April 24th, 2013

Creating a Project with Stripes

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Marion works in the store and is an incredible knitter. She shares with us her story of how she got her inspiration to knit stripes in a collection of projects.

Many of us use the wonderful hand-painted yarns to give color to garments. However, I have always loved to knit stripes. I think of it as painting with yarn and it can be fun. There are many patterns written with stripes as an element, but you can stripe any plain pattern with a little planning.

I have a walk-in cedar closet that has allowed me to save many of the knitted garments made over the years. One favorite is a red, tan and grey striped sweater I made my son over 30 years ago. When he asked me to knit a light weight sweater for him, I thought of that as an inspiration.

To make my son’s striped sweater, I used Valley Pattern B1, which is a basic pull-over in different weights. I was making the DK weight and it gave me the approximate amount of yarn needed. I knew I wanted it to have red as the main color and then selected grey, gold, black and tan to match his earlier sweater. Cascade 220 Sport had the perfect shades and was the weight yarn I wanted. It is difficult to judge the amount when buying yarn for striped garments because not all colors will be used equally. To make this sweater I only needed one skein of each color (other than red).

When you knit stripes you can form a repeating pattern (8 rows color A, 2 rows color B, 3 rows color C and then repeat order) or you can change colors randomly which I did in his sweater to give it a contemporary look.

I had no set sequence but planned to put the red between each color change. I carried the yarn loosely up the side when the color was going to be used 2-4 rows later. If as in the case of the red it was not needed until 15 or more rows later, I ended it and then reintroduced it. I tried to keep the colors evenly balanced as I worked up. The black and light tan were strong colors and I used them carefully.

You can be creative when you select your colors. Unless you are knitting a garment using left over yarn, select no more than 3-5 colors or you can use shades of one color. A great resource to help combine colors is Gail Callahan’s Color Grid.

In the past I have made a few sweaters that totally use left overs. I put all the colors together and just stripe away. I really do feel like I am painting. There can be different textures and some weight variation.

Since my 11 year old granddaughter Roley was going inherit my son’s original sweater, I wanted to make a companion for three-year old Beatrice. The pattern is also a basic one made from Ann Budd’s Book of Sweater Patterns. The book allows you to make a sweater for any size and weight of yarn. (Ann Budd will be teaching here at WEBS this summer. Don’t miss out on your chance to take a class with her!) The yarn is Plymouth Dream Baby. I decided to make the stripes in a repeating order with red as the main color. I used a slip stitch with the yellow and black to combine them. I reminds me of a bee’s stripe. Beatrice is used to that theme for her. She loves the sweater. It was a fun project and went quickly.

Finally, I wanted to knit something for Paula, my daughter-in-law and I saw the Henning Cowl by Megan Goodacre in Interweave’s 2012 Holiday Issue. I modified it to be smaller but still used the stripe pattern set up.

I am happy with all the garments and can’t wait to make another striped project.

What are your feelings on striped projects? Some love them, others do not. Do you have a favorite striped project?

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Mary

Marketing Manager at WEBS - America's Yarn Store
Mary has worked at WEBS since 2005. She has been knitting since 2000 and also knows how to crochet, spin, and use a rigid heddle loom.
Her favorite color: bright pink
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  • Judy Kahooti

    i love your suggestions for creating colo stripes to create a contemporary look. Thank you. Vey infomative.

  • D

    Your striped sweater is beautiful. I do have a question: how can you keep the red from bleeding into the other light colors once you have it knitted? This alone has kept me from using red with any other shade.

    Thank you!