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Skein of thought

Dark, Dark Hoose

Monday, June 13, 2016           by The Purl Box

You may have noticed that we've just recently gotten in a new shipment of Jamieson & Smith's 2ply Jumperweight Yarn, expanding our range of these totally impressive colours.  We asked you earlier in the year for colours you'd like to see us get & had a lot of fun trying to craft our selection from your (& our) wishlists.

Happily, I had the pleasure of opening up the box & getting first hands on the new stuff.  The lovely people at J & S had also included a number of hardcopies of this years Shetland Wool Week hat design by Ella Gordon - Crofthoose Hat, which we will pass onto you with your order until we run out.  I'm rather enamoured of this pattern with those cute wee hooses.

I was already crown deep in my own version of the Crofthoose, & planning a second one.  As soon as I saw the original pattern, I'd been wanting to make one using shades of green & blue, but needed to wait for our new yarn order to come in before I could start.... but of course waiting isn't my strong suit, so I delved through the stash & came up with 5 shades that suited & cast on for an interim version.

Of course, there's not a single green or blue in this first version - my Crofthoose Berries.

Choosing colours for a project can sometimes take as long as the knitting, especially when it comes to fair isle.  I'm not sure what the secret is, but I do think its a good idea to know what sort of look you are after is a pretty good start.  Two colour combo's - like when you are making a Snawheid, are fun & easy - pick two shades you like & just make sure there's enough tonal (light & dark) contrast between them that you can pick one from the other with squinty eyes.

Choosing 5 colours for a project provides a few more challenges.  Looking at the Crofthhoose pattern, there are two background shades, & three colours used for the hooses.  In the original samples, the background colours are light, & the hoose shades are a blend of medium to dark tones.

There's often comments about how you need a 'pop' colour in fairisle to bring it alive - something a little unexpected, and not quite matchy-matchy.  This idea is not exclusive to colour-knitting, but any sort of colour play, really.... It certainly held true in my patchwork days.  Doing this well can be the hardest thing to learn - if only because it requires a certain leap of faith in your eye for colour.  There can be a fine line between 'pop' & 'jarring' & learning to trust your eyes is a good start, even if you aren't a particular fan of the specific shade in question.

I learnt this lesson early on in a patchwork shop with a (thankfully) very opinionated store owner, who insisted I buy the mustard print even though I wanted a pretty green.  The result is still one of my favourite quilts & looks far better than it would have done if I'd gone with my original choice.  Sometimes, where you end up with is not at all like how you planned when starting out.

So, back to the Crofthoose.... in this instance, I chose to use dark shades of purple (FC14)& red (FC55).... partly because they were to hand, but mostly because I really liked them.  Then I choose my medium tone - 9144, a lovely salmony-pink I've been lusting after using for a while, which I decided would work well as my 'pop'.  So I had 3 of the 5 colours I needed, but couldn't settle on my background shades.  The light beige 202 was okay, but, I didn't have anything else in my stash to use as the second background shade.  

The dark brown FC58 kept singing (okay, yelling) at me to be included, so I gave in, giving me three very dark hoose shades, plus the very light beige & the middle toned pink to use as background.  I wasn't completely convinced, so I slept on it, waiting to see what daylight would bring.

I left the 5 balls on the kitchen bench, where I could ponder over them.  After a day, it was clear the light beige had to go - it was just too garish in the mix & was fighting with the pink over who wanted to be the Poppiest.  I preferred the pink, so I needed to find another, not quite as light, but still suitable background shade.  Back to the stash I went.

And wha-la! I found a ball of 203 left over from the Snawheid my mum claimed as hers.  Closer in tone to the pink, the light grey shade worked well enough with the darks I decided to start & see.

I admit to feeling a little trepidation as to the end result.... overall, my colours were a whole lot darker than the original project samples.  I'd played around a little with the dark to light ordering of the hoose colours & in truth there wasn't a lot of tonal variation between them.  I was going to have a dark & light  hat, with out much 'middle-ground'.

Starting with the corrugated ribbing, I still wasn't overly convinced, but decided to keep going until I'd at least begun the hooses.  And thank goodness I did!!!!!

I love this hat.  

It's a little Gothic perhaps - all dark hooses at sunset, just before the light disappears from the sky, when the colours of the day are deepening into shadows.  The three darks I chose almost blend into each other, giving me a village silhouetted against the sunset.  I feel like a total genius in my colour choices, because I love the final overall effect, but lets face it, it was really just a matter of picking what I liked & then 'resting' on the choice for a bit to see if it made me happy.  That & also just going with what was to hand.

Oh dear, I originally set out to discuss the mods I made to this pattern, both deliberate & accidental, with this post, but I seemed to have gotten rather sidetracked by the colour choosing .... anyway, I have them listed on my project page on Rav, if you want to check that out

Before I sign off, I'll show you a little of what I'm working on now - my Fantoosh! by Kate Davies, for our ongoing Ravelry KAL.   You can see it in the flesh so to speak this coming Saturday at the Woodend Winestore, where we'll be celebrating Worldwide Knit in Public day in style.  We'll be there from 4-6 pm (although I'll be a wee bit earlier, as I'm travelling by train... and if last time was anything to go by, we'll be there a wee bit later too!!)

Happy knitting!


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