Never think that stripes are boring. Far from being a single thing, stripes are many-splendored. They offer great variety in scale, balance, sequence, color, and texture. The following are only a few ways you can arrange stripes:
I Balanced stripes: One of the most common types of stripe is alternating stripes of equal width.
I Wide stripes: If you want a stripe pattern that's easy to "read" (that is, recognize), use a wide stripe. There'll be no mistaking your intentions, and then you can make it bolder or more subtle with the colors you choose.
i Narrow stripes: Narrow stripes can be bold or subtle, depending on the colors you choose; combining colors in the same shade, for example, creates a blurred effect, and contrasting colors make the stripes more crisp. (Note: The eye tends to blend very narrow bands of colors together, so before you settle on a particular combination, knit a swatch and view it from a distance to make sure you like the effect.)
i Alternating stripes: For added visual effect (and to avoid the prison jumper effect that stripes of equal width tend to create), deliberately vary the width of your stripes. Mix up narrow and wide stripes, for example.
i One stripe: A single stripe draws the eye and creates an effect all its own. A wide stripe across the bust or chest creates a sporty look, and a narrow stripe beneath the bust creates the impression of an Empire waist.
i Wild stripes: These stripes break the "rules." Make yours zigzag or start and stop randomly. Incorporate outlandish colors or textures by using novelty yarn or multicolored yarns. Vary the width of every stripe in the piece.
If you find a striped pattern you like, you can simply follow the instructions to get the look you want. For those times when you're happy with the pattern but not-so-happy with the colors it uses, substitute colors you like better. Occasionally, you may want to design your own stripe pattern. To discover the myriad options you have, start a collection of stripe ideas by tearing pages from catalogs and magazines when you see interesting striped patterns or color combinations. You also can use a mathematical sequence, such as the Fibonacci sequence, to determine how many rows of each stripe color to knit. (The Fibonacci sequence is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on with each number the sum of the two before it; Fibonacci-inspired scarves are particularly charming.) Or ask your friendly local mathematician for other ideas!
Textured Stripes, or How to Stand Out in a Crowd
When you think of stripes, you may automatically think of alternating bands of different colors. That's fine, but you also can create stripes simply through texture. Here are some options:
i Vary your stitches: As Chapter 5 explains, you create stockinette stitch — a stitch with a smooth face — by alternating a row of knit stitches with a row of purl stitches. By varying the sequence of knit rows and purl rows, you can create horizontal stripes (sometimes called by their ancient name, welts). The two patterns in this section illustrate how you can create stripes through texture. In the section "Reverse stockinette stitch stripes," you create the stripes with rows of reverse stockinette stitch on a plain stockinette stitch background. In the section "Garter stitch stripes," you make the stripes with garter stitch ridges.
I Vary the weight and texture of the yarns you use: You can mix and match smooth and fuzzy yarns, shiny and pebbly yarns, and others to create stripes. If your stripes are narrow, you can even work with yarns of different weights as long as the difference isn't too extreme.
To balance the different weights, knit the heavier yarns on a smaller needle and the lighter ones on a larger needle; head to Chapter 2 to read more about yarn weights and Chapter 3 to find out about gauge. This is one time when a circular needle set with interchangeable tips comes in handy because you can swap the tips as you switch between yarn weights.
Using same-color yarns to create textured stripes creates a subtle effect. For a bolder stripe, make your textured stripes different colors, too.
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