Fire in the HoleIt’s the bright, vivid color with the barber pole ply that keeps me returning to this yarn. That little corner of my stash is a kaleidoscope that coaxes my brain into keeping it around, if for just another attempt at working the happy color into a sweater—the fabulously designed sweater that won’t remind me of other mistakes I made before I understood hand dyed yarn and color pooling.

Not that a fiber plied in such a manner would pool, but with the intensity of color in just one hank, I am respectful of what it might look like as a wearable object. Is it like the gaudy wallpaper that should be hung only in the laundry room or super small bathroom?

knitting with colorI have purchased not one, but five other colors to knit with this Mountain Colors Firehole River colorway to add balance and a place for the eye to rest. But because I love the color so much, I picked deep purple, vibrant rosy red, harvest orange, dark teal and fuchsia.  I think I need grey. And I gave this yarn a name; Fire in the Hole!

Fire in the Hole was retired for almost a year and then right before Thanksgiving, I pulled it back out. I looked for a pattern, but decided to use one of Ann Budd’s matrix books. I’ve knit many sweaters using the matrix approach. Those projects were mostly dark Shetland wool cardis and pullovers, so the reason for using the book was to have a framework only.

But this involved color, so the framework approach didn’t give me the information I needed. I knew that I wanted the color to do the talking, so the actual shape of the sweater could be simple with clean lines and right angled collars and corners.

I fiddled around with it all the way to Alabama and back over Thanksgiving weekend. I spent an entire layover in Atlanta ripping back to the two color ribbing. The two color approach included Fire in the Hole and deep purple. The ribbing was beautiful and even the two color motif was a technical work of art. It looked okay. But not great. The color changes in Fire muddied the crisp lines. The key with two color knitting is that one color needs to stand out and the other becomes a backdrop. I felt completely swallowed up in frustration with this fiber. Is it possible to have a fiber nemesis? I wasn’t ready to put the needles down yet.

Fire in the Hole!Sitting by me at the side of the family room sofa, it beckoned like a twirling red flashing light on the top of a car. So I dug into my knitting books again and come up with a solution! While I love Kristin Nicholas and her love of color (I purchased four other colors as required by one of the patterns), I knit about seven inches up the body and realized I’m very grateful for color and the concept of large outlined circles; but I’m not my svelte 24-year old self anymore.

I distracted myself with a big hearty fisherman wool sweater for my husband instead. With the Christmas deadline looming I focused on knitting acres of 3 by 1 rib into a raglan masterpiece. And yes, he loves it!

So now it’s the New Year and I started another project. Looking through knitting books again, I came across a beautiful A-line vest that is knit from side to side. It’s one of Jane Slicer-Smith’s patterns in her book titled Swing, Swagger, Drape. This is all about colors in Australia. Oh there we go again, color! Instead of letting my mind swing and swagger around the color wheel, I decided to use a red and black heather sport weight alpaca. The vest will be beautiful when it’s finished, but I kept coming around to my nemesis, Fire in the Hole!

Striped sample swatchWith my latest bright idea in mind I set aside the alpaca and went back to the book shelf! I heard Kaffe Fassett speak a couple of years ago and like his approach to color combinations, striping and shape. One take-away from his talk was “What do you see around you?” So I studied The Color Guys book and what did I see? Co-author Brandon Mably’s red, purple and pale blue vertically striped shirt!

This is as far as I’ve come. I’m knitting some self defense sample swatches of color striping. My base pattern will be the Einstein jacket by Sally Melville, because it’s a simple design and I’ve knit three of them and wear them quite often. This will be shorter than the coat, falling right above hip length. Normally, I’m able to visualize things in their completeness, but apparently the thought of tampering with anything that diminishes the color in its vibrant fullness, makes me lose my train of thought. To be completely candid, I do want a sweater that compliments my current body shape and doesn’t walk into the room before me.

Viva la sample swatch. I’ll keep you posted!


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