Those of you who have hung out with me enough know that colorwork has been on my list of things to try since…forever. But I haven’t yet. Cables, lace, short rows…no problem, I got that. But colorwork? Eeek! At the same time, I lovelovelove yoked sweaters and have several in my favorites on Ravelry.
This week I was watching the latest episode of Skeindeer Knits (a podcast on Youtube…hosted by Eli, “a Norweigian living and knitting in London.”) Eli is a MASTER at colorwork, and has several patterns published of traditional Scandinavian mittens, colorwork socks, and this spring published a sweater. Her podcast is also a wealth of knowledge on how to knit colorwork, and after watching a year I feel like I know the basic “how-to” of colorwork.
And this week, Eli published her “Speedy Selbu Mittens” pattern. Like last year, she’s publishing a mitten club this fall, releasing one a month for the rest of the year. (ps: it’s on sale this month, until the first mitten comes out!) The “bonus pattern” that’s out already is an aran-weight version of her original Selbu Mitten, which she designed as a learning pattern when she teaches Norwegian colorwork classes in London. Even faster than the original!
I cast on last night, and I’m already about 1/3 through the chart of the first mitten. My colorwork is far from perfect. I’m being careful not to twist my colors and always keep the plum color on the bottom, but the tension on the straw color is definitely tighter than the plum. Which isn’t ideal. I might switch them for the second mitten and see how it goes. At this point, I’m dropping the color I’m not using for each stitch and just picking up the one I need. (Eli said in one podcast that she knitted colorwork this way for years, so I figure it’s a good place to start…after I have the hang of it, I’ll try holding both colors at the same time, and maybe with thinner yarn).
[Edited to add: I read through the pattern again–always a good plan!–and Eli does say to hold the contrast color to the left of the main color. I switched them on the top half of the mitten and it looks better! It took me <24 hours to finish the first mitten…with a baby to take care of. I could totally do a mitten in a night.]
The yarn I’m using is Suri Singles by Salt River Mills. It’s a blend of wool and Suri alpaca, and the natural fiber colors are kettle dyed, so the colors have that natural quality that comes from not using a bleached fiber as the base. Suri alpaca fiber is different from Huacaya (“normal”) alpaca because the fiber doesn’t have a crimp, and is very drapey, and is generally combined with another fiber (like wool) to give it more body. This Suri Singles is producing a gorgeous halo, which makes the colors blend together like watercolor. Yarnia has 4 yarns made with this special Suri alpaca—the others are fingering or sport weight, and perfect for drapey shawls or wraps. I haven’t worked with it since I made the swatches last summer…I’m remembering why we brought it to the store!
When I’m done knitting these I’ll bring them to the store so you can check them out. Just don’t laugh at my attempts at colorwork! 😉 And if you want to try colorwork yourself, stay tuned for a colorwork class coming in the fall. We’re having fun planning classes to help you try new things, too!