Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adventures in Colorwork

Colorwork. Fair Isle. Intarsia. All three of these words used to strike fear to my heart when I heard them. Come of the most beautiful patterns involve colorwork, but this also means they are usually some of the most complicated. I always knew colorwork would be one thing I would likely not pursue in my knitting journey, as it looked complicated and also I just didn't like how you could create almost any image out of it. From animals to flowers to cartoon characters, the possibilities with colorwork are endless.So where am I going with this? Well I guess it all starts with my good friend Ivy. About a month ago she posted one of her first color work projects, this hat:

The pattern is called Opus Spicatum and it is one of the most beautiful Fair Isle patterns that I've seen in awhile, and yet so basic. Upon seeing hers I knew that I wanted one of my own. But man, it was a fair isle project! That meant I'd have to overcome my fear of colorwork once and for all. I knew I was ready to try something new, so I added "Try (and hopefully succeed) in at least color work type project, weather it be fair isle, intarsia, etc" to my Fiber Resolutions 2012 list.

The next step was finding the perfect yarn. It had to be something I loved because I wanted to be able to wear it a lot. Well on a trip to the LYS in Salina over break I came across James C. Brett Monsoon. Once again it was love at first sight, and I quickly grabbed up a skein without thinking twice.
Now one of the things I really like is putting a gradated yarn with black, so I went straight to my old standard: Berocco Vintage, in black, for the other color on this hat. There's something about rainbow yarn and black that just kinda works.

I had to make a few alterations to the pattern before I could get started. One, I only had size 8 in my 16 inch needles and magic loop would be torture for this one so I had to change the stitch count. Two, the pattern is for a slouchy hat, and I wanted a beanie (now I'm wishing I had made it slouchy though). And 3, I wanted it a little bit taller than the pattern chart showed (and it still needs to be a bit taller...).

So I set to work. I cast on 80, which was the recommended stitch count given my gauge and the size I wanted for the hat. A few rows after the the brim I realized it was way to small, so I ripped it out and tried 100, only to find that was much to big. I settled with the in between, which was 90. It's still a bit small, but the chart is in multiples of 10 so that had to do.

Oddly enough, I made very quick work of this hat. Maybe the fact that the color shifts were so close to each other helped, but I was able to get this thing done in a couple days flat. I really like how it turned out and my only problem is that I wish I could make it a bit longer still. I hate altering patterns because I never know how long to go before I start decreasing, and almost always end too soon. This hat barely goes over my ears.

In the end, I really and truely love this hat and how it turned out. Considering that both yarns are atleast 50% acrylic, it is a very thick and warm hat (probably because of the stranding going on inside!) The monsoon yarn has some stripes of blue and orange in it that I wish had come up for this one, because the pink and green is a little too repetitive, but I have over half of both skeins left, which means more hats! I went through the patterns on Ravelry and found a bunch more fair isle hats I want to try now. However, I don't have enough/a good selection of yarns in my stash for most of them, so it will have to wait. I am still keeping to my Stash Attack 2012 and plan to for as long as possible.

I am thinking for my next hat I may try something along these lines: Zig Zag Hat. I saw a kid in one of my classes wearing a similar one on Wednesday and pictured my black and rainbow looking perfect in it. What do you think?

Conquering my fear of colorwork has never been more fun, but sadly I am finally starting Spring semester here at KSU and that means less knitting and more work. I can't seem to get into this semester like I usually do, and that's a very scary thought. Maybe I just need a knitting break for awhile...



  1. Oh wow! Your version of this hat blows mine out the water! You told me about it, but I didn't picture anything like this. It looks great on you and the colors are beautiful! I've personally been eying the colorwork hat called Flora by Margaux Hufnagel. Perhaps I like colorwork a little too much.

    1. Not as much as me. I have a whole list of hats I want to do now, I faved atleast 5 or 6 yesterday. And thanks! I am really glad you like it :) I am very happy with how it turned out and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

  2. Congratulations on overcoming your fear of color work! I've always found it seems to go so much quicker for some reason. Maybe because it always has your full attention. The hat looks wonderful too!

  3. Wow! Amazing colorwork projects. Kudos to you for venturing into a new world. :)


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