Category Archives: knitting

Sssshhh, December mystery knitting

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It is cold outside – the days are never shorter than during the Christmas season! – and it is extremely cosy inside. So how about spicing up the Advent season with a bit of mystery knitting on your super inviting couch? I am not revealing (much) more than in this mystery, we´ll be knitting a shawl. Like the one we made last year, only that it is very different. Ok, this is not very helpful, but it is going to be a mystery-kal, so I am supposed to be secretive about it. I put together a post on ravelry, where our kal will take place, that explains the details I can let you know already. Will you join us? I´d love to see you over on ravelry!

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Yarn and colours

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If you have been following my latest posts, you´ve started to delve into the topic of colours with me a little bit already. And it is such an interesting subject, I feel like I will never stop talking about it.

What is on the bottom of this issue, i.e. colours in knitting, is, of course, the yarn itself. Except you are dyeing your yarns at home – then this won´t be of much interest for you. But most knitters, at least on occasion, will purchase coloured yarns and thus draw from the palettes the yarn companies have to offer.

To me this provides endless fascination.

Some yarn companies go for a very unique and distinctive palette. For example, ITO works with colours that are originally aimed at the Japanese market, and have the appeal of being slightly exotic and unique to us Europeans. It helps that the colours are stylish and tasteful. Also, their fine yarns can easily be held double, which opens up new possibilities for combining colours.

Others offer limited but all the more exquisite colours, like Rosy Green Wool. All their colours are dyed obeying the strict GOTS rules, which is giving us knitters peace of mind and does not restrict the appeal of their colours at all. Plus, there are often limited editions for a couple of special colours for knitters who like to switch things up once in a while and who appreciate seasonal offerings.

Frida Fuchs, an German indie dyer, specialises in brilliant colours of great clarity and often amazing depth. Their colours are modern and at times influenced by the Pantone Fashion Color Report.

Of course there are many more yarn companies that have each their unique styles and palettes. I just picked these three for my post because they are among the yarn companies I have been working with during the last few months and that put them on the top of my mind.

So which colours do knitters choose the most often? It´s the greys. This makes a lot of sense. Grey knitted pieces are great matches with many items in almost any wardrobe. Plus, grey yarns can be mixed with just about any other colour and will balance out the chosen palette for a project.

Rosy from Rosy Green Wool has a great tip for choosing your colours: Get one of their shade cards and place the colours you are thinking about combining next to one another. Colours interact in the most interesting and often unexpected ways and no method is better than this trial-and-error real-life approach to combining colours (and we all know how our screens can deceive us!). – Read more about the complex interaction of colours in a recent post on the blog. – Also, Rosy regularly presents colour combinations on her Instagram and suggests you have a look at your wardrobe to find out which colours will complement it well before you decide on the yarn for a project.

And how does living a life for colours affect the producers of yarn more generally? I have heard the story of a lady who found out new favourite colours that totally took her by surprise – she didn´t think she´d actually like greens – simply due to the fact of almost constantly having colours on her mind. And it brings out creativity in people. Which is not least pourred into finding appropriate names for the colourways. Frida Fuchs, for example, only chooses colour names that go back to something edible or drinkable, which results in charming names like „Hubbards“ (a pumpkin), „Etna“ (wine) and „Mastix“ (the gum of the matic tree).

And of course, having every step of the process of dyeing GOTS labelled is one way to respect the environement which will undoubtedly encroach on other aspects of ones life too. It is one way to be mindful and kind, which is very important in times where the pace of life seems to be incredibly fast and everyone is stressed out all the time. We knitters are taking back taking some time. We produce something beautiful and useful and enjoy the process as much as the result!

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Mix It Up! (again)

Colours are a complex thing. As are fibres. And I enjoy to experiment with both when working with the ITO – fine yarn from Japan yarns. They are thin enough that it is very possible to work with two of them held together, creating a marled effect of colours and texture.

You can, for example, combine a hard with a smooth fibre. I like to spice up Urugami, which has a paper core, with the soft wool-mohair-silk blend Sensai that has a distinct halo. This way the texture of the resulting yarn is a mixture of the two. It has the strength of the Urugami, and the squishyness from Sensai. It is one of my favourite ITO combinations.

But let´s talk colours now, as I promised. Because noone has the time to knit swatches for everything, I just wrapped yarn around a white cardboard gift tag for my examples. It works well enough to illustrate the effect holding two or more threads of yarn together has on the overall colour of the resulting yarn and fabric.

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Here I am combining Urugami once in cold Mint and once in warm Mauve with different Sensai colours (from top to bottom Pool Blue, Moss, Lemon, Tangerine, Crocus, White, Smoke Grey, Charcoal). The Sensai colours blend with the Urugami shade resulting in much softer stripes than the Sensai colours alone. Also, that both colours peak out looks very appealing and gives the knitted piece some depth.

When using this technique sparsely, only occasionally adding in a second thread in a knitted piece, the parts worked with two threads, the motifs, will look almost printed. I did that in my Imprinta scarf. The look is so striking that it inspired the shawl´s naming. And in several other designs I have been working with more than one thread at a time also. Among them are North Sea Mist, Goliatha, Abacatha, Rheindrops and Lineares. Knitting any of these will get you started on your journey of exploring fibres and open up your horizon to completely new possibilities in the world of knitting. If I say so it must be true, right? 

 

Another wito_mix4-2-copy2_kleinay to use the blending effect of working with several strands is to wind a yarn with four strands of one colour. Next wind a yarn with three strands of the base colour and one strand of a contrast colour. Then wind a 2-2 yarn and a 1-3 yarn, and finally a yarn that consists of four strands of only the new colour. You have created your own gradient yarn!

Knitters are a creative group of people, I am sure many of you are already planning new projects in your head even as you finish reading. Please tag me on social media, especially instagram, (@janukke) so that I will see them if you are mixing yarns too!

 

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Lineares Mystery Shawl

Lineares Shawl MysteryStarting on October 8th, we will be knitting a comfy shawl together in my ravelry group Janukke Strickdesign.  It is going to be a mystery-KAL. I am telling you about it now so that you have a few days to organise and get your yarns and needles ready. If you need a little longer than that, it´s not a problem at all. The first clue isn´t elaborate, it will be easy to catch up if you join in a few days late.

The shawl will surprise you with its multi-directional knitting, resulting in a bold-looking construction, along with its interesting fibre study. You‘ll be working with yarns of two different weights. Or, if using the original ITO yarns, namely Wagami, Sensai and Tetsu, you will often work with yarns of two different qualities held together – a truly unique fabric is the result!

For those of you who hear the word “mystery” in the context of knitting for the first time: This means that you won´t know what the finished item will look like when you start knitting and will get the instructions bit by bit in a couple of clues.

To find out more, to join in and to get to know your fellow mystery knitters, pop over to ravelry!

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It´s in the eye of the beholder

optical_mixture_swatchWhen I was reading about colours this summer, I came accross something that is called “optical mixture”. It´s a fancy name for something we all know well: When you see a pattern of tiny yellow and blue dots from a distance,  you will get the impression that the area they cover is actually green. If you retreat far enough, you can no longer discern the individual dots and colours. That´s the reason why, in printing, it is possible to accurately depict a wide range of colours with only Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) as bases  without the image looking all spotted. The clue is to print tiny dots.

So what does this mean for knitting? Well, I had the idea this says for knitting that, with only three colours, you should be able to create the illusion of a colourful knitted fabric if choosing the right texture pattern. For my swatch I used the Triple L-Weed pattern because it is simple and all three colours are equally important.

If you try this at home, choose colours of three different hues.

You can create a blending effect by starting with a solid colour, here I started with yellow, and then adding in another colour, for example teal.  At first add in just a bit of the new colour, then work it more and more frequently until it becomes the next solid colour. I demonstrated this in the bottom half of my swatch.

Or you can randomly change colours for a multi-coloured look as in the upper half of the example. I think choosing a dark colour that is not anthracite would have enhanced this effect even more – but I had no dark colour at hand that I liked with the other two. And since I wasn´t patient enough to purchase the correct colour before casting on, this will have to do. – Even with this limitation though this gets my imagination going. I think I need to start working on a new design right now.

Verum

Now you can already put to use the information of the last post: My new shawl pattern, Verum, invites you to pick three colours that then get distributed over a pattern of stripes and short row segments. Verum makes this easy for you, so long as the three colours go well together, nothing can go wrong in this shawl. It doesn´t matter where you place the accent colour or which palette you go for.

The pattern asks for fingering weight yarn, preferably Frida Fuchs REMMIDEMMI Sock. In my sample I combined Vanilleschote (black), Kieselerde (grey) and Olive (green). Jana from Frida Fuchs put together that combination and I fell in love with it the minute I opened the package that came with the mail. She has a sixth sense for colour, which shows clearly in the palette of her yarns. – By the way, her shop is freshly stocked up, as of 6 pm yesterday, CET.

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But back to this colour combination: I like to have two colours that are similar, or fall into one category, and one colour that is the odd one out. So grey and black are the pair in this example, and the green (Olive) is the colour that is creating a vibrant and cheerful accent. As I mentioned, in this shawl any of the three colours could be the accent colour, the pattern is well-balanced enough.

The projects of noone else but Jana from Frida Fuchs herself and my talented test knitters will provide some inspiration for you to get your creative juices flowing:

 

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Jana made a sample in Hanami (speckled creme), Rosmarinheide (rose) and Kieselerde (grey). So the same concept as before works for a muted palette as well. In these colours the unisex shawl is soft and very femine.

 

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Heike chose soft colours also but added in a darker shade for extra depth.

 

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Elisa and Susi went with shades of blue, which is always a safe pick.

 

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Tracy had the same thought but added in a mustard shade for accent. And look at that tassle, isn´t it fantastic?

 

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And Tanya combined a moss green with a warm pink-red and a creme shade to great effect.

 

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This shot was clearly photo-bombed. But we don´t get distracted from Ramona´s perfect choice in colours: Mustard, fir green and steel blue are an unexpectedly great match with a back-to-nature feel to it. Maybe that´s because Ramona hand-dyed the colours herself, using plant pigments.

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I´m back

workshop_farben293I am back to blogging after a long hiatus. I had stopped writing here because I was focusing on other aspects of being a knitwear designer. There´s a lot to do and only so much time. But right now the writing mojo is back.

I have been teaching two colour workshops early this month. In both of them we have been thinking about colour theory, about things to consider when choosing colours for our knitting projects and about flattering ways to distribute colours in garments, among other things. The actual knitting part has been themed around stranded knitting for one, and around intarsia for the other workshop.

I immensely enjoy teaching, it is very rewarding to pass on a bit of the knitting knowledge I´ve accumulated throughout the years.

But it is a wee bit frustrating to me that I cannot talk about everything that I want to say in the workshops. There are many more interesting aspects in the wide field of colours than can be squeezed into a two to four hours time-frame, where the focus naturally will be on the knitting technique.

And oh did I try. For the first ever colour workshop I taught I had planned to talk about all techniques that use colours in one way or another. Because there was no way that we could make a swatch in each technique, I prepped swatches so that knitters could knit a row on each of them and swap them around, I guess I was thinking of the circuit training in sport. Needless to say this is a suboptimal way to teach. I learn from my mistakes and we now have lots of time to focus in-depth on the one technique I am teaching. I still wonder how it happened that knitters walked away happy from that first ever colour workshop.

But even after slowing down and all these workshops I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY STILL. So here I am. However, I have decided to write in English only from now on. It just takes up too much time to write every single post in two languages. I apologise to my German readers.

Not all posts here will be strictly knitting-related. But having thought a bit deeper about colours may help when it comes to choosing colours for your next project, so knitting will always be on the back of my mind when I am writing. Stay tuned for my colour chatter!

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Greydient

Greydient

There is something special about grey accessories and garments. They need to appeal through texture and construction alone, not being able to add a colour highlight here or there, or to catch the eye by a particularly bold or gorgeous shade. This constraint by design makes them often look very stylish. So I was thrilled when Geilsk agreed to send four balls of their beautiful Bomuld og Uld for me to play with, all in a different shade of grey. And Greydient is what came out of my experiments.

Light slip stitch stripes add a bit of texture and break up the stocking stitch background of stripes in darker shades of grey in this semi-circular shawl. At the same time, eyelets set an accent in the stocking stitch stripes and make the shawl deeper by adding an extra stitch each. You will need less than one of each of the four skeins to make the shawlette. And of course you are not restricted to greys at all! I cannot wait to find out what colour choices knitters worldwide will make. Some gorgeous shawls already came about in the test knit. – And what will your Greydient look like?

(If you sign up for my newsletter, there will be a 20% discount on the pattern!)

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makro Greydient

Graue Accessoires und Kleidungsstücke haben etwas Besonderes. Sie müssen allein durch Textur und Konstruktion wirken, ohne dass sie hier oder da einen Farbakzent setzen oder das Auge durch eine besonders ansprechende Farbe beglücken könnten. Diese prinzipielle Zurückgenommenheit lässt sie oft sehr elegant wirken. Ich war also mehr als glücklich, als Geilsk zugestimmt hat, mir vier Knäuel ihrer wunderschönen Bomuld og Uld in verschiedenen Grauschattierungen zu schicken, um damit zu spielen. Das Ergebnis meiner Nadelexperimente ist Greydient.

Helle Hebemaschenstreifen setzen die glatt rechts gestrickten Streifen im Hintergrund optisch und strukturell gegeneinander ab. Löcher akzentuieren die dunkleren glatt rechten Streifen geben dem Tuch Tiefe, indem mit jedem von ihnen eine Masche zugenommen wird. Für das kleine Tuch braucht man nicht mehr als vier Knäuel Bomuld og Uld bzw. 200 g Sockenwolle. Und natürlich gibt es keine Verpflichtung, in Grau zu arbeiten! Ich bin sehr gespannt auf die bunten Interpretationen der Strickwelt, die durch das Netz so unwahrscheinlich nah rückt. Meine Testerinnen haben schon wunderschöne Tücher ernadelt. – Und wie wird dein Greydient aussehen?

(Wenn du meinen Newsletter abonnierst, gibt es 20 % Rabatt auf das Muster!)

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Meet my new tech editor!

Apologies to my German readers, this post will be in English./Entschuldigung für den Beitrag auf Englisch.

It is already the end of January, and I am only now writing the first blogpost of the year! There never seems to be enough time for everything – and for me writing definitely often gets the short end of the stick. Right now I am working on a few very exciting projects. I will be able to talk about them soon, so please do check back in!

I am starting into 2016 on the blog with something that I don´t do too often, even though I always enjoy it tremendously; I have an interview for you all! James Bartley is my new tech editor and a very fascinating guy. He is a mathematician who used to be a professional dancer. Also, he has a knitting podcast that you can find as “DancingGeek Podcast” on Youtube and iTunes. On Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram he is using the alias dancinggeek as well.

James was really generous with his time and answered all of my many questions – and the best is: He is accepting new clients. So if you are a designer looking for someone to check your knitting patterns make sure to get in touch with him.

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Hi James, thank you for taking the time to talk to me on my blog. Let´s tell people a bit about you. To start things off, how did it come about that you became a knitter and when was that? I first tried knitting thanks to my Mum, who was very talented and multi-craftual! It wasn’t until many years later, when I saw my sister knitting, that I tried picking it up again. That was about 4 years ago, and I’ve been hooked since then.

What things do you knit the most often, and do you have any favourite colours? I’m pretty sure I must have knit more socks than other projects, I know they’ll get worn lots, they’re a smaller project, and the complexity can vary to suit all moods. I love knitting blankets on my giant 27mm wooden needles, but don’t do it too often as it needs a lot of yarn and then I have to find a home for the finished item!

My absolute favourite colour is orange. It’s vibrant & warm, reminding of the sunny Mediterranean, citrus fruit, pottery & clay. All earthy, warm and joyful things for me. I love to see it mixed in with blue, green and brown. Those four together cover my entire wardrobe, I suspect.

Which designers do you like? I really like geometrical patterns & textures in knitting, so a couple of designers that pop to mind are Josh Ryks & Anthony Casalena. They both do a lot of beautiful shawls that make me wish I liked wearing shawls more often! If I knit more jumpers I would make them based on their shawl designs.

Do you have a local knitting group that you attend? There is a local knitting group that I went to a few times, but I find it difficult to knit and socialise at the same time. I love to get engrossed in my knitting and the patterns, so trying to hold a conversation at the same time really stumps me. That’s why I love Ravelry, podcasts, and the online knitting community in general. That and I’m a big nerd!

You have a popular knitting podcast. What are your experiences with it, and are you planning on recording new episodes this year? I really struggle to think of my podcast as being popular, though I’m lucky enough to have meet some wonderful people who pay me lovely compliments on it. It was originally started as a way of joining the community, as I find forums difficult to engage with, and it has been such an uplifting experience. I have said this many, many times: the online knitting community is the nicest place I know.

I’m always thinking about the next episode, so I’m always planning on doing another. I always want to do more, both in number and content, however I’m learning that I have limits on what I can achieve without burning out. I’ll keep recording, even if the gaps between episodes vary sometimes.

Which part of your podcast gets the most feedback? The stuff that gets the most consistent feedback is when I talk about my personal life. The knitting side is what binds us together (who doesn’t want to look at pretty yarn, right?!) but I consistently find that it is when I talk about myself that I connect with people, who then write some amazing messages to me.

Do you have any hobbies other than knitting and podcasting, and what´s your professional background and career path, I know you´ve changed directions quite a bit? Hobbies wax and wane for me, right now I’m thoroughly obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons! Others include foreign languages, maths, dance & running. And anything online.

My career path is not a traditional one for sure; I left uni with a degree in maths, fluent in French, & time spent studying contemporary dance. I then went and did customer support for software for schools, obviously! Following that I had some time out and changed to working as a freelance contemporary dancer and lecturer. After a while, my obsession with knitting started to take over, and I have recently turned professional as a Tech Editor for knitting patterns. It may not look like it, but these jobs are all connected by a love of patterns and systems. I love to be a nerd, I just change which domain I’m in.

How did you decide to start a tech editing business? Deciding to Tech Edit came through coming into contact online with a wonderful lady called Joeli, from Joeli’s Kitchen. At some point she mentioned that Tech Editing would probably be a great fit for me and I was curious, I’d never heard of this work before. I started to find out about it, had some great conversations with her, and after working through her exercises realised that it was something that I could really enjoy and be good at. The idea that someone would pay me to do this was perfect!

Why do you enjoy editing patterns and does your math degree come in handy? Editing patterns is so natural, that I do it whenever I follow one. It didn’t occur to me at first that other people don’t do this! I’m always checking details, making sure the numbers work, and asking questions when something seems wrong. I’m a perfectionist, which has its downsides, but makes editing fun! Mathematics uses the same skills, if more abstracted. It’s about making sure every detail works, and makes sense together, otherwise the whole thing could fall apart. If it wasn’t such a fun puzzle I imagine it would sound quite stressful.

Since I am enjoying the random question section your your podcast very much, here are two very random questions for you.  What invention would you like to see happening next, knitting-related or not? Oooh, great question! I think it would be awesome to be able to teleport. I love being abroad, but I hate traveling. To be able to just appear somewhere immediately would be amazing! Spend a few hours in Kenya, a day trip to Australia, a meal in a different continent. The internet does a lot to make the world a smaller place, but there’s something special about physical presence still.

Who would you like to talk to if you had the opportunity and what would you say? Who to talk to? That’s tricky. World leaders, late family members, admired performers. How to choose?!  I’ll go for my future self, so I can ask if everything works out ok. Life can be hard, so a little reassurance would go a long way!

Thank you James for taking the time to answer all those questions and for making it a fascinating read!

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Decorating for Christmas │ Dekorieren fürs Fest

It has been a wonderful Christmas season over at janukke headquarters, we had a fantastic time with our group Advent calendar. It was jolly and cheerful, reflective and serious, all at once – just as the Advent season should be. I have learned a lot, most of all about baking – the Christmas bread and the Saint Lucia lussebullar are still on the list. If you have missed our calendar, worry not. You can still win a prize today and tomorrow, the 24th. And I strongly suggest you take the time during the holidays to read up on all the creative windows. The ideas and recepies can be downloaded and will still be as good next year.

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Es war ein voller Advent, unser Adventskalender ist sehr gut angenommen worden. Wir hatten eine gute und fröhliche Zeit zusammen, die verschiedensten Themen wurden besprochen. Es war ein Advent genau wie er sein sollte. Ich  habe viel gelernt, vor allem habe ich viel gebacken – das Weihnachts- und Luciabrot habe ich noch vor. Falls ihr den Kalender verpasst habt, rate ich euch dringend, über die Feiertage ein wenig dort zu stöbern. Die Ideen und Rezepte lassen sich herunterladen und im nächsten Jahr noch genau so gut verwenden. Es gab Nachdenkliches, Schönes, Rührendes und viel Leckeres.

 

Here are my ideas for Christmas decorations from the calendar at one glance (click on the images to get the tutorials). I have already mentioned the mini garland featuring tiny socks on the blog:

Hier sind nochmal meine Deko-Ideen für Weihnachten auf einen Blick: Schon erwähnt habe ich meine Mini-Girlande aus winzigen Söckchen (ein Klick auf´s Bild führt zur Anleitung auf Englisch, hier entlang zur deutschen, bitte):

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Also, you might want to make these quick Christmas ornaments from a crochet chain:

Ganz schnell lassen sich diese Häkelherzen herstellen (zur Anleitung):

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Then you can use my Eonemone pattern of an amigurumi flower to decorate a wreath with it, that will still look good long after the season, and learn how to make a beautiful Advent wreath from pom-poms.

Dann lässt sich mit Blumen gestrickt nach meinem Äonemonen-Muster ein Türkranz schmücken, der auch nach Weihnachten noch Freude macht (auch wieder hier rüber für die deutsche Anleitung) und auch aus Pom-Poms entsteht ein weihnachtlicher Türkranz (zur deutschen Anleitung).

 
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Have a very merry Christmas, a tranquil and reflective time between the years to recharge your energy and a happy New Year 2016!

Ich wünsche euch allen fröhliche Feiertage, eine besinnliche Zeit zwischen den Jahren und einen ausgesprochen guten Rutsch ins Jahr 2016!

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