Knitting Colorwork: Tips & Tricks

I love knitting colorwork. But, for the uninitiated, colorwork can be quite intimidating. How you choose the right colors? Why does it make my gauge all weird and pucker-y??  What do I do with all these ends?!!

Today, I'll be sharing some tips and tricks for success with colorwork. This isn't a be-all, end-all guide, but it should help get you starting on or improving your colorwork skills.

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Colorwork Cravings

It's rare these days that I get to knit something from someone else's pattern, but whenever I do, it's such a joy that I kick myself for not doing it more often.

Case in point, my most recently finished knit - the Ebba pullover by Diana Walla.

I had eyed the pattern back when it came out in September 2015 (how time flies!) and then I had some time this winter with no knitting deadlines and thought- you know what, let's do it! 

So I went to my LYS - picked up some colors, swatched, went back to LYS to exchange a color when the first combo didn't work out, swatched again, cut my first steek, and then merrily knitted for a month. I completely enjoyed knitting this and I love the finished project. Wearing it twice a week until it's too warm is totally acceptable, right? 

But more than anything, I love that it re-triggered that colorwork-loving portion in my brain. Back in the day, I had a lot of fun designing some colorwork pieces like Zoetrope, but then for one reason or another, I stopped. But  I'm inspired now, and I maybe bought a crazy amount of yarn because I do nothing in halves, apparently, so more colorwork to come!!

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Introducing: Oakdale


When it comes to my own designs, I never wear them until I have a chance to do the official photoshoot because I want to keep them as pristine as possible for the pattern photos, and for this particular design the weeks between completion and photography were super tempting.

I designed Oakdale as my dream sweater, and it turned out pretty much exactly as I hoped: as in crazy-close to the original sketch. The only difference is the neckline, which is more boatneck than crew (which I prefer).


Still in my colorwork period, it started off with an acorn motif and a desire to do a 40s-50s style sweater.  I wanted it to be seamless and easy to knit, so I decided to do it as a raglan sweater, and since I hadn't decided what I wanted the neckline to be I started at the bottom and worked my way up, figuring I'd decide by the time I got there.


There's no shaping in the body of the sweater, but 1-2 inches of negative ease, plus the nature of the colorwork stripes, makes for a shapely-looking sweater. If you wanted to make it even MORE shapely, you could switch the Stockinette stripes for corrugated ribbing easily.


The front and back are entirely the same until after the yoke decreases are completed, then there are a little over an inch of short rows on the back neck to raise it up a bit higher than the front for comfort in wearing. The sleeves, neck and hem are all finished off in a K1, P2 rib that mirrors the striping pattern.


For the sample I used Cascade 220 in Chocolate Heather, Smoke Blue and Straw. But it would work in any worsted weight yarn with a reasonable color range.


A big shout out must be given to Bristol Ivy, fiber artist, who served as color consultant, photographer and tech editor for this pattern.  And a mini shout out to the Canal School in Westbrook, which served as a charming autumnal backdrop, when our original location fell through.


The pattern is written for sizes 30 (32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58)”/ 76 (81.5, 86.5, 91.5, 96.5, 101.5, 106.5, 112, 117, 122, 127, 132, 137, 142, 147.5) cm at the bust and is perfect for your next sock hop or pep rally.

Oakdale is available for purchase for $7.00 USD

or you can queue it up on Ravelry.


PS - Did you know about the new mailing list? You'll receive notification about all new Ms. Cleaver Creations patterns as well as special discount codes and offers.  Sign up Now!

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Introducing: Zoetrope


I had so much fun coming up with this pattern, though like most of my patterns its seems,  it had a long time going from inspiration to release.

Shortly after I took up running* last year, I quickly learned that if I wanted to run in the cold I would need a good hat and being a knitter, I thought I could create an awesome running hat. I was in the midst of a colorwork binge and thought a running hat with a running motif would be fun, and then I remembered my history of photography class from college and Zoetrope was born.


In that class, one of the photographers we learned about was Eadweard Muybridge, who in 1877 accidentally helped create the motion picture by winning a bet for a friend. The bet was whether or not all four of a horses hooves left the ground while in a full gallop, by utilizing a series of cameras, Muybridge proved that they did (wild times in 1877!).  Muybridge also discovered that by placing the series of images on a spinning disc, when viewed though a single opening, the spinning image appeared to move. Like this!

Zoetrope in Motion

History lesson aside, I took Muybridge's "Horse in Motion" images and converted them to a colorwork chart, which is framed within a filmstrip. Each of the horse panels are different, meaning that if you spun it fast enough and while looking through a slit, the horse would appear to be running. Or you could just look back up at the animated gif above.


The hat is knit out of Quince & Co's DK-weight Chickadee in Egret (white) and Crow (black). One of my testers also successfully used a fingering weight yarn.

Zoetrope comes in three sizes: 17.5, 20.5, 23.5 inch/ 45, 52, 60 cm circumference, features an optional braided tassel, and, if I may say so, is a little addictive to knit, as once the horses start to appear, I just wanted to keep going.

Zoetrope is available for purchase for $5.00 USD

or you can queue it up on Ravelry.

*haven't really run since.

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Introducing: krona


Back in July, when Amy & I met-up at Knit Wit to check out the Quince & Co. Yarns, we both decided that we wanted to design something new with it. In making this project, Quince & Co.'s Chickadee has quickly become one of my new favorite yarns - and it's seemingly endless color range has pushed me into a bit of a colorwork phase.


As soon as I had my colors in my hands I knew I wanted to do some kind of diminishing colorwork pattern with the yellow fading into blue.  The color combination also had me thinking of the Swedish flag, so I did some internet searching for inspiration and came up with the concepts that became krona. Krona means crown in Swedish and a Swedish crown is both the literal  Swedish royal crown as well as a braided hairstyle, both of which I tried to reflect in this pattern.


The braided band on both the tam and mittens is knit flat and seamed, and then the main pattern stitches are picked up from the band edges and knit in the round.  The mittens are identical on the front and back and can be worn on either hand.

Because Chickadee is a sport-weight yarn, I lined the mittens from the braided band up for extra warmth.


The tam sports the same colorwork pattern as the mittens, adapted to the hat shape. The tam is designed for head 20-22 inches in circumference and sits shallowly on the head.


I received a good deal of good-natured ribbing from my knitting friends while working on this pattern, because I tended to unconsciously match my outfit to my knitting (does anyone else do this?), so my outfit in the photos is a tribute to the Portland Knitters on the Town.


You can queue up the tam and mittens on Ravelry.

You can buy the patterns individually Mittens - $5.00 USD; Tam - $4.00 USD; or together for a $2.00 discount

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Knit Extravaganza!

I have no problem taking pictures of the food I cook, but for some reason, I totally have a brain fart when it comes to photographing my more craft-orientated projects. So I'm going to do a few quick posts to catch up on my current and recently completed projects. Today's post focus on the knitting, the next will focus on the sewing projects.

Project #1 - Salina Sweater from Rowan's Vintage Knits.

Salina Sweater - Collar

Pretty much the entirety of my Christmas vacation in Maine was spent working on the front portion of this sweater. I was a little iffy about the color at first - I bought it off the internet and it wassuppossedly a pale blue, but in reality is a very pale grey with a lovely rainbow tweed flecks. In any case, it will be something different in the sea of green sweaters Iam no longer allowed to buy/make.

I haven't casted on the sleeves yet, because I'm taking/took a break to work on two items I actually need/needed.  See projects #2 and #3.

 Project #2 - MK Carroll's Tillie Cloche 

 Tillie Hat Millie Hat - assemetrical brim in back

A week before Christmas, I lost my favorite warm hat to the CTA. It was a lovely maroon crocheted bobbly thing that was purchased at a church craft fair as a Christmas gift by a family friend several years ago. But alas, it is no more. It is, however, still cold in Chicago and my windowpane-style beret, wasn't cutting it in the wind. So I needed a new hat, fast.

Thanks to the beauty that is Ravelry I was able to find an excellent cloche pattern by MK Carroll.  Thanks to the awesomeness that is Mr. Cleaver I got some lovely yarn for Christmas and pretty much instantaneously went to knitting it up. I made it through the crown and half of the brim before we even left Maine.

But the brim, oh boy, did I have trouble with that brim. Which is no one's  fault but my own.

First - I did not use any of the suggest yarns, instead I used Reynold's Lite Lopi, but I did do gauge check and adjusted accordingly. My problem was that I arbitrarily decided that after the initial decrease and increase on the brim that I would say "to hell!" with the pattern and just eyeball the length. Let us just say that this decision did not work out well and was woefully long on the first and second attempts. There was much grafting, ungrafting, weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the end however, my ears are warm and I really like the hat. It's not 100% done in the above photos. I haven't blocked it lacking a head form other than my own and I haven't added the i-cord trim, but it's cold outside and like all my projects minute finishing can wait until I've worn the thing a half dozen times.

Project #3 - Hello Yarn's Squirrel and Oak Leaf Mittens 

Squirrel Mitten

I lost my warm hat and a month later I had made a new one. I lost my warm gloves and it's taken me oh, eight months to replace them.

That's because the last pair of mittens I made were so disastrous that I refuse to display them here. Well, since Mr. Cleaver was getting me yarn for a hat, I batted my eyelids, looked at him with sad puppy eyes and got a few more skeins for a pair of  mittens to match the hat.

Now I still look at those two skeins of yarn in the photo above and think - surely those would be sufficently contrasting to make a pair of Norwegian-style mittens, surely! The purple is so bright and the grey is so, well, grey! However, as is evidenced in the same above photo this is clearly not the case. So my squirrel mittens are subtle.

But I'm okay with this, figuring that since this is my first colorwork pattern (which I'm really enjoying) it's okay to be subtle, since the mistakes will be less obvious. And as, one of the ladies in my knitting group said on Tuesday - they're like "Magic Eye" mittens, stare long enough and you'll see the image. And I quite like that idea.

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