Crazy for Color – The Sweaters

by stephen on March 14, 2014

I long for a day when I have as many handknit sweaters as shawls. I’ve knit hundreds of shawls within the last 6 years or so and I have about 80 still in my possession. My sweater stash looks sad in comparison to my overflowing shawl shelves and drawers. The Crazy for Color collection allowed me to go crazy with sweaters and I love wearing all of these new creations.

The Amazing Technicolor Dreamsweater and Starring work with the same sideways construction and shoulder detail.

They’re both boxy silhouettes with tight sleeves. The Amazing Technicolor Dreamsweater’s style is a bit more simple with moss stitch on the sleeves and body and I held two strands of fingering weight yarn together for a worsted weight gauge.

I gathered a big pile of stash yarns and accumulated a few new colors while I knit and traveled around Iceland during the holidays.

Many colors are naturally dyed Icelandic wool by Guðrún Bjarnadóttir.

The process was an addicting exploration in combining colors. It’s fascinating to mix strands of yarn together and witness the color effects. It’s like playing with water colors. A color transforms depending on what color you hold it together with.

About six or seven days later, I had a new sweater. I told you it was addicting!

I wove in some of the ends, but decided to leave many hanging in front. Less work, more style.

I decided to knit another style based on the Dreamsweater with creamy white worsted weight Icelandic wool. The fiber was prepared by Guðrún and sent to Belgium for spinning. I started the sleeve at the airport in Reykjavik and kept increasing on the sideways body until I reached the other sleeve. A long asymmetrical tail hangs in front and it can be fastened to the back with a button.

I added light and bright color blocks and threw in more pops of color with a crocheted edge, crocheted stars, and short fringe outlining the shoulders.

Starring is definitely a one-of-a-kind sweater and I can’t wait to see how others interpret the style and color choices.

I injected lots of color into the more traditional pullover silhouette of Reis.

I started the body and sleeves with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk, the most delicious cormo yarn I’ve ever encountered. Her color sense is spot on and I love the hand dyed colors on rustic squishy soft wool.

Once I completed the slip stitch pattern on the body and sleeves, I was ready to join all the pieces for the yoke. I originally planned to knit the entire pullover with raglan shaping in the slip stitch pattern, but I grew tired of the texture and decided to toss in several stash yarns for a stranded circular yoke instead.

I was so happy with this choice because I got to use some of my favorite color cravings like royal blue bright yellow, and mint green.

Royally Striped was another garment that scratched my royal blue itch.

It’s also an example of an idea that changed during the knitting process. I cast on for the black and white short wedges and knit a long striped rectangle ending with more short row wedges. I imagined a large scarf or shawl full of stripes. Once I knit the long scarf shape I was ready to pick up stitches, but wasn’t feeling the shawl idea anymore so I picked up a portion of stitches and knit a rectangular back piece.

After that, I just added rectangular side panels, a couple short sleeves, and two solid short row borders all in garter stitch.

The resulting shape is very flattering and drapey. Plus, it can be flipped upside down for a different style.

The last Crazy for Color garment is another shape shifter, Penguono. It’s a short sleeved jacket with big boxy proportions and loads of colorful stripes.

Flipped upside down, the jacket transforms into a longer coat with soft curves framing the booty.

There are six recommended gauges for you to achieve six different sizes. I mostly used yarns held together to get an XXL size with a chunky gauge. For example, I held worsted weight together with a fingering weight yarn or two strands of DK weight together.

This is my new favorite handknit. The pastels are so fun and fresh and I love the glamorously oversized shape.

My first Penguono was knit with a darker color family and has rows of thick fringe on the back for drama, drama, and more drama.

Many sweaters that I see are simple, commercial, and very boring. Sleek and simple is fine, but why does that have to be the default style? When I can knit anything imaginable by hand it’s fun to go all the way. Large colorful statement sweaters like these are wonderful wardrobe additions. They’re very special and emotional pieces, not for the faint of heart. After indulging many of my Crazy for Color choices, I realize that I desire more calm and neutral colors too. More and more, I find that style and choice making are full of contradictions which is very exciting. I’m still in a heavily patterned and vibrantly colored mood so I imagine many more crazy colorful sweaters in my near future.

Spring and summer is coming and linen and silk yarns are on my mind. I’m craving more drapey oversized shapes and smaller cropped silhouettes too. Also, now that I have a drawer full of new sweaters, I’m starting several new shawl designs as if I need even more shawls! I absolutely need more shawls by the way, hundreds and hundreds of shawls.

What types of colors and garments are grabbing your attention these days?

Photos & Makeup: Stephen West
Necklaces: Cakes & Troubles

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanine March 14, 2014 at 10:42 pm

thanks for the peek inside your brain! I enjoyed reading this and oogling the knitwear photos. one royally striped for me coming up I think!

Meredith MC March 15, 2014 at 5:33 pm


Snapback Gorras March 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm

“Snapback Gorras” hi there,iread your reading named “Crazy for Color – The Sweaters” like every week. Your humoristic style is witty,keep it up!thx “Snapback Gorras”

Tijm March 16, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Was Gudrun Miss Iceland in 1963?

Patricia Bell March 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Love your designs…..I’m considering which of the fabulous sweaters I’ll start first! Will use my stash yarns. Thank you.

Bekah March 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

Love the photos and the unusual knits! It’s great to see something a bit different :-)

Annie March 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm

I just love the styling in your shots. It’s glorious!

Dorie March 22, 2014 at 6:22 am

we really should talk about the fashionshow at the 10th July at the OBA in Amsterdam. I would like to have you as one of the designers. Please send me an email. Thank you!

stephen March 23, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I’ll be on tour in the U.S all of July. :(

Dorie March 29, 2014 at 1:48 am

good luck in the USA, maybe next time/year?

Redlaeti March 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Oh!!! I love Penguono and Starring!!! but I love the others too!! I really admire your work, a French fan ;-)

stephen April 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Thanks so much! :)

Marie Fo April 7, 2014 at 1:34 am

I love your style, I love the way you consider knitting, your creativity… I’m not sure I could wear everything here, but colors, yes, are so beautiful! Thank you for the joy you give with this gorgeous collection (and incredible photos too). French knitters should look at this more often ;-)

stephen April 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Thanks so much! :)

sewtuf April 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Hi Stephen!
luv,Luv,LOVE (!) your work! Just curious to know if you would be willing to share how you got started in knitting, what books (if any) did you start out using, how you came into designing and creating, and what you would suggest for a knitter ready to break from traditional knit sweaters?

Susanne April 26, 2014 at 3:57 am

WOW….haven’t looked in in a long time and boy oh boy…..out of the box now….I LOVE IT!!!… new and exciting ways to take this old craft….keep exploring…you’re an inspiration!

stephen April 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I definitely recommend reading Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I learned a lot about sweater construction and modifying patterns by following her patterns and recipes when I started knitting. I knit a lot of basic hat, scarf, and sweater shapes and gradually became more and more confident starting projects from scratch and taking construction choices into different directions.

Kate April 29, 2014 at 9:57 pm

My brain is spinning. I just got the pattern on ravelry and started going through my stash and all your design…love them. Gonna start working on mine right now!

CS October 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I was browsing images of my search “worsted weight knitted cardigans,” and a particular one caught my eye. As my cursor hovered over the image so I could spot the web source, I wasn’t terribly surprised–but was thrilled– to see it was another one of your delightful works. You have an undeniable “signature” with your knitting, and I am never ceased to be amazed at your artistic and functional creations.

Thank you so much for sharing your art with the world. I first started seeing your work through ravelry, and it was from there that I spotted your artistic “signature.” I can’t even name what that “signature” is– it’s just so you!

Again, thanks for sharing with the world. Now that I know you have a blog. . . I’ll be stalking your creations. :-D

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