My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Color by Kristin

Today I have a review of a new book: Color by Kristin: How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits by Kristin Nicholas.


I have long been a fan of Kristin Nicholas’ work, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with her (via email) last week and ask her a couple of questions about her work and her new book.

Me: You have your own yarn line with Nashua Handknits. I’ve just been over on the website gazing at all the lovely colors. How involved were you in the process of developing the yarn — both the fiber content and the colorways? It seems like it must be a huge undertaking!

Kristin: I think you probably know this but for those readers who don’t….. I was the Creative Director at Classic Elite Yarns for 16 years. Part of my job was to develop new yarns and colorways. I loved working with the mills all over the world, specifying fiber content, twist, yardage – all the “ingredients” that go into making a yarn at a manufacturing level. Because I had developed so many yarns for Classic Elite over the years, it wasn’t hard for me to develop the Julia.

When I was originally developing my Julia Yarn, I knew I wanted it to have wool in it for its resiliency and “knittability.” I have also always loved the mohair fiber – a yarn with mohair always has fabulous sheen. Adding mohair to the Julia would make the colors look richer and luminescent. Julia has 25% mohair which is just enough – it doesn’t slip too much on my needles. The alpaca is so soft and luxurious but I’m not a fan of pure alpaca yarns – they stretch too much. Adding 25% alpaca would make the yarn softer than a pure wool. I worked with a mill I knew in Peru to develop the Julia. I knew their capabilities and trusted them.

When it came to dyeing the Julia, I specified all the colors and ordered “lab dips.” To do this, I collected colors that I wanted to have the yarn dyed in. To collect colors, I look everywhere – at fabric stores for pretty colored fabrics, in craft stores, in my stash. I developed the color range so that all the colors will work with each other. I sent the color snips to the mill in Peru. Their dyehouse “dipped” the colors, sent them to me and I either approved them or tweaked them.

Then the yarn was all set to go! Labels were designed and the Sales Reps for Nashua Handknits headed out to spread the Julia word. I design with the yarn almost exclusively. I love the weight of the yarn and the hand and drapability of the finished garments. Besides colorwork, Julia is also wonderful knit in cables and textured stitches.

Julia is named after my daughter Julia who is now eleven years old. She is just as colorful as the yarn!

Me: Second question — do you have a favorite project in your new book, and if so, which one? and of course — why?

Kristin: Oh wow, that is a really tough question. There really isn’t a project in the book I don’t like. This book is a real representation of my current knitting style. I just love working with colors in Fair Isle and then decorating the fabric with extra embroidery and duplicate stitch. The embroidery adds so much to the projects – putting them over the top. And it is very creative and easy to do. I hope more knitters start combining embroidery with their knitting.

As for the projects, I have a bunch of favorites – mostly because the photos by John Gruen are so lovely. I love the “Best Friends Pullovers” which were modeled by my daughter Julia and her friend Bridget.


I think the photo is just so amazing – the colors leap off the page. The photograph was taken late in the afternoon on a cold November day. The light was just right to make the sweaters really pop.

I love the Op Art Ottoman and the Marrakesh Market Pillows.

pillows_00011 1

Our farmhouse is filled with handknit pillows that I have knit over the years. They are quick to make and really add to a home’s cozy decor. The Ottoman is just plain fun! Don’t you love those turquoise feet?


The other project that is really fun and very easy is the Little Shepherd’s Scrap Yarn Scarf. It is a great stash buster and easy enough for an advanced beginner to try. The photo of it on my little friend Matthew is so pretty with our sheep fading out in the background. And it would look good on anyone – man, woman, boy or girl.


A big thank-you to Kristin for taking the time to answer my questions, and for sending me the lovely photos for my blog review.

(Photos by John Gruen, reprinted from Color by Kristin, copyright 2008 by Kristin Nicholas, with permission from SixthandSpring Books. All rights reserved.)

You can visit Kristin’s blog here, and purchase a copy of this book (as well as many other delightful items) from her “shop” page here.

My Take on the Book

Kristin Nicholas is known for her lovely colorwork, and it is beautifully portrayed in this book.ย  A quick flip through the book is guaranteed to cheer you up on a grey November day like today.

The first chapter is called “The Joy of Color” and briefly chronicles Kristin’s love of color throughout her life. It explains the concept of a color wheel and how colors relate to one another, and demonstrates the value of swatching your colorwork experiments.

The next chapter is a great crash course in everything you need to know about fair isle knitting. There is a wealth of excellent information packed into these few pages. The chapter finishes with two practice projects to get you started in fair isle knitting: a chill-stopper (a long tube that you can stuff and use to stop drafts at doors and windows) and a child’s sampler scarf. The chill-stopper has explicit instructions for the colors and motifs used and the scarf has suggestions for both, so that you can let your creativity run wild.

Next, the project section. The book has 22 patterns for a very wide range of items — mittens, hats, sweaters, scarves, a shawl, a baby blanket, and a lovely variety of things to knit for the home.

At the back of the book, more treasures: an appendixย  of custom edgings and many, many colorwork charts, and a section on techniques and abbreviations.

There’s a lot of great things packed into this beautiful book!

And I have two copies. ๐Ÿ˜€

Want one? Leave a comment on this blog entry by 4:00pm Eastern time on Monday November 23, and I will invoke the power of the great and might Random Number Generator to chose a recipient.

(Please note that to be entered in the drawing you must leave a comment — don’t pm me in Ravelry, don’t email me using the “contact me” link. When you click on the “xx responses” link, it will show you comments already left, and at the bottom of the page is a form for you to fill out underย  the heading “leave a reply.” Leaving a comment here is the only way the Random Number Generator will include you in the number from which it draws the winner.)

Meanwhile, Lucy is practicing for the weekend.



  1. I would so absolutely love to get this book. I have met Kristin a couple of times – she also lives “in the backwoods of Massachusetts” and to get high speed needs to take her laptop 10 miles to downtown Greenfield, so we’ve commiserated a couple of times.

    Thanks for the lovely review ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Halloween Tale =-.

  2. “Color by Kristin” – this book looks absolutely lovely. I have worked with her yarns before and they are really nice. Her colors are fabulous. I have her previous book, “Kristin Knits” and have knitted her patterns for socks, hats, and scarf. I would love to have this latest book. Thank you Wendy for the chance.

  3. Beautiful book and cat!

  4. oooo, want! I’ve read a few of her books and really enjoy her style.
    .-= Constance´s last blog ..Ah, college….. =-.

  5. Nice review and interview — woot!!

  6. I’ve been collecting skeins of “Julia” and would love to use the patterns in this new book! Thanks!

  7. I love color!

  8. I find my own color sense to be terrible!
    I always need help choosing colors and I have used a color wheel.
    I’d like this book to help me with my color problem!!!!!!!

  9. I love color and have books on color in general and color for different crafts. I’d would love to add this to the collection. Plus I saw a couple of neat things to make. I’m hopeful (though I don’t know why!)

  10. I would love a copy of this book! I am trying to get the nerve up to try some fair isle and I love the colors in the pictures.
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..The K-12 Online Conference is Coming =-.

  11. The colours in this book are a treat for the eye! Lovely, lovely…
    Lucy is gorgeous.

  12. The LYS where I work parttime has Nashua yarns. I try to stay away from the section with the Julia as it’s very tempting. Put my name in the random generator pot.
    .-= southparknitter´s last blog ..Fee Fi FO WIP =-.

  13. Julia sounds like a yummy yarn. Will have to look/feel it when I’m in the yarn shop next time

  14. Shannon H. says:

    I’d love a copy of the book!

  15. Cathie Jones says:

    The Julia looks and sounds wonderful, as does the book. The interview was very informative.

    Lucy needs a weekend? My dogs almost always look like that . . . . and, come to think of it, the parrot does, too! Am I the only one not sleeping around here????

  16. Color can be fun! Do you like your electric ballwinder?

  17. I’d love that book!

  18. I love textiles and I love this book…

  19. Shirley. in PA says:

    What a gorgeous book – I love her use of color and I need to make some colorful pillows for my dull off-white leather couch.

  20. Thanks for another great review. Please count me in for the drawing. I’d love a copy!!

  21. Ooh, handknit pillows – what a wonderful idea. I’d love that book!

  22. I’m starting color work. This is the perfect book for my reference library.

  23. I’d love this book… Interesting discussion on “designing” yarn.

  24. Celestine Getty says:

    Lucy you have a cool Mom. So generous. Please include me in the drawing for the book.

  25. The book looks lovely…count me in!

  26. Lorraine C. says:

    Great review. Thanks so much.

  27. I need more colour in my life ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. Marie-france says:

    oh please Wendy can I have a copy of this lovely book!

  29. Great review!

  30. daphna epstein says:

    this book is inspired and inspiring!


  31. Love the patterns and colors Kristin has worked up! It must be awesome to have a job where you can play with and create colors and patterns!

  32. I just took a class for knitting norweign mittens and think this book would make a wonderful addition to that technique….keeping my fingers crossed that the fickle finger of fate lands on me this time….

  33. I’ve been thinking about color knitting again recently (I’ve been thinking of finishing that long standing vest of mine). This book sounds fun. I’ll have to look at it the next time I’m in the yarn store. Thanks for the review!

  34. The colors are amazing! I would love, love, love a copy of this book!

  35. elizaduckie says:

    I read Kristin’s blog too and enjoy her views on life and sheep. ๐Ÿ™‚ Color knitting is my next bridge to cross and Kristin’s book would be a wonderful way to try it.

  36. This looks like a fabulous book! I’d love to win the copy. Thanks for the interview! Very interesting.

  37. Dr. Jackie says:

    Beautiful book!! Oh yeah…did I mention I would LOVE to have your extra copy??!!

  38. The book looks wonderful.

  39. I with I had that kind of color sense!

  40. The book looks beautiful! Would love to have it.

  41. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great book.

  42. I’ve just started doing colorwork! I so need this book!
    .-= claire´s last blog ..November beach =-.

  43. Elsie Hughes says:

    Looks like a lovely book . Count me in!

  44. I’d love a copy of that book … I’ve been hesitant to try any color knitting more complicated than stripes, but those pictures are so awesome I’m trying to give it a try now …

  45. What rich, full, interesting answers to your questions. I love heariing about designers’ favorite projects. Kristin’s work would delight Vanessa Bell, I’m sure. And I’d love that book…

  46. Oh, I want it!
    .-= Annika´s last blog ..Another WTF =-.

  47. I would love to see this! I’ve been trying to do more colorwork. Thanks!

  48. Tina slave to four says:

    I’ve really enjoyed every project I’ve seen of Kristen’s I think my favorite is her copy as a shoulder project bag that was published by Interweave Press.

    Personally I agree with many here in the Southwest…. the sun can be intensive enough that the only colors that show well are bright colors!!!

    Thus random number generator I add my pleas
    to the others… please oh please pick me!!

  49. I love Kristin’s work.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Two Shakespeares =-.

  50. Lovely colors. Please send it to me.

  51. Wow. Only the middle of November in MN and already I’m hungry for color! Looks like a beautiful book.

  52. Looks like a great book! Thanks for sharing! Sign me up!
    Kirsten from SWAK country

  53. I think i could use one of these…

  54. I love cabling because I’ve gotten good at it…I am still looking for that reference that is going to make colorwork “spark” for me…it ALWAYS feels awkward somehow…is this THE book? Inquiring minds want to know…

  55. This book looks amazing! I love color too and am always looking for interesting new ways to combine colors for totally unexpected looks–or things that are just plain pretty!

  56. Great looking book – I’ve seen other reviews and would love a copy. Thanks for the contest, Wendy.

  57. wow; this book could teach me a lot!!

  58. Robin Diebold says:

    I love the colors used in the sample projects. I would really like to try the best friend sweaters.

  59. This book looks exciting; lots of fun ideas!

  60. Melinda Davis says:

    Knitting is all about the color for me — Kristin’s work is so inspirational (and aspirational!!). I’d love to be your winner.

  61. What amazing colors, both the yarn and the book. I’ve been experimenting with color work. The book looks like just what I need.

  62. OH! I would love a copy. I haven’t done a lot of colorwork lately, but have just started a fair isle vest, which I am loving. It’s made me realize how much I like colorwork. It’s so addiciting! I hope I win! I’d love to try my hand at some of those beautiful pillows. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lovely review too! I might just buy it if I don’t win.

  63. What a great review and interview!

    I would love to be entered into the drawing for this lovely book ๐Ÿ˜€
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..3rd grade =-.

  64. Shirley Ryan says:

    I would just grab up this book from the cover alone….it sounds fabulous. I’ll have to put it on my wish list.


  65. I can never have enough knitting books, and this one looks like a fun one!

  66. I love Kristen’s colourwork.

  67. C. Rhoades says:

    Thanks for the interview with Kristin–very interesting to find out about the process of developing the yarn and color range. Thanks also for so kindly offering a book to one of us.

  68. I LOVE color! and this looks like such an inspiring book! I would love to have it in my library.

  69. Wow, beautiful. Would love a copy. My little girl would enjoy something bright I think.

  70. Sounds like a lovely book, thank you for such a thorough review and delightful interview.

  71. The pictures are truly inspiring. This book would be a wonderful addition to any knitting library!

  72. I would love the book. It looks beautiful, as does Miss Lucy.

  73. I so want to start doing colorwork and after reading your interview and seeing the pictures in the book, I really would like to read it. Thanks for the offer.
    .-= Darlene G´s last blog ..Aaaah Such is Youth =-.

  74. LOVE it. WANT it. Probably won’t GET it!! But thanks for the give-away and the (almost) daily dose of inspiration. Just got socks-from-the-toe-up book at my LBS…

  75. Terri Bergandi says:

    I’ve been eyeing the book on Amazon- please add me to the list of hopefuls.

  76. This sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing with us.

  77. My Max and Bertie Woo are “practicing for the weekend” too! And they’re very colourful. Max is black and Bert is orange. They both send their love to Lucy<3


  78. With the grays of winter upon us, those colors are most welcome!

  79. I love getting your emails every evening – and of course would love the book!



  80. That sounds like an absolutely wonderful book! And I need to get back into color knitting, I’ve been doing mostly lace or cables lately.

  81. Wow! I love the colours in those beautiful fall sweaters. I would love to try my hand at some of the patterns!! Pick me random number generator! ๐Ÿ˜€

  82. I would definitely love to have this to brighten up a gray winter day. I saw a friend’s copy last week and it is truly a wonderful book.

  83. Count me in on a really grey day. Thanks
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Timeless skills =-.

  84. I have a copy of this fabulous book. Every design wants me to start right now.

  85. Kathryn Sigman says:

    I absolutely love the โ€œBest Friends Pullovers”! I have two twin grandaughters who would love those sweaters!

  86. I would love this book. thanks for sharing


  87. What a beautiful book and a nice interview! You’re so nice to give away a copy!

  88. I would love to win the new “Color by Kristin” book. Best to you and the Lovely Lucy and Ian.

  89. I am hoping to start doing more fair isle patterns, so this book would be a great addition to my collection if I were to be so lucky as to win it! Thanks as always for your great reviews of books here on your blog!
    .-= Megan C.´s last blog ..Computer Issues =-.

  90. I would love to have this beautiful book!

  91. Really love that Scrap Yarn Scarf. Gotta try that one!

  92. Oh, that book looks gorgeous! I’d love to have a copy.

  93. I’d love this book. I have so much trouble putting colors together that it will certainly be a great help.

  94. What a wonderful book! Perfect for some colorful winter projects. We are expecting a storm this weekend so Lucy has the right idea :>)

  95. I like Lucy’s colors! But I’m sure I would love Kristin’s book too. Thanks for the thoughtful review and interview. And please, RNG, put my name in the virtual hat and maybe consider pulling it out too!
    .-= Cathy-Cate´s last blog ..Flower Salvage =-.

  96. Wow, great post. I loved reading about Kristin’s development of the Julia yarn. It’s just so interesting to be provided w/ insight in to how it was developed ๐Ÿ™‚

  97. This book looks intriguing & her designs look stunning!
    .-= Suzi´s last blog ..What new lately? Mitts & hats =-.

  98. What a wonderful book. Maybe I’ll be the lucky one this time.

  99. Sign me up for the drawing, please!

  100. I’d love the book! I think my daughter would love the best friends sweater. Thanks for offering it.