Tuesday, February 03, 2009

(Won't You Take Me to) Geekytown

I've been working on the Fair Isle vest. No, I haven't.

I've been messing around with the yarns that I hope, pray, intend shall at some future moment become the Fair Isle vest. I have so far produced 1) a Photoshop chart of small test patterns, and 2) most of a small swatch, which are but the primoridal protoplasmic ocean-dwelling ancestors of the finished vest.

Swatch and Chart

These are to help me decide what to do and, more importantly given my dismal track record as a colorist, what not to do.

Here's what I've figured out so far about color:
  • In the palette of yarns I have darks and brights. Within the darks and brights, the colors divide themselves about equally into browns and blues.

  • Patterns made entirely with browns look dull and mushy.

  • Patterns made entirely with blues look gaudy and mushy.

  • Patterns that mix the browns and blues have a nice jig to them. Since the plan is for bright patterns on dark grounds, the finished motifs should be bright blues on dark browns, or bright browns on dark blues.
And regarding gauge:
  • I thought after the recent spate of socks, lace class swatches, pence jugs, teeny oranges, and that frigging lace-weight Victorian nightcap that it would make a nice change to work on something heavier, like a sweater vest. And after a couple of experiments, it's clear that this thing will have to be worked on a US 3 (3.25 mm) circular. My biggest piece of in-progress lace is on a US4 (3.5 mm). Oh, the irony.

  • The swatch is still on the needles, so I haven't definitively measured the gauge, but it looks to be somewhere in the region of 8.5 stitches/inch. I have never been so happy to be so short.

  • The test patterns are far too small to read effectively at a fine gauge, so I'll have to spend many more hours playing with charts in Photoshop–and then do more swatching. I am so vibrantly excited about this that I know I will never again be able to roll my eyes at anyone whose idea of a good time involves Star Trek trivia, golf or computer code.
I've known for decades that I'm an irredeemable geek, but it's still alarming to have it confirmed by a swatch. Shut up, swatch.

Going to Carolina

I'm tickled to bits to announce that arrangements have been made for a trip to North Carolina. On Saturday, February 21 from 5:30-7 p.m. there will be a talk/signing/reception at Yarns, Etc. in Chapel Hill; and on Sunday, February 22 from 9 a.m. to noon I'll be teaching "How to Photograph Your Fiber" at Great Yarns in Raleigh. The class is a repeat of the session that was such a hoot at Purl Diva back in December. For complete information, click here.

61 comments:

nancy said...

You are even making me like Fair Isle, and I've never really wanted to do it. I'm excited for you.

Tiny Tyrant said...

Knitting geeks of the world unite!

The colors are nice in the swatch.

Jennifer said...

Hi, I am Jennifer and I read your blog. (I never have figured out a graceful way to tell introduce myself to a stranger about whose life I read....) Geeks are great. And fair isle is really that exciting. It defies explanation!

Renee said...

Fair isle is addictive (and if that makes me a geek, I don't wanna be cool). I designed my first fair isle sweater a while back and I made a swatch as long as my leg before I tore myself away and started making the actual sweater. Scary thing was - I'd have swatched till I ran out of yarn, it was that much fun.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

Irredeemable geek, indeed.

I may get you doing campanological knitting yet. It don't get a whole lot geekier or a whole lot colorworkier - except when it's twisted-stitch-y or cable-y instead.

Ryan said...

If you want to feel really small (you do, don't you?), go see the January 31st entry on this blog:

http://feralknitter.typepad.com/

JoVE said...

Do you read Feral Knitter? Janine has a speed swatching technique for sorting out your colour combinations that you might like. And she teaches a class...

Mary said...

8.5/inch!!?? What are you knitting with? I get that with sock weight on size 0!

I tend to do my fair isle with worsted weight at 5.6 - 6.25 stitches/inch. (Sometimes even at 4, which goes really really fast after doing lace weight for a while, let me tell you.)

kmkat said...

Bright browns sounds like an oxymoron to me. But I will reserve judgement; you will succeed in making us proud, I am sure.

Jasmin said...

How about Star Trek AND knitting trivia?

a simple yarn said...

Right, so I'm no colour expert (if I were my hair would not be grey), but perhaps the key to fair isle success comes outside of the brown/blue palette with at least one little surprise colour to zizz it up...a nice little bonus feature. Perhaps a warm coral or a playful pink or a shocking chartreuse? Not that you asked, I realize....

Valerie said...

Franklin, I see that Amazon has a reprint of AS's Fair Isle book available, soft cover. (Maybe you already know that?)

One of the things I notice about your swatch vs. AS Fair Isle...her yarns are all heathered. Way back when the FI book came out, a bunch of us spinners used to try and blend the colors to come close to the colors used in the AS yarns.

That meant that the brown and the green blended so well because bits of the brown were in the green yarn and vice versa.

With your art background, you might be interested in going to her site (virtualyarnsdotcahm) and skim through her color stories.

Corvi said...

I'm so glad you're coming to NC. I look forward to it!

Good luck with your Fair Isle. I'm not up to stranded knitting yet. (And my attempts at lace have so far been thrown across the room. Concentration is hard to come by these days.)

Joe said...

I've embraced my inner geek and gosh darnit, I like me.

As for picking Fair Isle colors, I find it's WAY easier to steal others color combinations. Even Alice Starmore used to knit up to 30 swatches of a Fair Isle pattern to come up with color combos she liked.

Julie said...

In case you're interested, there is a Fair Isle workshop, taught by Liz Lovick, on the EZasPi Yahoo group right now.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EZasPi/ to join. Files are being posted every few days for the next couple of weeks.

Rosi G. said...

honey, don't you have the new knit visualizer program? the one where you can add colors to the boxes and invent your own stitches? should be easier than photoshop i would think.

zelda said...

I will never again be able to roll my eyes at anyone whose idea of a good time involves Star Trek trivia, golf or computer code.

Yesterday I found myself trying to explain the Yarn Harlot's sock pictures to someone whose fez collection has its own room. He looked too stunned to roll his eyes.

Bobbi said...

I sure wish I were going to your photography class. :-(

Seanna Lea said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a geek (I happen to be both knitting, code, Star Trek, anime, etc. myself). It's a good place to be. I like to think that being a geek implies even more brain power!

k1tbl said...

I know that you have not asked for comment, but I am totally with the people who are suggesting the little bit of color to pop the pattern. I find that it makes a huge difference.

My favorite all-around knitting needle size is a US3 and everytime I want to do someting quickly I never quite like it. So I have come to accept that I don't always progress as fast as others, but I like what comes off the needles.(It also makes, usually for lighter weight garments which I am more apt to wear.)

Amy said...

You swatches are so like primoridal protoplasmic ocean-dwelling ancestors! And I love them as such. So very interesting to see where we came, and where we are going.

I really like all the comments your getting about your color combos. Very interesting. Also...my boyfriend likes writing computer code. I try not to roll the eyes, since he doesn't roll the eyes when I show him new yarn swatches.

Angel said...

Oh Man!
For the last five years, Yarns Etc was my LYS when I was a grad student at Duke- but this summer I moved to Ohio, and now I'm not there to meet you!!!!

Enjoy Carolina--It'll be warmer than Chicago for sure... and hey look into coming to Oberlin, OH- we have a mess of knitters, including lots of crunchy college kids that would greet you like a rock star.

Mandy said...

Yay! I'm looking at my calendar and am hoping that I will be able to make it to Chapel Hill for the book signing. Can't wait!

Patti said...

glad to hear you will not roll your eyes the next time you hear I'm sitting (and knitting) through yet another episode of Star Trek, TNG, for the upteenth time. I too am a Geek in so many ways...

Ted said...

Now that you have embraced your Inner Geek, are you going to create some kind of calender thingy which will list where you're appearing?

(Something for you to do in your spare time...)

Anonymous, too said...

Get really geeky! Knit Bill Shatner a better-looking toupee than the ones he's been wearing since the '80s!

Lisa said...

Hmmmm...thinking of the "calendar thingy"...I don't suppose there are any of your "Guys with Yarn" calendars left... A friend of mine (when she heard I was going to see you in Chicago) asked me to bring her one...autographed. [I'm sure "the little book" will suffice, in case there are no calendars...so, I hope you'll bring a few books for sale!]

Lisa (aka LisaRae)

Stan said...

Glad to hear you'll be in Carolina. Let me know if you need any help with travel, etc.
Stan

Jack said...

My Dear: You wear the color orange so well. Why not consider something like darkest marmalade as a starting point, then expand through the various shades of amber. For contrast consider turquoise, teal, gray. You won't have strayed far from brown and blue, but......... You really are far more fabulous than you give yourself credit for being. I've met you. You really could wear anything, with success.

Story said...

I love reading your blog...I have yet to attempt fairisle but, one day I'll find the courage!
http://journeyseeds.typepad.com
wellness!

Anonymous said...

I second Valerie on checking out the Virtual Yarns website. Those yarns are addictive. . . why yes, I'm working on a Starmore project now and have two more in the queue.
--Gretchen

Anonymous said...

Photoshop? What's wrong with good ol' Excel? You can format the "cells" to be exactly on gauge, play with colors, and generally get a usable restult in a relatively short length of time. It's my color-design tool of choice.

--Lynda in Oregon

NancyG said...

Try adding orange - just a little bit of zest!

Beth said...

I would like you to know that we knitting North Carolinians are doing the happy dance to hear that you are coming to Chapel Hill! WOO HOO!!!

Patti (from Ottawa) said...

That swatch is an absolutely beautiful primoridal protoplasmic ocean-dwelling ancestor. I am sure Charles Darwin (Happy 200th birthday, Mr. Darwin!) would vote it most likely to be naturally selected.

TheBond said...

Don't you love the way that inspiration - the barely-there image of the finished product that only exists in your head - can drive you on through the most boring exercises? The finished sweater will be fantastic.

Anne O'Nymous said...

Mr. Habit in North Carolina, where it will be in the mid- to upper- 60s this weekend?

Your mantra for the next few days: Thaaaaaaaw.

Mine? *Yaaaaaaaaaay!*

(dancing)

New Jersey Laura said...

Not geek. Knitter.

Nikki said...

I'm a reader who's really best described as a "lurker" and I have to say how happy I am that you're coming to Chapel Hill! I'm actually visiting my sister that weekend in NC and we're coming to see you!

Linda said...

With respect to the short comment, I knitted my tall 40" chested husband a beautiful 4ply fairisle waistcoat, in secret, moreover, with the children as lookouts. After that experience, anyone doing sleeves or long waistcoats needs free psychotherapy. Professional opinion. End of conversation. (Maybe I could shorten him if I did one again.)

Barb B. said...

A quick little tip on colour etc. from the worldest worst colour dummy (colour theory puts my brain to sleep)
Get a ruler or something of similar shape.
Wrap yarn around the ruler in what you think will be a nice combo.
(i.e. dark brown with a pale blue pattern, wrap 4 brown, then 1 blue then 4 brown) You know have a pretty good indication of what it will look like. Like it? now swatch. Hate it? start over, and you've only spent 20 seconds.
I'm really looking forward to what you come up with.

NC Knitter said...

Thrilled you are coming to NC. I'll see you at yarns etc (yeah!), but won't be able to come to the photog session since I work on Sunday mornings (occupational hazard of being a church organist!).

Lynn said...

Check out the swatches that Feral Knitter makes for ideas on how to test color combinations. She has a very recent post showing a color combo she's currently working with. Sorry, don't know how to post a link to her blog but I'm sure you can find it...

Demetria said...

Just scored a place in the Raliegh photog class! Doing happy dance all over office. Co-workers getting scared.

TracyKM said...

"1000 Great Knitting Motifs" might be a good book to look at. It divides motifs by region, and then by size, and it shows different colour combos of the same pattern--one pattern shown with two colours, or three colours, for comparison.
Don't forget to wash your swatch though, that might change your gauge quite a bit. And don't get too bogged down in swatching...you could go forever. There are some great, recent, (free) Fair Isle designs out there now; why not let someone else do most of the work? LOL (I start out that way and then decide I can do it better/faster myself, LOL)

Anonymous said...

I saw this today and thought of your lace knitting - can you even IMAGINE knitting something this small?

http://io9.com/5148240/coraline-+-the-biggest-smallest-movie-ever-made

Karin said...

Please don't forget to wash the swatch first, to see about the bloom etc. You might be able to knit at a larger gauge.

I was at a barnes and noble tonight and saw they had some british knitting magazines, one of which has a feature article about YOU in London. Looked really good.
I think it was called Yarn Forward (sorry I didn't buy it. there was nothing in it I wanted to make.)

Also I tried to buy your book... but alas, none on the shelf! Have to buy it online...

Robin said...

OH!!!! Hope to join you for the Sunday photo workshop in NC!

firefly said...

"I am so vibrantly excited about this that I know I will never again be able to roll my eyes at anyone whose idea of a good time involves Star Trek trivia, golf or computer code."

You are the Hitchcock of knitters!

I have absolutely no patience at all for prep work.

Unfortunately for me, the effort put into prep work is what pays off. Doing the thing is almost never as complicated (or rewarding) as setting it up ahead of time.

Claire said...

No Asheville?? Awww!!! *goes off and cries*

Elizabeth said...

wish you were going to Asheville too. I'm going to be there next week!

Martha0051 said...

Oh my god, is there knitting based on change-ringing? Or should I head for the dictionary to look up "campanological"?

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