Friday, July 22, 2011

Colorsongs

I can't believe it's been over a week since I've blogged! It's been a crazy-busy couple of weeks. Such is the life of a work-at-home mom of two toddlers.

Amid all the chaos, I have gotten a lot of knitting done, thanks to my favorite art form being so portable. I'm finishing the heel flap on the second watermelon tourmaline sock and I've finished the bottom colorwork band on the body of the current self-designed sweater that I'm working on. Today I'll bind off the body and then hopefully I'll finish the sleeves next week, do the math on the pattern and post it! I'm not going to show many details until it's ready to go, but here's the back of the stranded colorwork:


Sigh... even the floats are pretty. For most of it, you're only stranding two colors, but while it transitions from solid black to colorwork and back, there are a few rows where you strand three colors. It's not too big of a bear to do, and I find it to be loads of fun.

The swatch for this sweater design was actually the first stranded colorwork I ever did. That was about 9 months ago and afterwards, I quickly became addicted and have since knitted many stranded items. This sweater can finally come to fruition now after a 9-month gestation period, and I'm so excited for it to be born!

I was intimidated by Fair Isle and stranded colorwork until I was inspired to make this design and thereby became absolutely determined to learn how to do it. Before I even attempted it, I did a lot of Googling and read two books that gave me the knowledge and the courage to try it. First, I read Alice Starmore's absolutely fantastic Book of Fair Isle Knitting. I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in Fair Isle knitting or stranded colorwork. I learned an unbelievable amount of valuable information from this book and found the history of Fair Isle knitting touching, inspiring and fascinating. This is a wonderful book, which I've gotten out of the library twice now and will add to my home knitting library as soon as I have the spare cash to buy books again.

The second book that I bought and read before attempting stranded colorwork was Nanette Blanchard's Stranded Color Knitting. This one is a must-have, must-read on the subject. I found it indispensable, and after reading it, I felt 100% prepared to design my own stranded colorwork project with no prior experience. As a download, it's only $8.99, too, which completely rocks, given the superb quality of the information inside. This book will teach you everything you need to know about stranded colorwork.

The only thing I still find a bit challenging about stranded colorwork is getting my yarn tangled. I find it manageable when knitting with only two strands, but when I'm knitting with three strands, I often find that my working yarn looks like a friendship bracelet, it's so twisted together. It only takes me a minute to disentangle the yarn every few rows, and I'm sure I'll get better at this aspect with time. For now, I'm just so happy to be doing it, because it's opened up a whole new door of creativity. Damn near every recent design in my sketchbook and in the passion project that the sweater pictured above is a part of involves stranded colorwork to some degree.

Knitting itself is very relaxing for me, but stranded colorwork takes it to a whole new level. It requires a little more focus, and to keep track of the pattern as I'm knitting it, I do a little color-song in my head. "Red red, yellow yellow, red, yellow, red." It's bliss.

I haven't dyed anything in a couple weeks, but I am spinning some of the roving that I dyed. I've got nearly a bobbin full of it as of last weekend and hope to mostly fill another bobbin this weekend. I'll post a pic of that soon. My spinning skills are really coming along.

Tomorrow I hope to acquire some local alpaca fiber at the farmer's market, if they're there this week. I'll definitely post pics of that, if I do!

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