Gradients Galore

Yarn gradients are not a new thing, in fact, they’ve been around for years and I used to lovingly stock them when I worked for Webs Yarn Store. So why has it taken me so long to start playing around with them? I have no idea! Ever since working up Euphorbia and Mince Pie Fading Lines for my mom and designing Head in the Clouds, I’ve found myself reaching for the gradual color transitions again and again.

Bloomerang shawl knit up in a blue - fuchsia gradient being modeled by a young woman wearing a black shirt tucked into high waisted jeans.

First, came the Bloomerang Shawl knit up in Muscari, a gentle transition from blue to fuchsia (or fuchsia to blue depending on which direction you decided to work from). In my case, though the blue makes up the largest section of the shawl, it’s actually the purple-fuchsia end that speaks the loudest. I don’t often reach for boomerang-shaped shawls, something about the lack of symmetry makes it feel as if they’re going to fall off my neck during the day (they never actually do), but Bloomerang creates interesting color blocking when worn. It’s easy to enjoy the way the blue pops dramatically against the other colors when wrapped.

Solandis shawl knit in a white to blue gradient being modeled by a young woman wearing a charcoal sweater and black yoga pants.

Next came Solandis worked up in Aquilegia, whether or not you want to call this one a shawl or a cowl depends on your personal preference! I loved the simplicity that Solandis called for, each row dependably predictable and easy to put down and pick up again. My only regret for this one is that I started with the Whitish color instead of the blue, despite knowing that the starting color would take up the bulk of the showl (see what I did there?). In my mind, starting with the white would allow for the greatest contrast when worn, but now that it’s done I find myself thinking that reversing the colors would have provided more of a pop.

Ebb and Flow Arm Warmers knit in a yellow to purple gradient laid on top of each other on a gray table cloth. Each arm warmer begins with each end of the gradient and ends with the middle color.

Then came the Ebb & Flow Arm Warmers knit in Anemone, each arm warmer worked on a different end of the gradient so that the upper ends meet in the middle. Anemone is one of Wonderland Yarns’ more dramatic gradients, so the transition between the arm warmers isn’t as smooth as it could have been if knit up in one of the other colorways I worked with. Thus, the arm warmers are funky and vibrant, coordinated by pattern more than by color. I like the idea of running with them in winter, the bright colors helping cars see me on gray days. Plus, I sense they’d be comfortable on days where layering for runs is critical.

I don’t think this is the end of gradient knitting for me, if anything I’m just getting started. In terms of future projects, I’d love to make my daughter a Plumeria Mini in Jade Mar Flower (I love the way she looks in blues and have to take advantage of her lack of opinion on the matter) and I have a mini-skein set of Coal and Scuttles that’s dying to be turned into Longma’s Cowl. So there’s no “finally” to this post, “finally” would imply that I’m done working with gradient skeins – and I’m not!

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Head in the Clouds Knitting Pattern

Head in the clouds shawl sitting on a manikin.

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself reaching for gradient yarns more and more frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I think solid or heathered colorways are still my favorite, but I think gradient colorways are giving me the space to work with more than one color without sacrificing the complexity of the project. Gradients allow you to continue to play around with texture, something I’ve been drawn to of late. This is a roundabout way of saying that when Wonderland Yarns asked me if I wanted to design a pattern for their March Blossom Club, they received an enthusiastic yes!

It took a few tries before I landed on a design that I was happy with, despite going into the design process with the idea of “head in the clouds” after seeing the colorway. My first attempt was a shawl that didn’t make it much further than casting on. Then I tried a cowl with a provisional cast on with the general goal of grafting the ends together at the end, this design didn’t make it much further than the second repeat. Third time was the charm, although I did have to put it down for an evening before committing to it. Visualizing the way a design is going to knit up and block is very difficult – even making a gauge swatch leaves a lot left to the imagination when it comes to what the larger garment will look like. There’s this delicate balance between creating from an idea and calling the project when it’s clear that it’s not working out the way that you intended it to.

Head in the Clouds is a quick knit cowl, despite being knit in fingering weight yarn, with a textured design meant to remind the wearer of birds migrating and puffy clouds in the sky. Guage is not important for this pattern, but not knitting the cowl to gauge will affect yardage requirements (and Head in the Clouds uses just about an entire skein of blossom!).

You can purchase Head in the Clouds on Ravelry.

Close up of the head in the clouds cowl being worn.

Euphorbia and Mince Pie Fading Lines

A young woman wearing a purple cardigan with a colorful collar. The collar transitions smoothly from the same purple as the cardigan to orange to teal.

Sometimes when you cast on a project that you’re excited about, it takes forever to come together. No matter how many rows that you knit and how much time you spend knitting them, the project never seems to progress. In fact, taking the time to measure your project seems to reinforce the fact that you are indeed in a knitting black hole until you suddenly measure and discover that you’ve managed to work past your desired amount. The Fading Lines Cardigan by Joji Locatelli was not one of these projects.

Perhaps it was the fact that I just bound off a lace shawl (more on that to come!). Perhaps it was working with Mary Ann from Wonderland Yarns, a yarn that slid over my needles like a dream, or the understanding that I had a test knit that needed to be worked up and passed along to them. Perhaps it was participating in Joji’s Fall KAL. Honestly it could have been a number of things or the combination of them all together, but in less than two weeks I was binding off the second sleeve and prepping to pick up stitches for the gradient collar. From casting on to binding off, I started and ended this project excited to wear the finished cardigan and never entered the “when will it be done” phase.

Fading Lines is worked top down with a small amount of waist shaping. Once the body is complete, the arm stitches are then removed from stitch holders and worked in the round. The final piece of the sweater, the collar, is created by picking up stitches (probably the slowest and most mundane part of the entire project — but completely worth it!) and knitting with a gradient yarn.

Skeins of Curiouser (teal), Mince Pie (purple), or Tulgey Wood (brown) in Mary Ann from Wonderland Yarns laying to the right of two skeins of Blossom in colorway Euphoria (gradient that transitions from teal to purple).

Normally, I’m not a purple person, but as I poured over the different gradients found in Wonderland Yarn’s Blossom I couldn’t help but be drawn to the colorway Euphoria. Euphoria, which fades from purple to yellow to teal (or the reverse depending on how the yarn is caked), begged to be turned into something that would bring a pop of color to my winter wardrobe. As I mentioned in my first Joji KAL 2021 post, the project was chosen after the skein of blossom was chosen, and then the color to knit the body of the sweater in was chosen. The amazing team at Wonderland Yarns paired three choices with Euphoria for me to choose from: Curiouser (teal), Mince Pie (purple), or Tulgey Wood (brown)

My go-to color should have been Curiouser, but for some reason it was the only color combination that I nixed off the bat. From there, I posted the photo to my Instagram story and asked you for help: Mince Pie or Tulgey Wood? All the while hemming and hawing over it myself, wondering if I would end up making the same decision as the winning vote. In the end, it was very close. Mince Pie won by three votes and seconds before learning the victor I had decided that I too was leaning more towards having a purple sweater over having a brown one with a pop of color.

The deciding reason is the same one that will have me reaching for this cardigan all winter: it’s so easy to wear a lot of brown and black. Sure, I can wear a black top underneath the cardigan, but this version of Fading Lines will wrap me in color in a way that the Tulgey Wood wouldn’t have been able to. So thank you to everyone who voted for Mince Pie, but even more to those who took the time to private message me the reminder that winter is already filled with beautiful neutrals.

Modifications were made to the pattern, but mostly in the form of length: I shortened the overall cardigan length by three inches and increased the sleeve garter rows to match the bottom. The other modification I made was working 17 garter rows on the collar instead of 16 before the final four rows were worked. The main motivation for this was to ensure that all of the colors appeared in my collar, but honestly I wish I had worked closer to 20 garter rows instead (I chickened out due to a fear of the collar being too large. It’s not, it could have been bigger!).

Let’s Knit together: #jojifallkal2021

Logo for joji fall knit along 2021.

Joji Locatelli is hosting her 10th fall knit-along (KAL) this year and I’ve decided to enthusiastically participate! With so many of her patterns either favorited or sitting in my queue, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t participated in one of her fall KALs yet. Having participated in her Starting Point mystery knit along during the summer of 2017 (was it really that long ago?), I’m looking forward to the community of knitters that Locatelli brings together.

As a Wonderland Yarns ambassador, I’ve been trying to work with yarn colors or put-ups that I wouldn’t normally reach for when shopping at my local yarn store(s). This lead to the creation of my rainbow scarf and coordinating hat, a set that was enthusiastically received for one of my dear friend’s birthday. While blacks and rainbow colors are not out of my comfort zone, I’m not someone who’s quick to reach for yarn sets. In my mind, it’s hard to determine what to do with them (even though they come with a fun shawl pattern!). Now that I’ve worked with Combo #12, I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun to work with pre-determined color pallets. They’re a great way to play around with colors without committing to a large skein, which was a fun challenge rather than a “am I ever going to use this” one. I’ve got my eye on a few other combos, but I’m not planning on using any of them for the fall KAL.

While looking through Wonderland Yarn’s catalog, I fell in love with their blossom gradients and set to work trying to find a pattern that would allow the yarn’s beauty to speak for itself. There are so many shawl, cowl and mitten patterns to choose from, but I really wanted something that was going to highlight the gradient no matter what outfit I grabbed for the day. Locatelli released Fading Lines during my first year of what I’ll call “serious knitting” and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t add it to my queue or favorites right away. Rather, this is a pattern that I’ve enjoyed looking at over the years but never really saw myself choosing colors to work it successfully.

With the help of the wonderful folks at Wonderland Yarn, I was able to choose a gradient that I loved and they found three yarns that would work will with it (this in my mind is the hardest part). From there, many of you voted on my Instagram in order to help me narrow it down from two to the one I’m going to be working with. To those of you who voted, thank you for helping me decide!

Choosing Fading Lines puts me on Team Cardigan and I’m looking forward to the fun that the next six weeks have in store!

Logo for team cardigans for the joji fall knit along 2021