Long lost FOs & tips for knitting colorwork

Hello knitters! If you're in a part of the world that's experiencing it, I hope you're enjoying this bit of Fall that's been creeping in. It's still very green and, at times, balmy, here in North Carolina, but the light and the air are changing. The days are getting shorter. The worst of the humidity has blissfully subsided for the year.

And just in time for the new season, I received a fun package from Interweave headquarters in Colorado. Every once in a while, I try my hand at designing knits. I really enjoy color knitting, but I find the color selection and arrangement and motif design process so painstakingly slow (though exciting), that I design pretty rarely. But, I've done a few color designs over the years. 

So yesterday, I received a package that contained some of my past designs. One was the Bandelier Socks, one was the Angelfire Jacket, and one was the Reeva Hat from the new book Fair Isle Style. It was a fun, colorful, and Fallish box of goodies!

Are you a color knitter? Do you choose your own colors or usually follow a pattern's colorway? Choosing your own colors can be tough. I obviously tend to gravitate towards rust, neutral, and blue combinations. I think it comes from time spent in the Southwest and the profound effect those landscapes had on me. Having a natural attraction to certain color groupings helps with choosing colors, but finding a happy final pattern takes a lot more effort than picking out your favorite color skeins from the yarn shop shelf. 

First, there's the issue of foreground and background colors. You can shift colors throughout for both foreground and background, or just one of them. In traditional Fair Isle colorwork, as Mary Jane Mucklestone writes in Fair Isle Style, "Fair Isle patterns evolve into beautiful mosaics when bands of pattern colors are worked against bands of background colors." You'll need quite a few different colors in one project to get this effect, and it's more complex to nail down the right arrangement of color and motif when there are so many variables at play. 

Below is a hat I designed many years ago, called the Hill Country Cap. You can see in the horizontal band, both foreground and background colors change throughout the section. But in the vertical flower section, there is one foreground and one background color. This creates a flatter, more two dimensional look than the rich, layered look of that horizontal band with its many colors. 

One cool way to get the layered effect of traditional Fair Isle with only two colors is to use a solid color and a variegated color. The variegated color will create the look of changing colors while it's actually the yarn doing all the work (and planning!). Here are a couple examples:

Child's Faux Fair Isle, https://www.interweave.com/childs-faux-fair-isleRamona Cowl, https://www.interweave.com/ramona-cowl

But if you choose a complex colorwork pattern with shifting colors in both fore and backgrounds, Fair Isle Style is a great resource for choosing and arranging colors. Check it out, grab some sample balls, and just start swatching. That's the best advice this sometime colorwork designer can give! Swatch swatch swatch. Fall's a great time to start. Cheers, 

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