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Artful Color, Mindful Knits

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About the Author

The work of Laura Militzer Bryant, founder of Prism Yarns, has been recognized with grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts andt he state of Florida. She has published more than 35 pattern books and writes a column for Cast On magazine. Laura is a past president of the National NeedleArts Association.


Spring 14 I have to confess, when I wanted to knit with a hand-dyed skein of yarn I would cast on a simple stitch pattern and hope. Sometimes it looked OK, but sometimes not as inspiring as the skein itself. No longer! Laura is quite a bit more scientific. In order to get the colours of a hand-dyed skein to fall predictably, she knits or crochets a multiple or fraction of the original dye repeat length, or magic number. An exact repeat gives colour stacking. One or two stitches difference from the magic number produces diagonal stripes or a diamond Argyle effect. Different stitch patterns and different placement of colour on the yarn also give surprising results. A limitation of this technique is that you can't increase and decrease stitches for shaping, but the author includes some example patterns showing how these straight widths can be joined into garments with panels of toning solids. If want something truly random or less bold - without any pooling or patterns, this also cannot be left to chance - Laura details different techniques for achieving `randomness' such as slip-stitch patterns, floats, and knitting into the row below. She combines handdyed yarns and solids on different rows and within the same stitch. The fabric that results is more homogeneous, but still retains the proportions of the original colours. Laura illustrates the various effects using case studies with commercially dyed yarn in different repeat sizes and colour configurations, showing her experimentation samples and the final garment. Hand-dyed yarn can also be used to achieve these effects. Before dyeing, yarn can be skeined to the correct size to achieve the fabric width that you want. Just to prove it worked, I had to dig out a hand-dyed skein from my stash immediately and cast on a cowl. Gretchen Roth, Online Guild * Journal for Weavers, Spinners & Dyers *

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