hooked on colour

I knit for many reasons but one of the biggest is for colour. The amazing variety of soft yarns we can find so easily at any yarn shop today was not so available when I became a serious knitter in the 1980’s. There was wool, cotton, some mohair and a lot of acrylic. I didn’t care so much because it was the colours that drew me into the shops. I had absolutely no respect for gauge or the consequences of combining fibres. When the lovely owner of my LYS at the time (anyone remember The Hill Knittery in Richmond Hill?) directed me towards Kaffe Fassett, I was enthralled. I knit several of his patterns in those years before having children and this is the only photo that I have.

This is my wonderful and so very beautiful aunt wearing one of my version’s of Jack’s Back Stripe from Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knitting. I recall using about 40 different yarns in this, combining some of them in an attempt to keep the weights somewhat similar. There was a lot of wool, some chenille, a lot of mohair, including one delicious ball that had strands of fuchsia hidden among the blues, purples, bits of black and green. Too bad none of that pink showed up in this picture! The dyer in me needs to take note of the fact that a knitter who loves colour can remember a truly beautiful skein 30 years after knitting it. I wish I knew where that skein came from. I just remember that it was expensive and I only had one and spread it out carefully through this sweater.

The sweater is long gone too. My aunt wore it for years but as it was knit loosely and side to side, it grew and it grew and it grew. She gave it to her much taller sister who wore it for a couple of years and then it was passed on to someone else who pinned up the sleeves and wore it as more of a robe. I have no idea what happened to the other Kaffe patterns I knit and gave away so many years ago.

I just bought the newest book by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably – Knitting With the Color Guys. Do I really need this book? Probably not, but I have all of Kaffe’s other books and I love starting my day with a cup of tea and one of them, just flipping through the pictures. Over the years I have come to realize that while I love what he does with colour, we do not share the same colour preferences. At one point I purchased a number of his quilting fabrics but when I got home I realized that while I love what they do together, I don’t actually like the colours he uses. Too many yellow and gold undertones for me. I have learned from that expensive experiment and now like to use his ideas with the shades and tones that I love. This quilt was a lot of fun to make and I love the overall effect but if I were to do it again, I would only use fabrics that make me happy. I think I loved 10% of these fabrics and tolerated the rest because they made the project work. Now I would make sure those statistics were reversed! I am still slowly sewing my way through that part of my stash!

I keep thinking it is time to knit another colour explosion but then I look in my dresser and see that as much as I love to work with crazy amounts of colour, I like to wear pretty simple things – except for my socks and mittens. Maybe I should use the colour inspiration with my sewing machine and make another quilt or doctor up some jeans for my daughter. We are having our first burst of spring after a dull and dreary winter so I will get things blooming on my needles and sewing machine to inspire the outdoors!


I went digging through my closet this morning and found the missing yarn. This means I can finish the sweater and decide on its future.  This should be great news except for the fact that when I found it I thought of a shawl I started last winter and how I haven’t seen it around lately….. believing that the knitting elves have taken it to finish it for me is probably wishful thinking. If they didn’t finish the cardigan, why would they bother with a little shawl?

I managed to get my Etsy site up and running. Etsy has certainly improved – and grown – since I used it to sell my quilts several years ago! I will be adding new yarns and other goodies every day, probably one every morning and one every night. That is the best way to stay visible in the fast moving world of Etsy. If you don’t see something you love there right now, just keep checking every couple of days and something will turn up! Who knows, if I decide that the Rainbow Squares Around cardigan just isn’t me any more, I might list it on Etsy.

Here is the link – Shantiknits on Etsy  I am already thinking ahead to my next dyeing spree so please let me know if there are particular colours or yarn weights you would like to see!


what’s another seven years of sitting on the shelf?

I haven’t been online much lately as if every coughing fit was a skein of yarn, I could knit my family a house cozy for Christmas this year. Having asthma and a cold and a damp, mildewy kind of fall is a vert bad combination. The cold is long gone but my stomach muscles have been getting quite the workout for the past few weeks with all this coughing.

This cough has been keeping me up at night so lots of knitting is happening. I started the Squares Around cardigan about seven years ago and knit like crazy for a couple of weeks and then put it in the closet for some reason. I have no idea what it did to get itself banished like that but I pulled it out yesterday and realized I only have about five more inches to knit, the button band and then a little steeking before it is ready to go. This sweater could be on my back before December. Steeking scares most people because that is when you cut holes in your knitting to make room for the sleeves and for your head to go through – and to make the sweater a cardigan instead of a pullover. I admit that it did have me sweating the very first time I did this to a sweater but now I kind of like it. It means I get to knit in the round (speed knitting!) for the entire sweater and then just pop the pieces and spaces in where they need to go at the end. It is my version of living dangerously.


I have one problem with this sweater and it isn’t the cutting and it isn’t even the fact that I am not sure I love this pattern or style the way I did seven years ago when I cast on for the sweater. It is that seven years have gone by and I can’t exactly find all of the yarn I need to finish it. The two colours I was using for the row I stopped at were still attached to the sweater so I definitely have those. I found two other colours of the same yarn (Philosoper’s Wool 2 ply) and so I have been able to carry on into the next section – but nothing else. I have searched through my stash and I am worried that this means I have a stash of yarn so secret even I don’t know where it is or else I forgot what the yarn was for and either gave it away or knit it into something else. I can do five more rounds before I will have to stop again and come up with the rest of the yarn to knit the last few rounds of brightly coloured squares and the rainbow button band or else the sweater will have to return to its shelf until I come up with more yarn.

Just how long is the shelf life of a sweater-in-progress?

jumping in at the deep end

I just can’t take a hint. While returning the yarn that doesn’t want to be a cozy cardigan to my stash yesterday I came across another yarn that looked ready to become a different sweater. A quick search through my patterns brought up this and I cast on happily. All seems to be going well although the dark colour is a little hard to knit with during these grey days. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see if it goes.

So what would you do if even simple socks and hats were not knitting up properly for you time after time? Some friends have suggested I try a scarf, a nice plain scarf in a pretty yarn to see if that gets me back on my game. Someone even suggested a nice plain dishcloth – but with my wonderful Enjo to clean everything from my sinks to my dishes to my fruits and veggies to my self – I don’t think so. I did exactly what got me to love knitting so much in the first place. I started knitting something fussy and a little challenging in a very fine yarn. Maybe the fact that I have not successfully knit anything simple in over a month is a sign from the knitting goddess that I need to jump in at the deep end with an intricate pattern, very fine yarn and some slippery needles. No more plain vanilla socks for me for a while, no ordinary hats, no garter stitch scarf. I have started a Swallowtail Shawl. I’ve had the pattern around for ages and I bought the yarn I am using at the Woodstock Fleece Festival a year ago. The yarn is 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk so it will be lovely and soft and beautiful when it is done.

Here it is now – and in case you are wondering, lace always looks like a really ugly mess until it has been washed and blocked. Maybe the secret is for me to work on something that is guaranteed to look awful until it is well and truly done and I can be surprised with the very end result instead of trying to make something that looks like, well, like what it is supposed to look like as I knit.


Wish me luck.