Continuing the colour-related theme, here is a tank I made quite a while ago, as a sort of exercise in shading. At Woolfest last year, I bought four colours of some lovely Artisan Threads BFL. One was a soft rose, and the other three were slightly different shades of green/grey.

As you can see, the three green/grey shades seem quite tonally close. . . it is only when you examine the skeins and their slight variations that you see how different the colours are. For example, at a distance, the unwound skein on the far left, looks very similar to the one second from right, but their composition is not the same at all. Here, in two photos that are true to their actual colours, is second-from-right:

and here is far-left:

Close up, you can see that second-from-right is more greyish, with lots of brown and yellow tones, while far-left is much more determinedly green, with pinkish-purplish hints running through it. I suppose it is the use of the same natural dyes in different combinations, as much as the variegations from the dyeing method, that make these skeins so complex . . . and this stuff must be what dyers think about all the time. . . anyway, I loved both the proximity and the distance of the colours in these skeins, and wanted to knit something to show them off. So I worked a few swatches, developed a shaded-stripe sequence from my four colours, and then knit a tank following Wendy Bernard’s great top-down instructions in Custom Knits. This is an interesting method: you begin provisionally; start knitting flat at the back underarms; work up and over the shoulders, then down the front, before joining back to front at the underarms, and working down to the bottom edging. This was the first time I’d tried this construction, and I rather liked it. But I am such a sucker for the speed and rhythm of stockinette in the round that I would be tempted to work bottom-up and steek the armholes, simply to avoid the purls . . . (I seem to be in a strange phase in which I only want to knit tubes of varying dimensions).

To avoid a gazillion ends, I just carried the four colours up the side, weaving them in as I went. Once I had the basic tank, I decided to try some more shaded effects on the ribbed edgings, with four colours of kidsilk haze that were reasonably close to the four artisan thread shades. I knit two strands of the KSH together, which helped to blend and soften the colour transitions:

I don’t much like knitting with KSH, but it is good for this sort of thing.

I find BFL a very curious fibre: it is obviously woolly, but it is so smooth, that when working with it it, one sometimes feels like one is knitting with cotton. The fabric it has produced here is so flat and matt and neat that it almost looks machine knit (in comparison to my usual hand-knitted surfaces, anyway). I love the depth of colour in the muted stripes I ended up with:

Anyway, the end result was a simple, close-fitting tank which shaded the colours quite nicely, and which was softened around the edges with a fuzzy mohair halo. It could be the stripes, the colours, or just the basic nature of the garment, but I think that the tank has a worn, old-Boden feel to it, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps you are wondering why I’ve not mentioned the shaded tank before. The truth is that I conceived a peculiar dislike to it, and it has been buried at the back of my wardrobe for several months. I finished it on January 31st, and on that day, wore it for the first time. The following day, I got up and had a stroke. That event was, of course, nothing to do with this garment, and I’m not even sure myself why it gives me the heebies, (because it was the last thing I knitted or something?) Anyway, I have decided that this is mere foolishness, and that the shaded tank needs to come out into the open. It is perfect for these lovely late summer days, which I am spending outside in our tiny strip of shared garden. Yes, you can see mead mountain from the back of our flat – the sight of it always makes me happy.

I saw The Illusionist yesterday, and thought that Arthur’s Seat, and, indeed, Edinburgh as a whole really looked stunning. Chomet captured the light and distinctive vistas of the city amazingly well, and there was something quite curious about seeing the very cinema I was sitting in appear in animated form in front of me on the screen…The film is terribly sentimental, of course, and though the animation is beautiful and unique and knocks the socks off CGI, I’m not sure how good it is at suggesting the fundamentally physical humour of Tati… but like Chomet’s other work, the best thing about it is how absorbingly his aesthetic is used to create a feeling. The feeling of this film was of something about to end, and it captured that very well indeed.

Oh yes, I mustn’t forget to mention that I called this tank Tey, as when I was knitting it, I was also re-reading a stack of Josephine Tey novels. It is ravelled here.

Also…I returned to the colours of the hedgerow for the tortoise and hare gloves. Swatch success at last! More soon. . .

33 thoughts on “shade

  1. Kate — I’ve been an occasional blog reader for some time.

    My partner broke his back a few years ago (on January 31 — oddly), and because I’ve got some weird thrifty gene in my makeup, I hung onto the pants he was wearing (and cut out of) at the time of his accident. So I know well what it means to irrationally connect a garment with a particular event.

    I’m happy that you’re wearing this lovely subtle garment.

    In my case, I eventually threw out the pants, and now that I come to think of it, I wrote about chucking a Kid Silk Haze sweater I was working on while he was in the hospital. I really should get rid of that, too, because it isn’t working, and it hangs around like a rotting albatross. I had a vision of taking it to a local park, and launching it like a kite, with the loose end of the yarn as the kite-string. As the sweater flies further and further away, it would unravel until there was nothing left. (A lovely image, but not danmed likely with KSH!)




  2. It’s really quite magnificent. I love the shading work, and the gentle contrast of the rose. I get the whole emotional response to things though. Sometimes a thing reminds us so strongly of an event or a time in the past that the object can take us right back there. Great when it’s a happy memory, potentially quite terrifying when it’s not a pleasant association.

    I’m glad you showed us. Thank you.


  3. Wow, so beautiful! The complexity of colour is really stunning.

    I’m squeeing over the construction, too, because I unvented it myself a few years ago when making a baby tank top. It was a way of ensuring that I didn’t run out of yarn – I finished the top half completely, ribbing and all, then knitted down the body until the yarn was (nearly) all gone.

    I heart clever-clever construction :-)


  4. Wow. That is fabulous. I love the colors, and the fuzzyness. It really appeals to me, even though I would never have a use for a wool tank top while living here, in Central Cali – gosh, it is late summer and 106F!


  5. An elegant tank top. I have to smile, however, at the thought of a climate where wool can be considered for “late summer wear”. I’ll be lucky to able to wear it any time before November. . .


  6. ::Heavy Sigh:: Yes, I see how getting back on that horse may have seemed daunting for a while, but now that you’re wearing Tey, and looking so supremely lovely in it, just hug yourself knowing that things are at least appearing happy and good.


  7. I remember you knitting this at Tea Tree Tea Knitters group before the stroke. Good to see it finished and you wearing it. Quite a symbol of you accepting and moving on from the stroke. Artisan Fibres colours are so subtle and beautiful.


  8. Wouldn’t you just love to knit a representation of the gorse on Arthur’s Seat, as Chomet portrayed it? That chunky 3D-ish scatter of knots of gold which somehow stood out from the purpley watercolour dusk? That’s the image that has stayed with me. The kids don’t get it!
    P.S. Some garments are like that – they attach themselves to a bad memory and have to go, even though they are blameless.


  9. Now, these are fabulous colours. I actually compare them to the colours in your Braids picture – flashes of pink in amongst muted tones of grey and green. This really speaks to me. And I love tanks too – altogether, a wee success story from my point of view.


  10. I read your blog and still find it shocking that you, as young as you are, had a stroke!

    What a remarkable recovery you’ve made, and stayed positive – not to mention the generosity of you still taking gorgeous pictures and continuing to blog through it all (thank you) – you’re truly an inspiration! I think you’d make a great role model or speaker for high school girls..

    Anyway, enough of that – the muted shades of that tank are gorgeous! Amazing how the ksh matches so well too – the talent of choosing the right shades eludes me most of the time. I hope the association between the tank and the incident fades, and that you do get some wear from the top, it does look great on you..


  11. Love the shaded tank – and I am relieved to hear that someone else has the heebies about a garment. I have several items that I associate with traumatic events in my life – and I have been equally slow to reintroduce them into the wardrobe round.


  12. If only all old-Boden looked this good! (There is a very faded purple henley in my wardrobe that I refuse to stop wearing…)

    I love the colour combination in your tank, I never would have put those colours together – I would have thought them too contrast-y, but the effect is wonderfully delicate.


  13. The shading shows up fabulously in those stripes. This is also the first I’ve heard of Wendy Bernard’s tank pattern–I’m intrigued! I’m glad you took this out of the closet to share with us!


  14. I love your colorwork! The tank is beautiful and fits you perfect.
    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and I enjoy the way you write. I’m from Sweden and have learnt so many nice English words from your blog. Thanks!


  15. I love the stripes – this should definitely not be in the back of your wardrobe! I asked about the Illusionist at our theatre / cinema this evening, but apparently I’ll have to wait a month or so to find out if it will be coming this way :( Looking forward to the hare and tortoise!


  16. Stunning work! I’m glad you found the courage to wear it, as it looks lovely on you! I am also grateful you shared your design and feelings, an inspiration!


  17. What a beautiful little tank, yes, it does look like old, well-loved Boden (and much less garish than some of their later stuff). I do like the way the colours blend in very fine stripe. I’m almost finished my first topdown cardigan from Custom Knits.

    Also, saw the Illusionist during the film festival, while sitting in the Festival Theatre, which I remember being refurbished from the old Empire theatre which is the theatre the magician performs in. Sitting there watching that produced almost a feeling of unreality, as if you have stepped into the fiction, while staying “here”. I love the Illusionist, so poignant.


  18. love to read your stories, Your colors where just great a good eye for color and I love the tank especially how you did the bust area! Keep it up…


  19. What a beautiful and artfully wrought top, described with so much sensuality. For the past couple of nights, I’ve been perusing “Custom Knits” and contemplating my *first* knit garment. Enjoy Tey in good and ever-improving health.


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