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.

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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The Bridgette Shawl

Bridgette Shawl Bridgette Shawl

Bridgette ShawlBridgette Shawl

I am pleased to announce the publication of my latest design, the Bridgette Shawl! It is available on KnitPicks and Ravelry.

About Bridgette

Bridgette is a shallow crescent shawl designed to keep the shoulders warm during the transition seasons. Together, the textured body and lacy geometric border form a versatile accessory that can be worn with both dressy and casual outfits.

Recommended yarn:

Bridgette was designed in Comfy Fingering Weight, a lightweight cotton-acrylic blend that is squishy soft, yet sturdy enough for everyday wear.

Skills required:

To crochet the Bridgette Shawl, you need to know the following:

  • the basic stitches (ch, sc, sl st, hdc, dc, tr)
  • basic increases and decreases
  • back loop only stitches

If you can do all three of those things, you can crochet this shawl! Bridgette is suited for both beginner and experienced crocheters.

Construction:
The body of Bridgette is worked sideways. A varying increase/decrease rate forms the outer curved edge. The other edge remains flat throughout. A round of single crochet surrounds the body, then the border is worked along the curved edge.

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
  • a table explaining how the increases work

How to wear it:

See 5 Ways to Wear a Crescent Shawl.

Coupon code:

And now, dear readers, here is a launch discount just for you. Add the Bridgette Shawl to your Ravelry cart and use the coupon code “KTDblog” without quotation marks to enjoy 25% off the Bridgette Shawl. This code will expire at 23:59 PST on March 26, 2016. Thank you for following the Knot Theorist blog!


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 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.

 

Secret Santa!

Making gifts is one of my favorite Christmas activities. I love picking yarns and patterns to match the personalities of friends and family. Even though it’s not quite Christmas yet, I’ve already had a chance to give a gift through my robotics team’s secret Santa gift exchange.

When the team pulled recipient names out of a hat, I drew the name of my sister Bam Bam. After a bit of stash diving, I found the perfect yarn to use for her gift: Yarn Bee Diva Sequin in the Istanbul colorway. With its intense jewel tones that segue into murky greens and purples, it reminded me of the fairy tales Bammy loves to read.

Then I found a pattern, the Geminio Neckwarmer, that reminded me of another of Bam Bam’s interests: Victorian literature.

There was one obstacle to my chosen pairing: the pattern was written for fingering weight yarn, but the Diva Sequin was Aran weight.  I decided to go for it anyway. With a few tweaks, I successfully completed my project, which I dubbed the Victorian Fairy Tale Neckwarmer.

Victorian Fairy Tale Neckwarmer

Of course, receiving my own present was enjoyable as well. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of my secret Santa.

The first thing I noticed as I opened my package was the pretty origami bow adorning the box. I chuckled when I pulled it off and found a little face on the underside.

BUtIKEepBuilding-2BUtIKEepBuilding-3

When I opened the box, I found an enormous skein of rainbow yarn. I immediately knew it would be perfect for the blanket shawl I’d been wanting to make myself.

Rainbow Yarn

Underneath it was an awesome knitting ornament. There was also a snazzy necklace with my logo on one side and a bar code linking to my blog on the other side.

Caution: Weapons of Mass Construction

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In the bottom corner of the box was my favorite gift of all: an awesome mug decorated with puns and a knitting dragon. Thank you, secret Santa!

Knotty or Nice Mug#1 Tea-m Manager Mug

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.

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