Sunday morning bustle 

Sandra and I are getting ready to shoot a video tutorial for a one row buttonhole I used in the plaid cowl. We’ve recruited a lot of the lightening from the dining room and living room! Not to mention one of the drapes in the wall of curtains that hides our three messy homeschooling shelves. 

March needed colour

Over-dyeing experiment

I started with this Oatmeal colour of Berocco Vintage.  It was a colour I ordered online and it wasn’t at all what I’d hoped it would be.  Every other oatmeal from a yarn company I’d seen looked far paler (like oats) while this was a weirdly warm beige in person.  It’s an acrylic wool blend, and I wasn’t sure how well it would overdye.  But I got the itch and threw it in with some KoolAid over lunch yesterday.

Over-dyeing experiment

First I soaked it, then skeined it up and microwaved it with 2 packages of cherry.

Over-dyeing experiment

It looked like it had gone all the way through while it was cooking, but I was totally fooled and the insides were still the original colour.

Over-dyeing experiment

Once it was cool, I put two slip knots in it and tossed it in with a package of orange.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of that result.  I had a great mix of cherry and orange, but enough of the original survived and just didn’t look right with the tones of the dye.  So I opened it up and put in a package of cherry to give the whole thing a unifying colour.  In retrospect I ought to have tried a half package, since I lost the orange except as an undertone that still looks lovely.

Over-dyeing experiment

It turned out a beautiful, soft, autumnal colour.  I’m browsing patterns for about 200m (220 yds) of worsted weight if you have any suggestions.

September Morn


I finished a sweater, the kind of sweater I’ve been craving all winter long.  September Morn by Thea Colman.


I made a few changes: knitting it at the same gauge but in sport weight rather than worsted; I carried the ribbing all the way down the sleeves because while stopping it looked great in her version many of the versions looked oddly goofy at the transition; and I carried the ribbing detail from the raglan into the body for a ‘seam’.

My collar won’t do ‘cowl’, it’s just a turtleneck.  I’m not certain why that is.  I did follow the directions and I also made certain to block the top half wider.


I’m really pleased.  And the blizzard this week meant that, as usual, March isn’t too late for finishing sweaters around here.

colour tricks

Yesterday I wrote about choosing colours for the plaid cowl.  As promised, I’m going to discuss the hiccup I encountered when it turned out that colours had played tricks with my eyes when I picked colours with Jeni.  Colour has such an emotional and psychological role in our lives that, even though I had done the swatches I shared with you yesterday, I managed to mess up.  I did not order one each of a light, medium, and dark tone.  Instead, I ended up with a dark and two mediums.


I had planned to do the cowl with a lovely and vibrant horizontal run of leaf green, but I had a feeling that wouldn’t work. I knew it was time to swatch.  And this project offers ample swatching opportunities.  With a main colour and two contrasting colours, there are 6 possible combinations. The contrast colours aren’t equally used, so there will be one that gets twice as much visual space on the cowl.  So, for example, using green as the main colour still leaves me with two options: dark grey as contrast colour 1 and blue as 2, or blue as CC1 and grey as CC2.

If you’re the type to love to play with swatches and enjoy the surprises they can bring, then have at it!  But if you’re looking for more guidance, the pattern gives advice, as does yesterday’s post.

This stitch pattern looks good a lot of ways but, if you’re like me, you’re a knitter who envies weavers the ability to produce plaid.  It’s why I starting playing around with the stitch pattern, after all.

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So let’s look at the three swatches I did yesterday, with each of the three colours as the main colour.  For contrasting colours, I used the lightest colour as the one that would be the thinest.

On the left, the green works reasonably well, but there isn’t a strong sense of the crossing of colours.  It’s that crossing of a horizontal and a vertical that makes this stitch pattern mimic plaid.

With the middle swatch, the dark colour just steps back into the background, allowing the texture of the contrast colours to really move forward, which doesn’t work for the look I want at all.  It might be nice, but it’s not plaid.

On the right, we have the blue as the main colour, and the thin band of green seems to hold it’s own weight as a vertical accent.  It’s the one I like best, especially in person.

Why does this work?  After all, in the black and white photos I take of the three colours the blue and green are indistinguishable from each other!  But colour as a physical fact also gets layered with our emotions, our psychology, and our perceptions.  There is something about the way the green shimmers, especially in person (no doubt due to the amazingly glorious 50% silk content).  There is such energy to the green that it picks itself up and lifts itself lighter than the blue, as it were.  I’m so glad I didn’t have to write a sheepish note to Jeni of Fyberspates explaining that my psychology had overruled my swatching brain.


choosing colours for the plaid cowl

Our brain plays funny tricks with colour.  It says, “Oh, look at that!  It’s so bright and vibrant!”  But our sense of relative colour gets thrown off.  Is the green light or dark?

Look at how changing the photo to black and white reveals a few things.  Compared to the pale wood, the leafy green no longer seems to float like a line of light before us.

Working with a few different swatches and with the test knitters, it’s clear that it’s best to have a light, a medium, and a dark yarn, relatively speaking and to make the medium colour the main colour that moves horizontally across the cowl.  With the medium going horizontally, the pop of the light yarn going vertically provides the contrast which brings out the plaid effect.  It’s the two crossing each other that way that seems to work.

Here are the pictures I sent the test knitters to show them what I meant.  Yellow is light, green is medium, and navy is dark.

In the swatches with the light and dark colours as the main colour (left top and bottom), the plaid effect is fairly lost  in the general texture.  But with the green and yellow crossing each other in the top right photo, the plaid pops out.

Yet desite all this knowledge, in the excitement of talking to Jeni from Fiberspates on Skype, I managed to forget to stop, breathe, and make absolutely certain I had all three tones.  And so tomorrow, I’ll share with you what swatching has taught me about how the pattern works with a dark and two mediums.

Doorstep excitement

It’s a wonderful moment, isn’t it, when the world at large arrives at your doorstep and offers you mystery?  Letters filled with words that add up to laughter and tears.  Packages filled with cookies from Oma or supplies to make things that weren’t there suddenly come into being.

Today held that sort of moment for me.  A ring of the doorbell.  A curious peek through the window.  And then a package marked ‘Royal Mail’, which will always thrill me.  We might have the same queen on our stamps but Canada Post is not Royal Mail.

It was the yarn from Fyberspates for the new version of the plaid cowl for A Playful Day‘s Designalong!  The Scrumptious base of yarn living up to its name, managing to produce a glow from the silk mix even under grey and snowy skies.  Water, Slate, and Moss nestled in the package.

With this, the publication of the cowl really is nearing actuality.  I’ll swatch a bit.  I’ll knit a bit.  Soon there will be a new cowl to wrap around my neck.  Sandra and I will have to brainstorm using our best brains for a great photo shoot location in the ugly brown that March brings when the snow is finally gone.

It’s everyone’s responsibility 

Good mail day yesterday: I got the letter stating that my business is a thing! 

Along with it came the Work Safety package of information. I have posted part of it on the tea cupboard. Half to be gently mocking of myself and half to get the little giggle of joy that this new adventure gives me.