Spotlight, Trending

Spotlight: Rainbow Bright

Soft Rainbow Shawl by Zsuzsa Kiss.  Photo copyright Soft Rainbow Designs. (here)

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.









Trending: more is more


Alice + Olivia brady-pom-pom-jumper_AW2017
Alice + Olivia Brady Pom Pom Jumper (here)


There were embellishments galore on the catwalk for autumn/winter 2017- many of them appearing at Gucci, which embraced the sentiment of more is more with some abandon.

Tassels, fringing, pompoms, lace and feathers were all left hanging at hems and cuffs- see more at my article Spotlight: Dangly Bits (here).

The fabric of garments was also given a little something extra through the use of a wide range of crafts – embroidery, appliqué, bows and ribbons, sequins, jewels, bobbles and beading- which were used to create quite diverse effects.

Pretty Vintage: Embroidered and appliqued birds and flowers gave a 1940s/50s feel to garments at Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, MaxMara and Markus Lupfer, while Boutique Moschino featured mini bows and Givenchy used classic pearls as a subtle inset at the neckline.

Clockwise, from top left: Givenchy Pearl Embellished Sweater (here), MaxMara Wool and Alpaca Cardigan (here), Dolce & Gabbana Embroidered Wool Jumper (here), Miu Miu Pointelle Trimmed Cashmere Sweater (here),  Markus Lupfer Embellished Bird Sweater (here)., Boutique Moschino Bow Detail Cardigan (here).


Traditional stitching: There was a nod to the history of needlework at Alexander McQueen in their sampler style embroidery, while Andrew Gn was inspired by central American traditional patterning in his monochrome, geometric embroidery. Sonia Rykiel also used simple stitching in contrast colours as a decorative highlight on garments that celebrated the history of Aran knitwear.

From left: Alexander McQueen Samplers Embroidered Cardigan (here), Sonia Rykiel Embroidered Aran Knit Sleeves (here), Andrew Gn Flared Sleeve Embroidered Sweater (here).


A little bit quirky: Embellishments also added a less traditional, playful edge: cute embroidered monsters and slogans adorned sweaters at Mira Mikati, graphic sticker appliques featured at Louis Vuitton, and hearts and stars were rendered in rainbow thread at Valentino. Chloe and Alice + Olivia showcased a multitude of multi-coloured bobbles and mini-pompoms, while Etro and Escada featured sprawling tiger and peacock designs.

Clockwise from top left: Mira Mikati Embroidered Monster Aran Sweater (here), Etro Embroidered Tiger Motif (here), Valentino Embroidered Frill Knit Sweater (here), Chloe Bobble Sweater (here), Louis Vuitton Sweater with Embroidered Stickers (here).


Gucci: Gucci fully embraced the art of embellishment. From relatively demure sequinned collars and ribbon neckties, to the fairly muted tones of detailed nature studies in embroidered appliqué, to the zany psychedelia of giant embroidered motifs of rabbits, tigers and cats, offset against multi-coloured stripes.

Clockwise, from top left: All at Gucci (here)– Embroidered Wool Hooded Sweatshirt (here), Embroidered Multicolor Knitted Top (here),  Embroidered Wool Knitted Top (here), Cashmere Silk Knitted Top with Detachable Collar (here).


Knit-inspiration: Embellishments can easily be added to an old sweater or a newly completed cardigan to change the look or complement the existing garment. There are numerous tutorials available free online and Craftsy has some great classes – see here.

TEXTURED EMBELLISHMENT: Studio Pullover by Cirilia Rose (here)– This worsted weight jumper is emblazoned with a geometric heart made using colourfully dyed curly locks applied using a fibre-hooking technique. Intended as an homage to the designer’s love of wool, the heart brings a wow factor to an otherwise simple sweater.

APPLIQUÉD EMBROIDERY: Windsor Tank by Maureen Clark (here)– A simple, sleeveless pullover is a straightforward knit- (made in pieces and then seamed together)-  but is given a pretty, vintage edge with the appliquéd embroidered flowers at the neckline.

APPLIQUÉD LACE: Lamella by Wondrlanding (here) – Striking appliqued lace runs down the back of this simple, raglan 4-ply/fingering weight sweater. The pattern includes options for both a pullover and dress, as well as two back variants.

RIBBONS: #06 Turtleneck by Elena Malo (here) – This chunky/bulky weight, ribbed sweater features a bold intarsia heart motif at its centre, outlined by woven ribbon that also borders the bottom of the body and sleeves.

EMBROIDERY: Henrietta Maria Cardigan by Elizabeth Wolden (here) – Contrast coloured embroidery adds a pretty, playful edge to this vintage-style, worsted weight, cropped cardigan with an all-over brocade texture.

BEADING: Frost at Midnight by Kate Davies (here) – Shimmering, beaded trees surround the yoke on this lace weight sweater, forming a necklace like decoration of over a thousand glass beads. Knitted from bottom up, the sweater also includes short rows to shape the neckline in a scoop that frames the face and neck.

Over to you: what do you think of these embellishments? Do you relish the sparkly, shiny extras or does it all seem a bit too fussy? Do you have any suggestions for embellished garments to knit?

Spotlight, Trending

Spotlight: designer socks

Knitted Long Socks in Mint Mohair (here)

Knitted socks are hugely popular amongst knitters, but rarely feature much in mainstream fashion. But this autumn/winter season, the knitted sock has been elevated to the catwalk. Or at least they were at British fashion brand Mulberry (here.)

Mulberry’s A/W 2017 collection featured an array of fuzzy mohair socks – some above the knee, others ankle length – in a striking 1930s-style palette of mint green, purple, mustard, brown and grey.

Worn with beautiful silks and fine corduroys, and rising from smart high heeled loafers and delicate jewelled sandals, the super soft socks added to the sense of tactile luxury, but also offered a refreshing (incongruous?) change from the more usual bare legs or tights.

Knitted Long Socks in Lilac and Light Grey Mohair (here)

Combined in some cases with midi length skirts/dresses and dropped waist silhouettes, the knitted socks also evoked a 1920/30s, vintage feel. I find myself thinking of the practical secretary in an Agatha Christie country house- wool stockings, tweed skirts and brogues- albeit a wonderfully glamorous version!

Knit-inspiration: you can easily emulate this cosy, vintage look with a pair of hand knitted socks. Choose a mohair, cashmere or alpaca blend if you would like a similarly fuzzy, soft finish.

Clockwise, from top left: Alpaca Sox Long Socks by Catherine Shumadine (here), Cheviot Knee Sock by Jo Storie (here), Percolation Socks by Kylie McDonnell-Wade (here), Basic Sock by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas (here).

Over to you: what do you think of this look? Will you be wearing long socks with your evening dresses this season? Have you ever tried knitting mohair/mohair-blend socks?


Spotlight, Trending

Spotlight: dangly bits


Pompom edging detail from MaxMara Pure Wool Cardigan (here)

There were a lot of things left hanging on the catwalks this autumn/winter 2017.

Opulent feathers, playful pompoms, dramatic fringe and pretty lace were all added to the bottoms of cardigans/jumpers or the underside of sleeves, adding a touch of quirkiness to otherwise simple pieces or bringing another element to already flamboyant garments.


Clockwise from top: Stella McCartney Large Volume Fringe Jumper (here) , MaxMara Pure Wool Cardigan (here), MaxMara Wool and Feather Sweater (here) .

Some designers looked beyond decorative trims and instead played with the conventions of sweater construction. At Balenciaga they quite literally deconstructed their knitwear, partially hacking off the bottom portions of garments and leaving them to hang down. At Sonia Rykiel and Stella McCartney they effected a similarly ragged finish by turning intarsia jumpers inside out and leaving threads dangling to highlight this inversion.


From left: Balenciaga Lurex Draped Sweater (here), Sonia Rykiel Jacquard Knit Sweater with Ruffles (here).


Knit-inspiration: Tassels, fringe, lace and pompoms can all be added quite easily to your knitted project to give a contemporary, quirky edge.

You can use them to update and refresh old projects: add colourful tassels to a shawl, knit a lace border on the jumper that’s always been a bit too short, add fringe to the end of a scarf that is looking shabby.

There are some great tutorials on how to make and add these edgings. E.g. Knitting help- Making tassels (here) and Knitting help-Adding Fringe (here)by VeryPink Knits, and How to Make Mini Yarn Pom Poms Easy DIY by giddyupworkshop (here).

And for the simplest way to achieve this look? Turn your newly knit sweater inside out and leave some of your yarn ends hanging!

See the patterns below for some examples of garments and accessories with a variety of dangling decorations!


From left: Sonder Shawl by Helen Stewart, detail of tassel from Marled Magic Shawl by Stephen West.

TASSELS: Sonder Shawl by Helen Stewart (here) This chunky weight shawl is knitted in a luxurious blend of alpaca, wool and silk. The simple eyelet design is given a playful edge by the large tassels at each corner, which also help the shawl sit well on the shoulders.

TASSELS: Marled Magic Shawl by Stephen West (here). Tassels are again a feature in this large, stashbusting shawl worked in seed stitch and using a mix of yarn weights, fibres and colours. Here, they offer yet another point of interest, adding a further touch of drama to the multicoloured, multi-textured fabric.


From left: Bon Bon by Joji Locatelli, Cabled Cowl with Pompom Edge by Bernat Design Studio

POMPOMS: Bon Bon by Joji Locatelli (here). These elegant fingerless mitts are knit in dk weight yarn and feature twisted stitches and lace. The cute pompom is an optional extra that is sewn on at the end and gives a fun twist.

POMPOMS: Cabled Cowl with Pompom Edge by Bernat Design Studio (here). Knitted in seed stitch and with sideway cables, this aran weight cowl is given a more quirky feel with multi-coloured pompoms.


From left: Santa Fe by Carol Sunday, Dylan Tank by Wool and the Gang (Photo copyright 2017 Rowan Yarns).

FRINGE: Santa Fe by Carol Sunday (here) – this 5-ply/sport weight, merino cardigan was published in 2014 but is right on trend this season with its striping, asymmetric waterfall front and multi-coloured fringe. You can buy kits to knit this cardigan in 5 different colour ways at Carol Sunday’s online store here.

FRINGE: Dylan Tank by Wool and the Gang (here). This aran weight, cotton tank top is new for 2017 and right on trend with its stripes and dangling fringe hem. Though it is intended as a summer top, it could easily be knitted in a warmer, wool based yarn and styled as a layering piece over long sleeved tees this winter. A free pattern from Rowan Yarns, it is knitted flat in simple garter stitch stripes.


From left: Penny Candy Winter by Jenjoyce Design, Puntilla by Joji Locatelli.

LACE: Puntilla by Joji Locatelli (here). A 4-ply/fingering weight sweater with a modern, boxy silhouette, Puntilla is knitted from the top down in one piece. Contrast coloured lace details edge the sleeve cuffs and the bottom hem, giving a pretty, whimsical note to an otherwise simple, every-day sweater.

Penny Candy Winter by Jenjoyce Design (here). Striped, worsted weight wool jumper with lace details at neckline, hem and sleeve cuffs. Also featuring another popular trend: stripes! Knit bottom-up, in the round, and with options for different body shapes and fits, including two necklines.


Over to you: Do you enjoy fluffy pompoms or the drama of a swish of fringe?

What do you think of the deconstructed look- is it a thoughtful challenge to our conventional ways of thinking or just an excuse not to sew in ends or a needless destruction of our hard work?

Have you got any suggestions for patterns that feature dangly bits?


Spotlight: Strands of Color

I am rarely a fan of pattern collections. I often like the aesthetic of a collection- the colours, the styling and the effortlessly chic lifestyle presented- but when I ask myself if I actually want to knit the patterns, I usually find only one or two to be really appealing.

In the new collection Strands of Color from Knit Picks, I want to make everything! Ok, not quite everything – 9 of the 15 patterns- and I’m discounting one of them simply because I have an unfair aversion to the knitting of cosies for objects that don’t need to be kept warm.

The designs all feature stranded colourwork, using designs that seem to be from the Nordic tradition. This means bigger, more graphic motifs than the smaller, often more muted bands of pattern used in traditional Fair Isle. Patterns include cowls, hats, fingerless mitts, mittens, a scarf and a variety of cosies.

Available to buy as a book (currently on sale at 40% discount), e-book and as individual patterns at Knit Picks website, here. Individual patterns also available to buy from Ravelry, here.

Over to you: what do you think of this collection? Am I alone in liking it so much? Do you have any pattern collections that you love? 

Images shown above: Clockwise from top left: Morgan Mitts, To the Top Hat, Shaela Cowl, Rafinesque Cowl- all by Knit Picks from Strands of Color collection.