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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The Dragonfruit Shawl

Dragonfruit Shawl-4 Dragonfruit Shawl-6Dragonfruit Shawl-11 Dragonfruit Shawl-5

I am incredibly excited to announce the publication of my latest design, the Dragonfruit Shawl!

About the Design

Featuring an engaging hybrid construction and an unusual border, Dragonfruit is an adventure of a shawl. Its three textured panels and intricate edging pack a visual punch, whether made in solid, gradient, variegated, or slow-color-change yarn.

The pattern is written using US terminology.

Recommended yarn:

Dragonfruit was designed in Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber, a wonderful unplied cotton gradient yarn available on Etsy. Its excellent stitch definition and semi-gloss finish showcase the fine details of the textured panels and intricate edging. The dramatic color changes, far from diminishing the effect, enhance the contrast between the panels.

Dragonfruit is tremendously versatile, and there are plenty of possibilities for yarn to choose from. Dragonfruit is suited to solid, tonal, striped, and even variegated yarn! You can also mix and match by using different yarns for each panel. For inspiration, check out the wonderful projects on the pattern page.

Click here for a blog post all about Dragonfruit yarn choices!

Techniques and Difficulty Level:

Dragonfruit incorporates the following techniques:

  • basic stitches (ch, sc, sl st, hdc, dc, trc)
  • basic increases and decreases
  • back loop only stitches
  • back loop only slip stitch

Construction:
Dragonfruit is worked in 3 sections. Starting with a single shell, the Section I is worked from the bottom upwards. Then the work is turned, and the other sections and the edging are worked from the top down.

Customization:

Dragonfruit is a shawl of endless possibilities. By playing with proportions, trying different transitions, and concocting original color combinations, you can create a Dragonfruit Shawl uniquely your own. For inspiration, check out the wonderful projects on the pattern page.

A blog post about customizing your Dragonfruit Shawl is coming soon.

How to wear it:

See 5 Ways to Wear a Crescent Shawl.

What to expect in the pattern:

For a complete list of what to expect when you buy a Knot Theorist pattern, click here.

Here is what you can expect to find in the pattern-specific designer notes:

  • a summary of how the shawl is constructed
  • a schematic of the body with labeled pattern sections
  • how to treat turning chains
  • where to place the first stitch of each row
  • tips for working the slip stitches
  • instructions for an alternate transition between Sections I and II (as seen in the Dragonfruit in Grey)
  • instructions for customizing your shawl size

Coupon code:

And now, my wonderful followers, here is a launch discount just for you. Add the Dragonfruit Shawl to your Ravelry cart and use the coupon code “KTDblog” without quotation marks to enjoy 20% off the Dragonfruit Shawl. This code will expire at 23:59 PST on July 18, 2016. Thank you for following the Knot Theorist blog!

The Dragonfruit Shawl by Knot Theorist Designs

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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.

color changes

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 Vicky Chan

Vicky Chan Designs

Meet Vicky Chan

Vicky Chan is a talented knitting and crochet designer whom I have long admired for her sophisticated garment designs. Though she has only been designing for two years, Vicky has already been presented with prestigious awards.

For example, she placed third in the Pierrot Yarns Contest of Spring 2015 for her continuous motif shrug Clair. She was also the recipient of two 2015 Flaming Hook of Justice Awards. Jordan, a lacy pineapple top, was named the Best Tank/Sleeveless Top Design. Cynthia, a lacy shorts design, was named the Best Shorts/Pants design. My personal favorite of Vicky’s designs is Angela, which is a beautiful seamless oversized cardigan.

You can check out all of Vicky’s patterns, which include both charted and written instructions, on her Ravelry designer page here.

From top to bottom: Clair, Jordan, Cynthia

Vicky Chan's Pierrot Award

Vicky Chan Crochet Award: Jordan Vicky Chan's JordanVicky Chan's Crochet Award: Cynthia Vicky Chan's Cynthia

The Interview

Q. What are your favorite crochet tools to use?

A. I love my good old Areo crochet hooks that I have kept for many years. My other favorite tool is my Clover locking stitch markers (I actually wrote about it on my blog). Sometimes I may also use my beautiful Japanese bowl as a yarn bowl (it’s featured in the photo here on my blog).

Q. What inspired you to become a crochet designer, and what were your toughest struggles along the way?

A. I have always enjoyed arts and crafts since I was a kid. I’m glad that Ravelry has made it possible for me to become an independent designer and explore my artistic creativity. Of course, my husband’s moral support and encouragement have also played an important part, even though he cannot tell the difference between crocheting and knitting. Couple of my toughest struggles are:

  • writing pattern instructions to accommodate different crochet skill levels, text and chart readers while keeping the number of pattern pages down.
  • providing multiple sizes when the crochet stitch patterns are often quite challenging to size up/down.

Q. Which of your designs do you or recipients of your work wear the most?

A. “Irene”, “Clair”, “Jordan” and “Julia” are worn by me the most.

Q. What one piece of advice would you give someone creating a crochet or knit garment for the first time?

A. My advice is to take the time to make a swatch, even though it’s very tempting to dive in and make the garment right away. The swatch can help you obtain the correct gauge and is ultimately less time consuming to frog.

Giveaway

Be sure to check out Vicky’s blog, her Facebook page, and her Pinterest!

Vicky has kindly offered to sponsor a giveaway of one of her designs! To enter, comment on this blog post and tell Vicky which of her designs is your favorite. Then, click here to submit. The giveaway ended on August 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM PST.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Recap

I’ve finished my 30 day challenge!

At the beginning of 2015, I made a goal to blog at least once a week. Since I only blogged 8 times by halfway through the year, I challenged myself to write a blog post every day for 30 days.

I kept my resolution for 16 days, but missed the 17th day because I didn’t plan ahead. To make up for it, I decided to end the challenge one day later. By the end of the month, I had missed 4 days. Nonetheless, this challenge taught me to commit to writing blog posts.

My 30 day challenge also helped me develop some regular post themes! Going forward, these regular posts will include my Tuesday Bam Bam and Karissa feature as well as designer interviews every other Thursday.

If you would like to see the posts from my blogging challenge, I’ve added a gallery below featuring pictures from those posts. Click on a picture to see the corresponding post.

Tom Baker Fingerless GlovesRandom WIP Royal Crescent WIP - Knot Theorist Comet WIP - Knot Theorist   Tanja Osswald's Igel - Knot Theorist Comet by Tanja Osswald - Knot Theorist  Fibonacci's Biased Scarf - Knot Theorist     Vest for a Thlee Year Old      Grey Swatch - Knot Theorist RollingAlpaca

Bam BamRoyal Crescent Shawl - Knot TheoristLe Chale Gris - Knot TheoristBowties: Crimp, Dowlas, and Jagged Checks

Dedri Uys' Gregor the Rhinosaur - Knot TheoristStreak Bow Tie - Knot TheoristName the Bow Tie - Knot TheoristMy First Garment - Knot TheoristTitan TopRuby Pullover - Knot Theorist

The Cream Puff Proposal

Bam Bam loves to bake. She’s read Baking Illustrated from cover to cover, and she loves making all sorts of baked goods. Her challah bread is perfect for dipping in soup, and someone has told her she’d like to marry her pretzels. Bam Bam’s most well known dessert, however, is her cream puff.

This is how it started: in the heat of my robotics season, the team was meeting for 6-8 hour build sessions almost daily. We were so focused on work that we did not even pause for snacks.

Consequently, my compassionate sister began baking treats for the team. Every day as I prepared to go to a meeting, she handed me a bowl full of freshly baked goods.

One day, she made my team cream puffs. The light, puffy pâte à choux with their sweet, creamy filling won the hearts of my teammates. One member of the build team named Tim was especially enamored.

A few weeks later, Bam Bam came to watch a robotics competition. Tim and I were scouting out the best robots from the stands, and Bammy came to sit next to us. When I introduced her, Tim asked, “Are you the baker?” She nodded.

His eyes opened wide. “I love your cream puffs,” he told her earnestly. “Will you marry me?”

Bammy, surprised and somewhat embarrassed, just laughed nervously.

Tim, however, did not give up. Later, he knelt on one knee in front of the whole team. As we were going home, Bammy told the story to our toddler sister Karissa, who was wondering what everyone was talking about. After Bam Bam told Karissa the story, Karissa asked for her to repeat it a few times until she had the story memorized.

From the time she started talking, Karissa has loved telling stories. This particular story, she realized, generated lots of reactions from the people she told it to. Now, the cream puff story never fails to make Karissa smile.

In fact, she tells this story everywhere, all the time. When she is sitting in her car seat with nothing to do, she recites her story. When family comes to visit, the first words out of her mouth are those of the cream puff story. When she was in the emergency room because her arm got wedged in a door, she told the cream puff story to cheer herself up.

Karissa’s telling of the cream puff story consists of a mere two sentences:

Tim said, ‘I love your cream puffs. Will you marry me?’ And then Bammy just laughed like a maniac.”

To quote the words of Shakespeare, “brevity is the soul of wit.” Apparently, Karissa thinks so too.

WIP It Good Recap

Today I realized that I’d forgotten to celebrate the achievement of my July goal to finish up 5 crochet works-in-progress! Here are all 7 of my completed WIPs:

1. Vest for a Thlee Year Old

WIP - Vest for a Thlee Year OldFinished Vest for a Thlee Year Old

2. Fibonacci’s Biased Scarf

Fibonacci's Biased Scarf

3. Royal Crescent

WIP - Royal CrescentRoyal Crescent

4, 5, 6, 7. Rainbow Road Scarf and Birthday Bow Ties

Rainbow Road ScarfBowties: Crimp, Dowlas, and Jagged Checks

Birthday Bow Ties

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You didn’t think I’d forgotten about my fifth work-in-progress for my WIPItGood challenge, did you? I completed three different bow ties of my own design yesterday and gifted them to my Whovian friend for her birthday.

Each one used a different stitch and took less than an hour to make. These bow ties are perfect for using up scraps of yarn. In fact, the blue bow tie was made from the leftovers of my Christmas Crescent!

I named the blue bow tie Crimp, since it uses a wavy yarn in a ridged stitch pattern. The texture of the red bow tie reminds me of coarsely woven linen, so I named it Dowlas.

The last bow tie with the jagged silver and fuchsia stripes has no name as of yet, but I would love to hear your suggestions! Take a look at the close-up photo, then comment below with your name idea.

Name this bow tie!

Interview and Giveaway with Dedri Uys

Dedri Uys of Look At What I MadeLook At What I Made Logo

Meet Dedri Uys

Dedri Uys is a passionate crochet designer and blogger. She is best known for her Amish puzzle ball designs, which are modular stuffed toys perfect for baby gifts. Of these designs, my favorite is the Gregor Rhinosaur. Dedri is also well known for her gorgeous free blanket design Sophie’s Universe, which was made available in a popular crochet-along this spring. You can see a portfolio of all of Dedri’s designs on her Ravelry designer page.

Left to right: Gregor Rhinosaur, Sophie’s Universe, Sophie’s Universe close-up.

Gregor RhinosaurSophie's UniverseSophie's Universe close up

The Interview

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to be familiar with puzzle balls?

A: My mom made us some when we were children ( fabric ones) and then my mom’s friend sent me a link to a fabric one.  I was too lazy to get my sewing machine out, so I decided to crochet one instead.

Q: Can you describe your first crocheted puzzle ball? Did it look anything like the designs you went on to publish?

A: The plain Amish puzzle ball (free pattern here) was my first try and first design. It is the basis on which all the puzzle animals are created.

Q: How did you go about developing your first design? Did you have any experience with amigurumi?

A: Not really.  I’d made 3 vehicles (car, tractor, and digger-loader), but I was very much a beginner designer when I made the ball.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give someone trying one of your designs for the first time?

A: Read carefully and trust the pattern!  Sometimes written instructions don’t make sense until you actually make them. Most of the people who get stuck with the design do so before even casting on a stitch.  I have learned to follow a pattern blindly (regardless of what I think it should say), before making any judgements.  If it still doesn’t make sense when I’ve worked it up, that’s a different matter.  But sometimes patterns take a little faith.

Giveaway

Amamani: Amigurumi Amish Puzzle Animals

Dedri has generously offered to give away a copy of her book, Amamani Puzzle Balls! To enter, comment below and tell Dedri which of her patterns is your favorite! Then, click here to submit. The giveaway ended on Wednesday, August 6 at 23:59 PST.

Meet My Model: Bam Bam

Meet My Model: Bam Bam

Meet my sister Bam Bam. Somewhere in Arizona, there is a pink stuffed monkey named after her. But that’s a story for another day.

Why the nickname? If you could see a certain picture of her two-year-old self holding a plastic hammer with a mischievous grin on her face, you would know.

Since you can’t, I’ll tell you. Bam Bam has always had a talent for working with her hands. When she was a toddler, this talent manifested itself in the physical destruction she wreaked on helpless objects such as my toys. Nowadays, Bammy uses her hands to cook amazing meals and desserts, such as cream puffs. She recently joined my robotics team, so she will also be using her hands to build a robot this year.

Bammy’s other passions include classic literature, ruffly skirts, and melodramatic lip-syncing to mushy love songs. She also enjoys making obscure references to books and songs. I guess that fits in with her dream of becoming a librarian.

I could never run out of stories to tell about Bam Bam, so I’ve decided to post some of them here! Stay tuned for stories about cream puffs, aquarium wrestling, and underwater cycling.