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Twist Collective Blog

Knitting Books in Color

Julia here.

More than anything else as a knitter, I am driven by color.  I fall for yarn in the perfect shade of whatever it is, I am especially drawn to saturated rich mouth watering hues.  Sometimes I like my colors one at a time, another I prefer a great happy jumble of jewel tones or mossy barky fair isle.  This Fall season brings a number of recommendable books to the bookshelf of the knitter besotted with color, serving as guides to managing them together, or hoping to inspire you to branch out in your techniques.  Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Noro: Knit 40 Fabulous Designs by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton

Sixth & Spring Books


Let's face it, Noro yarns are the closest thing knitters have to Italian sports cars.  We love them for their look, we quibble over our favorites among them, and we apologize for their delicacy when we drive them too hard.  We covet them anyway. Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton has no such hesitations in her love affair with Noro yarns and uses the opening chapter of her new book to explain why. Here she tells the story of her journey to Japan to visit the elusive Eisaku Noro and the company he founded. She lets the reader in on a few of the secrets to the artful yarn making process, and shares Noro's ambitious craft philosophy summed up in "The World of Nature" slogan printed on every Noro label. Also included are patterns for 40 of Hamilton's designs, some of them familiar from her 25 years of work with Noro yarns.  If you already own some of Hamilton's Noro books, you may want to resist the Amazon impulse and instead, thumb through it the next time you're at your LYS to see what you think (of course, we at Twist Collective urge and support your buying anything and everything you can from your Local, but you already knew that ::wink::).

Color by Kristin: How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits by Kristin Nicholas

Sixth & Spring Books


The Poster Girl for Color Play, Nicholas depends on the reliable palette of her lusciously colored Julia yarn from Nashua Handknits to demonstrate combinations, but how to do it with yarn father afield, say, from your stash? Swatch swatch swatch, she says, and walks the walk herself with beautiful demonstrations of what a simple shift can do to a color idea. That alone would be reason to add this book to your list, but among the designs is the sweater that turned my very own craft-resistant sister from a "someday" knitter to a "Right now, I NEED TO MAKE THAT" knitter.  Thanks Kristin for pushing her off the fence.

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques by Margaret Radcliffe

Storey Publishing


Where to begin?  An encyclopedic guide to just about everything you would ever need to know about working with color: thorough and masterful chapters on color theory and techniques, from managing color changes in stripes to conquering intarsia in the round (and otherwise), this is a book you could learn something from anytime you open it. Radcliffe aspires to break knitters out of their monochromatic rut, whether or not they think they're in one. A few minutes with this book, and the intervention is complete. 

99 Yarns and Counting : More Desings from the Green Mountain Spinnery by The Green Mountain Spinnery Cooperative

Countryman Press


While not strictly a color knitting book, per se, I include 99 Yarns in this rodeo round up because I have always admired the colors their Mountain Mohair comes in as it never fails to stop my breath whenever I see the full range displayed together in a yarn shop. They cry out for combination (as we were so lucky to feature in Jennifer Appleby's Gytha sweater design in last winter's issue), and can also be enjoyed as such in several designs among the 36 collected here.  A worthy addition to your library, and a heart warming reminder of how easy it is to knit local. 


Twist Tidbits: Yarn Pots

Julia here.

Something new you'll notice in the upcoming Winter issue is what will not be there.  We've decided to not run Tidbits as a regular feature because of the amount of confusion it seems to have generated among our readers and advertisers.  Tidbits was never anything more than a small collection of things that I liked and thought were worth sharing.  Some of our supporters felt it was an unfair (and unpaid for) focus of our editorial. This seems to be validated by the consistent language readers have used in forum discussions to describe things they have seen in the Tidbits section as "advertisements", so I am willing to admit the point, and pull the section from the magazine. But happily, this leaves me free to share such things on the blog as I find them, rather than wait until the next issue.  So here's my first such offering.

There are any number of ways to secure your yarn while you knit, and this one appeals to me on several levels, not just because I like pottery, but because the yarn in residence suddenly becomes part of an artistic object, whether or not you're actually working with that yarn at the moment.


If you gotta have one, they're from Kelli.  As an independant potter, she says that it's a challenge to get kiln time where she lives, so the pots become available when she can get them fired, and then she has a bunch. You can let Kelli know if you want to be contacted the next time they become available.  Sign up for the mailing list by writing LumLumTree [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject “LumLum Tree News” and she will make sure to add you to the list.

Thanks to Stephen for pointing these out.

Paula in Color

Hi there. It's Kate (for once). Julia and I were talking last night about Fiona Ellis' Paula and how it's the prettiest pattern she's done for us yet... though Bonnie is neck and neck with it for me. We were wondering what it might look like in a color. The Valley Yarns Stockbridge comes in lots of great colors, so I thought I'd show you the possibilities.

First, the original, in Natural:

Paula in Cream

And here are some colors:

Paula in Color

Didn't even show you their Red Purple which is gorgeous but, sadly, backordered...

Ooh. Wonder what it would look like in a semi solid! Sadly that's beyond my photo editing skills. How would you want your Paula?

Guest Post: Choosing Yarns for Sundog

by Kristi Schuler

originally posted on Kristi's blog, Fiberfool.

My goal for Sundog was to make a fun-to-knit but relatively quick project that would work well for both boys and girls. Everyone I know who has had children in the last 5 years has had boys. We all know there are tons of fun girl patterns out there, but it can be more difficult to find a fun boy pattern.


I felt a splash of handpainted yarn would spice things up a bit without the result being overly flashy or needing to worry about breaking up any pooling or flashing. I also wanted a design that could grow with the child(ren) and get more than one season’s worth of wear out of it. This inspired the fold-back cuffs on the sweater. Many children grow taller, getting longer arms and torsos without gaining much in circumference. Since the sweater has no shaping, I suggest knitting the sleeves and torso to the perfect length right now, then add the extra border.


The cuff border is knit with the wrong side out so when folded back it matches the yoke and bottom body, but the wrong side of the stitch pattern is pretty as well so the following year the cuffs can be worn without folding back. Of course it is knit from the top down so you could also rip back and add more length to either portion as well! The really adventurous could even add more circumference to the sweater by steeking it at the sides and adding in gusset panels!


In my original proposal swatch I chose a yarn with short lengths of many colors for the handpainted yarn and a coordinating solid that appeared in the multi-color yarn. This created a softer look to the striping - almost a watercolor look. For the look in the magazine, coordinating — but not matching — colors were chosen. That is the look I would recommend for yarn with longer lengths of a given color (generally commercial handpaints with 4 or fewer distinct hues).

In general the yoke pattern will pop more if the solid is a complimentary color of one of the predominant hues in the handpaint yarn like the sample in the magazine (red and green are complimentary colors and pink is a tint of red). If you are not confident in choosing a non-matching handpaint to go with a solid or you want a little more subtle look to the yoke and borders you may wish to choose an analogous solid color of similar value to the handpaint.


The magazine sample is of course in girl colors, but the sweater works equally well in unisex or boy colors.  Here are some possible combos. Originally I had ordered the solid from the first picture with the multi-color in the second photo. Upon seeing them in person I realized they were a near perfect match in color, and that color was probably a good 1/3 of the skein. That was going to be much too matchy and it would obscure the work that goes into the stitch pattern in the yoke. Any of the above combos would work. It just comes down to personal preference.

Of course you are not locked into using only Lorna’s Laces, the yarn called for in the magazine. There are a wide variety of yarns being used for the sweater. You just need the pretty standard worsted weight gauge of 5 sts and 7 rnds per inch. Lorna’s Laces is a great choice as it very soft, is superwash (a requirement of mine for kid knitting) and they dye both semi-solids and coordinating multi-colors. Many of the great indie dyers would also have working color combos in the proper gauge.

Guest Post: A Big Win for Barbara Parry

by Barbara Parry

I was a guest at Barbara Parry's Springdelle Farm this past weekend ahead of my hanging out at Fiber Twist, and while there I found out that there has been some lovely developments for her this late summer. So let's check in with our Yarn Farm columnist, shall we?

Exciting news on the wool front: our Cormo ram, Teaberry, won the Champion Purebred Fleece Show at the Eastern States Exposition Fleece Competition on Friday! That's his fleece, the tall white one in the center. And it's a beauty!


Last Wednesday Holly and I delivered a carload of very special fleeces from this year's shearing to the exhibit hall at the Eastern States (a.k.a.  the Big E), the largest agricultural fair in the Northeast. This show, held every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts draws competition from all over the country. I reserve the best of our best to enter. 

There's a division for Purebred fleeces and a division for Handspinning fleeces. Within each division are classes for specific breeds. I spent hours last week dithering over which Cormo fleeces best represented the breed and which ones might be deemed worthy of an award in the handspinning category. Each farm may enter only two fleeces per class, so it's important to choose wisely. I ended up taking four Cormo fleeces, one Border Leicester fleece, and four cross-bred fleeces, including two for the colored wool category.

It was very exciting to see Teaberry's fleece awarded the purple rosette for the Purebreds. Kind of like watching your kid score a winning goal in a soccer match or get an A+ on a science fair project.

The flock was well represented. Tea's son, Cody, took second place honors in the Purebred white Finewool class (with Tea taking the blue ribbon). Verbena's fleece captured a red ribbon in the white Finewool Hand Spinning Fleece class. Arcadia's locks placed third  in the Border Leicester class and this was the BL National Show. We had some 5, 6 & 7th placings as well in the Handspinning Division. Not bad.

You can celebrate with us in a special contest. Describe a milestone or success, either yours or someone close to you, in the comment section. On Friday, October 9th I'll draw a winner from all commenters for a basket of my hand-dyed Cormo Silk Alpaca yarn, which happens to be made from the wool of many Teaberry offspring.


Tea's doesn't understand all the fuss — he already knows he's hot stuff. Here he is, looking rather George Clooney-esqe in this photo taken last summer. All it takes is field of grass to make his day. That and my Cormo ewes. What a guy. 

Soon it will be time for him to try his luck with the ladies. It's hard to believe, but we've reached that time of year again. I'm reviewing the flock list, deciding how many and which ewes shall be bred. You can read more about the thinking that goes into breeding for good wool in my article for the fall issue of Twist Collective: The Ram is Half the Sweater.

Another busy week. Time for our Sheep Shares members Foliage Open Barn this coming weekend (and time to reserve shares for 2010 soon). Then the New York Sheep & Wool at Rhinebeck comes up mighty quickly, where we have double-sized booth this year in Building A. I'll be sure to bring a lock of Teaberry's wool for fondling.

Somehow, we must finish haying in between the fall fiber festivals. I counted the square bales in the barn yesterday and we're still short of what we need to carry the flock through winter. Making hay in fall is challenging. The dew dries off the field late morning and begins setting again by 3:30 in the afternoon, as soon as the shadows creep across the fields. That doesn't leave much dry time for raking and baling. It takes a good 4 days for mown grass to dry well enough for baling at this time of year and we're just not getting that break. The pattern has been one or two sunny days wedged between periods of overcast and drizzle. It's maddening, really, with so much to do here. If you see a four day window of decent weather, you'll know what we're up to. Keep your fingers crossed for us.