Saturday, 15 November 2014

Guest Post: Don't Be Afraid of Bold Colour Mixes by Sara Millis

This week we have a guest post from the lovely Sara, whose gorgeous yarn is also up for grabs for you to win over here!  

Hi, My name is Sara and I run an indie dye business called Sara’s Texture Crafts. I am delighted to have been invited to write a short piece for Amanda on her lovely blog OwlPrintPanda. I hope you enjoy what I have written and if you have any questions, please ask.

A very brief bit about me… I studied fashion business at the London College of Fashion, which lead to my working for a number of British Fashion Designers and a few Textile houses. It was here that I became drawn to wool as a fibre and so Sara’s Texture Crafts was born. I started out supplying felt makers, which led to learning to spin and weave so that I could extend my ranges. Recently my yarn range has taken off and so I‘m learning lots of different dye techniques to provide interesting colourways for you to knit with too.

So while thinking about what I wanted to write about, I was also planning my yarn giveaway with Amanda and so it seemed only right to concentrate my efforts on one of the questions I am most often asked by yarn buyers at shows… How does that (yarn colourway) knit up?

As an indie dyer I have probably close to 65/70 colours for yarn alone; available in variegated, semi solids, two tone, gradients and colour blocks… with some new ideas on the way. So it is impossible to swatch every colourway and display it on my stall clearly. I try to work on swatching ideas from each main dye technique instead, so you can see how an example of that might look.

Now given that this is a big subject with lots of dye techniques to cover, I thought it best to start us off with my tips for looking at bold colour mixes in variegated yarn.

I find occasionally that buyers shy away from bright bold mixes in variegated yarns, especially if they haven’t knitted something similar before.

I am here to say… Don’t be afraid of bold colour mixes!

Let me first show you an example from my range… colour Rosemoor (inspired by RHS Rosemoor Gardens).

Rosemoor is made up of bright pinks, greens and a mix of those to make teals. It can be quite a shock to see it in the skein like that… it’s very bright and bold.

When you start knitting with Rosemoor you can immediately see that this particular mix softens down.

From a distance the finished project culminates into a fabric that reminds you much more of the swaying sprays of flora in a garden on a summer’s day (as intended in this case) and less like the bold pop art interpretation that the intensity of the skein originally gave off.

Let’s think about that for a minute… going back to that beautiful garden on the summer’s day… from a distance a flower bed seems blended and harmonious, but up close in actuality the flowers are bold and unforgiving in their colour to attract insects. It’s the planting design that gives that blended feel from a distance.

This is the same with variegated yarns… They are designed so that bright skeins can often be more muted and blended in the knitted fabric.

It is the art of diffusion.

This is how I design my variegated colourways… to allow the colours to blend in a harmonious way.

So don’t be afraid of bold colour mixes!

Here are some Tips to Consider When Buying Variegated Yarns;

·       View the yarns in natural light where possible. This will help you see clearly how the colours look and if they might suit you. On-line shops will do their best to show you a good representation of those colours on their website, if you aren’t sure about colour tones then ask before you buy.
·       Ask to see a sample of that dye technique. Stall holders and shop owners do try their best to show examples. Depending on the base the example is knitted in, compared to the yarn you are looking to buy they will be able to give you some guidance.
·       Remember; the more colours in the yarn then the smaller the number of stitches each colour will travel across in your knitted row, allowing for more colours per row and creating a more diffused ‘space dye’ effect. Generally dyers seem to produce variegated skeins with 3-5 different colours, or blended colours they have chosen to work together as a harmonious knitted effect.

Tips on Pattern and Stitch Choice for Variegated Yarns;

·       Experiment with smaller accessories projects. If you aren’t used to such bright colours, then play with knitting socks and mitts to start with… bold pops of colour can really make an outfit stand out. If you are unsure of such bold colour choices, then knitting garments that sit away from your face will help you learn to get used to their intensity and also hide the colour choices that didn’t quite work for you.
·       Experiment with sock blankets and home décor. A skein of variegated yarn would make a wonderful addition to hearts in Amanda’s Heart Garland pattern. Equally it would break up solid shading in sock blankets too. This is a great way to use bursts of colour… you might find an affinity with variegated yarns through working projects like this.
·       Keep stitch choice simple. Simple stitch patterns, like a stockinette, garter or slip stitch will make the best of the colour… but remember intricate lace will get lost in bold colour variation.

Tips on Wearing Variegated Yarns;

·       Think Simple. Wear variegated yarns against softer or neutral shades to help soften the colours further and wear it against a black or charcoal to intensify the colour.
·       Print or not to print. Paired with simple colours and shapes the variegated yarn becomes the star of your outfit… but pair it with a very clever print and it will fade the intensity of your knit and give you a diffused colour element to compliment the colours in the print.

From here I plan to take this further in one of my new Tutorial Series over on my blog Crafts of Texture. Pop over if you’d like to learn more.

I hope you have found this useful… Happy Knitting and thanks for having me!
Sara x

1 comment:

  1. And now I found your blog too - great to learn more about what you do and love this guest post from Sara. I have just bought some variegated yarn as an experiment so some good tips here, thanks!


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