Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Color Theory For Knitters

Do you ever have trouble picking colors for your knitting? Or do you find yourself picking the same colors repeatedly and need a change? The world of color theory is an extensive one that not only lives in the realm of science but of course surrounds our every day experiences.

Let's start with the absolute bare bones basics shall we? Primary colors, beloved palette of children's toy manufacturers and the beginning of the journey into color theory. The 3 primary colors from which all other colors can be created are RED, YELLOW and BLUE. From the combination of the primary colors we create the secondary colors ORANGE, GREEN, and PURPLE. Within the secondary colors are the tertiary colors which are variations of the secondary colors; RED ORANGE, YELLOW ORANGE, YELLOW GREEN, BLUE GREEN, RED PURPLE AND BLUE PURPLE. These colors are organized on a color wheel with the red yellow and blue being separated by tertiary, secondary, tertiary.

Above you can see the color wheel as it is typically displayed. 

When choosing a color scheme for a sweater try working with 2 or 3 analogous colors, colors that are beside each other on the color wheel. For example try red orange, red and red purple, or perhaps green blue, blue and blue purple. You can see this type of relationship in many hand dyed skeins as the colors are close to each other and blend together creating secondary and tertiary colors.

This skein from the Stationary Nomad uses Blue and green and several shades between.

And this skein from Indigo Dragonfly uses red purple, red, and orange red, to orange. 

Colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel are called complimentary colors, RED AND GREEN, BLUE AND ORANGE AND (my favorite) PURPLE AND YELLOW. Excellent color schemes are also based on the complimentary color combination, for example this commercially available fair isle pullover which uses a basis of blue and orange, light orange, medium orange, dark blue, medium blue and green blue with white.

When using multiple colors it is important to remember that warmer colors tend to advance towards the eye within a color scheme (seem closer to you) and are considered to be active colors. Cooler colors recede within a color scheme (seem farther away) and are considered to be passive colors. As you can see on the sweater above the orange stripes jump out of the picture at you while the blue ones fall back into the picture. If you are having difficulty seeing that movement try squinting your eyes and looking through your lashes as that can help reduce small details and improve color information.

Color actually has a great deal to do with light, the eye and how we perceive color and light waves bouncing back from an object. Interestingly when something (a luscious skein of alpaca silk perhaps) 'is' a color, let's go with red, it isn't actually red at all. We perceive the skein as red because it is reflecting only the red color back to our eyes. So in all actuality the skein is every other color except the red that we perceive

While we are talking about light let's get to Black and White, which are both colors and not colors at the same time. Essentially Black and White have more to do with light then anything else as Black absorbs all light waves and does not bounce any off it's surface for us to perceive, therefore appearing dark, and White reflects all the colors of the visible light spectrum away from the surface of the object to the eyes. 

Adding Black and White pigments to colors make shades and tints respectively. Shades darken colors and make them darker, cooler and duller. Tints lighten colors making them lighter, paler and brighter, but don't confuse brighter with more intensity, both adding black or white to a color will reduce it's intensity as a color.
Above you can see the color wheel with the outermost color being the pure color then moving from outside to inside a ring of mixed with white (tints), grey (tones) and black (shades) respectively. 

When choosing colors you can always go with shades, tones and tints of the same color. If choosing Analogous colors for a garment try choosing the most intense pure purple, the tint of blue and the shade of green, this will give your color palette a more sophisticated look. Try not to choose only colors from one ring of the tints and shades wheel, and try to only pick one or two at most from the pure color ring. Why only two you ask? When two very intense colors are placed beside each other (typically primary or complimentary colors) they tend to buzz or move in your vision, this is called color vibration. You can see an example below.. if you dare.. da da daaa

Understanding intensity is important when choosing colors for a garment as you don't necessarily want one color to overwhelm any of the other colors (or maybe you do?) . A simple way of checking this is to either squint your eyes like described before and see if any one shade really jumps out at you, if it sits much closer to your vision than any of the other ones it might be overwhelming in the motif. Try something less intense and squint again. Another simple cheat to decode intensity is using your iphone, take a fairly well lit picture of the yarn then change it to greyscale using a filter in your camera app, if the bright yarn continues to light up in the greyscale image it really is a bright choice.

Above are three Zauberballs, the two on the left use a pure color with shades and tints, the one on the right is only pure color; you can see how much more intense it is than the others. 

Above is a wall of yarn from Lion Brand, even though there are many different colors and a few are close to pure they are all close enough in tone for none to pop out, no doubt artfully arranged by a master marketeer. 

Also when choosing colors from the tints and shade wheel it is important to only move a moderate amount on the wheel any one way, if you are using many shades analogously use only a few tints, tones or shades above and below the pure color. Or if you are using many ranges of tints, tones and shades use only one or two colors on the wheel. Uncomfortable color pairings can erupt from moving too far in both directions such as an intense lime green and a light mint green, which would be the pure yellow green and a highly tinted blue green which is two steps over and many tints up from the lime green.

If you are totally sold on a crazy intense color, like all those amazing new neon yarns that have just come out remember that you don't have to have any color in your tint, tone or shade. Meaning go with white, grey or black as a combination, or use one of those as a background for several intense analogous colors.
 Above you can see the neon yellow and a dark grey, the yellow is still. really. yellow. but the grey allows it all the space it needs to sing it's crazy neon yellow song. 

Above is a woven scarf which uses grey as a tone beside bright red and pink, the grey does actually tame the red and pink and if we could see them separately they would be brighter than they are in this photo.That is because colors also change depending on what they are beside, generally speaking warm colors make cooler colors cooler and cool colors make warmer colors warmer. Midtones are affected in that warm tones make the mid tone cooler and cool tones make the midtone warmer. Many colors together make the intensity lessen and the eye sees more grey which recedes the color. Below is a skein of handspun yarn and although the individual colors in it are rather bright; green, yellow, mint, lime, ochre, russet, blue, raspberry, lilac and more, in many ways the finished product is very muted. Remember that the eye perceives all the colors being reflected as white and so at some point it begins to tint the colors you are seeing when there are so many of them together. 

So next time you go to the yarn store don't be afraid of a new color, or shade or tint, pull out your newly acquired color skill, perhaps an iphone and leave the mascara at home because you have color to explore! Remember the rules for amazing combinations:

1. Different tints and shades of the same color
2. Combinations of analogous color 
3. Complimentary color combinations
4. Sophisticate your selections by only using one or two intense pure colors combined with tints and shades. 
5. Don't move too far in any direction on the tints shades and tones wheel, the color pairings can become uncomfortable. 
6. Use white, grey and black as neutral backgrounds for highlighting intense colors
7. Too many colors of the same intensity together begin to grey out from a distance. 

Now if you do want to keep picking the same colors over and over go right ahead, my best friend picks the same colors time and time again and really is a very well adjusted loving individual. But if you want to spice it up, remember the general guidelines above and maybe I'll see you in the depths of the local LYS, cackling madly with a color wheel sometime soon!

If you are looking for supporting materials for this post I recommend, a color wheel,  Color Matters, Color Theory Overview, and this terrific book that is all about the history of color, I've read it three times and it only gets better. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Technique Tuesday: How to read the WS of Stockinette and Kitchener's stitch

Stockinette Stitch (WS)
Stockinette stitch on the WS is a serious of bumps made by the small top of each loop hooking around the base of the next loop. In diagram 1.3 you can see the basic structure of the WS of stockinette stitch.

This Diagram depicts the different rows of stitches and how they look on the WS of Stockinette. Each row on the WS is actually the top of the bottom loop and the bottom of the top loop together that make a bumpy line (shown in green). These lines can be counted as one row when looking at the WS of Stockinette stitch.

Duplicate Stitch cannot be worked into the WS of St st although it does make a nice background for many other kinds of embroidery. Kitchener’s stitch isn’t modified to work on this side either as you would simply turn the work to the RS and work Kitchener’s without modification.

Kitchener’s stitch is a staple knitting technique and is used to join two rows of live stitches together seamlessly. Most patterns call for Kitchener’s stitch to be worked on live stitches that are still on knitting needles, for example closing the toe of a top down sock.

Kitchener’s Stitch on two needles

Begin with two needles that have an equal number of live Stockinette Stitches. Arrange these needles parallel to each other with tips at the same end and WS of Stockinette fabric facing together. Thread live end of yarn into tapestry needle:

Step 1: insert tapestry needle pwise through 1st stitch on front needle, leave on.
Step 2: insert tapestry needle kwise through 1st stitch on back needle, leave on.
Step 3: insert tapestry needle kwise through 1st stitch on front needle, slip stitch off needle, insert pwise through next stitch on front needle, leave on.
Step 4: insert tapestry needle pwise through 1st stitch on back needle, slpi stitch off needle, insert kwise through next stitch on back needle, leave on. 

Rep Steps 3-4 for kitchener’s stitch. 

And easy way to remember the pattern for Steps 3-4 is knit off purl, purl off knit. 

Steps 1-2 are actually only half steps, they are the second action in steps 3 and 4 and set up the kitchener’s stitch, if you miss these your right edge will look wrong. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pattern Giveaway Winners!

And the winners are.... ah heck all three of you, thanks for commenting and stitcking with me after such a long break! Check Ravelry for your gifted pattern  xoxo M

Technique Tuesday: How to read your Knitting

How about some technique classes? How about every week? I know sounds good to me too, This week we will start with the structure of basic stockinette stitch, how to read it and how to work duplicate stitch.

Knitting is a structure of loops made in rows, it is a reliable structure where every stitch pattern has a set combination of loops. Because the yarn always loops over the yarn from a previous row in a set pattern it is possible to learn to read your knitting as if different stitches are the letters of the alphabet and different combinations are words. The main difference between reading knitting and reading words is that reading English is done from left to right and reading knitting is done from right to left. To begin to learn how to identify stitches and read  the RS of Stockinette Stitch observe the diagram below.

Stockinette Stitch (RS):

The upper series of loops come from back to front through the lower loop, the red line is the active line of stitches that would be placed on the knitting needle. The purple line is the yarn used to create stitches 3 rows below the active red yarn, you can see how this Purple yarn comes through the loop below it from back to front and then loops beind the Green row worked after it as those stitches come up from back to front through the Purple row.

As you can see the stitches in St st on the RS look like little V’s. This means that when visually counting stitches on the RS of a stockinette stitch fabric you can counts a V for each stitch if counting horizontally and a V for each row if counting vertically.

Duplicate Stitch

Duplicate stitch is a method of applying extra yarn like embroidery to the RS of a piece of knitting. For this exercise cut a piece of contrasting yarn 15” long and thread onto a tapestry needle.

For a row of duplicate stitch : beginning at far right side of knitting bring needle up through a knit stitch V, next bring the needle behind the two strands of the V above, back down through the V you came up through and up through the next V to the left. This route can be seen by following the coloured stitches on the digram 1.2.

For a single stitch of duplicate stitch: work up through the lower V, around the upper V and back into the lower V. Then the yarn can come up through any new V within a reasonable distance.

Chunky Knits Book Review

Hello Knitters! Have you seen this new book from Lark Crafts? Chunky Knits was just released this past October and is a great resource for quick and simple projects using 1-4 skeins of bulky yarn. Talk about a fun book filled with great gift giving ideas! I think I can see a recipient for each of the items in this book and maybe even a few things that will end up here in the humble abode. I was lucky to be included in this roster for this book which was put together and contributed to by Ashley Little. 

And look at the wealth of projects in one book! 31 patterns under one cover is the kind of book I love to buy. 

Actually when perusing this book for patterns to make personally I kind of surprised myself by wanting to make some of the home goods. Typically I don't make too many knitted items for my home, mostly since we have two dogs a cat and three kids the poor precious knitted pillow or whatnot never seems to stand a chance. But this! Cable Pouf Ottoman by Erin Black, is brilliant! Did you know that it has a drawstring? and it holds an unused comforter? do you have any idea how many comforters we have that get used maybe once a year when the kids want to camp in the yard or have a sleepover in the drafty upstairs? this little beauty is perfect and will be making at least one appearance around this place.

The other project I was entranced by was this great blanket, The Honeycomb Throw by Ashley Little. Super easy, versatile and looks like it might even use something like Lion Brand Homespun well. (seriously who is not entranced by the colours of Homespun? my hands ache at the thought of the acrylic but the colours convince me every time). The pattern actually calls for Paton's Beehive Baby Chunky... but I still am stash diving for Homespun this afternoon. I could see the girls cuddling up under this on Saturday night after we eat our homemade pizza and finish a movie all together.

One of the projects I contributed to this book was the Fingerless Gloves. A simple beginner set of fingerless gloves that use welting and ribbing to create loads of texture in a very simple pattern. Basically if you are a beginner knitter this is the pattern for you to look uber accomplished. Worked in the round from the bottom up these mittens use only knit, purl and made stitches, have a gusset and need double pointed needles. Extra cushy and warm these are perfect for a drafty office or the walk home from the bus.

The other project that I have in this book is the Crescent shawl which is quite frankly one of my favorites I have contributed anywhere. You cast on the bottom edge first and work the border then the short rows to shape the shawl are incorporated into the lace pattern. That means no wrap and turn, no picking up wraps and trying to work them in invisibly! The yarnovers within the pattern are the hole that is created when you turn the work and so it is totally unnoticeable, pretty neat huh? Okay maybe I am geeking out about it a little.. but still.. pretty cool :)

You can find this book on Amazon for purchase and I highly recommend it as a great gift for knitters of all levels.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Little NutMeg Productions is on Facebook! and Mrs. Patmore Contest

Well I kind of feel like the last hold out... but Little NutMeg Productions is finally on Facebook! Now you can have the latest pattern info, errata, blog updates, and anything else that might find its way to a facebook page.

How about a chance to win a copy of the new Mrs. Patmore design? Leave a comment on this blog telling me who you are knitting for this Christmas, or if you are too busy to knit, and then follow the link to Like my facebook page. Entrants who do both will be entered to win one of two copies of Mrs. Patmore. Contest ends on December 8th at midnight (which also happens to be a pretty special 6th birthday around here.) Good Luck! Remember to leave your name on the blog as it appears on facebook, or even just initials. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Caribbean Adventure and New Pattern

Don't you wish that this post had a link to a contest for a Caribbean adventure? We just returned from our own adventure to Jamaica to see my little brother get married to the Gal of his dreams. A lovely week of visiting with family and swimming was topped off by the perfect wedding of two of my favorite people.  It was such a kick to see my little buddy who was the most delightfully clever, quirky, funny kid grow into the sensitive, intelligent, caring man that he is and meet his perfect match. Welcome to the family new Auntie, driven, smart, funny, tenacious, and loving, we love you and had a great time at your celebration!

Ain't he a handsome guy?

Tell you what, being crazy humid hot for a week does not in anyway make you want to knit, at all. The swim up pool bar probably was at fault too, as was the cranky sick baby we flew with that had to be held every moment of airport/airplane time. So needless to say not a heck of a lot of knitting got done on holiday (and what did get done is secret knitting.. shhh). But there is nothing like arriving home to a temperature drop of 40 degrees to make a knitter think warm wooly thoughts.

I have a new pattern that was originally part of the Downton Abbey Kit of the Month Club via Woolgirl. It was featured last September in a lovely kit all based on Mrs Patmore the ever feisty, yet loving cook. I think actually that Mrs. Patmore is my favorite character on the show, sort of rough around the edges, perfectionist, snarky, but fiercely loyal, warm and loving to her friends. This hat was my interpretation of a warm sunny spring outing with Mrs Patmore, Jen at Woolgirl chose this amazing yellow which is titled Sweet Cream to Country Mustard. And I could imagine Mrs Patmore wearing it while having a walk in the park on a warm spring day, perhaps on her way back from an outing to the market. It has just enough flash to be pretty and almost cute but still practical and distinguished.

The Hat is worked in the round from the bottom up with a garter stitch brim, 2 bands of diagonal smocking on the main body and a simple welted bow. You can get creative with different types of buttons or even feature a fancy brooch on the hat if you like. You can check out the pattern page on Ravelry here, and I will get the DH to put up a page on the website as soon as he recovers from his Turkey hangover.

Thanks to Sarah for modeling this project, looking lovely as she prepares to welcome her fourth adorable baby into the world!