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!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Everything is Coming up Flowers

Hello to everyone on this slightly more-sober-than-usual Friday. As we remember the events of 9/11, I am so incredibly fortunate to have missed being near or in the Towers fourteen years ago, as scheduling found me in class and not at my externship at the EEOC, which was located at 10 World Trade and was the third building to go down (later in the afternoon). I thankfully admit that I feel light years away from those events, even though I will never forget that clear, sunny and blue day.

So I'm celebrating the present clear, sunny late summer day with a finished fiber project! Hey, there's nothing like a little fiber to put things in perspective, right? I'm super pleased to show off my completed Gradient Flower Cowl inspired by the palette of the Olympic National Forest:

Close-up of the buttons on my Gradient Flower
Cowl. Yes, those leaves are actually starting to
turn colors.
I love how this turned out! Once I was done with the main body of the cowl, I turned it 180 degrees so the section with more of the blue tones was closer to my face, and the greens/more yellow tones were farther away, and then I added the edging. I'm also super pleased with my button choice. All in all, I plan on getting lots of wear out of this cowl.

I'll leave you with an earlier progress photo of my fingering version. I cannot tell you how much I love this design. I've actually got stash yarn ready for two more worsted weight versions - one in burgundy/reds and another in all greens. Nope, I'm not slightly obsessed with these little motifs. Nope, no siree Bob, not moi.

Have a great fiber-filled and sunny weekend everyone. And if anyone wants to make one of their very own Gradient Flower Cowls, there's a Ravelry thread where some of us are sharing our progress and photos. Well, at least Crochet! Magazine's managing editor and I are doing so, and a lot of people are lurking and watching us. Don't be shy, people - join us!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Continuing Thoughts on Fiber

Still life of  my current Gradient Flower Cowl.
Hello everyone - it's a day before the last big blowout weekend of the summer here in the U.S. Is everyone ready to get their grill on one more time? Who is actually ready for autumn to arrive?!!!!

As you know, this past Tuesday was the official start of my hosting the Gradient Flower Cowl over on Ravelry. There's been a lot of lookers in the first few days, but only a few have taken the plunge. I hope you'll look in your stash of awesome scraps, find some colors in one weight of yarn that appeals to you, and join us!

I have been absolutely enjoying working up my two versions (which yarn I blogged about here). Want to see some progress? Here's the first row of my version done in Lion Brand Amazing (the same fiber as the sample for the magazine, but in different colors). This is an aran weight yarn and I'm using a size J/6.00 mm hook. I've increased the amount of motifs by two so I'll have a slightly wider cowl (and I'll use up more scraps in the process).

I'm also really, really far along on my fingering weight version. I've switched up the palette just slightly (omitting most of the mid-blue tones), so it will be mostly creams, grays and orange/red/browns. I'm not going to show you my progress on that one just yet, but let me tell you, I pretty much couldn't put it down yesterday.

It did get me to thinking about other potential fiber choices. I note that I originally swatched with both chunky and worsted weight yarns that were plied but both were, at least to me, too heavy. I opted for the Amazing because of it's lovely brushed quality - it's an aran weight fiber without the heaviness. So any fiber rated by the CYCA (Craft Yarn Council of America) size 4 or above might work if it's light in weight - a roving type yarn, perhaps, or any fiber whose construction is airblown (such as this) or (my personal favorite) any weight of mohair. At the right is a peek at some fingering weight mohair I have in stash that would make a beautifully airy yet warm Gradient Flower Cowl in some of my favorite colors.

This is the Labor Day weekend here in the U.S. and I wish everyone who has the weekend to themselves a wonderfully relaxing time doing exactly as they choose. I give a special shout out to all those who are gearing up for the beginning of school next week - yes, the hazy, lazy days of summer are done. Where did it go?