Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A State of Play

Quite some time ago, I started to knit a vest for Mr. Needles.  It was colourwork.  Then somewhere along the way I got distracted.  Every once in a while, he asks about his vest, and I just mumble something to get me out of that moment.  I know he isn't going to stop asking.  I don't really remember how long ago it was, I only know that in the intervening time, I have become a much more comfortable knitter, and a far far more competent one.  

I do remember that I had about 6 inches complete.  I stopped because I was not happy with it. I did not like the pattern and most of all, I did not like the colours.  Something was off. The last few days while doing the finishing on my sweater, and knitting through the magical music that is colourwork, I knew it was time and I knew I was ready for the challenge of the vest.

The new pattern was chosen easily, the Lichen Waistcoat from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. I acquired a lot of stash trying to find colours for the first vest incarnation.   Lichen requires only 5 colours.  Surely there are 5 good colours in the stash.

My picks.
Top left to bottom right:  Light gray heather, oatmeal heather, cream, dark gray heather, and walnut heather.  Not bad, but I wasn't sure of the light gray.  It was too cool for the warmer tones of the rest of the palette.  So I had to search for one more colour.  Sigh.  

After consulting with the Sunday knitters at the store, I came up with this.  
Better, yes? Soft gray out, kakhi green-brown heather in.  Nice and warm.

Better was not enough, so using a trick from a podcast over at the Knit Picks website, I confirmed the choices.  The podcast recommended taking a picture of your choices and looking at them in black and white.  This computer does not seem to have (or the operator is deficient) the ability to do that, so I opted to take all the colour out.  Try it sometime.  It was illuminating.  One thing, one colour stuck out like a sore thumb.  

The dark gray heather was completely wrong.  What looked good in the world, was absolutely wrong in black and white, though I cannot explain why.  It was just too harsh, maybe something to do with the warm/cool colour thing?  Back to the drawing board and looking for a 5th colour.  Sigh.  

Using the intensity discovered in the colour out photo, I matched colours in the pattern, to my colours.  According to the charts, the 5th colour is just an accent, used only on one row in each large pattern section.  Surely there was something that would work.  Running all the way to town for 1 weenie colour row?  Not happening.  Maybe the rust heather from the first palette for the vest?  

Oh. My. Goodness. 

Oh my.  Oh.  It works. Time to do up a swatch.  

(If I may just insert a comment about small stitch count circular swatches, pbthththththth.)

I knew that I was on the right track. It was just too good to be wrong...right up till I got to the cream in the second perrie pattern.   The cream was kind of like a bucket of cold water tossed over the entire process. I did not see that coming.  

I don't think there is a colour that is softer than white but less creamy than what I have, in Cascade 220.  I think I am out of luck.  I tried a bit of the gray (in the swatch), just in case that was better.  It in the picture, it isn't too bad, but in life, it stood out.  Just too cool.
Back to 4 colours.  (Insert extensive knashing of teeth)  

Now wait just one minute. It was deeply frustrating but I was not about to give up after all this.   I took some time to think it through.  

It occurred to me, that the lighter colour in the second of the perrie patterns (See the swatch), only appears in one place. It never strays  from its confines in the pattern repeats separating each of the other patterns (variations on an oxo design) of the vest.  This colour is only used on 4 rows with one ground colour. 

Why not use the oatmeal heather for this small pattern.  Against the rich heather of the green/brown, it will look lighter than where it appears as the ground of the oxo patterns.    Problem solved. Knitting begun.

Note the catchy stitch markers!  I was knitting upstairs when I started the colourwork pattern, and these were handy.  Now that I am back down in the study, I'm switching them out for some nice colour coordinated ones.  (Yes I can do this.  I think I have a stash of stitch markers too)

So I am off and running.  I feel really good about where I am running to.  Now if only I felt as comfortable trusting the math.  


Brenda said...

What a brilliant thinker you are. I am such an impulsive - go with my first thought person. I loved the first combo you showed. Then the second combo - right I could see that it was perfect. Toss #1. Then the 3rd combo - oh yes - really perfect now. And finally your last combo - really really perfect. Thinking it through really is a neat idea. i must try it sometime.

Anonymous said...

It looks like all your work on the colors was worthwhile. GD