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New Stranded Colorwork: Take Your Colorwork to a New Level

Aug 17, 2009

How many times have you oohed and aahed out loud? I admit that I don't do it very often but I just saw the preview to Mary Scott Hufff's new book, New Stranded Colorwork, and I did! The designs are absolutely beautiful--from the construction to the color choices, there are going to be several pieces you just can't live without.

I haven't done a lot of stranded knitting, but what I have done I've really enjoyed. For the last two Christmases I knit a skull-motif cap for my brother (he wore out the first one and put in an order for a new one!). And I'm working on a Bohus cardigan that will need to be steeked, but I think it might be bumped by Lotus Blossom (photo at left) from New Stranded Colorwork.

Isn't it beautiful? I especially love the closures on the shoulder of the vest. In fact, there are beautiful closures scattered throughout the book and Mary comes clean about her love of closures in the Lotus Blossom pattern directions when she says, "Sometimes my designs become little more than vehicles for beautiful closures. That's like saying that I love hot fudge so much I'm forced to eat ice cream, but if the shoe fits. . . . I have actually been known to design extra openings in garments, purely as excuses for beautiful buttons and hooks. I often repurpose pretty things as sweater closures that began life with different intentions. Such is the case with the fittings for Lotus Blossom. When I fell in love with these bracelet toggles, I immediately set about to make a sweater that would show them off. I knew right away that an asymmetrical opening would suit them best, and the rest just seemed to fall into place."

I can relate to this; in my knitting bag I have two sets of vintage buttons awaiting the perfect sweater pattern. And my LYS also has some beautiful hook-and-eye closures that would look perfect on Lotus Blossom.

Not only is this book full of inspiring patterns, but Mary's sense of humor and welcoming writing style is really engaging. The comprehensive techniques section, one of the best I've seen, actually, is full of tried-and-true methods for making your stranded colorwork pieces fun and successful. Here's a tip that jumped out at me:

If you use color-change, variegated, or self-striping yarn for one or more of the strands in your work, knit the two sleeves simultaneously with steeks so that the color progression will be the same on each sleeve.

I've had problems getting self-striping yarn to match when doing sleeves (or on the two fronts of a cardigan) so this tip is really helpful.

Free Stranded Colorwork Pattern from Mary

Mary worked up this versatile pattern and presented it on Knitting Daily TV episode #306. Click here to download the Ebony Jewelwing Bag (or hat!). Here's what Mary has to say about her unique design:

Almost every time I knit a hat, I imagine what it would look like as a purse. Hat and purse construction are nearly the same, with the seams and shaping reversed from top to bottom. I usually work with multi-colored motifs on solid backgrounds, so while I was thinking upside down, I reversed that too, with a solid motif on a brightly colored background. The Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx Maculata) is a species of dragonfly native to the eastern two thirds of the USA and Canada.

I'm looking forward to working some of the patterns in this book. Colorwork is actually pretty easy for me--I can pick and throw, so it's quick for me to use a yarn color in each hand, and with my cross-stitch background I can follow a color chart with no problems. My challenge has been that there just aren't that many patterns that appeal to me. As you know, I love cabled sweaters or stockinette sweaters with unique detailing. However, the patterns in New Stranded Colorwork intrigue me because they really are new--not just the traditional snowflake or reindeer patterns (which are lovely and traditional, but also plentiful).

This book will change your view of colorwork, so pre-order it here and get ready to be dazzled!





Featured Product

New Stranded Colorwork

Availability: Out Of Stock
Price: $24.95


Take your colorwork knitting off the charts! Mary Scott Huff's brand-new take on classic traditions of Norwegian colorwork techniques in The New Stranded Colorwork will have you confidently working on charted colorwork designs for the modern knitter.


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TricotE wrote
on Aug 20, 2009 4:34 AM

Interesting use of color and closures makes these designs unusual. It's too bad they are so BOXY, otherwise I might strongly consider buying the book.

I really deslike boxy shapes and dropped shoulders. And although those aspects are not "un-fixable", I am not one to spend my money on designs that have to be recalculated, in order for them to look good to my eye.

I'm sure a lot of knitters like these designs as they are (and that is fine), and also that making the designs a bit more shapely would make the the instructions a little more complex - but I think that would make the difference to transform them into awsomeness.

DiannaR wrote
on Aug 19, 2009 12:50 PM

I looked around for more by  Mary Scott Huff and found  a lovely free pattern called Faery Ring.  Truly a work of art.  I would put the link here but I am not sure yet what is allowed on this site.

I will be taking a close look at this book.

Hugs to Kathleen

on Aug 19, 2009 12:32 PM

Kathleen, I hope you are not  taking any of these negative comments personally.  You are obviously a good person who cares about the quality of your work and relationships.  When the KD email came across I did not even notice the grandmother reference.  After reading the comments it has been on my mind.

Each of us should take an honest look at why the Not Your Granny's knitting reference is offensive.  I think, as much as we do not like it, it is the truth of it that truly bothers us.  Too often the patterns (current or not) ARE fuddy-duddy.  Something we would not wear and are embarrassed to even have associated with knitting since we have tied oursel;ves (part of our identity) to the knitting craft.  How many times have I experienced looking through the latest issue of a knitting magazine and felt embarrassed by the styles inside.  Finding one or perhaps two things you would consider making is the best you can hope for.  And let's not forget the items that we actually made having envisioned something other than the unwearable result.

This is one of the greatest things about the online knitting community.  We are able to see other, more exciting sides of knitting.  Stylish knitting and knitting as art.  This is the knitting world we want to inhabit and be seen in by non-knitters.  We want the whole fuddy-duddy side of knitting to disappear.  Unfortunately that will not happen by eliminating the grandmother stereotype.

PjD wrote
on Aug 19, 2009 9:05 AM

I agree with Jenipurr!!!!!!!!!

Again the ageist remarks!!! You reinforce this monthly by not using older or even women/men over 40!  Perhaps you should give consideration to your readership.  Surely, you can't believe that all are in their 20's!!  What about the "grannys" that have been supporting you since you began!!!  

Thank about it!!

NicoleZ wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 8:01 PM

Wow!!!   I learned to knit and crochet at my grandmother's knee.  She was also a kick butt tatter as well.  They are memories that I hold very dear and hope to pass on to someone close to me as well.  Having said that, I never in any way felt offended by  the "not your grandmother's..." reference.  It NEVER entered my head that Kathleen meant any offense.  

I don't mean to belittle anyones feelings on this subject, but it seems that even the knitting community is no longer immune to the hyper-sensitivity that has permeated our society as a whole.  I am truly saddened that almost every post on KD seems to be subject to this kind of criticism (everything from garment size to advertising IP products). I have come to simply expect it; and it has not really bothered me since we all have a right to our opinions.  However, some of the responses here are, to be very blunt, shrill and uncalled for.  It was the final straw for me and I felt the need to speak my mind.

I adore both Sandi and Kathleen who have worked hard on this FREE service.  KD is supposed to be a community, and the majority of the people here are wonderful.  Let's not let negativity spoil a great time together.  If you see a garment that doesn't suit you, think of the person who it will suit.  If you think that IP is doing too much free advertising here, think of the person who may have kept their job because of it.  

Let's not forget what brings us here: We take a long length of string, put it on two pointy things, and make it sing!!!! Let's keep the focus on our craft and truly honor our grandmothers.

                                         Much Love,


elovesheehan wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 6:27 PM

Holy WOW! I am new to Knitting Daily, and I am shocked and saddened to read the kinds of things that bloggers feel okay about sending to the Editor! I sincerely hope she doesn't take some of these comments to heart, especially by those that talk about leaving KD. We should all be mindful of the fact that a big change has occured here, and Kathleen needs time to find her own voice, and express it well.

I am reminded by some of the more caustic comments that the safety of blogging has allowed us not to practice good manners. I'm sorry, Kathleen - I enjoyed your post and will hope that I, as a new member of KD will also enjoy seeing and learning lots of new things. I also hope to enjoy this new blogging community as I have never been involved in blogging before, and hope that I can learn a lot from my fellows as we teach each other kindly and respectfully.

Thanks again,


KathyC wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 5:47 PM

Here, here @NancyN@5!!  You echo my sentiments entirely!  

This has led me to not renew my IK subscription. There has not been anything in the last year that has even interested me in knitting.

The departure of Sandy W has also been a great disappointment to me. She had a fresh approach to knitting and I was constantly learning something new from her.

Now, KD has become a vehicle for the constant barrage of items for sale from Interweave. It is getting very old!

No offense, Kathleen, I do hope your knitting skills improve, but I find KD to be a forum that has taken a direction that is turning off readers. From the galleries that were a joke with this latest publication to the pathetic selection of designs that leave much to be desired.

Unfortunately, what you and Interweave Press forget is that it is generally the "more seasoned" knitter who spends more money on what he or she wants to knit.

It does need a new editor and soon.  

Jayannell wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 4:50 PM

I was about to comment on my disappointment with your choice of phrase but then realize that most commenters have already chastised you for it. Think before you write, Kathleen. And pay attention. These knitters all have an important message for you and Interweave Press. It might be a good idea to write a column about what you've learned from this...not just another sales pitch.

CarolineB@11 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 2:57 PM

I truly wish everyone would stop using the expression "not your mother's knitting" or "crochet" or "your grandmother's knitting or crochet". This has been way overused and an insult to every mother and grandmother. Let's get up to date. Caroline

Karen Frisa wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 12:38 PM

I just downloaded the pattern and glanced through it.  For the purse, I think the eyelet round is supposed to read: k3, *k2tog, yo, k5; rep from * around, end last rep k2 (like the eyelet round is for the hat).

RebeccaH@16 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 12:04 PM

While I do find the patterns intriguing, I personally do not like this vest. The band at the bottom is so very different than the body--it looks to me like she's wearing a fancy knitted cummerbund. The photo doesn't help--there is a line of shadow just on the left side at the join. I think it would be a better bet to show several projects from a book, especially one like this that has (by the preview) quite a variety of patterns. From this post I would never buy this; however, I love the child's frog vest and the kjersten jacket shown in the preview.

Marimoms8 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 9:56 AM

What does "skeet" mean?

GwynethO wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 7:04 AM

I too am disappointed that Interweave has indulged in the Grandmother bashing marketing. The Yarn Harlot has gone on the record eloquently about how sexist and insulting the 'not your grandmother, mother" is to knitters and the rich history of needlework and womens participation in needle arts. I expect better of Interweave publishing. I think a written apology on this blog is in order.

Frithgowan wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 7:00 AM

Hm. I don't think this is my grandmother's knitting. She would not have found these designs flattering. Neither do I. Maybe the insult to older women put me in a negative frame of mind, but I find this stuff dowdy.

Gauss wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 6:01 AM

The post title might have been changed, but the link still shows "not-your-granny-s-stranded-sweater-patterns" . I am offended by this insult to grandmothers and women, as well as the implication that all colorwork before this book has been boring. We have long moved beyond reindeer and snowflakes, Kathleen.

praloup wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 3:12 AM

How is using "granny" in this way any different than using "j--ed down" or the "n" word, or the "b" word? Thanks for denigrating those of us who happened to learn how to knit from our own mothers and grandmothers and have carried this tradition on for many years without finding it ever necessary to make fun of those who kept the tradition alive to be handed on.

praloup wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 3:08 AM

How is using "granny" in this way any different than using "j--ed down" or the "n" word, or the "b" word? Thanks for denigrating those of us who happened to learn how to knit from our own mothers and grandmothers and have carried this tradition on for many years without finding it ever necessary to make fun of those who kept the tradition alive to be handed on.

MaryE wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 7:52 PM

Wow, Kathleen!  I am so sorry that you had such a backlash on the 'not your Granny's.,....issue'.

You know what I think when I see something like that phrase?  It says to me that whatever it is promises to be something fresh and different.  And some of what is in that book IS fresh and different.  Especially the vests.

And yes, I AM a 72 year-old grandmother who learned to knit and crochet from MY grandmothers, and I rarely do stranded work because the patterns I usually see ARE old and dated.   Lest somebody here thinks I no longer knit, let me assure you that I knit every single night.  I am constantly on the lookout for fresh patterns and charts.

This book looks very interesting to me.  I previewed it, but found only one page that said what sizes the project was, and frankly, it would be so very helpful if, when you review a new book, if you would discuss the size ranges in it.

Thanks for doing such a great job with Knitting Daily online.  I like it a lot.

BeverlyV@2 wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 6:04 PM

I too take offense at the whole not your Grandmothers knitting, but even more am totally offended that you by pass LYSs and sell direct to the public.  You don't even mention LYSs as a viable option, yet send automatic distributions to LYSs.  Are you a wholesaler or retailer?  

I have posted a comment as such before, but you never respond, nor do you address this two-sided marketing.  You truly HURT your loyal retail distributors and are in direct competition with them.  

Betty-Lou wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 5:57 PM

Hi!  I have been knitting for 53 years - and have usually knitted quite standard items. I have not heard of stranded color work - not steek.  Please explain!

Betty Lou - Waterville, Maine

SigridA wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 4:24 PM

I  too find this granny-bashing business so tiresome and offensive. Then, to find expressed it at a knitting website where most of us readers can only hope to be as awesome as the knitting grandmas who made this craft, leaves my heart pounding with anger. One of my grandmothers was a knitter, the other a sharpshooter. Good thing the two of them didn't see this post.

on Aug 17, 2009 3:54 PM

Dear KDers,

I sincerely apologize for my insensitivity. I'm changing the title of this post on the website, and while I know this doesn't fix the original mistake, I hope it helps that people who go on the site won't see that original blog title.

Forgive me,


Knitasha wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 3:17 PM

Oh, KD, not you, too!

I am sick up to here of "Not Your Granny's" this and that and everything else.

My granny was a damned a good knitter; I wish I still had some of the beautiful stranded sweaters she made.  Now that I'm of granny age, I feel that both she and I are insulted by people who discredit her work.

Beyond the ageism of the phrase, it's a boring, tiresome cliche.

I'm ashamed of you, KD.

Lsharr wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 3:13 PM


At the risk of beating a dead horse it's not just your use of the phrase and your promising to not use it ever again.  it's encouraging that you as a person can understand what's wrong with it.  But there is obviously something wrong with an editorial policy that would even allow that phrase to be used in the first place.  I ask this seriously:  When was Interweave's corporate sensitivity training program last reviewed?  Are all employees exposed to it?    You would not bash the gay men that knit but obviously corporate training does not extend to ageism.

Prejudice based on race, creed, color, sex, national original, sexual orientation and age are all wrong and need to be addressed whenever it is observed.  You pushed a hot button with me I admit but I have been fighting this battle a very long time and I expected better of a national publicaiton.

Laughingrat wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 3:00 PM

Very pretty patterns, sure, but what's with this "not your mama's X," "not your granny's Y" crap?  I mean for goodness' sake, how rude can ya get?  I'm offended and I'm only 32.  If my grandma knitted--which she doesn't--I'd be honored for her to show me some of her favorite patterns.  Geez.

NancyN@5 wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 2:47 PM

This looks like a very dull and repetative book with little to offer either style wise or in technique.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!  Your magazine and books have gotten increasingly dull, repetative and basically dumbed down.  The styles offered in the magazine have been increasingly bad and I am seriously considering not subscribing anymore.  The magazine now seems to be aimed exclusively at the young, intermediate and below knitter.  I am neither. The one pattern I used in the last 2 years was the pink manos fairisle jacket from the summer of 2008 which was very badly done and had to be completely reworked, especially the sleeves.  Now this book comes along which looks from the outside to be worthy of Women's Day magazine in the 1960's.  You badly need a new editor!  

on Aug 17, 2009 2:43 PM

Oh, my! I'm so sorry that that headline offended you all. I'll never use that phrase again--never, ever!! I apologize.


HattieA wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 2:41 PM

Totally agree, why couldn't the title have been, Unique or Not your Usual.  Why does it always revert to being Not Your Grandmother's whatever.  Lame.  A knitter should know better than to use that phrase.

Tanifaa wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 2:40 PM

I completely agree with all the comments. When I saw that title I was put off and angered. Enough already with belittling older women and their taste. I am "only" 39 and these comments sicken me. Older women rock, we should respect and honour their wisdom, not make stupid, insensitive remarks like this. Shame on you Knitting Daily!

Lsharr wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 2:27 PM

I totally agree with the ladies who have posted before me.  I am 61 years old.  I am NOT old fashioned, a prude or an old lady in sensible shoes, my hair in a bun and wearing a jersey dress.  

I think you need to look into your editorial policies and your own sensitivity training.  You are managing to anger a fairly large percentage of your audience.  Do not patronize us; do not disparage us and do not ignore us.  We are the original women who roared!


sockpr0n wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 2:14 PM

Seriously, "not your grandmother's"? I already get strangers snide remarks about knitting = old, do I really need to get it from yall too?

I wish I were as bada$$ a Knitter as my gma was.

DonnaT wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 1:56 PM

I find that headline very offensive - it is clearly ageist, implying as it does that grannies have no taste & are all stuck in the past.  How many grannies do you know?  Not many I bet or you wouldn't be making such offensive comments!

astoria wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 1:54 PM

I'll make you a deal: you never, ever use the phrase "not your grandmothers" or any of its variants again and I'll keep subscribing to Knitting Daily.  I expect that sort of thing from random strangers and out-of-touch publishers but not from Interweave Press.  We are not defensive, we do not need to deride our foremothers, I in particular am blown away by my grandmother's taste and skill, and we are not ageist or sexist.  Knitting stereotypes suck, stop promoting them.

MarieW wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 1:29 PM

Please, is it really necessary to haul out that old tired granny-bashing again? All it does is make people angry and it sure doesn't say you respect your audience. I for one am now quite disgusted and not in the least inclined to buy this book! I've been doing stranded colorwork for over 40 years, and I really resent the implication that everything I've done in the past was tacky and old-fashioned.

Look at some of the classic Fair Isle designs. Anything by Alice or Jade Starmore. I'm afraid the patterns you show pictures of aren't as attractive as any of the older ones. Gimmicky closures and gaudy bands around the hip? Please!

elovesheehan wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 12:59 PM

Wow! That sweater is very beautiful, and I also confess to creating a peice simply for the buttons/findings/closures...... Thanks for the introduction to Mary Scott Huff!


Washington State

Jenipurr wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 12:57 PM

I'm sure this is a lovely book and has lots of interesting ideas, but why, oh why, did you *have* to bring in the granny bashing? I know a lot of grandmothers who are incredibly talented knitters, who have been doing amazing stranded colorwork for a very long time. Old age (granny) does not equal out-dated, or lack of talent, and it's insulting to knitters of ALL ages to continue to use that tired phrase "Not your grandmother's knitting".