Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Color Commentary with Clara Parkes of Knitter's Review

Well kids, it's that time again. I'd like to present the newest member of Color Commentary, Clara's Garden. I think it is just fantastic. Light and airy. Spring-like. Feminine.

Stirring things up in the dyepots with Clara Parkes of Knitter's Review was a ton of fun. I'll let her tell you all about it:

I’ll admit it, I have a thing for pink. Friends tease me about it as, again and again, I inevitably add yet more pink-hued yarns to my stash. I can’t help it – done right, pink is an exquisite color. I’m not talking about the oft-maligned pink of Pepto Bismol and bubble gum, but the elegant, nuanced, womanly hues of Mary Cassatt paintings, of peonies and hollyhocks and tulips. I know of no pink in nature that is not beautiful.

When Beth asked me to create a color with her, my mind immediately turned to those peonies, hollyhocks, and tulips—all three of which I have in my garden. They are pink, yes, but they have elements of yellow and white in them as well. I sent her a picture of a pale pink peony with hints of yellow stamens at the very center, and that’s where we began.

Translating a picture or a feeling into yarn is one thing—but doing it in such a way that you end up with a yarn that conveys this same feeling when knit up, that requires true skill. While I said what I liked, Beth knew how to make it happen, and in that regard, this was a truly collaborative process.

She first pulled three common colors from my picture—pink, yellow, and purple—and we started there. (We agreed right up front that we’d focus on the flower itself and not complicate matters by bringing in any green.) She dyed several skeins of sock yarn to start, each with different saturations and lengths of color placed at varying spots along the skein. While the skeins looked nearly identical at first, their differences quickly revealed themselves when I started swatching. In one skein, those innocent-looking yellow dabs became popcorny globs when knitted up—and the colors looked darker than I’d envisioned, pooling in an unattractive, oil-slick kind of way. (You can see a little bit of this in the cuff of my sample sock.)

One more trip back to the drawing board. We opened the curtains on our Mary Cassatt drawing room and let the light in, pulling the purple and replacing it with white, lightening the pink, and transforming the yolky yellow into a pale and delicate buttercup. The next test skeins were much happier.

Again, the mystery was revealed in swatching. One skein (shown in the toe of my sample sock) pooled in larger waves that didn’t seem quite right. But one special skein (instep section) produced lovely little rippling waves of color that reminded me of the wavy edges of a flower petal—and I chose that color as the base for Clara’s Garden.

But we had one more surprise in store, which came when Beth dyed up a hank of my favorite Lorna’s Laces yarn – Helen’s Lace – in the new colorway. Love at first sight!

I immediately cast on a lace triangle shawl that’s now just a few repeats away from completion. I could not be more pleased with how the colors translate into lace fabric, shifting softly from yellow to white to pink, much like a bed of tulips and daffodils. There’s just enough variegation for visual intrigue without detracting from the lace pattern. And the colors—and their promise of spring—provide a welcome vision that shall sustain me through the last weeks of what has been a very long winter here in Maine.

It has been a great pleasure, and learning experience, to create this colorway. I’m proud to present it to you, and I hope you enjoy it.

Clara's Garden is shipping to LYS near you right NOW!


IsDihara said...

Ohmygosh! Normally I'm pretty stalwart about yarns, but your article makes me want to rush out like a crazed moose... mowing down anyone who gets in my way...
and buy up several skeins of this incredible yarn.

*sigh* I'm SO ready for Springtime. THIS yarn will certainly chase away the grey, drizzly remnants of a Mid-Atlantic winter.

Come swiftly to my LYS, for surely I will buy as much as I can carry.

Sorka said...

WOW what a tough job there.. testing out the new yarn colors! sigh..

Looks like a really pretty color! I'm not a pink person.. however my daughter would sure like it!

Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

That is beautiful yarn.

elizaduckie said...

Pretty in pink, for sure Clara!

Knittin' Diva said...

Positively beautiful! I wouldn't think of putting pink and yellow together, but it is stunning!

Anonymous said...

Not only is it a gorgeous yarn, it is a very lovely shawl pattern. Where can we find it?

Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment, but the yarn and the color are so pleasing to the eye I had to respond. The pattern used for the shawl seems a perfect choice. I hope Clara posts the finished product and shares the pattern. Thanks for your hard work and for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hope we get to see the shawl after
"blocking"...I also love pink, very becoming especially to a, dare I say, more mature complexion

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all your compliments!!

Here is the info on the shawl.


Unknown said...

OK I could never say I'm stalwart about yarn, but like Isdihara I wanna rush out like a crazed moose. The colourway is exactly like a soft and delicate breeze of the garden full of the promises of spring and sunshine. Exactly what I need right now. I never dreamed creating your beautiful yarns could be soooo exacting. They truly are works of art. Lovely collaboration ladies!

Anonymous said...

Just absolutely loverly! I had planned on a red and black cardigan for my grandniece (to match the very cue ladybug buttons I found) but now I'm thinking this color. Question is, will it be available in a worsted weight? (The child lives in Rochester NY, anything less than worsted is not worth it.)

Anonymous said...

ALL of our yarns are available in ANY of our colors. Pretty much without exception! :-)

Anonymous said...

I mentioned Clara's Garden this morning in my blog. Stop by and see if you want me to add anything!
If you want to link back, here's my banner:

Let me know if you have any questions.

Knitting Editor

Anonymous said...

Absolutely stunning. Pink & yellow sound strange, but the result is just grand. Congratulations

Sheila said...

This new colorway is stunning. And yellow make perfect sense with pink. Yellow stamines are gorgeous is flowers. I will be looking for this colorway.