Courage stripes, part 1
I got an email from a knitter recently, asking what I thought about doing a COURAGE colourway. I went from “hmm, I dunno, maybe” to “why don’t I just sketch that up” to “LETS DO THIS” in record time.
Want to come along for the ride?
You might imagine that creating a courage colourway would involve some soul-searching to see what colours evoke courage or fear or bravery. A warm bath of bright green inner strength overlaid with speckles of deep black pain and magenta vulnerability, perhaps? Nope. Not that. Who needs emotions when you can use a formula instead?
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Last year, I created this colour alphabet so that I could encode different messages in yarn. This is what this knitter had in mind when she emailed me.
This email came in at just the perfect time. My plans for this fall involved a whole heck of a lot of worsted weight yarn, but that has been put on hold for at least a couple weeks while we sort out some dyeing issues.
Working with worsted weight is, for me, a whole different thing than fingering weight. Our whole “yarn machine” dyeing set-up is designed for fingering weight because that’s what we work with 90% of the time. Worsted is by definition thicker than fingering, and therefore heavier and less stretchy per unit of length. This means we need a few tweaks to get the worsted weight running smoothy. Anyway, the result was a hole in my fall schedule, and not much inspiration to fill that hole.
I’ve been feeling low on creative juices lately. This isn’t totally unusual for me, and almost always a sign that there’s been a lot going on and I need to slow down and do other fun things until my mojo returns. Or, if I wanted to stretch that metaphor uncomfortably far, until my juice refills?
An email with an excellent word suggestion was just what I needed. Creating a COURAGE colourway is not wildly creative once the alphabet is already established. It’s a matter of looking up the relevant letters in the legend and dyeing up the resulting yarn. See how C is purple, O is orange, and U is a pale pink?
This project isn’t creating a brand new idea out of nowhere, it but it is an opportunity to toss around ideas and think about which stripes should go where.
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My first thought was a skein of yarn with just seven stripes, one for each letter. It would make a great cowl or scarf or Musselburgh hat. A quick lurk around my knitter’s Ravelry and instagram showed me that she, too, would probably prefer long sections of colour.
On the other hand, socks are always popular for self-striping yarn and for that you want much narrower stripes, and sized to have the word COURAGE at least once per foot.
So two variations. One hat version with seven stripes, and one sock version with two matching halves. The graphic above shows a “colour map” of what those two would look like.
The top is the sock yarn and it says COURAGE COURAGE COURAGE EGARUOC EGARUOC EGARUOC. You can knit one sock starting at each end of the skein for a matching pair. The extra “ ” in the middle is dark grey yarn that could be used for the heels and toes of the socks.
The bottom, the hat yarn, is what I dyed up first. I’m looking forward to casting on!
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The key for a colour code. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a different colour. Black represents a space.
Two horizontal bars with a series of stripes. The top bar has a mirrored pattern of stripes and says the word COURAGE three times on each half. The bottom bar has only seven colours, one for each letter in COURAGE.
A nice ol’ pile of yarn.