Tag Archives | knit

Consulting the Experts on Color

This is part 3 of my article about yellow that missed being published in 2006 when a magazine went out of business. The article has been updated.

It’s not something we generally think about much if at all, but most of us see the work of color experts every single day. Fashion, food, and craft magazines, advertisements, variegated yarns, and print fabrics are created for maximum appeal. Creators want you to buy them, so they make them beautiful.

For the price of old magazines and yarn or fabric already in our collections, we can consult their color expertise.

For my study of yellow, I gathered magazines that were destined for the recycling bin. When I saw attractive photos and ads with yellow in them, I tore them out.

Yellow, blue, turquoise collage

I ended up with a lot of pages that featured yellow, turquoise, and blue. That summery combination reminds me of swimming pools and sunny beaches with turquoise waters.

Maybe it wasn’t strictly necessary, but it was fun to make this collage…

…and these swatches.

Yellow, blue, turquoise swatches

Intarsia cables are kind of a pain, but they look so nice…

Intarsia knitted cables

As yarn lovers, we’re very familiar with variegated or multicolor yarns. Yarn manufacturers consult experts, predict fashions, and they pick the colors they think will appeal to the most consumers. The same goes for fabric manufacturers.

Go ahead—borrow their expertise!

yellow, pink, blue knitted swatch

Lion Brand’s Lion Ribbon (probably discontinued now) combines yellow with vibrant pink and blue. Small amounts of green, orange, and violet appear between the major colors. I tried to use similar proportions of solid colors in my knitted sample.

The pattern is Barbara Walker’s “String of Pearls,” most likely from her Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Next time: “A Suffusion of Yellow” (Thank you, Douglas Adams.)

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Studying Yellow

This article was written for a magazine that went out of print before publishing it. It seemed a shame to keep it to myself, so here it is, and I hope you enjoy it.

Yellow crochet, the start of a doily

Sunshine, cowardly, lemon, journalism: yellow is many things. I was surprised learn that yellow is also “difficult.”

A friend took a creative color workshop with a well-known knitting instructor. Each student chose one color to study for the day. “But don’t pick yellow,” said the instructor. “It’s difficult.”

I scoffed at this, but to my amazement, I later heard the same pronouncement at an international quilt show.

Well, I say if a color is allegedly difficult, working with it is the only way to learn to use it well.

So let’s take a look at yellow together, and then you can use these methods to study any color you may find difficult. The best part is, no color wheels are necessary.

Basic Steps

Decide which specific color you want to study.

Yellow ranges from pale creams (yellow + white) to rich olive shades (yellow + black). Yellow school-buses are really orange-yellow, while fluorescent yellows have greenish overtones. Given the large variety of yellow, I concentrated specifically on brilliant yellows.

Observe your color in different surroundings.

Look for your color in nature, in human environments, in magazines, quilts, your own home, photos, museums, and books. At this stage, the goal is to gather lots of information about the color, and avoid judging the color combinations you see.

Answer these questions about the color and its surroundings.

  • What other colors are near the study color?
  • Are the nearby colors lighter, darker, or similar in tone to your color?
  • Do you see shadows or highlights that enhance the study color?
  • What are the proportions of the various colors?

Answer the questions in words rather than just taking a visual impression in your brain. Writing answers on paper may help you focus on words, rather than just relying on a mental snapshot.


Make sample swatches.

Knit or crochet samples with the color combinations you observed. This is your chance to try out some interesting stitch patterns. I still use Barbara G. Walker’s treasuries of knitting patterns. For crochet, my favorite is Harmony Guide to Crocheting Techniques and Stitches, by Debra Mountford, editor (1992).


Yellow in Nature

Yellow wildflowers along a caliche road

We have lots of yellow out here in rural Texas, and so I took some photos for this study. Here’s a picture of a county roadside near our house.

I wrote answers to the questions listed above:

The lemon and orange-yellow flowers are surrounded by deep yellow green and paler dusty green leaves; also light brownish gray dried leaves. The caliche road and the earth are light beige with pink undertones, but very bright. Flower centers and shadows are dark. Shadows aren’t exactly black. The amount of yellow is small in comparison to the greens and browns.

Just so you know, you may not like how your samples turn out. I didn’t like this one.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

Going back to the original photo and my own words, I realized I didn’t include the deep shadows that added contrast to the scene. Here’s the next sample with the deep shadow color added.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

I didn’t like this one much either, but I have learned not to let this put me off. Making these samples was not a waste of time. I learned something about these colors together. They may be perfect for a wall hanging someday. They may look better in different proportions. They may look a lot better to me in a few years.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

But it was time to move on.

Like you see in this picture of nightshade berries and a grasshopper, yellow in nature is often seen with black, gray, and various shades of brown. Sometimes a tan or grayish bird has a surprising patch of yellow feathers.

Here are knitted samples of yellow with grays and tan.

Yellow knitted with grays and tan

They’re okay. I won’t be making a garment with these colors, probably. But the yellow and gray combination makes a pretty good wall hanging!

Yellow knitted with grays and tan

Next time: Yellow Around the House.

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Finally Finished Red Vases

Four a day flower sewing worked well for Firewheel Meadow, so I started with that regimen until a more urgent project distracted me.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

While appliqueing flowers (not my absolute favorite job in a wall hanging), I listened to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Listening helped me stay focused, because I really wanted to hear the next chapter and so I had to keep on sewing.

At last, all the flowers were sewn in place. My friend Peggy said, “Those bluebells need something. How about beads?” Again, a different perspective helped. I added the beads.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The wall hanging rejected all but a few of my attempts to add buttons. A Gail Hughes green button nestled comfortably among leaves, a polymer clay button was a good flower center. But mostly, the buttons were too showy and they detracted from the flowers.

Okay, so… less showy buttons?

Yes!! I hid small tan buttons among the flowers, adding texture and interest, without drawing too much attention.

Red Vases is finished, and it will make its debut at the Town and Country Quilt Guild Show in October. Peggy said, “It will win a ribbon.” That would be nice!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The crocheted flowers and leaves on Red Vases are from my books Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden. To purchase these books, please follow links on the sidebar to amazon.com.

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Afternoon in the Making

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Slanting afternoon shadows fill me with anticipation, melancholy, satisfaction. Late in 2014, I knitted yardage to make a wall hanging with slanting shadows and those feelings in it. And for once, no pink was allowed. I put pink in almost everything, because I love pink. But not here.

The yardage sat on my stack for months, while I finished other projects. Finally, in the summer of 2015, I started working on Afternoon, the wall hanging.

I considered afternoon-ish things. Afternoon tea is a thing, so I photographed a teacup and a vase in the afternoon, to get the shadows and highlights just right. I enjoy reading a book with afternoon tea or coffee, so I included two books in the photo. Autumn is kind of like the afternoon of the year, so I crocheted flowers in autumn-like colors. Afternoon light seems more golden, so I used a lot of golden yellows in the knitting.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Thank goodness for technology! I planned the wall hanging with Adobe Photoshop Elements and then printed it at actual size, putting the printed sheets together with low-tech scissors and tape.

The piecing began. Red and green pieces leftover from other projects suggested leaves and flowers in the background. I shaded from dark to light, using stripes and checks for slanting shadows. As usual, I cut shapes without any pattern, fitted them together, and pinned them to a foundation fabric. The foundation for this wall hanging was fabric that a friend gave away.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

To block out space for the vase and cup, I cut those shapes and more from my printed pattern and pinned them onto the foundation fabric as place-savers.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

The oblong shape of this doily from my collection gave the impression of perspective.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

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More PopKnitting

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Britt Marie Christoffersson created variations on garter stitch, using double pointed needles to enable knitters to slide the work back to the beginning of a row, instead of always turning the work to the other side before knitting a new row.

That’s what’s going on in these two samples. They both have garter ridges separated by one row of plain knitting, plus a little or a lot of garter stranding.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The swatch below is straight-up garter stitch, sometimes turned, sometimes slid back to the beginning of the row to start a new row. Slipped stitches form some of the color patterning.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The orange bands of this stripey sample are knitted welts, with garter ridges above and below, and a row of elongated stitches in teal. It will always remind me of listening to Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce novel #7, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

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Knitting for Nothing but Fun

PopKnitting by Britt-Marie Christoffersson is full of interesting and different stitch patterns, perfected by a master knitter.

For years I’ve been admiring the patterns, promising myself “I’m going to try that pattern and that one and that one…oh, and those two, and maybe this one, too.”

I was waiting for the right moment.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The time finally arrived earlier this month, when I could knit for fun and edification, without distractions, without worrying about doing anything else. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me very often, so I was ready with specially-chosen yarns, patterns, needles, and a plan.

So here they are, over the next couple of posts: my swatches from PopKnitting. They were fun to make. I’m very pleased with each and every one.

This soft, light brown piece is Slipped Stitches and Reverse Stockinette Stitch. When the light hits the subtle texture just right—wow! The yarn: Berroco UltraAlpaca.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Here’s another subtly-textured piece, in the category of Slipped Stitches and Stockinette Stitch. The yarn is Plymouth Yarns’ lovely DK Merino Superwash.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Six rows of welt-knitting are about the height of three rows of stockinette, so it takes a while to get much length to your knitting when making welts. I passed the time by listening to a Flavia DeLuce novel by Alan Bradley while knitting welts.

This teal swatch has sets of three knitted welts alternating with sections of stockinette stitch, in Berroco UltraAlpaca Sport.

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Embellishment Troubles or Joys?

The title of this post was originally going to be “Embellishment Woes.” This project is causing me trouble. I’m not quite satisfied with any arrangement of flowers and buttons so far. But after thoughtful consideration, I remembered that this is my favorite part of the process. So no woes.

Titled 360 Degrees, this piece is for one of the member challenges at Visions Art Museum next year. It is a small quilt, made from a rug I knitted many, many years ago.

Once again I say, “Thank goodness for digital photography!” It’s so quick and easy to photograph different options and look at them all together. Here are photos of the arrangements I have tried so far.

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Seems pretty likely there will be more photos before I make the final decision about embellishment. Really, I’m waiting for the thrill. The thrill will tell me when I’ve got the combination right.

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Knitting and Quilting Puzzling Pinks

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

At 42″ x 31″, Puzzling Pinks is among my largest wall hangings. That’s a lot of knitting! Luckily, at the Ultimate Sweater Machine, I can crank out the stockinette stitch in record time.

Knitting for Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

As usual, I knitted a varied, shaded fabric by changing yarn every one or two rows—easy on the USM. With the green yarns sorted into groups of gray greens, yellow greens, and plain old green greens, I hoped to knit the impression of sun and shadow. There’s even a little blue for the sky in this garden of pink flowers.

Knitting Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

To create the patchwork squares of green background, I tried a little something different, cutting squares from fusible interfacing first, fusing them onto the knitted fabric second, and finally cutting them out. This worked pretty well.

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

My quilting friends look forward to summers, because we get together in Dublin, Texas, for a three-day quilting retreat. Of course we sew, but it’s also three-day talk and laugh fest with yummy food and fun games.

My goal was to have Puzzling Pinks pieced and ready to quilt in time for our get-together. Managed. Quilting the piece took several hours, but this fun group of women helped the time pass quickly.

With three days of mostly uninterrupted sewing, a person can get a lot done. We were all very productive. By the end of our retreat, Puzzling Pinks was quilted, labeled, and bound.

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

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On the Map at the International Quilt Festival

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

“I’m here with my sister, who quilts, but I knit!” exclaimed a smiling lady. She had wandered into my TextileFusion exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last week. All thirteen pieces in the exhibit were knitted and quilted, then embellished with crochet, embroidery, buttons, and beads.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

Thanks to the exhibit’s sponsor, Lion Brand Yarns, knitters and crocheters felt they had found a home at the Festival.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

I was able to stay with my exhibit and so I got to talk with friendly and interested people all through the show (with a couple of breaks for shopping). As we talked, I worked on a new wall hanging, which illustrated my spiel about knitted quilts. It was undoubtedly the only quilt in the enormous exhibit hall that people were allowed to touch.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

To help me visualize the flower arrangement on the wall hanging, I photographed it with my phone. My work table was too high, so I put the quilt on the floor to take the photo.

A quilter walked by, and I’m afraid she suffered heart palpitations when she saw me place a quilt on the floor. Clueless at first, I told her what I was doing, explaining that I can get a much better perspective on the wall hanging from a photo than I can by looking at it straight-on with my own eyeballs.

When she realized it was my own quilt, the relief on her face was obvious. Oh, I get it! I’m sorry, dear lady.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

In another exciting development at the Festival, one of my wall hangings sold! Mama Lion will be going home with a family that is active in the effort to conserve our world heritage of lions and other wild animals. (The orange circle says “Sold.”)

It’s great finally to be on the map! Literally.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

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Thank You, Lion Brand!

Mama Lion knitted, quilted wall hanging

This is Mama Lion, one of the baker’s dozen of art quilts in my TextileFusion exhibit at the Quilt! Knit! Stitch! show in Portland, Oregon, next month.

Mama Lion was made specifically to show my appreciation of Lion Brand Yarns, the sponsor of the exhibit.

In the early days of my design career in the 1990s, Lion Brand purchased crocheted and knitted designs from me. More recently, Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York displayed my art quilt, Passionate Heart. I have also had the privilege of signing books and giving talks at the Studio.

I am pleased and honored that Lion Brand Yarns supports my textile art. Thank you again, Lion Brand!

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