It feels like forever. I have been working and waiting to publish these designs for a while now. Meeting all the deadlines I’ve committed to, preparing, re-organizing. Waiting for that perfect moment. One may wonder why it takes me this long to “birth” pattern designs into the world, but I feel the further I work with knitwear design, more I strive to perfection. And end up spending more time concentrating on quality of my patterns, editing and testing them and then editing again. And all of those things take time.
I have been exploring combining colors for ombré / gradient effects before via use of solid yarns. If previously, in Aranami, I used a modular technique worked up into a design, for these new designs I have been wanting to try another technique I’ve worked with before! Would some of you recall my Trace vest from Wool People 3? Similar, but not the same. And that’s why it’s new. But first I will start at the beginning of this story.
Rewind back to Summer of 2013, when we just moved back to DC area from Japan and dear friend Emily invited us to the friends and family day at new NPR – National Public Radio – headquarters in Washington, DC. Besides the privilege of visiting and touring this new building, it was a fun experience on its own – seeing the studios, people at work at news station, the Tiny Desk and enjoying stellar views of DC. It was great to see one of nation’s respected news channels from the inside and a spectacular view of the newsroom floor from the bridge.
While exploring around the building and its new, minimal and fresh hallways, my eye caught upon a certain wall decor simply depicting the sound waves. My friend told me, that her work a lot of times consists of staring at those “waves” on her computer day in and day out. So seeing that sound wave graphic incorporated into interior design felt like a great idea. The subtle changes of grey into white and going back to grey which triggered my thought of using similar pattern in trying to depict ombré, color gradient in knitwear and in this case by using colorwork technique.
Colorwork can be both – intimidating and frustrating, beautiful and rewarding! I do not consider myself a colorwork connoisseur, but I have turned to it multiple times to reach the desired effect in a knit garment or accessory. And every time it was worth all the efforts and patience. With every project my confidence grew and my skills have been getting more practice. I have discovered better ways for me of working it and making little discoveries and tips that might help other knitters with their process. I admire designers who are almost exclusively create and design with colorwork and fair isle. They are truly an inspiration to me. One has to have a good eye, taste and knowledge for harmonious color pairings to turn tiny intricate patterning into wonderful garments.
Back when I was working on Trace I’ve been fantasizing to use that similar effect for something else, a different graphic, a different clothing item. So when I had begun my stitch pattern development I have been reverting to the similar color distribution and usage. I’ve had begun by obsessively swatching and trying to find the best possible way to work in more colors. I have knit a shawl prototype with 5 different colors, however the colors I used were not close enough in palette even though they were in the same color family. Their contrast was quite stark and to me it didn’t feel right for what I was trying to achieve. Unfortunately, not all ideas can translate and work out in a different stitch pattern. Now, months later, I know how I might have solved that issue but it would have given me a bit different design than I had originally planned. Thus I have abandoned the idea and decided to go a bit simpler route and work with 2 colors only.
I have picked an already trusted Brooklyn Tweed LOFT yarn, knowing how reliable and perfect it has been behaving in my hands while doing colorwork. Squishy and lofty, just like a marshmallow, all while having enough “grab” to maintain even floats. Easy to spit-splice and colorwork that will lay flat and even that when done properly would look great on the reverse side.
Other biggest excitement in my process while working on this design was picking color. For triangular version – Onpa Shawl – I’ve chosen a slightly muted burgundy that is called “Homemade Jam” and paired it together with the heathery “Sweatshirt” grey. And for rectangular version – Onpa Stole – I went with the beautifully saturated blue “Almanac” and winteriest color of grey “Snowbound”.
I knew the moment I cast on for the triangular version that I must make the rectangular version available as well.
So what’s the difference,
Onpa Shawl is a triangular version
Onpa Shawl is worked flat top down and uses techniques like provisional cast on and working colorwork flat. Meaning that you not only knit, but also purl while maintain color pattern. I am a Continental knitter (the combination kind) and many years ago I’ve taught myself how to knit English style, just so I can use stranded method and work with both hands carrying a color while doing colorwork. But because I am mainly Continental style, I have discovered that use of this nifty little tool – Yarn guide – helped me speed up my process while producing even floats. Mind you, that it does take some time getting used to, but I’ve heard amazing things from Continental knitter friend of mine who works her colorwork in the round now at incredible speed and she helped me in producing of the stole.
Onpa Stole is a rectangular version
And that brings me to Onpa Stole. This design has more potential from wearing point and offers more customization options . Because the way this pattern is worked and built, you can make it not just as a stole – you can work less row repeats and turn it into a scarf which would be just as graphic. You can play around with the number of the repeats, work double width, but reverse the orientation to create a beautiful throw or a blanket. You can cast on less stitches and omit the steek and turn it into a cowl. So versatile!
One of the goals for these shawls was also to discover a better way for trapping my floats in a neater way, I am so glad that I have succeeded and more. The floats trapped in both of these designs in such a way that renders them both reversible, while creating slight patterning of their own. I am especially happy with how the colors look in reverse gradient on the back side of the shawl and I have included all those tips in the pattern.
Even now I realize that the possibilities are quite infinite for either of these. Imagine using ombré yarn as a contrasting color all the way through. Or use 3 or 4 or 5 solid colors in a color progression but only use them in a contrasting placement in the pattern. I am currently knitting another Onpa Shawl for me using colors of Brooklyn Tweed LOFT in “Soot” and “Hayloft”, those who know me are aware of my love for all things grellow and I am quite excited as I have chosen to reverse the color placements and made lighter color as a contrast this time. Can’t wait to show you!
I will write more about these designs in the upcoming weeks as I am hoping you will join me in this Winter’s ONPA Knit-A-Long hosted here and in my olgajazzy design group on Ravelry.
5 lucky knitters will be gifted with a copy of either Onpa Shawl or Onpa Stole digital pattern.
The rules are simple – leave me a comment here at the bottom of this blog post and please follow me (unless you already do) on Facebook and Instagram
I will draw winners on Thursday morning October 30, EST.
Happy knitting and Good luck!
Love this graphic sound wave design!
Can’t wait to knit a cowl in it.
This story is a perfect example of what it takes to produce beautiful handcrafted items! Skill honed by hard work and perseverance, with a dose of inspiration from a cherished place. Thanks, OlgaJazzy!
simple and striking colorwork! fabulous!!
I just love your creative process!
Very striking. Another new techinque to try.
Beautiful work Olga. Can’t wait to knit the stole. My previous comment had a typo in the email address. My apologies.
A great story behind an amazing pattern! This is one of those cases where I was instantly drawn to the design–I absolutely must knit it. It is both gorgeous and meaningful to me since I do research on the relationships between sound, culture, and human experience.
I enjoyed reading your story, you are an amazing designer and knitter. I love both the shawl and stole. Personally, I would knit the stole as I do not wear shawls. Thank you for sharing your creative process and your great designs.
Such an amazing story behind this pattern! Am loving knitting especially the color-work portion of the shawl now. I really wish I knew there was a stole version!! I would love to make a stole for myself please 🙂 Thank you.
What a GREAT blog post!
Such a lovely statement piece! Excited to see that you’ve published a new design – would love to take on the challenge myself; I could stand to learn a thing or two about even stranding! Beautiful 😀
Love the inspiration story….
Love reading the backstory about what inspires a design. Have added the stole to my to do list.
I love your designs and the attention to details in your patterns. Your new design is gorgeous and so very graphic. I’m currently working on Coda and last year I made Aranami. Thank you for the chance to win a digital copy of your latest work of art.
What beautiful work! Can’t wait to see the grellow!
What a wonderful background story to your designs! Everything you have designed I’ve enjoyed reading your notes on! Keep up the wonderful designing!
I love that it’s reversible colorwork!
Inspiration comes from so many places! Thank you for sharing your story and I love the shawl and stole!
They are fantastic! I can tell their softness and squishiness from the pictures.
Wow, these are so stunning, and I loved reading the story behind your beautiful designs. It also was wonderful to meet you at Fibre Space a few weeks ago and see your Woolfolk designs in person – luscious yarns and gorgeous patterns!
Congrats on another beautiful pattern, Olga!
So glad to see the finished pattern. It stopped me in my tracks at Rhinebeck. Gorgeous!
Stunning. I love the strict geometric pattern with the texture of the yarn.
A gorgeous graphic design. I live the story behind the design and I can imagine how it will feel knit up in Loft!
they are gorgeous! I’m decided on which I like better, but I’m leaning towards the stole. It is really graphic and amazing.
I absolutely adore these patterns, Olga! You keep designing such beautiful things and I want to knit them all!
I love this design at first sight! And excited to read the story behind.
Thank you for sharing your creativity to us!
So beautiful designs!!! Congrats for creating so lovely things!
Beautiful on both the outside and the inside! It would be great to up my float-trapping game with this. 🙂
I really appreciate your ability to be inspired by the world around you. This design is another example of your artistry.
The shawl looks like so much fun to knit!
What a lovely way to achieve color transition.
Congratulations, Olga, on adding yet another pattern to your elegant repertoire. I especially like that this design has such a presentable reverse side. Wonderful work!
really interesting pattern:) just found you through instagram.
What a lovely pattern! I especially love the stole shape, it would be perfect for winter bundling!
I absolutely love both patterns. The ombre design on them is amazing.
a great combination of knitting and npr!
I have always avoided stranded colorwork, but I so love this design that I think I will have to perservere this time!
Wow! I, too, have always wanted to try stranded colorwork. This design is beautiful on the front and back!
Am I too late to be entered in the drawing? I love love your designs an family intrigued by your textures and color ways. I am unhappy by the way my colorstrand occurs and am excited to know more about you made your colorstranding reversible! It looks lovely.
What a wonderful design and such a great inspiration. Can’t wait to try my hand at color work stranding.
I love designs that manage to combine graphic and organic elements. You have SO managed to do it. Well done!
Looks quite interesting! I’m intrigued….!
Stunning! Can’t wait to make it!
I’m very interested in the tool you use to speed up your knitting. The link you provided for the Clover tool is no longer live. Can you tell me what the tool is?
Hi Jenna, Thank you so much for telling me! I will fix the link and the tool I use is called “Yarn Guide” and there are some other brands that make it too. http://www.clover-usa.com/en/accessories/138-yarn-guide.html