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!

fresh from the dye pot

My task tonight is to come up with a label design for this lovely mountain of yarn I have been dyeing over the past couple of weeks. I also want to make a light box so I can begin taking better photographs. My ipod is great for taking spontaneous photos but it really doesn’t capture colours all that well. Nevertheless, here is one picture just to give you a taste of what I have been up to.

I have learned so much doing this. Now it is time to deliver some of this wooly loveliness to the Old Mill in Paisley for sale and to set up a new shop on Etsy to offer some online. I would love, love, love to do this full time but we’ll see. There are so many independent dyers out there already. If I get a good response to this batch I will take it to the next level. If not, I have lots of pictures to remember what a great time I had this fall!

so what is a knitter to do?

If you know me, you know I love to knit. I don’t just see it as an enjoyable pastime to pull out on a snow day or those last few weeks before Christmas. I knit all year long. We only get one or two weeks of scorching hot humid weather a year where I live and even during those hot and sticky weeks when all of my fellow Canadians are revelling in having a different kind of weather to complain about, you will find me knitting something small like a sock or a mitten while I am at the beach. You see, that way I will be all set when the cold weather returns a few weeks later. I keep it small in summer because as much as I like knitting, no one wants a lap full of wool in July. Besides, if it is too hot and humid, wool tends to felt as you knit it. I see that as the wool’s way of telling me it likes to hibernate in the height of summer.

Everywhere I go, I knit. That is what purses are for, I have decided, to carry knitting projects and a little pouch of knitting tools, and since I already have the bag ready to take along, I might as well toss my wallet and keys in there too. I knit while waiting for my kids in the orthodontist’s office, when visiting friends, waiting for a haircut, I have even been known to get a few rounds of a sock done while waiting in a particularly long line at the grocery store. A few years ago our family made a trip across Canada. We drove 10,000 km and I knit this along the way. It took about 100 hours of knitting and I loved every stitch of it.

The entrelac knitting you see at the top of this blog page is something I knit when I was still a fairly new knitter. I didn’t care that it was supposed to be challenging, I just wanted to make something beautiful and so I tackled it.

So what happened? I have been happily and successfully knitting for most of my life and I seem to have lost my touch. Sweaters, shawl, mittens, socks, toys, hats and scarves have all come off my needles happily over the past few decades. Now I suddenly find myself unable to produce anything! In the past month I have started mittens, a cowl, a hat, socks and a simple sweater, and every one had to be ripped out and put aside for another project. Just this weekend I cast on for the same sweater four different times and even though I did a gauge swatch and carefully counted and measured each time, I got a vastly different sweater-in-the-making – none of which I could have worn. The first two would have fit around three of me. The third attempt seemed promising until I realized I had made a huge error and either had to rip it back or else reattach one of my arms to be right beside the other one. I decided to go with the yarn rip rather than the arm rip. I thought through all of my mistakes and even though I was tired of re-knitting the same thing yet again, gave it one more go and was hopeful to get a lot of it done today – and wouldn’t you know? This version would probably fit my 14 pound Lhasa Poo perfectly. I gave up and returned the yarn to the stash. It doesn’t want to be this sweater, apparently. And frankly, I don’t want to look at it again for awhile either. I just looked up and saw that I knit the sleeves for the sweater first – and wouldn’t you know, they are too long by about eight inches. Great.

My project today, in between working and caring for three sick kids home from school while my husband is away, is to figure out what I can knit. As much as I love the actual knitting part, I love it when all of that yarn action actually turns into something beautiful and warm for someone to wear. I don’t love it enough to just keep ripping it all back. Besides, if I lose my knitting mojo, what am I going to do with all of this?

the best way to keep summer colours close all winter….

Is to knit them into warm wooly socks to wear in the snow. I have had baskets of yarn all over the house just waiting to be saturated with colour. This week I started dyeing again and I can’t believe I waited so long – it is so much fun!

Looking out at the grey sky and seeing Lake Huron get darker as winter approaches and dreaming of water in summery brilliant blues….



I discovered Pinterest this week too and every time I visit the site I find new ideas of things     to make and things to try around the house. It is like scrapbooking with no scraps to clean     up! This is one of the quick ideas I found there, another way to keep the summery            turquoise I love warming the house as the temperature drops.