl stitches, rearranging stitch order, and skipping stitches all produce contrast in knitting. You may know this technique by a common name: stitch patterns. Stitch patterns are as old as knitting itself and consummately popular. Why? Because they’re interesting and draw the eye. You can use texture all by itself to create contrast.
This swatch has a single, highly saturated hue: black. If you have ever knit with black yarn you know that the depth of the saturation really reduces the eye’s ability to distinguish one stitch from another. (Have you ever found yourself/heard your knitting buddy talk about when you can only knit on that black project in full daylight while bending toward the window…. That’s because the saturation is so dark that your eye has trouble distinguishing one stitch from another. There’s not enough contrast to knit easily.) The gigantic bubble textures plus the open holes on the edge creates contrast when very little is present otherwise. While it might not increase the ease of knitting, adding big texture to a super saturated hue increases it’s contrast and gives the knitting more visual interest.
Additional notes on adding texture to super saturated colors:
- Bigger & bolder is better. Finer textures are likely to get lost.
- Use holes: yarn overs or bigger i-cord holes like above. This allows the background to show through increasing contrast.You could even use a buttonhole technique to add longer slits.
- Decreases are really hard to see on super saturated hues. Keep them to a minimum to save your sanity.
Another extreme example. This cowl features a single color – white. While white allows the eye to see more contrast than black simply due to it’s lighter saturation, a flat stockinette fabric would blur together. Here holes (yarn overs) and increases/decreases are used to great affect. The entire fabric has a glorious texture which is easily seen, despite the lack of other contrast.
This isn’t knitting. It’s a woven jute rug, but it’s still a fabulous example. (You could knit up something really similar by plotting out a stranded colorwork chart or grabbing a mosaic knitting stitch pattern.) The colors here only have moderate contrast. To my eye, they are borderline for being good choices in a colorwork project. From a distance, their close saturation and close relationship on the color wheel means that the over all look is likely to be “blendy” – without distinct edges. Blendy means your pattern will be lost due to the lack of contrast. However, texture has been added to give the rug the “pop” it needs. It takes it from being borderline boring into pleasing with a hint of interest. (Not to mention great for cleaning off the bottom of your shoes.)
So what can we take away from this? If you have a colorwork project that is almost there, but your colors aren’t quite working out, consider adding a spot of texture to one of the colors. Try reverse stockinette or seed stitch but add it only to one color. The play of texture is often enough to achieve that elusive visual “pop”.
Take a look at this detail shot of my design-in-progress. While it’s true that this project doesn’t lack for contrast, thanks to my choice of complementary hues, don’t you think those few purled rows really set off the hem? I think so, too.
Finally, eye candy. Low contrast, high texture. Isn’t it wonderful?
Photo Credits & Thanks
A huge thank-you to Heidi and Carrie for allowing me to use their swatch & cowl photographs respectively. I ran across their work via internet searching and they graciously allowed me to share their wonderful work with you. It perfectly illustrates my points and I appreciate their generosity. Catch up with them here:
Your kitchen looks like this. Yes, that is a sock on a partial mannequin leg on my kitchen counter. Granted this is the “mail center” and “keys” portion of the kitchen (ahem, also great for catching all sorts of random clutter/junk) so it’s not like we’re eating socks for lunch, but still. The leg has been residing here for a couple of days while I waited for the weather to clear enough for me to take decent photos for a pattern. I’ve tried and tried but earlier this week it was just too dark for my camera to take a pretty photo even with supplemental lighting.
That sock is one half of my Grecian Goddess sample pair that has been waiting photography for ever. I promise one day I’ll actually have that pattern ready for technical editing. It’s on my spring “to do” list.
little Miss Margaret!
She is a cuff down sock with an easy to remember spiral stitch pattern. I’ve added beads for a little “bling” but she’s just as pretty without. The spiral pattern melts into a cabled heel flap and is framed by prettily cabled gussets for a great fit.
The pink sample is shown in Scarlett O’Hara by Yarn Love, colorway: Petal.
Intermediate difficulty: pattern assumes familiarity with cables and charts. Bead work is done using a small crochet hook, so you don’t have to pre-string the beads.
• 4 oz/410 yards fingering weight yarn. Shown in Yarn Love’s Scarlett O’ Hara. Color – Petal.
• US size1 or 2.25 mm needles (2 circulars, 5 DPNS or 1 long circular for magic loop.)
• Taspestry needle
• Stitch markers (optional)
• Small gauge steel crochet hook – size 14
• Seed beads size 6 or 8 (You will need 60-80 per sock depending upon how long you knit the cuff.)
• 2 small cable needles (You may cable without cable needles if you prefer.)
• Beading (explained in the pattern)
• Short rows
• The heel flap, gusset, and instep st patterns are given as charts only for clarity.
• You may pre-string the beads if you prefer.
KnitCroBlo Day 6: Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted.
I actually don’t know exactly what these mittens are up to now. They were for a swap partner, and I hope she is getting lots of use out of them!
I knit them from the Fiddlehead Mitten pattern. The yarn is Andee dk from Henry’s Attic, that I hand dyed for this project.
They were so much fun to make, and are super dense. I had to go down to a 000/1.25mm needle to get gauge, so I opted not to line this pair. I need to make some for myself but like most things, I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
I designed these socks for the Sock Knitter’s Anonymous July 2009 challenge. Right now the original pattern (released in 4 parts for the challenge) is available for free.
I loved designing these socks, but they were a challenge. I had a total of 3 weeks to design and publish the pattern. (The designer they had lined up had to decline unexpectedly.) They were my first colorwork design. There are two versions – a 2 strand and a 3 strand – and they’re available in two sizes.
By the time I got done knitting both socks, I was pretty much (happily!) exhausted. It was a whirlwind tour and I had a million ends to weave in. My mom fell in love with the socks and offered a trade. She would weave in all the ends if she could have the socks. Done! I love seeing the fraternal twin socks on her feet. It’s as satisfying as completing the pattern and finishing the knitting.
Since I am generally designing while I knit, I must have at least a piece of paper and pencil handy….but often times my laptop, too. I’m hugely into charting when designing for visual simplicity and ease of error checking (via KnitVisualizer) so it’s nice to have the computer around for quick changes. Practically speaking, I always knit at home and I’m either sitting at my kitchen table or on my couch. I try to save the majority of my design time for when my kiddos are in bed. Theoretically this allows me to concentrate and make fewer mistakes. But it didn’t stop me from ripping out the instep of my newest (and still TOP SECRET) sock design 5 times last week.
I have knitting/designing/dyeing stuff in various places throughout the house, so you’ll find me doing yarn related things in the kitchen, spare bedroom/storage space and basement. These yarn related activities are usually not knitting, but generally dyeing, packaging, yarn prep, yarn washing, and business related etc.
It’s a good thing we have a pretty big house.
I want to learn how to chart crochet! I’m fairly proficient with knit charting. I even have a really nifty program that helps me out. (KnitVisualizer is what I’m running. There’s a new program, much less expensive from Intwined Studio that’s getting rave reviews. It checks in at $44, instead of $185 for KnitVisualizer.) Since I love charts for knitting as I can see immediately how stitches line up with each other, I’d like to be able to do the same thing with crochet.
When I learned to crochet charts were not commonly available in crochet patterns. Which meant that you crocheted along, checking the picture and sometimes you could be rows past a mistake before you realized it. With charting, it’s harder to do that because stitches are lined up and you can look down a column and see the previous stitches which are the foundation for your current work.
I recently found the StichinCrochet font by the talented Adriprint. If you download the True Type font (TT font) and own KnitVisualizer, you can import the Stitchin Crochet font into Knit Visualizer & use the crochet symbols within the charting software. All you need to do is use the Create Custom Stitch function, select the symbol you want to use, enter in directions for completing the stitch, save and you’re ready to go.
I’m so excited about the possibilities. I have a lot to learn about charting crochet, but I’m chomping at the bit to chart out a lovely crocheted edging along the cuff of a sock….or the edge of a sleeve.
The socks are turning out to be a bit of a nightmare. Not a full blown one, mind you. Just the kind where you knit half a sock, run into an issue and spend the next 5 days redesigning it. You may already have guessed it, but the Poppy/Sunflower socks are turning out to be Killer Poppy Socks.
I hit the first snag on Wednesday night. I’d forgotten to take into account the increasing that needs to happen between the heel of the sock and the calf. Now you might not realize it, but there is a significant increase in leg circumference over the length of a typical sock cuff. Since stranded color work has so much less stretch than regular knitting, you can no longer rely on the intrinsic stretch of the fabric to bail you out. You must design them in.
The second snag I should have anticipated, since I ran into something really similar on my Grecian Goddess socks, but I didn’t. Anticipate the problem, that is. I certainly ran head long into it. This problem being that I am anal, and I want my pattern to reach a certain place on the colorwork chart at a certain place on the foot. Which isn’t a big deal, right? I mean seriously, you just start at the toe and stop knitting when the sock is long enough. Well, that works very well with a minor amount of wrangling when the designer is knitting for their own foot. Considering that not the entire world has the exact same foot size as I do means that the pattern would essentially be usuable (in it’s best form) by only me. So all of you reading this would be out of luck pattern wise. I am a nice person, and I want you to enjoy the pattern, too. So back to the drawing board.
Once I discovered these issues all knitting came to a screeching halt. I didn’t even have an auxiliary project on the needles to help me out. Sure, I was 50% of the way through another pair of socks, but one sock was fully done and the other wasn’t even cast on. Casting on was just way too much work. So I sat around restlessly for two hours that night trying to figure out what to do. So I thought….and thought…….and thought………….for 5 days before I worked it out.
The good news is that the pattern should work. I’ve completely redone the charts – so now the stitch count is correct and it should fit me at the calf area. The bad news is that I’ve changed the starting point of the sock. It originally was a toe up and now we’re going cuff down. That means the 50% of a sock that I have done right now is going to be ripped out. Completely.
So I just ripped out 2 weeks of design/knitting work in favor of the last 5 days worth of brain wrangling. And just in case you think that I have magic fingers, and knitting charts just flow out of them without effort I’ll leave you with this. It’s essentially an unedited chart “doodle” which was created during several design brainstorm sessions. Doesn’t it make you truly appreciate the clarity and cleanliness of a finished pattern? (And these are just the most recent changes/charts/doodles….several iterations were already erased/doodled over.)
Just so those of you who are waiting for the pattern don’t lose hope – here’s a picture of all the component yarns for the new redeisign: (Colors are: Marigold, Violet Vale, Ancient Forest)
New Pattern release from Yarn Love!
Our newest pattern: the Twinkle Set will be released January 2009. The pattern includes instruction for average adult sizing of fingerless mitts (pictured), full mittens, and a cowl (also pictured. Shown at left in Malabrigo Chunky Merino colors Roanoke & Lettuce. Only available at Eat.Sleep.Knit. – please check them out! They are one of our retailers and have an amazing customer rewards program. (I happily shop with Erin & Dad, too!)
The given gauge is perfect with our Charlotte Bronte Aran merino, as well.
Wellness! And another blog post!
There has been a long delay. In fact, in my last post, which was nearly a month ago, we still had a good deal of snow on the ground. Since that time: I have not posted. My children have gone for a wild ride on the Puke-O-Matic 9000….immediately followed by the Cold Of Death which everyone in the family got. And when I say the Cold of Death, I mean the Cold of Death. Imagine fever, severe cold symptoms, and extreme body ache all rolled into one. Those combined with a ridiculously long stretch of minor symptoms so you can cough and sneeze yourself through three more weeks after the first few days of feeling like death warmed over. It was so bad, that I was unable to drink coffee, drink beer, and knit for 5 days. Since coffee, beer and knitting are three of my favorite things which I indulge in nearly every day, you can imagine the havoc this wreaked. And it delayed my swap partner’s mittens. But to make up for my tardiness, I put together a good package for her!
I must admit, I had it first, and I had it the worst. Then my poor hubby got it – the first week of his new job….and finally the kids got it. I don’t think it makes me a bad mother to say that while I never want anyone in my family to be sick, it’s much easier for me to nurse a sick family than keep the household running while all I can do is nap and feel miserable.
On the bright side, we are now all mostly well! I’ve been dyeing yarn like crazy, and even organizing my stash. The Loopy Ewe currently has a decently sized order of Scarlett O’ Hara and a really good sized order of Elizabeth Bennet to be shipped very soon. (It’s being skeined now!) TLE is getting all of my new spring colors on both yarn bases. So if you like the NEW, head their way. Also EatSleepKnit just placed a gorgeous order, so they’ll have YarnLove soon.
I’ve gotten back to knitting now that the Cold of Death is over and my swap project is done. Nutkin is currently on the needles. I got some super cheap yarn from Etsy. Gorgeous colors, but it’s super thin. It looks like it’s fingering weight in the ball, but when any tension is applied, it thins out. Gorgeous colors, though and great stretch. We’ll see how it wears. The colors remind me of Trekking or Rio De La Plata – slow shifts of color made up by two multi-color plies spun together. Yum! Also on the needles are the Garden Path Socks in Oceanwind Knits’ Jardin colorway. These are languishing. It’s charted so it makes TV knitting harder. I can’t work on them if anything exciting is on. Plus, my pattern fell behind the couch last week and I’ve been too lazy to move the couch to get it. One of these days.