Picking Speckles for Fades Part 1

Hello, friends,

Customers in the shop have been wondering how to choose beautiful combinations for their Fade projects. Since putting complementary colors together is pretty much my job, I’d like to share a few strategies I use when thinking about creating gradients.

There are three approaches I’d like to show you: gradient, balanced complements and color value.

Let’s start with gradients today. As you might imagine, the easiest way to think about a gradient is one basic color (say, blue) with one end very light, moving to a much darker shade of the same color. Check out the Tangled Up in Blue gradient yarn below.


When you’re picking out colors, having things in the same color family from light to dark tells a very coherent color story. If you have speckles that aren’t quite the same color, a great strategy is to look at the color’s value. Value means the light or darkness of a color on a grayscale.

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These semisolid skeins are lined up in order of lightest to darkest by value. If you want to check your lineup of colors to see if it’s going from light to dark, line them up and take a photo with your phone. Then add the grayscale filter and it will show you the skeins’ value. Sometimes colors surprise you!

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Let’s start with a nice gradient in the same color family. All of these colors have other elements, but they have green in common. Darkest to lightest, they’re What Kind of Bird Are You, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, Easy Being Green and Growing Like a Weed.

speckle fade

If you want to be a bit more adventurous, choose yarns that are not exactly the same color, but that all come from either the warm or cool side of the spectrum. Cool is blues, grays, greens and blue-purples like the group shown above, with the lightest Mistress of Myself, middle Cloud Nine and darkest Great Blue Yonder.

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The warm side of the spectrum includes reds, pinks, red-purples, warm browns, yellows and oranges. You can see that the three colors above don’t exactly have matching base colors, but there are coordinating elements from each (the purple in the middle Fig & Prosciutto shade goes with the darkest shade, Don’t Fence Me In and the pink speckles in the lightest color Moonrise Kingdom echo the pink in the middle shade. The fact that they’re all warm colors makes the color story stronger.

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Here’s a more adventurous palette blending two different dyers’ yarns. These have disparate base colors, but all share elements of warmth.

Play around with your own stash skeins to create gradient warm and cool color stories you’ll enjoy knitting!





Knitcircus Podcast #113

In which Amy and Jaala speak excitedly about almost nothing.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

Knitting Book: This Thing of Paper, pattern Rubrication

TV Stuff:

Event: Knitcircus Holiday Kick-off Party

Pattern: Rye Socks, by Tin Can Knits

Pattern: Kalari Shawl, by Ambah O’Brian

Knitcircus Podcast #112

In which Amy coughs too much and Jaala is loving and kind.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

Book: Slow Knitting, by Hannah Thiessen

Event: Perth Festival of Yarn

Yarn Purveyer: Uist Wool in Scotland

Event: Loch Ness Knit Fest

Famous Knitter: Kari Westermann and her book: This Thing of Paper

Yarn Purveyer: The Travel Knitter

Event: Knitcircus Holiday Kick-off Party – link coming soon!

Event: X-Games

Knitcircus Podcast #111

In which Amy returns from Scotland and Jaala is loving and kind.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

Event: Shetland Wool Week

Exotic Locale: Edinburgh

Famous Knitter: Felicity Ford (Knitsonik)

Famous Knitters: Anne Eunson and Kathy Anderson

Random TV Reference: Father Knows Best

Event: Madtown Yarn Shop Hop

LYS: Susan’s Fiber Shop

LYS: Blackberry Ridge Spinning Mill

LYS: Spry Whimsy

Book: The Mitten Handbook, by Mary Scott Huff

Book: Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, by Hotomi Shida and Gayle Roehm

Event: Vogue Knitting Live Seattle

Event: Vogue Knitting Live New York

Book: A Stash of One’s Own, by Clara Parkes

Famous Knitters: Meg Swansen

Peekaboo Mitts


My daughter has been knitting since she made a 3-inch-square doll blanket at the age of six. I love seeing which patterns catch her eye, and which yarns the now-16-year-old chooses. I call her Belle on the blog because she’s social-media shy even though she’s a teenager.

We at Knitcircus think a lot about making things coordinate flawlessly, like with the perfectly-paired Matching Socks Sets, but Belle tapped into a spirit of fun where things aren’t so matchy-matchy. Her lighthearted take on wristwarmers took a Mermaid Lagoon gradient, with three colors of blue on one end, and three colors of green on the other, and used one side for each mitt. She used the  Peekaboo Mitts pattern free on Ravelry, by Spiderwoman Knits, for her armwarmers.


The version she made used one cake of Ringmaster Worsted yarn. This would work great with any Panoramic Gradient with two main colors like Brass and Steam, April Skies, Beach Glass, Thanks for All the Fish.


It would look really fun in a really wild Panoramic Gradient like Over the Rainbow; one side would be red, orange and yellow and the other would be green, blue and purple. One the other hand, a Chromatic Gradient would give you a more subtle difference, a light and dark turquoise in Turquoise Pool, for example.


The Rubik’s Cube travels everywhere with Belle; in any quiet moment, she may pull it out and start rolling the squares around. A favorite school-year pastime is handing it to another student to mess it up and then solving it. Her record is one minute four seconds!

Pattern note: Belle used 50g/approximately 125 yds on each mitt, making them about an inch longer than the original pattern.



Rattan Shawl Knitting


I was so excited about the new Brass & Steam Impressionist Speckled Gradient that I cast this project on right away, when the yarn wasn’t even fully finished processing (you can do that when you work in the dye studio…)

I’d knit several garter stitch and/or lace shawls lately, so was feeling the pull toward some texture. The yarn I chose was Trampoline 100% USA Merino superwash fingering, so 440 yards per 100g ball.

A pleasant search through Ravelry later, I decided on the Rattan Shawl, by Libby Jonson. No charts needed! But I’m kind of lazy, so I didn’t knit all of the stitches through the back loop as in the original pattern. My stitches are less defined, but still nicely ribbed, I think.


Here it is after knitting but before blocking.


After blocking, it looks waaay better!

If you’re wondering who the lovely model is, it’s Dyer Sarah; this woman rides her bike five miles to work, dyes up a couple of trays of yarn and manages to look fresh and calm for a photoshoot in the middle of it all. She’s amazing, and possibly part pixie or woodland elf.


We have a park nearby which is the go-to place for our pretty-much-weekly photoshoots. Elizabeth does a fantastic job of taking the high-res pictures so everything looks good! She is also a master of making our petite Sarah look impressively tall. 😉


Here’s a fun pic that shows the shawl off perfectly, but Sarah’s shoes look maybe a little too practical for a fashion shot…

I loved knitting Rattan! It was easy to memorize the pattern and made for relaxing baseball and tv knitting.