I've been playing with magic balls recently! You might remember my version of the Inspira Cowl (What'e Leftover Cowl, above--amazingly, this project has been favorited almost as often as what I consider my tour de force Sashiko Jacket)--I get a lot of questions about how I handled the colors in this project. Enough questions, in fact, that I'm putting together a class on the magic ball technique.
Magic balls are created by attaching lengths of yarn to each other to create a unique, self-striping yarn that reveals itself bit by bit when you are knitting. You can use different textures, different weights, and most definitely different colors!
It's difficult, if not impossible, to figure out how successful the project will be when you are in the early stages. Magic ball knitting is an exercise in letting go--trusting that the whole will work out even when the details look a little discordant. Jazz knitting. Right now I'm just knitting along, keeping my fingers crossed.
The trick is to avoid the scrappy look, to provide some structure to the design. This can be accomplished through controling values, limiting hues, use of solid colors, and the careful choice of pattern.
In the case of the What's Leftover Cowl, I used a pretty much uncurated batch of leftovers. The magic balls were divided into two value groups: one was light to medium in value, and the other was medium to dark. I let the colors go crazy! There are two rows of a solid color between each set of corrugated ribs--this helps create some cohesion in the design. If everything had been changing colors willy nilly this design would not have turned out well. Notice how unpromising the start of this cowl is, even though the final design is, I think, quite successful.
As they say in Galaxy Quest: "Never give up! Never surrender!"
The fun thing about magic ball knitting is that it is low commitment knitting: these are leftovers, after all, and once the ball is wound up you don't have many decisions to make.
I've got a long list of techniques I'm trying out with my various magic balls: stripes, double knitting, lace, miters, brioche.... I'm really excited about how this is evolving! (And a hint: watch for the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat miniclass announcement this January. Shhhh.)
Winner of the Book Giveaway
Thank you to everyone who took the time to write about the kinds of classes you'd like (that I can teach). I've pulled a random winner for the book prize: Sandra!
Many of you suggested teaching in your areas--I'm open to the idea and will work actively on it in 2015.