On again...off again...on again!

by Kimber Baldwin July 06, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, after I cast off the Breathe and Hope Shawl (it's in the Gallery section if you are interested in knitting this design), I searched for a design where I could try some gradient colorplay and have something fun to write about in the 'Come Knit With Me' knitting e-journal.  The Nightshift shawl designed by Andrea Mowry seemed almost too good to be true!  It was comprised of an easy mosaic stitch which would blend colors without requiring too much concentration.  It is also a design that is easily adaptable to extend the design to use all of a gradient.  Furthermore,  it had fabulous reviews on ravelry.com and nearly 5000 people had knit it so I figured folks must like it! 

I thought, with all the shifting colors in this design, that it would be a whole truckload of fun to knit it out of two gradients.  The only problem, however, is that the pattern calls for worsted weight yarn and we only dye gradients on fingering weight.  However, holding 2 skeins of fingering weight yarn together while knitting gives an effective 'worsted' weight yarn.  So, I went in search of which gradients I wanted to make this shawl out of.  After a little soul-searching and no decision made, I figured if two gradients would be fun to knit, four would be even better!  A sort of go big or go home philosophy.  I could achieve a worsted weight yarn by holding 2 strands of fingering weight yarn together and there are no laws that say you need to hold identical colorways together, right?  I paired 470 yards of 'Tangerine to Ultraviolet' with 'Cupcake Factory' to hold together for the first 'worsted' skein and 'Bitter Lime to Rose' and 'Flower Shop' to hold together for the second one.  In both cases, I paired the ends that were most similar in color -- that is, I held the Ultraviolet end of 'Tangerine to Ultraviolet' with the Violet end from 'Cupcake Factory' -- let's call this color 'B'.  The Mint end of 'Flower Shop' with the Bitter Lime end of 'Bitter Lime to Rose' gradient were held together for the other color -- let's call this color 'A'.  I wound the corresponding gradients together into ginormous 8 ounce ball/cakes of yarn so that I didn't have four balls of yarn tangling up in my project bag! 


There are a lot of violet/purple hues in all of these gradients which would harmonize many different color interactions.  I wanted to maximize the contrast of the 'blips' in this design so I cast on with the Foxglove/Rose end of color 'A' as main (background) color and the Tangerine/Yellow end of color 'B' as the blip (contrast) color.  My entire shawl is knit using only section 1, which has a total of 20 rows and contains 6 sets of small blips and 6 sets of large blips.    Everything is worked per normal pattern instructions up through row 18 of section 1.  On rows 19 and 20, instead of working with color 'A' as the pattern calls for, I switched the colors and used color 'B'.  In the next section, I worked as for the first section but switched which color was used for the main (background) rows and which was used for the contrast (blips) rows.  The entire shawl was worked repeating section one but switching the main color and the blip color for each new section, alternating the main color and the blip color used for each section.   In the above close up photo, you might notice that sections 1 and 2 were worked without actually switching the main and contrast colors -- this is because it didn't occur to me until after I finished knitting section 2!  You can choose whether to begin alternating the main and contrasting colors after section 1 or 2, dealer's choice.  Your shawl will be lovely either way you chose!


The shawl shown above was cast on on a Friday and cast off on a Sunday.  Silly fast, but almost too fast so I decided to explore how gradients held singly would play with each other in a fingering weight shawl.  I'm currently in the process of knitting a fingering weight version, shown below:



I'm using Chesapeake and Celestial to knit this fingering weight version and I'm knitting it in the medium/large size for a shop model.  It's incredibly easy to adjust this pattern for fingering weight yarn simply by  drop down one or more needle sizes, depending on your gauge.  I'm using a US 2.5 but I'm an extremely loose knitter.  Folks with a more 'normal' gauge would probably find a US 4 would produce a lovely fabric.  If you want to make a fingering weight version, experiment with needle size until you find a fabric that you like.  Since this isn't a fitted garment, there really isn't a critical gauge that you need to worry about.  The yardage that you will need depends on the size of the finished shawl that you want to make:  I don't have finished dimensions (since I'm still in the process of knitting the fingering weight Nightshift shawl but ballpark ideas for yardage and size are below: 




Shawlette:  1 Small (255 yards) skein each of two different gradient colors

Small/Medium:  1 large (470 yards) skein each of two different gradient colors

Medium/Large  1 small (255 yards) and 1 large (470 yards) each of two different gradient colors

With close to 50 gradients, the possibilities are nearly endless!  I've shown the model sleeves of some of my favorite combinations below:

Montana (Top) & Stormy Weather (Bottom)

Mermaid (Top) & Smoke on the Water (Bottom)

Flower Shop (Top) & Cupcake Factory (Bottom)

Scottish Thistle (Top) & Bramble (Bottom)

Shoreline (Top) & Ghost Town (Bottom)

Snowflake (Top) & Wild Thing (Bottom)

Solitude (Top) & Steampunk (Bottom)

Cameo (Top) & Symphony (Bottom)

Tapestry (Top) & Java Jive (Bottom)

Smoke Stacks (Top) & Vintage Bombshell (Bottom)

Texas Bluebonnets (Top) & Water Lilies (Bottom)


Kimber Baldwin
Kimber Baldwin


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