I have never been good at following the crowd. While my friends drooled over Jane Austen, I was obsessed by Edith Wharton and Henry James. When the whole world was disco dancing, I was busy folk dancing. At college, when ripped jeans and tank tops were de rigeur, I was in skirts and heels. When I had to travel to Barcelona or Bilbao to buy a cute dress at Desigual, I was so there; now that I can buy it on the high street in my local town (or, God forbid, on Amazon) it has lost much of its appeal.
When I was young, knitting was not a cool thing to do, not by a long shot. I took my knitting everywhere. Now, however, knitting is trendy. I still find myself reluctant to follow the crowd, but I am not about to put down my needles and take up book binding just to buck the trend. These days, with knitting, this rebelliousness asserts itself in my reluctance to jump on trends. As an example, I have never knit a sock, though for a few years sock knitting was THE thing. I even went to a three-day sock knitting workshop (an expensive one), where I managed to finish a sweater, cast on a skirt, and knit about 2″ of a sock. I can be wildly excited about something, but as soon as I realize that everyone else is doing it, my enthusiasm tends to wane. Yes, I know, this is terribly infantile.
This is a rather roundabout way of introducing my topic: the Colour Affection Shawl, by Vera Välimäki (pictured above). This shawl was originally a collaboration between the designer, Veera, and Sarah Dimond of The Plucky Knitter. The yarn was produced by Sarah as a kit and sold with the pattern. For the first few months, the pattern was only available as part of a kit. Sarah is known for her sense of colour and her ability to put together interesting combinations.
I saw the pattern on a forum, which announced that Sarah had put together 20 or so different colour combinations, and that these would be put up for sale at a particular time on the internet. I looked at my watch; they would go on sale in minutes. I could tell from the forum, and from what I knew of The Plucky Knitter, that they would sell out instantly. I would be lucky to get one. I had barely any time to choose a kit. I looked through the options, picked one out, and then asked Emma which she liked. She picked out the same one, Parlour Games, I figured that was a sign, the sale went live, I pulled out my credit card and snagged a kit. I later found out that I was in a lucky minority. Hundreds of unhappy knitters missed a chance; they truly did sell out almost instantly. Sarah went on to put up another round of kits, and then another.
I wrote a post when I got the yarn, so pleased by the absolutely beautiful colours. Here is a photo Emma took:
I had a few projects on the go at the time, so I waited a bit to start knitting. Then, I encountered a bit of a snag. I decided to wind the yarn into balls. I do all of my winding by hand. I started with the pink yarn. (The colours are called Faded Grandeur, Elegant Elephant and En Vogue, but for the purpose of this post, they will be green, grey and pink.) This was also around the time that I had an issue with colour bleeding in a different project, which I discussed in this post. This was a sweater knit in a slip stitch pattern in red and white. The red dye bled and the project was useless. I ended up throwing it away. I realized belatedly that I should have washed the pink yarn, while it was still skeined, to make sure that all of the dye was released. Once I had it balled, I couldn’t wash it, and I was very reluctant to re-skein it for the purpose of washing. This is a long way of saying, that I began to fret about whether the pink would bleed, and so once again put the Colour Affection shawl on hold.
Now, while this was going on, the shawl began to be very popular. Sarah couldn’t produce enough kits to meet demand. Then, the pattern was made available independently and knitters started knitting it in lots of different yarns as well. Some knitters made 5 or 6 or 7 of them. I began to lose my interest. And all of this was before Stephanie Pearl-McPhee stepped into the picture. Yes, the famous Stephanie of the Yarn Harlot, knit blogger extraordinaire, wrote a post about the popularity of the Colour Affection Shawl at a knit workshop she had attended, and before you could say boo, thousands of knitters were making it. I think this is great for Veera, who makes lovely designs, and great for Sarah, who makes lovely yarn. However, it immediately made my infantile inner knitter say “I don’t want to make that.” Why, oh why, do I do this? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to think “Thousands of knitters can’t be wrong.” But the honest truth is, the more Colour Affections (CAs) I saw on the internet, the less I wanted to make them.
It may not just be it’s popularity which has cooled my interest; I am astonishlingly fickle. However, as the number of CAs on Ravelry fast approaches 10,000 (yes, 10,000 – you go, Veera!) I find myself searching for some other use for the yarn. Now that I am knitting with Plucky yarn for the first time (for my Neon cardigan), I am even more determined to find a good pattern for these three beautiful skeins. I have thought about using them separately, for example knitting a pair of mitts from the pink, and maybe a cowl with the green and grey, but one of the things that attracted me to this kit in the first place is how great these three look together. So, for the benefit of my curious readers, here are my current options (those of you who are not curious, can stop reading here – though you would miss some pretty photos.)
I love the pattern Pop Spots by Juju Vail. It is becoming popular as well, though not quite on the same scale (yet) as the CA.
I have thought of making this in the grey, with pink spots and a green border. This pattern is one of those rare ones that Emma and I disagree on. Emma doesn’t like it and thinks it’s too old for me. I have seen some great ones, in terrific colours, and find the spot pattern really appealing. On reflection, however, I think I prefer the Pop Spots in a softer yarn with a bit of a halo.
Veera had published a new pattern, which being new has not yet taken off like the CA, which I think is very cute:
This one is called Happy Street. I would knit it in the grey, with the stripes in the green and pink. You can see why Veera’s shawl patterns are so popular; she uses colour and garter stitch and simple shapes to great effect. In fact, my very first post on this blog was to show off my Stripe Study shawl, a Veera design.
There are two other shawl patterns that I think would look fabulous with this yarn. Each of them uses four colours of yarn, however, instead of three, so I would have to obtain another skein (probably in a darker grey). One is called All the Shades of Truth by Laura Aylor, and I think it is stunning:
It is beautiful in these neutral colours, but imagine it in the fabulous grey, green and pink I have, with deep charcoal borders. So simple, but so beautiful. Laura first attracted my attention years ago with her Lizard Ridge blanket pattern; lately, she is making so many beautiful things. Please go check her out.
The other pattern is called Eden Prairie and is designed by Nancy Whitman. This one was inspired by a piece of Prairie-style stained glass:
Well, dear readers, what do you think? Should I ignore my rebellious inner voice and knit the Colour Affection? Should I knit one of these other lovely shawls? Should I hold out for another pattern down the line? Also, if anyone has experience with Plucky yarns, should I re-skein the pink yarn and wash out the dye?