Rainbows are that magical, unlikely ray of colour that comes with a patch of sunshine in a rain storm. They are the reminder that there can be something positive even in the midst of a negative situation; of the promise of better, sunnier times ahead; of the colour in life that can sometimes feel all grey and darkness. Rainbows make people smile. They are ‘where troubles melt like lemon drops’* and dreams can come true.
And in the gloomy days of winter, rainbow colours can be a perfect shot of bright positivity that can lift your mood, and literally add a bit of colour to your otherwise dull day.
Rainbows are even on trend: cardigans and coats of many colours came down the autumn/winter 2017 runway, from chunky stripes to intarsia shapes, faded ombres and mini pompoms.
Clockwise from top left: Missoni Pullover (here), Gucci Embroidered Wool Knitted Top (here), Alice + Olivia Brady Pom Pom Jumper (here), Gucci Oversize Striped Cashmere Knitted Cardigan (here), Mira Mikati Diamond Stitch Sweater (here), Gucci Men’s Wool Sweater (here).
You can easily create a rainbow effect in your knitting by combining a range of ROYGBIV colours or by using a multi-colour self-striping, degradé, speckled or variegated yarn.
If the traditional rainbow colours seem a little too bright for you, either consider wearing them in small statement pieces such as a cowl, hat or mittens, or consider diluting them by striping or mixing them with a darker colour. Rainbows can also be re-interpreted in more pastel tones, or alternatively given further vibrancy and impact by using neon shades.
Any project can be rainbow-ed, whether as an all-over effect or as an edging or smaller detail. It can be a perfect way to use up any leftover or stash yarn which may be insufficient for a whole project but ample as a stripe in a larger sequence.
Stranded colour work and slipped stitches using a rainbow self-striping yarn against a solid background can be particularly effective-and allow you to have a multi-coloured look without the multi ends to sew in that would occur with the use of multiple skeins.
For more ideas of rainbows in knitted garments and accessories, see below.
For the Love of Rainbows by Knitting Expat Designs (here): this triangle shaped shawl combines sections of bright, rainbow stripes and lace eyelets in 4-ply/fingering yarn.
Rainbow Bridge Wrap by Lavanya Patricella (here): rainbow stripes mix with a more muted shade muted neutral in a combination of garter stitch, short rows, eyelets, and brioche.
Soft Rainbow Shawl by Zsuzsa Kiss (here): (see photo at top of post) This elegant lace-weight shawl with simple lace motif is given a magical, uplifting feel by the use of a Kauni yarn that gives a rainbow effect through the long colour repeats.
Lifesavers by Tanis Lavallee (here): rainbow stripes pop against a plain, neutral background in this simple top-down, one-piece cardigan. Knitted in 4-ply/fingering weight yarn, it’s a great project to use up leftover sock yarn scraps, or for mini-skeins such as the rainbow set produced by the designer-see Tanis Fiber Arts here.
Rainbow Trail by Christina Ghirlanda (here): simple worsted weight sweater knitted seamlessly, top-down that is made more special with rainbow stripes from a long gradient dyed yarn set amidst a solid background colour.
Rainbow Cardigan by Helen Hamann (here): this striking cardigan is knitted using the intarsia technique and 20 colours to create a shaded, rainbow patchwork effect.
ZickZack Scarf by Christy Kamm (here): available as a free pattern, this rainbow chevron striped scarf is reminiscent of classic Missoni designs and is knitted in a 4-ply/fingering weight, self-striping yarn (Lang Yarns Mille Colori Baby (in colours 51 and 52)).
Rainbow Magicowl by Elizabeth Brassard (here): this unusual, two-layer cowl is great for using up leftover yarn in worsted or chunky/bulky weight and gives you two distinct rainbow looks with different stripes and textures.
Rainbow Twist by Thao Nguyen (here): available as a free pattern, this cosy, super chunky/bulky weight cowl twist knitted in rainbow variegated yarn would be great, quick knit present. Sample shown in Malabrigo Rasta in 866 Arco Iris.
Have faith in your dreams and someday/ your rainbow will come shining through….
From ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’, written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston for the Walt Disney film Cinderella (1950).
Over to you:
Do you have any favourite rainbow yarns or patterns? What do you wear to cheer up your wardrobe in the grey, winter months?
* from the song Over the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg.