Grayscale Photos For Selecting Colorways To Knit Together

Remember yesterday's post about selecting colors to knit a Big Island Wrapper?  I've been obsessing about which colors to choose and posted on Ravelry about my quandary.  A nice knitter responded with a tip I should have thought of first thing and wanted to share with you all, in case anyone else finds themselves picking among colors for a project (in other words, what knitters do every day).

The tip is, take a photo of your possibilities and grayscale it.


By removing the color hues from your photo, all you see are the color values.  This gives you a sense of whether you will get good contrast among your colors, assuming that is what you are after.  This process is particularly helpful for fair isle knitting and I use it religiously for that purpose.  But I didn't think to apply it here at first.  And I'm glad I did.  As a result, I've narrowed my choices to Peacock and Water Dancer, although I had started to lean towards Yosemite before looking at the grayscale photo.  Here is a repeat of the color photo from yesterday.


This isn't an absolute rule and for stripes or other non-stranded knitting, you may not want a high contrast.  But, this is a great tool to have in the knitter's tool kit.  It will help you get the results you want.


My Next Project: Big Island Wrapper

Although I'm in the middle of knitting a sweater, I'm planning to cast on a new project sometime this week.  I want a casual shawl for chilly early mornings when I drink tea and read the paper on the back deck and for evening walks at the beach.  And I found this gorgeous pattern.

Pattern pic© Little Church Knits

This is the Big Island Wrapper, a bulky shawl with some mesh bits and enough texture to keep the knitting interesting, while giving the option of combining some fun colors together.  Although it's written for a bulky cotton yarn, I'm going to knit mine in a bulky Blue Faced Leciester, for a bit of extra snuggle factor.  Cheryl/Little Church Knit's patterns are all really cute, and I debated two of her other shawls before deciding on this one, although I'm sure I'll come back to knitting both Marcelle and Diamonds for Lisa. Her sock patterns look awfully interesting as well. But this go round, I've chosen Big Island, and I'm excited about knitting it.

Basket of yarn

First, though, I'm going to have to make some color choices.  I've been doing some experimenting with layers of color on a skein for the last few months, and it just so happens that some of my favorites are on Elliebelly Big Blue, so I'm going to select from among them.  Here are my choices — I'm sad I can only pick three of them for this project, because I'm fond of them all together.


There are a lot of possibilities with these colors.  Since these colors are all experiments none of them have names yet, but I've put them together in groupings to try and help myself make a choice.

Color Choice Collage

To make the choice even more difficult, I've got some variegated skeins that would work in well, including this lovely skein of Madeline Tosh Chunky.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com

I've been debating the merits of the different possibilities back and forth all weekend.  I want something welcoming and inviting that will be very cozy — they all seem to fit the bill, although in very different ways.  I'm hoping one will emerge as my clear favorite so I can get started by midweek.  I need to mark up the pattern to use with Knit Companion, the program I use with my iPad for managing patterns, and then I'll be ready to start.




Good Read, Good Knit

Book and gloves

Here's a good read and a good knit for your weekend.  The book, Knitting Ephemera by Carolyn Sulcoski is crammed full of interesting knitting facts you need to know.  And you'll enjoy its engaging format.  I've been leafing through a few pages here and there to avoid finishing it too quickly.  It's lots of fun — you need it now.

The knit is Purl Soho's free Seed Stitch Mittens pattern.  This pair was knit up by Raveler Kipperdawg in Elliebelly Pixie Merino.  The yarn is part of what has become my annual summertime binge of natural dyeing, which always starts of with a vat of black bean dyed yarn while I'm waiting for the dye herbs to grow.  This is the first time I've been able to achieve this soft brown, and I'm grateful for all of the natural dyers who share their notes and processes on line!  Black bean dyeing is fun and easy and I strongly encourage you to try it if you've been playing with koolaid or easter egg dyes and are ready to move on or even if you're an experienced dyer interested in experimenting with natural process.  The results are slightly unpredictable and always fun, as these lovely mittens prove.


Blogging With A Concussion

The thing about concussions is that one has about half of one's brain at one's disposal.  Not enough brain to work, and sadly not enough brain to knit with either.  I am getting in a round here and there on my very easy socks that can be knit with your eyes closed, but that's about it at the moment, so I thought I would share a few photos for you Tuesday viewing pleasure.


Dyeing red can be tricky.  The secret is multiple layers of colors that give you a true clear red that doesn't have pink undertones (unless you are looking for them, in which case, the process is the same, but with different colors underneath the red layers).  This is my first experiment on a new to me yarn base that combines silk and merino, but spins the yarn so that different plies absorb the color differently.  I'm in love with this one.  More experimentation coming!


Purple Rain.  Just because.


I've started winding the yarn for my summer sweater, a silk/linen concoction.  Note to self: winding yarn with a concussion isn't really the brightest of ideas.  I convinced myself the yarn wouldn't tangle if I laid it out neatly on the floor and hand wound it.  Wrong.  But it only took me two days to produce the pretty ball in my shoe from the tangle below.



A Yarn For Eleanor

When our now teenaged daughter was born, I wanted to find a way of including her in my garden.  We had just moved that year, and I spent much of my time on maternity leave planting while she napped.  Although I am not an experienced Iris grower, I love them.  My Grandmother always had a wide variety of Tall Bearded Iris in her garden, and a little bit of research on The Google informed me that the 1961 award winning Iris was named "Eleanor's Pride," which seemed perfect for my tiny Eleanor.


Tracking an older, obscure Iris down was another matter, but I managed to find an eclectic Iris fanatic in Tennessee, and I ended up with five rhizomes.  They've flourished over the years and grown into two large patches.  Although they bloom briefly, they are well worth the effort.


After a lot of experimentation, I managed to get a lovely representation of Eleanor's Pride on Seasilk yarn by layering on the color in repeated pale baths that seem to capture the fragility of the tint on the flower petals.  Seasilk is a wonderful yarn to work with — part silk and part Seacell fiber from seaweed.  It's perfect for shawls and scarves, as well as for light lacy sweaters.  I haven't decide what this yarn will become yet, but I am really looking forward to knitting with it.


Black Bean Soup & Pretty Yarn

It's started again, but a little bit early.  Every summer, my obsession with dyeing with herbs from my garden kicks in.  I experiment, I over dye, I fall in love, I knit.  Just a skein here and there as time and research on the best way to get the colors in my lovely plants leaves and roots to stick to my beloved yarn.  It all started with black beans, and I return to dyeing with them every year.  Plus, as a bonus, the beans themselves are discarded once you've soaked them for a day or two to extract their pigment, so you are free to use them for delicious soups or stews while dyeing your yarn.

Black bean collage

This go round, I wanted to do two things, I wanted to replicate (as much as is possible with this very imprecise mode of dyeing) the very soft gray I was able to get on this silk blend yarn on an all wool yarn.  I like how it's not quite white, but makes you think of snow and quiet woods.  It's dyed on Bulky Blue Faced Leicester in the photo on the left.  I also wanted to push the range of color I could extract from black beans.  They yield a little more color on super wash yarn, so I used Elliebelly's Pixie for this experiment, and was finally able to achieve a soft brown, to add to the range of grays, blues, and greens I've dyed with black beans over the last few years.


Sock Yarn Winners

PicMonkey CollageWith two weeks left before the start of our April Knit Along, it's serious time for project planning and yarn acquisition.  On the yarn acquisition front, we are an inclusive KAL and welcome knitters who show up with any yarn they choose.  But, I know a lot of you like knitting with Elliebelly yarn, so I've tried to get a bit of it out there for you.  This week, I drew three random yarn winners from among those who have their KAL Project Page set up on Ravelry, using the tag ElliebellyAdventurousApril2016: Frucat, Pegmcc, and TeddyandNick.  Depending on the project on your page, you've got either two skeins of Pixie Worsted for your Rye Socks or a skein of Decadence for Zigzagular on the way to you!

If you're new to the Elliebelly group on Ravelry or to our annual knitalong, I hope you'll decide to join us.  You will find all the KAL information there, but it's a friendly group that will jump in to answer any questions you may have.  We start on April 1 and are knitting several different sock patterns in different weights this year. 

I'll do one last quick yarn giveaway later this week to make sure I get the yarn into the hands of the knitter in time for the start.  Has anyone started swatching yet?  I keep meaning to, and have wound my yarn, but so far, I haven't gotten there.