Color Your Knitting World

Editors' note: We invited eMag Editor Anne Merrow to tell us about the debut of her newest eMag, ColorKnits, which focuses on the worldwide knitting tradition of colorwork.

Janine Bajus shows how color value gives Fair Isle knitting a sense of depth and movement.

Given a pair of knitting needles and a limited supply of yarn, how many ways could you invent to create intricate color designs? The number of techniques that knitters around the world incorporate and use to manage color in their projects is pretty astonishing. The first issue of ColorKnits takes a detailed look at two very different traditional ways of creating colorful knitting, one from Estonia and one from the North Sea.

The Faded Splendor Tam combines a Turkish-inspired color palette with Fair Isle techniques.

Fair Isle

On a small island far off the coast of Scotland, the knitters of Fair Isle (and other Shetland Islands) developed a style of knitting that became so popular that it has become synonymous with stranded-color knitting. As Janine Bajus explains, color use and Fair Isle knitting are inextricably linked: the progressions and combinations of colors are as important to Fair Isle knitting as the methods of stranding colors and working in the round. Value—a term that might sound offputtingly like a lesson from color-theory class—comes to life in Fair Isle knitting. The background and foreground colors in a motif shift gradually between lighter and darker, creating the appearance of movement and depth. In her Faded Splendor Tam, Janine brings this idea to life, creating a three-dimensional appearance that draws your eye in irresistibly.



Nancy Bush designed the Forest Flower Mitts with roositud for a fresh pop of color.

Estonian knitters developed an ingenious way of adding color in knitting: roositud, an inlay technique that combines elements of stranded knitting, satin-stitch embroidery, and weaving. Using short lengths of contrasting yarn, roositud doesn't require any knitting with the supplementary colors; to add color designs, the knitter simply moves the yarn back and forth from right side to wrong side. Estonian knitting expert Nancy Bush explains the method, which can be challenging to envision but is strikingly simple to work; it requires no extra needle, avoids the possibility of splitting stitches, and anchors the contrasting colors firmly in the fabric. Nancy's Forest Flower Mitts design is a lovely way to practice the technique.

ColorKnits includes so many ways of knitting with color, from planned pooling (the technique of coaxing a regular pattern from skeins of handpainted or variegated yarns) to Anne Berk's seamless intarsia in the round method, and offers a variety of designs—a perfect way to brighten your knitting.