Monday, December 31, 2007

Lesson 1: Choosing Yarns and Colors

Here's some information I posted to the Yahoo! Group in December for early birds to get started choosing yarns and materials.

The votes are in and the Ethnic Knitting Discovery knitalong participants will be designing and knitting Norwegian ski sweaters, beginning in January.

Here's a drawing showing the basic sweater elements:

Here is an interpretation of the sweater designed by Debbie O'Neill. The first shows the colors used on the cover of Ethnic Knitting Discovery; the second shows the colors used for the sweaters in the Interweave Knits Gifts Issue. If you look closely, you can see how Debbie deviated by the basic plan when she implemented her design. That's right in line with my philosohpy which is: break from tradition when it suits you!

In this interpretation of the sweater, we chose non-traditional colors to show how a traditional design can be updated with a more contemporary feel. This sweater still has a classic look and style. If you want to be more outrageous, you could try using a very chunky yarn or use a solid for the main color and a self-striping or variegated yarn for the contrasting colors. The main point I'd like to make here is that you can work within a tradition and outside of the tradition at the same time, combining techniques and design elements that have been passed down through generations with modern and unique elements that spark your own creativity. It's all about not being afraid to experiment.

In this interpretation, we kept with the tradition of using black and white with red accents. Actually, we used gray because black doesn't photograph well. But the main idea was to create a traditional style Norwegian ski swetaer. The sweater design and placement of the motifs is the same as on the version with contemporary colors, but the resulting look is much more traditional. By reversing the colors in the adult and child sweaters, we show that you can be very creative with color placement. Also, the same basic sweater recipe was used for both sweaters. The large size was actually designed for a man, but when they put the magazine together, they decided to photograph it on a woman.

For more ideas on colors, check out the design that Kristi at Fiber Fool has been working on. She tested a bunch of different color combinations by drawing them on her computer (so she didn't have to make a dozen swatches!), and ended up with something quite traditional, but she used interesting motifs from different sources to spice it up:

It's not too late to sign up for the knitalong! We won't be getting our needles out until January. This month we'll be discussing yarn and color selections and ordering our copies of the book so we can be ready to work on our ski-headband gauge swatch after New Year's.

Cross posted to the Ethnic Knitting Discovery Gallery blog.

Illustration by Deborah Robson.

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