Choosing Yarn for Your Dragonfruit Shawl

Dragonfruit Shawl Collage

When I invited the Dragonfruit Shawl testers to share their yarn choices, I was amazed by the variety of yarns and color combinations that poured in. Some posted pictures of gorgeous gradients, others chimed in with solid and slow-color-change and self-striping yarns, and still others showed off combinations of yarns from all categories.

Altogether, my 26 inventive testers used over 30 different yarns to create their shawls. I hope the gallery of possibilities below inspires you when choosing yarn for your own Dragonfruit Shawl. With so many possibilities, you can make this shawl over and over again with a different look each time.

The Backstory Behind the Original Yarn: Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber

Two of my testers, MrsMcD918 and nikkifox81, also used Jazz Handz for their Dragonfruit Shawls. Coincidentally, they both used the same colorway, Rainbow Sherbet.

Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber, created by the wonderfully sweet Susan Herkness, inspired and motivated me when working on the Dragonfruit design. When I received my very first cake of Jazz Handz, which I had ordered in the Bird of Paradise III colorway as a birthday present to myself, I had a vision of it worked up as a richly textured crescent shawl.

On fire with inspiration, I set to work to create my dream shawl. Hesitant to use such a gorgeous yarn for mere prototypes and possible failures, I used other yarns to experiment with textures and shaping techniques. These efforts, however, were largely unfruitful. Months of swatching and dreaming failed to produce anything close to the shawl I had imagined.

Disheartened, I unwrapped the gorgeous cake of Jazz Handz once more from its carefully wrapped swaddle of tissue paper. I suddenly felt an urge to work with it, to feel it running through my hands and over my hook, to watch with delight and suspense as the colors changed. After an argument with my perfectionist side, which advocated for perfecting the design in a different yarn first, I picked up my hook and began to crochet with it.

My first attempt was far from perfect, and my perfectionist side had cause to gloat as I regretfully unraveled several rows and rewound the yarn around the outside of the center-pull cake. The yarn was resilient, however. It looked none the worse from being frogged, and I realized that I, too, was none the worse for having tried.

In fact, I was better off. I had become acquainted with the feel of the yarn, and seen it worked up, and thus I had a better intuition for which textures would suit it best. Not only this, but in returning to the yarn, my original source of inspiration, I had rekindled my passion and excitement for my quest. Hook in hand, I picked up the yarn with renewed energy and confidence.

At the end of a few more days, which passed not without some frogging and frustration, my dream shawl was complete, and I felt the exhilaration that only comes after surmounting a difficult challenge. I couldn’t wait to share the newly born Dragonfruit Shawl.

To learn more about Susan Herkness and her wonderful yarn Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber, check out my interview with her here.

Inspired to make your own Dragonfruit Shawl in Jazz Handz yarn? Click here to visit the Jazz Handz Etsy shop.

Other Yarn Choices

Gradient

Gradient yarns were a popular choice among testers because the pattern is easily modified to use an entire skein or gradient set. With Dragonfruit, you don’t have to worry about any colors going to waste.

Solids

Dragonfruit also looks well in solid-colored yarns. Whether you make it monochrome or use a different color for each panel, solid colors show off the contrast between each panel of texture and the intricate edging.

Slow-Color-Change and Self-Striping

The stitch patterns of each panel help blend the transitions of both self-striping yarns and slow-color-change yarns such as Knit Picks Chroma and Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable.

Variegated, Semisolid, and Combination

Dragonfruit is a great stashbuster shawl! Those beautiful but often tricky-to-use skeins of variegated yarn can be used by themselves or paired with coordinating solids and tonals.

Ready to make your own Dragonfruit Shawl? Click here to buy it on Ravelry.

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Nymphadora Tonks Shawl

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I could probably fill a laundry basket with all of my current crochet works in progress, but this week my Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber was just begging to be made into a crescent shawl.

I didn’t resist. After all, I was feeling somewhat burnt out after the busy holiday season and I knew that making a shawl for myself would revive my crochet mojo.

I decided to use Michele DuNaier’s Mine Once More pattern, which I had used before to make Le Châle Gris.  I set to work on Thursday and within the afternoon, I had already finished the first section.

Nymphadora Tonks in progress

This project was addicting. Once I started a section, I didn’t want to stop until I’d finished the section. By the time I finished the section, I’d be right in the middle of a color change, and of course I had to keep going until I reached the next color. By Friday night, I had already reached the start of the transition to black.

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On Saturday, I finished it! I named it after Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter books because the colors remind me of her.

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Love the yarn? Check out my previous post here to learn all about its maker and find out where to buy your own!

Interview and Giveaway with Susan of Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber

Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber

Meet Susan

Susan is the sweet and talented fiberista behind Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber. She creates affordable cotton gradient yarns with brilliantly unexpected color combinations. Jazz Handz yarn is unique in that the plies are tied together at intervals rather than plied or twisted. This makes for an airy fabric with excellent stitch definition, perfect for both lacy and textured projects.

You can find all of Susan’s beautiful yarns at her Etsy shop here. Be sure to also check out her Facebook page!

The Interview

1. Do you knit? Crochet? How long had you been in the fiber arts before you started creating yarn?

My love of fiber started when I was 8 and my Great-Great-Aunt Alice taught me needlepoint. She was a wonderful lady and did amazing petit point pictures right up until her death at 102! In high school I was given a crewel kit to make a piece for a school auction. Not knowing how to do any crewel stitches, there was a learning curve. But the piece, and the art, inspired me! I found the love for the feel of yarn in my hands, no matter what the medium!

Then I took a LYS knitting class with my mum. Two things came out of that class, something resembling a sweater, and finding my true fiber art love. I knit whenever I could find time, and money for yarn. Many years later I discovered felting and designed, knit and felted a closet full of purses and bags. But since I didn’t know what to do with them, I drifted slowly away from knitting for awhile.

Then for 5 years I joined with my mum and we created a successful business hand sewing “Pincushion Posies”. But, five years later, it was time for something new. I learned to crochet and then came back to knitting. It felt like I had come home.

Walls of yarn

2. What inspired you to create your own yarn, and how did you get started?

I love yarn! Wools, cotton, alpaca, you name it. Color is another thing I love. It must be from my pincushion days and years as an art teacher, but color is just as important as the feel of the yarn. After finding gradients, I soon discovered that I couldn’t get a good cotton gradient. There were a few on the market, but I wouldn’t really call them available. I either couldn’t get the colors I wanted, or didn’t want the colors available, but figured that I couldn’t be the only one feeling frustrated about this. So, I set out to create my own yarn in fun colors, that I liked, and make it available to others at a reasonable price.

3. Tell me about your process. What is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

I start with 4 strands of cobweb weight, cotton. As I spin the yarn into a cake, I cut one strand (at predetermined points) and use a very strong knot and tie on the next color. By staggering these changes in color, a gradient effect is created. Add in lots of time untangling thread-like yarn that misbehaves, and random knots and breaks thrown in by evil yarn mills, and you end with a beautiful cake of colorful yarn.

The knot I use is the magic knot. Videos on how to make the knot can be found on the internet. I would say it’s magic for several reasons. First, it is very, very strong. I test each knot as it’s made and sometimes get a bit too zealous. While the knot has never broken, it is stronger than the yarn, which sometimes breaks as I tug away at it. Second, the knot magically disappears as you knit or crochet right over it. I actually cut the ends very close to the knot itself with sharp embroidery scissors, but most people weave in the ends. Really, it is nearly impossible to find that tiny little knot later on in the finished project. Magic!

The hardest part is actually finding the yarn I use. So I spend far too much time scrounging it up here and there. The actual process involves playing with color, frustration with knots, disappointment with knots and breaks in the yarn on the cone, and a contraption my husband built for me with plans I drew on a napkin!

Playing with color is by far the most fun! Depending on the day, and inspiration, my stash goes from neatly organized to having every color scattered about “playing” with other colors. Sometimes, the best combinations occur when I randomly set yarns down next to one another. It’s always hard to actually make the ones I set about doing in the first place, because others will appear that look much more exciting to me. I think some call that attention deficit, but I call it inspiration!

4. What is your favorite part of owning Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber?

The Jazz Handz Etsy shop, not so much fun. I’m not a fan of, nor completely literate of computers. But it’s also the best part too. I’ve been given the opportunity to meet the nicest people through the shop. I get to make someone happy with what I’ve made, then they take that and create the most beautiful things! It’s very flattering to me when someone chooses my yarn to spend so much time with. They crochet or knit, every day for weeks sometimes, and in the end there’s this brand new beautiful thing in the world! And I think, I had a little bit to do with that!

The Sale

If you’d like to try some beautiful Jazz Handz yarn, Susan is offering a discount code for 16% off any purchase! That brings the price of a 100 gram skein of luxury gradient yarn to just $14.24. Here’s how to get the discount:

  1. Go to the Jazz Handz Etsy shop here.
  2. Add the items you would like to buy to your cart.
  3. Click on the Cart symbol to view your cart.
  4. Under the section that says “How You’ll Pay”, click on “Apply shop coupon code”.
  5. Enter the code 2016KNOTTHEORIST16 and check out.

This offer is open to all countries and will end on January 21, 2016 at midnight PST.

The Giveaway

As an additional bonus, Susan has also generously offered to sponsor a giveaway of one skein of Fusion Fiber! To enter, comment below with your favorite Jazz Handz colorway. Then, click here to submit your entry and see ways to earn additional entries. This giveaway is US only and will end on January 21, 2016 at midnight PST.

 

The Great Yarn Haul of 2015

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As soon as I saw the announcement of Knit Picks’ annual Cyber Sale, I started planning my order. I even made a spreadsheet with my design ideas, yarn line choices, and preferred color combinations. The sale did not disappoint. Here are some close-ups of the yarns I bought:

Hawthorne Sport in Alameda

Hawthorne Sport in Alameda

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Kettle-Dyed Hawthorne Fingering in Conifer

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Kettle-Dyed Hawthorne Fingering in Faun (brown) and Delphinium (blue)

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Stroll Tweed in Wellies Heather

 

 

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Stroll Glimmer in Black and Potion

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Palette in Spruce and Ash

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Felici Sock in Rainbow