Colouring in Simmer Blink

Getting this shawl tested was a particularly fun exercise, because I got to see the very different effects of combining different colours – and in different ways. Some testers used a different number of mini-skeins, or a solid and a gradient yarn, or a solid and a variegated. They’re all rather fabulous.

Beate, Alex and Diana each used a five-mini-skein set, as written, but the effects are so different! I like how Diana’s rather marbled MC seems to shroud her earthy gradient set in mist – but there’s nothing misty about Alex’s wild, zingy colours, even with a similarly variegated grey background. Beate’s background and gradient are both solid and enrich each other beautifully.

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Bek used three mini-skeins, doubling up the final eyelet bands for a total of six rather than five. Her colours are so bright and cheery!

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Jacqui and Wendy both went for a two-skein version, one solid and one variegated. These are more restrained shawls that would blend in nicely with a working wardrobe.

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And I was particularly excited by Sarah’s two-skein version – one of those skeins being a gradient. Look how gorgeous this is! I don’t think I would have thought of putting this rich, subtle gradient against a black background but wow, is that impactful.

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The pattern is highly adaptable – I’d love to see two gradients striped against each other, or a scrap version. But if you want to play around with colour arrangement, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Here’s a sketch for you to colour in as you plan your shawl – the letters A, B and C indicate the Narrow Stripe Sequence, the MC Eyelet Band Sequence and the CC Eyelet Band Sequence, respectively.

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First, in my colour set, the yellow was without doubt the strongest colour. I decided I wanted to keep that flash of yellow to either end of the shawl and not use it at all in the middle (B section) – letting the other colours ebb and flow out from the centre towards those dramatic ends. That’s why there are only four MC eyelet bands. If you also have one particularly strong shade, think about where you want to put it for best effect.

Second, in the A section, I started by striping two ends of the gradient set against each other, progressing to the middle of the set where the colours offered less contrast. This is an effect I really love to play with when using gradients. If you’re using a gradient skein rather than set, consider trying the same thing – knitting from both ends of the skein; you won’t get the blending effect, since the middle of the skein won’t be available till later in the shawl, but contrasting the two extremes could be fun anyway. The alternative of course is to stripe the gradient against the background colour, as Sarah did so beautifully.

Third, the pattern was of course written quite carefully to ensure that you don’t run out of any of the colours. (I have to point out that a couple of my testers did run out of yarn; others had masses left over. Gauge is weird. But see notes below for adapting to your yarn quantity.) With my colour arrangement, shades used in the shortest rows at the start get the longest rows at the end, so everything works out. If you have the same yarn quantities but change the colour order, as Alex did, you risk running short of yarn in the final eyelet bands. Alex’s fix was to cut two rows out of the eyelet band – starting the eyelets right after the garter stitch. It’s hard to tell at a glance that those bands are any shorter or different to the others! This does mean fudging a little, and the colour changes won’t happen at the exact right spot on the lace edging, but it’s definitely an effective solution.

Finally, the knitted-on edging provides a perfect finish but it does use up a lot of yarn. One great thing about this pattern is that stitch counts don’t matter at all, so you can keep going as long as you want to, and have yarn available – but what if you run out in the final edging? Argh! You could maybe change to your contrast colour if you happen to have a lot (from the start of the Final edging section, i.e. where you start to decrease away the body stitches), but I’d probably vote for working a picot cast-off instead of the lace edging. That’s how I finished Zivatar, which features the same lace edging as Simmer Blink, and it combines really well.

There you go! Have fun mixing it up – I am looking forward to seeing lots of beautiful stripy variations.