Monday, 4 May 2015

Rainbow Colours

My adventures in the world of rainbows began about five years ago, when my mother returned from a holiday in Estonia with an enormous skein something labelled 'Aade Lông Artistic 8/2', and little idea of what to do with it. I  was very much into practising my lacework at the time, and so after some debate over how exactly we were going to do justice to such a beautiful yarn, we mutually settled on this Woodland Shawl, (available for free on the Thrify Knitter's blog). When it gets to that time of year when a scarf is necessary, it might as well be one which it cheers you up just to look at, and that's what I love about this project.

These days I'm all about the colour work, and that fits in with the rainbow trend rather nicely. This möbius scarf I recently finished was originally based on Elinor Brown's two-tone Min Ulla Scarf, but armed with a copy of 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone, I went a bit off the rails and started improvising. I was using leftover scraps of Rowan's Felted Tweed dk, though, and I was confident that its beautiful colour palate would shine through whatever I did. Worked in a tube on a small circular needle, and then grafted into a loop with kitchener stitch, this is the ultimate throw on over any old thing when you feel like wearing hand-knitting sort of project. It clashes with nothing because it clashes with everything. 

Another colour work motif I'd had my eye on for a long time was the little cars used in Biler by Hanne Thorsen. Having a three 3 year old son means I get a lot of requests for transport themed knitwear, but the cartoon style of these little cars appealed to me too. I cheated a little with this project, and used a self striping yarn called Kauni 8/2 Effectgarn in a rainbow colour way. A pure wool 5-ply, its long colour transitions reminded me a great deal of the Aade Lông Artistic 8/2, but to make each rainbow stripe nice and distinct from the adjacent ones, I cut the yarn and wound it on a bit each time. The leftover bits came in useful for the sleeves, though, so there was no real waste, and the nice thing about doing it that way was that I had all the colours I needed in one place without having to go digging about in my stash. 

George seems happy with his new jumper, despite my annoying habit of asking him to tell me all the different colours in it every once in a while. Because knitwear can be educational too. 

Rainbow projects don't necessarily require fancy stitching to look great, though. Patterns such as this Gift Wrap Sweater, and this Honeycomb Stroller Blanket use nothing more complicated than knitting, purling and slipping stitches. I threw together dk acrylics by Stylecraft, The Women's Institute for Hobbycraft, Patons and Hayfield for mine, so they were both real stash-busters.

These projects both demonstrate the potential of rainbow projects to be gender-neutral, which is obviously very useful when it comes to knitting for babies. There are other neutral colours, but none of them are quite as much fun to knit, to look at or to wear.

It can take a little time and effort to find the right shades to make up your perfect rainbow, particularly if you are planning to combine them with a background colour. For example with the light greys featured in some of these projects, it took a little searching to find blues, greens and purples which stood out enough to look good. These days if I'm in any doubt I tend to make a swatch and then see how it looks in a photograph. It's a great way to put enough distance between me and my work for me to form an objective opinion.

Rainbows don't need to dominate a project in order to be effective - top of my ravelry queue at the moment is Kate Davies' Cockatoo Brae a beautiful cardigan with a small colour work band around the yoke which tones down the trend for a more sophisticated look. Similarly, Sourpatch by Corrina Ferguson features a solid coloured body with coloured stripes around the yoke. Worked in rainbow colours, as here, it makes a quick and fun project for a little girl.

I think the trend is such an enduring one because it's great fun to knit with so many colours (even if it does sometimes mean sewing in a lot of ends), and the results are always so pretty and eye-catching.

Whatever stage your knitting is at, there's a rainbow project to suit you, and make your hard work 'pop'. There are so many yarns in so many beautiful colours out there, and whilst noone will ever be able to use all of them, it certainly is fun to try!

This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. Visit for more details.