A Knitting Library: On Color

I’ve seen friends of mine talking recently about difficulties in choosing color combinations. These are some books that I hope might provide some good ideas, both with choosing colors and with different techniques for working with multiple colors in knitting.

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques, by Margaret Radcliffe. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978160342040

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques starts out with basic information about the color wheel, how neighboring colors affect each other, and some ways of testing yarn color combinations. Lots of books include this information, but it’s a good idea to have access to the theory somewhere. Radcliffe then moves on to what I consider the really valuable parts of the book: how to play with color in textured stitch patterns, how to work with different kinds of multicolor yarns to best effect, and in-depth information about how to work stranded knitting, intarsia, twined knitting, and other techniques. If I could only have access to one book about knitting and color, I think I’d pick this one.


One of my favorite ways of choosing colors (if I’m not limited to choosing from yarns that are at hand) is to look around me for something that has color combinations I like already, whether a piece of fabric, the view out my window, or a picture. The next three books all have examples of this, and I suspect this might be a more helpful method for choosing colors for some people than the color wheel. You might also want to look at the Color Exercises I did a few years back to get some ideas for software to help with this.

Color from the Heart: Seven Great Ways to Make Quilts with Colors You Love, by Gai Perry.

“What?” I imagine you saying, “a quilt book?” Yes, a quilt book. I learned more about working with color from this book than anywhere else, and I am certain that there’s a lot that anyone can learn from it. For instance, she shows that if you’re combining a lot of different blues in a project, throwing in the occasional blue-green or violet will still give an overall impression of blue. She discusses some ways of working with regular color theory as well as pulling color combinations from things that you like. There are exercises that I suspect can be used for scrap knitting (sock yarn blankets!) as well as scrap quilting. If I could only have two books about working with color, this would be the second.

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting, by Alice Starmore. Dover Books. ISBN 9780486472188

I’m including this not only for Starmore’s instructions on how best to arrange colors in traditional Fair Isle colorwork, but also because she talks about how she pulls color combinations out of photographs and her surroundings and provides examples.

Knitting Color: Design Inspiration from Around the World, by Brandon Mabley. Sixth & Spring Books. ISBN 9781933027074

The beginning of this book is Mabley’s suggestions for pulling colors out of pictures that the student likes and also about swatching (not gauge swatching – just learning to put colors together). I think I’d recommend getting this book from the library and then purchasing it if the book as a whole inspires you.

How about you? What books about working with color would you recommend?

Eyelet cast-on border.

Eyelet Cast-on Border

In Knitting in the Nordic Tradition, Vibeke Lind describes what she calls “lace casting on”. This is a length of the narrowest possible one-row lace edging, with loops along each edge. Stitches can be picked up and knit in the loops as a starting point for knitting, particularly lace. It might make a good center for a rectangular stole worked from the center to each end, or perhaps for a rectangle worked in the round from the center outward?

Here’s how it’s done:

lace casting on, from Knitting in the Nording Tradition, by Vibeke Lind

Cast on 2 stitches. Yarn over at the beginning of the needle, and work a left-leaning decrease: either (slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over) or (slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 knitwise, and knit together through the back loop).

Turn work and repeat as necessary. (Yes, it’s also a lot of extremely narrow rows.)

When it’s long enough, the last row worked should be to knit the 2 stitches together, and then pick up and knit through the loops of one edge. Lind doesn’t say how many stitches to pick up in each loop. I suppose the implication is that it’s one stitch per loop, but the size of the loops in this case led me to try a variation: (pick up and knit 1 stitch in a loop, yarn over); repeat as desired. Two other ways to get two stitches per loop: knit in the front and the back and (knit 1, purl 1) in the same stitch.

I just did a teeny bit of flat knitting here, with a minor variation. The knit rows start with yarn over, knit 2 together; the purl rows begin with yarn over, purl 2 together.

June Hemmons Hiatt calls this an eyelet cast-on border in her Principles of Knitting. She suggests working it with a smaller needle than usual, which seems appropriate if working one stitch per edge loop.

Montse Stanley has something very similar called faggot cord in her Knitter’s Handbook, except for two things: she doesn’t list it as a cast-on, but only as trim (it would make fine trim sewn onto a sewn wool jacket, for instance); and she works it as (yarn over, purl 2 together).

More experienced lace knitters might have noticed that this is the narrowest possible instance of faggoting, which is a technical term referring to lace that consists entirely of decreases and yarn overs on every row, with no other stitches. This sounds more difficult than it truly is – faggoting is actually one of the first kinds of lace I tried because it’s easy to memorize.

Linkety-link, part 15

I’ve been enjoying following Sybil R’s blog, Knitting and so on, and seeing the interesting patterns she comes up with (Ravelry page).

Sybil posted over the weekend about knitting random lace, which is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while. (There’s so many things I want to do! I’ll never run out of things to try, I think.) She links to a tutorial and a book. The funny thing is that I think I once saw a different book on the topic in a secondhand book store, but it didn’t catch my interest at the time.

Aside from her excellent link, I’d like to recommend this random lace generator from Knitting Fool. (Not truly mathematically random, but that’s okay.)

What interests me about random lace is what I suspect it can teach the knitter about how lace structure and design work.

(The fact that Sybil linked to me in that post is entirely coincidental; I was reading it in my RSS reader and considering posting about it anyway when I noticed the link. I can entirely sympathize with the desire to avoid counting. )

Here is a somewhat more typical collection of links from me, if sparse:

A mirrored version of Pattern 54, from Knitting Lace, by Susanna Lewis

Etude no.8: an old asymmetrical pattern, mirrored

Something I’m wanting to work on in the long run is designing lace that has yarnovers on every row. This is intimidating me more than it probably should, so I decided to start with some baby steps.

It’s often a good idea to play around with existing designs in a technique:  swatching other people’s stitch patterns teaches me a lot about structure. To this end I decided to browse through the stitch patterns in Susanna Lewis’s Knitting Lace. Pattern 54 looked like a good place to start – it’s not terribly complex.

Just for kicks, I decided to try mirroring it. (I added an extra column of knit stitches between each repeat so as not to deal with double yarnovers.)

In the end, I’m not sure the mirroring was a good idea – the fabric is so very lumpy that it’s hard to block flat. The slightly bubbled texture after blocking could be charming or could be annoying. Still, I think I’ve got a somewhat better feel for how the yarnovers shift from side to side as decreases and new yarnovers are added on every row.

I had thought the self-striping yarn would do some nice rippling because of how wiggly the fabric is, but it turns out that it wiggles in opposite directions and cancels out any rippling in the color. Something with a shorter repeat might show it more than this yarn, though.
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Embers, encoded as cross stitch.

Embers, a cross-stitch pattern

Embers, a chart suitable for many kinds of needlework.

(The chart will work for any craft worked on a grid, of course.)

I’ve been meaning to show how some of my secret code grids look when worked up as other crafts. This month I dug out my extremely rusty cross stitch skills and worked samples until I found one I wasn’t embarrassed to show the world. I think it gets the idea across, though!

In case you’re new to my blog posts, I’ve come up with several ways of embedding encoded words in charts for use in charts for fibers arts. My subscribers on Patreon suggest a word for me to work on each month and then I work up the chart and some examples. I hope you enjoy it!

I used a different Embers chart to make a knitted lace version.

If you like my posts like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks!

Creative Commons License Embers stitch patterns by Naomi Parkhurst are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

review of a book about Twigg stitch, a new knitting technique.

Book Review: The Twigg Stitch

Twigg Stitch: A New Twist on Reversible Knitting, by Vicki Twigg. Interweave, 2014. ISBN 9781596688223

(Ravelry listing)

I picked this up at the library because Twigg stitch is billed as being a brand new knitting stitch method. It might well be – that is, I haven’t seen it in any of the books I’ve read, and certainly people are constantly reinventing techniques that other people came up with separately. Anyway, if anyone else has invented it, those instances are pretty obscure.

I had a good time playing with a tiny swatch, though I’m still not very good at the technique. (If I go on with it, practice will help a lot.)

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