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!