Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Occasional Series: Wardrobe Wednesday

My first new fall outfit using some of my own
designs + repurposed items already in my closet.
I have been preparing behind the scenes for a bit in an effort to start an occasional Wednesday series to highlight how I'm incorporating my own designs into my wardrobe. The fact that it coincides with #slowfashionoctober is a happy accident!

The desire for this series started with a look not only at my stash (which, as I've written many times in the past, I've been aiming at cutting down significantly and/or using up yarns I've had for a while to make way for further fiber exploration), but also what I had in my closet and how I might freshen up both it as well as my personal look. I've been in a serious clothes funk for a while, so this effort comes not a moment too soon. However, getting all of these moving parts to work together and fulfill my final objectives really has been a creative challenge. Nevertheless, I'm pretty darn pleased with my first new outfit, which is pictured at left.

The piece that I wound up building up from and around was my La Coeur Cowl published in the February edition of (and you'll be seeing more about this cowl in the next few months) (top right in the first photo). I had a few skeins left over from the sample cowl I worked up for the e-magazine and, combining it with some yarn I still had in stash from this pullover, I swatched, crunched the gauge numbers, and then whipped up a bulky weight version of my New Wave skirt

Let me tell you, this is a fairly quick skirt to make in the original sport weight yarn I chose, but in this heavier weight, it was even quicker! I love how these colors play with each other, and I am absolutely thrilled with how this skirt fits. You can't get any better than that, folks!

I've paired it with chunky leather booties and black tights (which means I can skip any additional slip or underlayer - the tights do all the heavy lifting), the perfect purple tank (can you see a color theme here?) and an oversized blouse that I've had for while and just didn't have anything that looked right to pair it with. I will most likely make a few quick jewelry pieces, and then I'll be all set.

I feel like I'm getting a new school year wardrobe. So much fun!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Slow Fashion October: My (Small) Approach to Stash

Three different versions of the
Gradient Flower Cowl, all
hanging in a row ...
Hello everyone - happy October. In case you haven't seen anything on social media with the #slowfashionoctober hashtag, all this month Fringe Association is celebrating all facets of DIY clothing and fashion with weekly prompts. I've already started to post some photos to my Pinterest account relating to the topic, so I thought it was about time I did a little blogging about it.

It also coincides with the end of my hosting duties in the Gradient Flower Cowl CAL on Ravelry. I want to thank Crochet! Magazine for hosting the CAL, to Lion Brand for their lovely Amazing Yarn, as well as to the many, many lurkers in the CAL thread (and you know who you are!). I managed to complete three different cowls for myself (yes, mine all mine) using nothing but scraps from stash. This designing with yarn scraps in mind is something that I've been contemplating for over a year. It has been such a treat to not only see some of the outward fruits of this contemplation, but to experience the joy of stalking my own stash and putting together different color combinations. It brings me no small amount of pleasure to know that I am de-stashing in such a mindful (and rather stylish and colorful, if I do say so myself) manner. I've already got ideas on how I will be incorporating these cowls into my everyday wardrobe, and hopefully you'll get to see those ideas here on the blog throughout October.

In the meantime, I'm currently showing off the version in which I used a bucket load of fingering weight yarn (and a few lace weight ends held double). Quite frankly, this version is autumn encapsulated - and my neighborhood trees kindly reinforced the seasonal mood. I've got it paired up with a suede jacket, and I love the texture play. I fully expect I'll get a lot of mileage from this cowl, and I couldn't be happier.

Yeah slow fashion!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gradient, Ombre or Variegated?

We still have two weeks left in my hosted Gradient Flower Cowl CAL. I am astounded at all the lurkers watching Jackie and I create our cowls. I hope you're all getting good ideas for your own scrappy cowls. Of course, we'd welcome anyone who wants to join us. You can also vote in a wee poll to let Jackie know what version of this pattern she should make with all of her wonderful Koigu scraps - cowl, stole, scarf or (intake of breath!) throw. 

When Jackie posted one of her process photos, she mentioned her process for color placement:

"My loosely formulated plan is to begin each new motif in a color range that echoes a color from the previous motif. So, sort of a gradient color sweep in a way, but a lot more riotous color scheme. After all this is Koigu!"

I liked Jackie's thinking, but thought it might be nice to go a little more in-depth and discuss the differences between the terms gradient, ombre and variegated. They are tossed around a lot in the fiber business, and the painter in me loves to discuss color and palette.

A small example of
Noro variegated yarn
Initially, let's start with the easiest (or at least most easily recognized) of these terms: variegated. In terms of fiber, variegated yarns are skeins which have been dyed with various amounts of different colors. There are techniques used in the dying process, such as "short color runs" and "long color runs" to produce various effects in the final fabric. The most renowned of variegated yarns is, of course, Noro. However, Koigu and the LB Amazing also fall into this category (and on the more high-contrast Amazing colorways, you can easily see this). If you want to see variegation in action in the natural world, check out my Pinterest Flowers board

A side view of LB Amazing in the Olympic
colorway. This is a radial gradient, meaning the
color goes light to dark radiating out from the
center of a circle.
Next, there's gradient. Gradient, in terms of color, is a progression of different colors that are position-dependent and usually go from light to dark, or vice versa, within a defined surface or area. If you designate a square or circle in your word processing program be filled with color, usually one of many options is to make the color a gradient. It is very pleasing to the eye to see a progression of color. Even if you look closely at any variegated yarn, you'll see small pockets of gradient color in the transition from one color to another. In my original Gradient Flower Cowl sample (which inspiration came directly from my Pinterest flower board), I attempted to herd the colorways, using both ends of the skein, into lighter shades at the top and deeper shades at the bottom. Even though there might be some lighter colored motifs in the final rows of the original sample, taken together, it produces a gradient that generally goes from light at the top of the trapezoid to dark at the bottom of the trapezoid using several different colors. 

My sample Gradient Flower Cowl
for Crochet! Magazine. This photo
captures the lighter (and perhaps
more vibrant) color at the top, and the
darker, more muted colors at the bottom.

Finally, there's ombre. This term generally refers to mixing and blending hues of the same color in a progression of light to dark and (sometimes) back again. The best example, at least for my and this CAL's purposes, is the LB Scarfie. If you look at my photo of the sides of each skein of the prize colorways in the CAL, you'll easily see how, generally speaking (artists and, in this instance, Lion Brand, can certainly take liberties with the notion of one color), using a progression of shades of the same color allows the color to go from light to dark.

Lion Brand Scarfie as seen from the side, with the
denim/navy colorway farthest on the left.
When I'm painting, I can create a vibrant palette, with not one shade out of place or jarring to the eye, by using only one or two different primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and mixing various amounts of either white or black. The best Scarfie example would be the denim/navy colorway - white added to the original blue will yield the denim side of the spectrum, and adding black will yield the navy side of the colorway.

While my first finished cowl in this CAL uses mostly greens and blues, the gradient is subtle. However, on my second cowl (in fingering weight) you can easily see how I'm going from light to dark, even in this early process photo below.

It's quite all right that I have some darker colors right next to light ones, because it's the overall effect across the entire area (the trapezoid shape) of the cowl that my eye will scan. It will see light to dark, and be pleased.

Think about these terms the next time you're viewing the scraps in your stash and come up with combinations to achieve the effect that is most pleasing to your eye. 

Happy coloring!