Maybe it's because I am a yarn dyer. After all, I am thinking about color - and yarn - most of my waking time (and often dreaming about it when I'm asleep if you want to know the truth). I love color. I always have. My earliest memories include hours of scribbling with crayons, covering sheet after sheet of paper with color. For years I wasn't interested in drawing anything in particular; I didn't actually become interested in drawing objects until sometime after I turned 13 or 14 years old. But year after year before that? Whole tomes of scribbles. I would run through a giant box of crayons in less than a month, wearing all the beautiful little sticks of wax down to nubs. I was especially fascinated by the areas of the scribbled piece where the lines of different colors crossed one another and created a new color and, if I wasn't scribbling, I would often be found with my nose pressed up close to a scribbled piece studying it. It was the early 70s and my young parents (and much of the nation) were into freedom of expression so no one saw much amiss in a child dedicating several years to scribbling.
Fast forward 50 years or so and not much has changed in my color obsession. It's true that my colors are now dyes (not crayons) and my substrate is yarn instead of paper, but it's pretty much exactly the same thing -- open up a skein of yarn and you have lots of 'scribbly' lines of many colors. I am still obsessed with those areas where the colors overlay one another to create new hues. I love knitting the yarn up and seeing how the color changes in the knitted piece. How the gradient colorway slowly shifts colors row after row. Which colored stitches lay next to other colors. It's magical.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I tell you that I think of skeins of yarn the way a painter thinks of their palette of paint. I don't collect yarn for a specific project (although I will buy additional yarn for a project if I don't have appropriate yarn already in my collection). Instead, I collect an assortment of colors and weights that I then feel free to combine as needed. I am especially fond of color collections of yarn like the 'six packs' like the Acadia collection shown above. The six packs are fingering weight and come in six colors that you can use separately or together. Carry the yarn doubled and it becomes worsted weight. Super versatile.
Lately my favorite way to knit with these collections is to use them as color work in worsted weight sweater designs. Used collectively in a project, they make wonderful color progressions with 11 steps of color if you hold 2 strands together -- six steps from 2 strands of the same color plus an additional 5 steps from the intermediate combinations of a strand from two adjacent colors. A deep dive into ravelry provides hundreds of colorwork sweater designs using worsted weight yarn. The most difficult step of knitting one may be deciding which one you want to knit!! Last month I decided I wanted to knit a colorwork sweater for Rhinebeck. I knew I was very short on time, especially since I was working long hours in the dye studio in preparation for vending at New York Sheep & Wool. But, I figured, even if I didn't complete it, I could still display it as a piece in progress (which I did). I narrowed down my search to 2 dozen sweaters before finally selecting the Halibut sweater designed by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.
It's a wonderful design! Whimsical fish play together beautifully with the colors in the Acadia six pack. There are 64 rounds in the colorwork chart. Remember I said above that there are 11 distinct 'step's in the color progression for the six pack. It's pretty simple then to divide the number of rounds in the chart by 11 to get 6 rounds per color step (except 2 color steps will only have 5 rounds). Easy peasy!
I am using a worsted weight yarn for the main color of the sweater. It is perfectly fine to use 2 strands of fingering weight held double for part of your sweater and 1 strand of worsted weight for another. No, I'm not yet finished with my Rhinebeck sweater...I have 3/4 of a sleeve left. Yes, I am knitting like a madwoman on it since I want to cast it off before casting on for the 'Shadow Weave Shawl' knit-a-long starting on November 17th. Yes, I promise to post a picture of it on instagram when it's complete. If you happen to find yourself in our shop or our booth at a festival this next year, be sure to check it out!!
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