November 2021 Meeting Recap: Kate Atherley presents The Good, The Bad, and The Pooling: Working with Multicolored Yarns, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Melanie Chen
Board President Kimberly Williams opened the November 2021 virtual meeting and announced it was the 4th Anniversary of the Guild’s founding—how exciting! She also explained that in keeping with our mission, we respectfully acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional homelands of a diverse array of indigenous tribes and bands. The greater Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. We recognize Indigenous peoples as the traditional stewards of this land and acknowledge the enduring relationship between the land and the people since time immemorial.
An official member meeting was called to order for the annual elections. Tai Buschert was voted in as Member-at-Large for Communications, heading up the Communications committee (volunteers welcome!) and Misty Wegman was nominated from the floor and then voted in as the Member-at-Large for Events, responsible for organizing guild events and coordinating any volunteers needed for said events, such as classes and field trips. Kimberly acknowledged Susan Plack and Ellen Silva as members of the charity knitting committee and Melanie Chen as meeting recap writer and Emily Rogers as Zoom admin. The board is still looking for volunteers to be on the communications committee, so please reach out soon if you can assist with any of these vital functions, and we thank you in advance for your support!
Kimberly announced that meetings will continue to be held virtually through at least February 2022, which allows us to continue to have such great far-residing speakers via Zoom.
Our 2021 Winter Warmth Charity Knitting for Rose Haven was a huge success: members made 170 hats and headbands, 56 cowls and scarves, 20 pairs of socks and slippers, 12 sweaters, 37 shawls and blankets and 10 pairs of mitts, for a grand total of 305 donated items to be shared as gifts for Rose Haven clients. Kathryn Gearheard won the Charity Knitting Raffle, 220 yards of natural gray and hand dyed wool and alpaca from Handspun by Val Yarn, whose fiber comes from San Juan Island where her studio is located.
The inaugural Puddletown Make Along, launched this summer, featured three of our business members creating exclusive Puddletown colorways. 1) Puddle Stomp, from local indie dyer Knitted Wit; 2) a collection from Ryberry Yarns, and 3) the Fremont Bridge colorway from Opposite Coast Dyes. It was really fun to see the various projects that resulted and Kathryn Levine won the raffle for MAL participants.
For those wanting to show their Guild pride or to help get the word out about the Guild, there is a new online shop located at CafePress featuring PKG logo clothing, bags, mugs/bottles, and accessories with no mark-up for the Guild.
2022 Business Membership will now feature 3 levels, for varying amounts of engagement that reflect the amazing growth of the Guild. There will be a Knit Aid table at our meetings (once we are back in person again) for member questions, with answers from our Business members, as well as opportunities for Level 3 Business members to sell their products at one meeting per year. For more information, see the Business Memberships page.
Michele Lee Bernstein will be at Knot Another Hat with a trunk show from her new book, Brioche Knit Love, and will be ready to sign your copies. They'll have light refreshments and plenty of yarn suggestions! Tickets to the book signing are $5 (refundable with any purchase of materials for the book’s projects that day).
Member Tips with Anna Lorton. The tip this month was about joining yarn ends. From the many options, Anna has picked three joins to show us: 1) the Russian join, which requires a sharp tapestry needle, 2) the two overhand knots method, and 3) the spit join or felting join, which is done with animal fibers (but NOT superwash yarn), and relies on movement, heat and moisture.
Next month’s tip: How do you use your smartphone to knit—favorite apps/tools/tips? Send your ideas and tips for future Member Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programs Chair Sharon Grayzel introduced featured speaker Kate Atherley, presenting The Good, The Bad, and The Pooling: Working with Multicolored Yarns. A knitting author with nine published books, Kate is an internationally recognized knitting teacher and editor, and the co-founder and publisher of Digits & Threads, an online magazine of Canadian fiber and textile arts. Kate, who has a university degree in mathematics, is based in Toronto. She discussed the fun and challenges of working with hand-painted yarns, and gave us a review of different types of hand-painted colorways.
Kate noted that in many knitters’ stashes, there are single skeins of variegated yarns, reflecting our propensity to fall in love with beautiful multi-colored yarn. However, we often find such skeins knit up into something less than we had imagined—for example, if you are doing a patterned stitch, you want something less variegated. Kate put forth two key steps to Variegated Happiness: 1) understand the skein, and then 2) choose a pattern for that skein. Sometimes, the language is not clear, and we need to better understand the terms variegated, self-striping, kettle dyed, hand dyed and hand painted, OOAK, marled, tonal, speckled, fixed striping, faux isle, gradient, and semi-solid.
Variegated means multiple colors, and OOAK stands for one of a kind, aka wild child, meaning the dyer only has one skein of that kind. With regard to semi-solid vs. tonal, the difference lies in how the color is applied to the yarn, but from a knitter’s perspective, they are very similar and produce a reasonably solid color, sometimes appearing a bit faded or shaded. These are wonderful yarns for pattern stitches, and also good for larger projects. Self-striping is a bit problematic, because it has shifted in meaning—it is more accurate to call them self-patterning, since the striping doesn’t always result in clean stripes. Fixed striping yarns are designed for specific types of project, most often socks. Generally these yarns are more expensive, because of the extra care taken to produce the precision of the dye. Gradients mean the colors change slowly. You can also get gradient kits, to do more than a single skein project, or sometimes these are done in minis so you can control better when the gradient change will occur. Faux isle is more commonly seen in commercially made yarns, mainly for socks. Indie dyers do speckling, where each color is a little splash and these are suitable for all sorts of patterns and stitch counts. Marled yarn is coming up now as a verb, and refers to two colors twisted together, with Zauberball crazy as an example of a gradient marl. These have lots of personality, but you may not be able to get a matched pair of socks.
In determining yarn type, you will need to look at the colors (which, how many, and how they look together) and transitions (sharp or blended, length of colors before change). Kate suggests that after you buy the yarn, unfurl the skein to get a better sense of it, and fold it in different ways to see how the colors look together—lots of colors means it will likely look busy.
She shared some tips to make such busy, multi-color skeins work:
The bottom line is the busier the yarn, the simpler the pattern should be, and vice versa. Reasons why busy yarns don’t work include the nature of pooling, situations where the yarn is too busy and obscures the pattern, or the pattern stitch fights with the yarn pattern. In terms of pooling and the barber pole effect, this is where stripes appear to be magically on the diagonal. Sometimes this is totally a false impression, due to stacking in a certain way. However, sometimes you can leverage the ugly color change, by using the purl stitch to add texture. Kate cautions that stripes in ribbing are problematic due to purl stitches having the colors cross, but seed stitch can produce a very nice effect.
Kate’s other suggestions include adding a solid color to work stripes with a variegated yarn, using fading/blended stripes, slipped stitch patterns (such as Gridiron Socks), stranded colorwork and if all else fails, do two color brioche and pair those ridiculous yarns with a solid as in Lemon Difficult. Sometimes you let the busy be busy—and you just need to let them be what they want to be. That is part of the knitting adventure. Kate noted there is a section on her website with lots of tutorials, etc.
During Q and A, Kate gave advice for how to join a new skein to try to maintain the same sort of color pattern: move through the next cake to find the appropriate point in the color sequence, and make sure that the skeins were both wound with the same color change direction. This also is the case with starting a second sock if you are trying for them to be matched.
Show and Tell featured the many looks of the Puddletown colorways used in projects, with oohs and aahs all around.
Next month, Gayle Roehm presents Hand Knitting Design in Japan, on December 9th at 7 p.m. via Zoom. In January, Patty Lyons will share Secrets of Yarn Substitution. Looking forward to it!