I decided to make a shawl for this person, who is of the artistic persuasion, waaaaay back in March. On the profiles page in Ravelry, under "favorite colors," this person answered "all of them." This yarn, a fingering weight handpaint by Misti Alpaca, fit the bill nicely!
The problems cropped up once I started knitting it. I was going to use the leaf pattern from the other shawl on the needles at the time, but the leaves were completely obscured by the busy-ness of the yarn. This is the same pattern as the orange/brown shawl I finished a month ago. Color has an unbelievable effect on the results! A great lesson to keep in mind when matching patterns and yarn.
I decided that perhaps crochet was a better choice. The way the stitches are formed could isolate the colors into small blocks instead of interlocking (and dizzying) stripes. I scoured my stitch dictionaries and came up with a possible contender.
It did work. This is the same yarn, under the same lighting conditions. Huge difference! The crochet pattern complemented the short color repeats of the yarn, producing blocks instead of bands of color, and more of the effect I hoped for. Unfortunately, like many crochet patterns, it was a yarn hog and I didn't have enough to make the size I had planned. Plus the result was dense, a bit too much body for a drapey shawl.
Back to the drawing board.
Using a solid yarn along with a handpaint is often an effective way of breaking up the crazy colors. I pondered for a while before realizing that the perfect yarn was already in my stash. In fact, the intended recipient of the shawl had given me this yarn as a thank-you for a favor done a while back.
Ten skeins of a beautiful natural-colored silk single ply. I hadn't been able to use it by itself, because the single ply meant that it pulled apart rather easily. If I knit it tight enough to combat that tendency, I would lose the drape. But holding it together with the sock yarn: BINGO!
Now the colors of the handpaint were broken up enough by the silk so they weren't muddy, and the sock yarn gave enough strength to the silk that I could use a loose crochet stitch (the Peephole Chevron) that draped well. Gail, a mutual friend of both the recipient and me, thought the result resembled confetti. She loved it, which gave me hope that the recipient would like it too—their tastes are similar.
Of course I had to bead the short edges. Can't knit a shawl these days without some sort of bling. Part two tomorrow on the beading details.