A Love of Colorwork: Graphic Knits and Knitscene Winter

Confession: I love colorwork. I don't care about having lots of ends to weave in, or winding bobbins for intarsia, or being super conscious of my yarn tension for stranded colorwork. Patterns in dynamic colors in knitting tell amazing stories and create eyecatching finished pieces that can express a myriad of moods. I studied American folk art in college and fell hard for the intricate patterns in weaving, quilting, and knitting. A lot of women in the 18th and 19th centuries in America visually expressed themselves through the functional things (blankets, rugs, pillow covers, towels, etc) and garments that they made. There is almost always a story behind a handcraft, and colorwork pieces tell some of the best stories.

Interweave has a new book out by Alexis Winslow called Graphic Knits. The tagline is "designs in bold, beautiful color" and it's spot on. There are several lovely projects that are in one solid color, but the lion's share of the projects involve colorwork. The colors and patterns are both beautiful and interesting, and make you want to look more closely to see how they're made.

The author herself is shown modeling the following garments, which is pretty awesome. You can see how fantastic her style is, and understand how she designed the patterns and shapes of her garments to complement real people. You can also see the energy in the pieces, how full of life they are! All photos were taken by her husband, Brian Cantrell.

Rook Pullover Trilogy Cardigan

The dynamically patterned Rook Pullover is both seamless and constructed from the top down. This allows all of the stripes to match perfectly, which is pretty darn cool (that jog in stripes can be irritating!). Knit in a sport weight alpaca/silk blend, this pattern features easy to work charts and endless color combinations, creating a fun to knit and fun to wear sweater. 

The Trilogy Cardigan, the book's cover project, looks like it is made using intarsia, but actually uses a clever color changing process that involves breaking one yarn and knitting right along with the other. The open draped front makes it easy to wear this cardigan in lots of fun ways, and the hidden inside buttons allow you to securely close the sweater.

Sweetness Pullover Danae Mittens

The yoke-style Sweetness Pullover has awesome polka dots. Who does't need/want some polka dots in their wardrobe? This stranded colorwork, top-down pullover features three-quarter length sleeves and is easily adjustable to make said sleeves longer. The whole length of the sweater can be changed as well, and the pattern includes suggestions as to when to add or subtract length.

With winter on its way, hand accessories are must-knits. The Fair Isle Danae Mittens are double thick and have incredibly fun patterning. Shaping is worked into the colorwork, which adds fun technique to this already festive handwear. These mittens are knit in the round, and the pattern has beautiful charts to keep you well on track.

Switching gears, to Knitscene. While there are many fantastic colorwork projects in Knitscene Winter, I wanted to specifically mention those from our Made Mosaic story. Ann McDonald Kelly not only designed two of the projects in this issue, but also wrote a tutorial about the basics of mosaic knitting. She writes, "Mosaic knitting is perfect for beginners who are attempting colorwork for the first time. If you've worked stripes in two colors, you can work mosaic knitting. Mosaic patterns are created by slipping stitches from the stripe below without working them."

Neon Mosaic Scarf by Ann McDonald Kelly Otranto Cowl by Kathleen Sperling

Ann's Neon Mosaic Scarf  was designed specifically for those new to mosaic knitting. The mosaic pattern is only at the ends of the scarf so you're not overwhelmed by a new technique. Made from superwash wool, this scarf is infinitely wearable and would be a fantastic gift for any man or woman who appreciates a beautiful pattern.

 The Otranto Cowl by Kathleen Sperling is worked flat and buttoned so that it wraps nicely around your neck. The geomteric pattern is appealing for ladies and gents alike, and you can bump up or subdue your yarn color choices to create a stand alone statement piece or a "goes with everything" accessory.

It doesn't matter what kind of colorwork you like, there are so many patterns here for you. If you've never tried a colorwork project before or are stuck in a rut of always using the same method, there's no time like the present to try something new! You get to tell your own stories, through the patterns you choose, the colors you use, and the energy and style you bring to your finished pieces. It's fun to think about what your knitting says about you…so really, what are you waiting for? Cast on!

Knit happy,

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