The other breed of colorwork

purl bee striped cowl nido mittens marl knitting

I have extreme admiration for intrepid intarsia knitters, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s Marl Mitts post, what’s most interesting to me, personally, in the realm of colorwork is the art of knitting with multiple yarns held together — a different breed of multi-strand knitting. Obviously, you can knit (or crochet) anything you like out of an actual marl yarn, but then you’re limited to what’s available, which is pretty much black/ivory or gray/ivory. (Both lovely; don’t get me wrong.) By pairing yarns and holding them together as you knit, not only are the color possibilities endless, of course, but so are the results you can achieve. And it goes well beyond mere marl. We’ve oohed and aahed about this amazing Chloé sweater, and taken a close-up look at this other amazing Chloé sweater, but I wanted to round up some other things that I find inspiring. For the purpose of talking about them, I’m breaking them down into three basic categories, but this is by no means comprehensive. I’d really love to see some of your favorite examples as well, so please share.


The Purl Bee Striped Cotton Cowl, above left, was one of the first really thought-provoking things I came across when I started scouring the web for inspiration. It’s an off-white cotton garter-stitch rectangle, grafted together into a cowl. But there’s magic in what happens as you simply pick up and drop various colors of cotton thread along the way.


marl sweater kid cowl

Simply holding (or, sure, plying) two different yarns together — high- or low-contrast — and watching them intertwine can be more than interesting enough. I mean, look at that amazing Dusen Dusen sweater above. (For sale in the Wiksten shop! Hide my wallet!) Things get extra interesting, though, if you hold two variegated or heathered yarns together. And then there’s what happens when you throw in a stretch of a solid color, or mix up your colors and stitch patterns, as in the Phildar kids’ cowl above. (I also want that kid’s hair.) See also pretty much everything by Nido, starting with the mittens pictured at top right of this post.


ombre blanket fade hat knitting patterns

If you take a very controlled approach to your color changes, transitioning from lighter to darker shades of a single color, or across analogous colors, you get something very much like ombré-dyed fabric. The more strands of yarn you’re holding, the more gradual the change can be, and thus the more subtle the effect. But it’s dazzling no matter how you do it, as evidenced by the 2-strand Ombré Blanket by Joelle Hoverson (from “Last-Minute Knitted Gifts”) and the 3-strand Fade Hat by Michele Wang. See also Nicole Dupuis’ insanely beautiful cowl for Bookhou.


So inspired by Gretchen Jones

gretchen jones fall spring collections

For the first time since I was about 12, and to my great chagrin, I’m behind on the runway collections. But yesterday I got sucked into Gretchen Jones’ Tumblr and I am wildly inspired by her Fall and Spring presentations — her fabrics and knitwear and trademark jewelry, all melded into something really seductive. I’ve been working on a funny little project this week, which I’ll tell you more about soon, that’s led to the presence of this fuzzy, half-formed notion of something bigger in the back of my brain. And when I saw that top left photo the idea snapped into focus. I’ll be tackling it this weekend and hoping and praying that I can make a 3D version that’s even half as cool as what’s in my head. May the muse be with me.

Dreaming in Mexicolor

san pancho mexico photos hotel cielo rojo

We’re back from San Pancho and, uh, I might be on about color for awhile. I think this was my fourth trip to Mexico, but it was the first time I really felt like I was in Mexico. And it was certainly the first time I was affected by the famous color.

It was uncharacteristically rainy while we there, so it was a slightly atypical experience — soft grey light; wet sand, wood and terra cotta; tons of the weathered, moody blue-greens I love so much. It’s a lush green jungle in that part of the country (unlike arid southern Baja), with bougainvillea everywhere. Then of course all that hot pink, yellow, red, green and blue paint on every surface, dappled with rain. I’m telling you, I close my eyes at night and my head is swimming in it.

Winter rains and cooler temps have returned to our home turf, so I’m sure I’ll be back to my grey and navy ways in no time, but I’m hoping this influence lasts a bit.

Brightening things up

souled objects rag rugssouled objects rag rugs

If you know me at all, you know how much I love neutrals. My 7-year-old nephew even observed to me when he was here, “I mean, you have NO COLOR in your house!” (You’d never know I’ve done two books on using color in your home.) Same with my wardrobe: I often claim to have the world’s largest collection of heather grey sweaters. With knitting, I’ve been really striving to use something other than shades of grey and ivory, but I find them irresistible. And when I go to the yarn store and insist on color, I come home with moody blues and blue-purples — the safest shades in the rainbow. It’s sad, really. However, we’re in our third month or so of relentless 60something-and-sunny days here in Northern California, with exceptions that can be counted on one hand — including the much-needed rain coming down at the moment. (We’re all striving to remember that it’s not a thing to celebrate, drought.) Between all the lovely weather and an upcoming trip to Mexico, I’ve been actually craving color for a change! So forthwith, some inspiration.

knitted crazy quilt blanket
quince scarf pattern bonnie
indigo houndstooth potholders

1-3. Souled Objects hand-braided mats (via Green Eyed Monster and Pinterest)

4. Knitted version of a crazy quilt at Like a Butterfly in Your House, © Barbara Berrada

5. “Bonnie” pattern from upcoming Quince & Co. scarves collection

6. Indigo potholders on Garment House blog — I love that houndstooth pattern