April 12th, 2013

J’s Color Affection: Lessons to Knit By

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J, an amazing member of our store staff, has walked us through the creation of the Color Affection Shawl, and the lessons to be learned along the way. His stunning finished project and choice of colors are inspiring!

I chose Valley Yarns Charlemont to knit Color Affection by Veera Välämaki. It is actually a fairly mindless knit over all; garter stitch (not one purl) with easy short rows and M1 increases. These two design elements along with the color changes make this a great knit to practice some techniques.

Lesson One: Color
The striping is thin with the only large blocks of color at the neckline and along the bottom edge. Even a tonal variation like that of Charlemont Kettle-Dyed may take away from the impact solid colors will have.

I chose to use Charlemont, not because it’s a Valley Yarn, but for its look and feel – the softness and slight sheen, as well as the color palette. I really enjoyed working with this yarn. It really softens after blocking and there is something quite nice about a wool/silk blend, especially for shawls. (The colors I used are soft grape, purple passion, and dusk.)

It’s always a great idea to take black and white photos of the yarns you want to use when selecting colors. I can’t recommend this enough, especially for this knit. It makes it much easier to see if your shades are light, medium, and dark, which helps determine contrast. Also, every now and again pick a color that you think you shouldn’t, sometimes you’ll be surprised. 

Lesson Two: M1 (Make 1)
This pattern calls for many M1L and M1R increases throughout. While these are not a favorite of many knitters, this shawl provides a great chance for practice. (Click here to see the video of this technique.)

Parallel lesson: kfb (Knit into the front and back)
Go ahead and read the notes on Ravelry. There is a lot of debate! In mine, I did both types of increases, and good luck telling me where each is. The bottom line is to choose whichever works best for you, but practice and try. (You can’t get better if you don’t try!) June Hemmons Hiatt and I talked about making mistakes being how one really learns. (Did I mention that I met her the other day and she was amazing! She signed my copy of Principles of Knitting, I have pictures.)

Lesson Three: Easy short rows
What do I mean by easy short rows? Wrap and turn without picking up the wraps. The Wrap & Turn (W&T) is a good technique to learn, and it may come up again in your knitting queue, especially in sweater patterns. This particular pattern does not have you “pick up wraps,” so it’s a great primer. The short rows also make this knit quick in the middle, when it really needs to feel like you’re making progress. When you get to the border edge you will realize just how many stitches you created.

Lesson Four: Two and three colors at once.
Carrying the yarn up the work is fairly trouble free in this pattern. To carry up the colors, I slipped the first stitch off the left hand needle and onto the right, then I wrapped the two non-working colors around the left needle and placed that first stitch back on the left needle. I worked the first stitch, skipped those carried yarns, let them fall off the needle and continued working the row. This helps to neatly trap the carried yarns.
Note: Appropriate tension on the carried yarn is key, neither too loose nor too tight. I did not do a slip-stitch edge, mainly because I forgot, this will add a little to the complexity of carrying up the colors, (consider it advanced technique!)

Lesson Five: Blocking unique shapes.
There also seems to be a minor debate among Ravellers regarding whether this is a crescent shape shawl or a half-circle shawl. Put simply, if you follow the advice of making and dropping yarnovers to loosen up the edge, it will be easier to block a straight neckline which will create a half-circle shape. However, if you keep with the way the pattern is written, it makes for a tight edge and eases blocking it into a crescent shape.

What the pattern says: “block in shape using wires and pins.” So I say, the shape is in how you place your wires. She never really specifies a shape in the pattern and honestly I don’t think she should. Either way it will turn out lovely. It’s also kind of enormous! I blocked mine on our futon/giant blocking mat, measuring about six feet across and nearly three feet at its largest depth.

I loved working with Valley Yarns Charlemont and I’m so happy I have quite a bit left over from each skein for other projects.

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14 Responses to “J’s Color Affection: Lessons to Knit By”

  1. Silvia Sernicola Says:

    I love your result, I can’t wait for mine to grow enough to start the multi color knitting!
    Thanks for the good advices!

  2. Lisa Says:

    I must make one in the pink and purple. What colors, please! It is gorgeous!!!

  3. Elaine Says:

    Love your commentary and advice. Perhaps now I feel brave enough to tackle this lovely shawl!

  4. 'Susan Lundgren Heath Says:

    I have knit three of these using KFB and YO recommendations. Now I need to block them.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post, and thank you for helping me when I was in the store not long ago. I’m thinking of going really bold with this, using Madtosh Citrus, Flashdace and Cousteau. I think if I photographed this combo in black and white, the tones would be similar. Is that why you recommend that practice? Care to say more about it? It’s intriguing!

  6. Angie Says:

    Wish I’d read this before I made mine. Now I’ll have to make another!

  7. Chris C - NJ Says:

    Hi J…met you back in the fall with my friends when we came up for a girls weekend. I’ve also made color affection..great pattern, love that it’s truly something that you can wrap around you to keep warm vs just sit on your shoulders like a doily. Love the colors and you did a great job. See you the weekend of the 26th for the girls spring getaway..of course we need to stop in at Webs again!! See you soon..maybe you can help me pick out my next color affection colors!

  8. Carol Says:

    I don’t quite understand what you mean by “place the working yarns on the left needle” — over the needle? put the stitch back on top? Also, I’d love to know why I should do a b&w photo. What an interesting idea! Thanks!

  9. Judy Says:

    A knitter below asked what colors (and exact yarn) were used in the sample shawl? The pinks and purples are MY colors and would love to make one!

  10. Guest Says:

    That’s one fabulous wrap!

  11. K2BTied Says:

    a b&w photo will remove the color and reduce them to their values of light, medium, and dark so you can get a better contrast with the three colors which is so important in this knit. Hope that helps. 🙂

  12. knitterchick Says:

    Wow, thank you for the tips. I am about to start this shaw and these tips will come in handy, especially the one about taking the B&W photos of the yarn. I am off to do that now.

  13. romney Says:

    It depends what you’re looking for. If you want the stripes to contrast and show a definite progress in colour from start to end, then seeing it in B/W can help. Colour distracts us from seeing the real light and darkness. For instance Reds are darker than you think and Blues lighter and a pattern like this will show that up. If you want 3 colours that are going to blend together then its fine to pick 3 similar values – but you’re not going to see the stripes much.

  14. romney Says:

    Thanks for the tips. You’ve saved me a lot of stress!

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