Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The best kind of mail

There is always a bit of a buzz when mail arrives and there is even greater joy when that parcel is a gift or a prize as opposed to the stream of packages that arrive from online shopping. I received such a parcel yesterday and I definitely gave out a squee of delight when I got it.

A couple of weeks ago I won one of the prizes from Bonnie Sennott of Blue Peninsula's selfish KAL. She was giving away a skein of Elemental Affects Cormo; a set of Lavender Hill Knits stitch markers; and a Ravelry “sheep mistake” pouch (A collector’s item! These are sold out - the new ones will have the word “Romeldale” spelled correctly.) I submitted my Sawmill River Hat that I knit in Brooklyn Tweed Loft and by random number generator selection I won the skein of yarn.

The yarn is a 100% Cormo wool fingering weight yarn and the skein is a generous 550 yards. The colour is a lovely mustardy greeny yellow and the long staple of the Cormo fibre gives it a naturally beautiful lustre. The fibre is soft and squishy to touch but still has an essence to it that shows that it hasn't been overly processed. I love how this skein is able to be both a shiny, soft wool while retaining it's rustic woolliness.

I am already dreaming up projects that I can knit with it. Since it is a generous 550 yards I can definitely get a substantial single skein project out of it. I am leaning towards another one of Bonnie's patterns; the Hop Brook scarf, but then I thought maybe I could pair it with one of the single skeins of Ton of Wool Cormo that I purchased when Kylie Gussett was closing out her business. I'm not 100% sure about the pairing of the cooler blue-grey tones of the Ton of Wool skein with the clearly autumnal tones of the Elemental Affects Cormo. Pictured together they are not too bad but I will definitely have to swatch to see how they sit together in knitted fabric.

Please share your suggestions on what to knit, especially if you have worked with Cormo before and have noticed any specific peculiarities of this fibre.

I always want to express my immense gratitude to Bonnie for hosting such a fabulous KAL and for the amazing prized. Thank you!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Finished object file: Campside Shawl | Nunnaba Artisan Yarn Gradient

One of the great knitting moments in life are when you finish a project and it becomes an immediate favourite wardrobe item. My recently finished Campside Shawl designed by Alicia Plummer is one of those items. I have been wearing this shawl a lot and it's just a delight.

The pattern for this shawl was offered as a free pattern on the Pom pom Magazine blog about a year ago and you can access it here. The post also shares Alicia's story of what inspired her in the design for this shawl. Campside is reminiscent of her childhood summers spent at a family cabin. For her the pattern connects with her memories of comfort, warmth and shelter. It is a deeply personal story but one that resonates with all and when I wear my Campside I feel wrapped in soft comforting wool and it warms my heart.

The pattern has a few issues making it challenging to follow but nothing that an experienced knitter can't work out. It only has charts for the eyelet lace pattern and sometimes the lack of written instructions can leave you making some deductive leaps with the knitting. Basically there are some points in the charts where you could deduce that an extra eyelet and decrease is missing but you can also knit it as charted too and it doesn't really affect the overall look of the shawl. I figured at the end of the day, this was offered as a free pattern, I shouldn't get too uppety about errors. 

For this great wardrobe staple I used some deliciously soft high micron merino from White Gum Wool that had been hand dyed by Nunnaba Artisan Yarn into a gradient colourway called 'Blue Jay'. When I ordered this yarn I requested that the gradient colours be spread over the 300g as a long gradient. I didn't want to receive 3 skeins of standard gradient dyed yarn because that would make a bigger project slightly more challenging. 

When a gradient comes in a single skein all the colour transitions are contained in that single length of yarn. This poses the challenge of finding the perfect pattern to match with the yarn; where all colours will be utilized. If you find a small project that requires approximately the same yardage as one skein of the yarn then perfect, you'll get all the colours and no leftovers. However, when you do this you might find yourself limited to small projects like kids garments or hats because you won't have enough yardage to make anything bigger. 

Over time I have figured out a few ways to work larger projects with gradients, so here are my suggestions. One way is to alternate skeins of the gradient and depending of how many skeins you are prepared to juggle you can double, triple, (or even more) your yardage. 

Another idea is to add on skeins of the trim colour. The trim when a dyer offers a semi solid colourway that is the same as the outside colour of the gradient skein. When knitting, you get to the end of the gradient but need more yardage you can continue knitting in the trim colour so that the colour transition is not interrupted. 

If the trim option is not available you can just use the gradient as a feature and then finish off the pattern with a neutral colour. For example Kelly Brooker's Conscious pattern is designed with gradients in mind. The yoke can be knit out of a gradient and then the rest of the pullover is finished off with something else.

Then lastly, there is what I did with my Campside project; specifically ordering a long gradient so that the colours were spread across the whole 300g of yarn. It made knitting this shawl so much easier because I had one large cake of yarn to knit through that needed no alternating or changing of colours. 

There is so much to love about this shawl and I must say the result is exactly what I wanted. What I have achieved here has helped me be less afraid of working with gradients and given me many ideas for how to tackle similar projects in the future.

What experience do you have with knitting with gradient yarns? Have you tackled the challenges differently? Do share your thoughts and tips.