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.Β  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 appendixΒ  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. πŸ˜€

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 underΒ  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. would luv a copy, so colorful!
    .-= tammy pell´s last blog ..Antique European Spinning Wheel =-.

  2. Once again, we all thank you for your generosity. What a beautiful book!

  3. I would love this book. Thanks for the opportunity. Love your blog,too.

  4. Fluffy kitty!

  5. This book looks wonderful — I’d love the chance to win a copy. πŸ™‚

    Lucy looks to be an expert in weekending, but one can never practice too much!
    .-= yarnpiggy´s last blog ..Just keep knitting, just keep knitting… =-.

  6. I’m just learning to do colorwork, and would love a copy of the book!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..For All the Horses Lost to Us =-.

  7. Please put my name in your knitted book bag- I labor over colorways & have been working up the courage to try a colorwork vest – but the thought of committing to colors is very intimidating. I’ll bet this book would be an inspiration!
    .-= Cindy K´s last blog ..A Gathering of Knitters =-.

  8. OK, she totally has my dream job. And I had no idea she designed the Julia yarn. Thanks for the great interview, yes please sign me up!

  9. Freya in Californeya says:

    Sounds like a super nifty book. I hope the Random Number God picks me πŸ˜€

  10. Cathy Smith says:

    Thanks for offering this book.

  11. What a fabulous job you did reviewing that book, of course it makes me want it.
    .-= Wool Free and Lovin’ Knit´s last blog ..Three things I learned today =-.

  12. The book looks fabulous. Very interesting interview…thanks for sharing.

  13. linda-kaye says:

    I’d love a copy of that book Wendy! Thanks for the opportunity!

  14. OOOOH I just love her work!
    Thanks for the book offer πŸ™‚
    .-= ann-marie mackay´s last blog ..Mittens =-.

  15. Thanks Wendy, I need a lesson in color. I have enjoyed seeing and hearing Kristin in several places – what a lovely looking book. πŸ™‚
    .-= Bets´s last blog ..See Scruffy Play =-.

  16. Hi, just love books that deal with color and colorways. My daughter and I owned a quilt shop that my daughter did the selection of solids bolts. She could sit in another room with a rep and pick a teal, or whatever color that struck her eye and order it! When it came in, we did not have one that had the near blue that she saw and picked it out! She has an amazing eye for color, and I read book after book to find great designers works. Your book is going to be amazing I am sure. With the travels you have done and the natural ability to really see color, it will be an absolute winner. I would hope to win it, but if not, I’ll purchase it and glean as much as I can to help improve my knitting. I have done a lot of Dale sweaters and always change the color selection. Ditto for Alice Starmore’s works. My husband is amazed when I just buy colors I like and put them in as I see they will do in that area of the knitting. Your books cultivated this ability — thanks so much.

  17. Patricia Dixon says:

    Wendy, I am enjoying your website/blog so very much..You just have the talent of making yarn come alive…I haveenjoyed your reviwe of Kristen’s new book…so wonderful.

  18. CaroleP (ohio says:

    I just “love” your Lucy. She has so much personality! And I would love to explore Kristin’s new book. Hope the generator picks me.

  19. The book on colour looks wonderful –please enter my name in the draw. Thanks!

  20. I’d love to have a copy of her book! Thanks.

  21. I do so love your reviews. πŸ™‚ This book looks wonderful, and I would love a copy! Come on, Random Number Generator!!

  22. Thanks for giving away a copy of the book. Love the ottoman.

  23. You know, I’m kind of intimidated by colorwork (which is why I haven’t tried any yet). Thanks for reviewing this book, it sounds like something I should take a look at πŸ™‚

  24. “Want one?” – – – want one! you bet we do ! ! ! !
    Yes, I do. Please, Random Generator, I do want one.
    Wendy, thanks so much for providing us this wonderful opportunity.
    Love ya
    .-= GerryH´s last blog ..A couple more pages . . . . =-.

  25. wow — this book looks fabulous! And my daughter’s name is also Julia! So, hopefully the random number generator will pick me! πŸ™‚

  26. Wow! It would be lovely to receive that book.

  27. This looks like an amazing book — lots of great patterns and information! And I have to say, I love seeing what Lucy is up to . . . she always makes me smile!

  28. Looks like a great book! Lucy is beautiful!

  29. LisaD in upstate NY says:

    Would love the book. Her colors are amazing!

  30. I love the pillows and ottoman. I could make a cover for my piano bench. Martha

  31. I love the yarn Julia — great to hear of it’s design-conception-birth!

  32. I have always wanted to play with colour more. I have the feeling this book would be a great start introducing me to a world of colour!

  33. Ooh Me, Pick me, oh random number generator, pick me! LOL. Looks like a wonderful book, thank you for offering it up like this. you are always so very generous!
    .-= MomofTwins´s last blog ..RHINEBECK ’09 =-.

  34. As someone who dyes her own yarn and is just beginning her forays into designing garments to go with them, I would LOVE to own a copy of this book! Though nothing handknit will ever look as soft, warm or cozy as Lucy.

  35. Lovely! Thanks for the giveaway.

  36. Looks like a marvelous book full of great ideas! Thanks for the drawing.
    .-= Ina´s last blog ..Knitting Instructions: What’s an elastic loose bind off (cast off)? =-.

  37. I would love to eventually step into the world of colorwork. I think it’s fascinating how different an item can look when multiple colors are used instead of just one.

    Please give dear Lucy a snuggle from my furry family!
    .-= Debra´s last blog ..New photos!!! =-.

  38. Laraine Amy says:

    Thanks for the instructions of how to leave a comment πŸ™‚ I was wondering. Count me in for the book drawing!

  39. I would love a copy! I’ve just started to discover the joys of color (after being an all-black devotee for years) and I think I might actually be ready to do some color-work in my knitting.

    That is a big step.

    Anyway, the book looks beautiful!
    .-= Virginia´s last blog .. =-.

  40. I, too, love Kristin’s colorful knitting. I would love to have the book.
    .-= Sue Johnson´s last blog ..Thank You! =-.

  41. Hi Wendy,
    You are so generous. I am feeling like Lucy. Enjoy your weekend.


  42. sounds great–thanks for another great review/suggestion!

  43. Beautiful ! I love the scarf design and the picture . I could almost feel the chill in the air in the photo. Thank you for posting it and for offering a copy to a lucky someone.

  44. Colour, colour, colour. Who doesn’t love colour? Kristen’s blog and farm life are an inspiration.
    .-= Siew´s last blog ..Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!! =-.

  45. Thanks for the review. I love Kristin and have been a fan since her early Classic Elite days. And I’d lve to have the book too.

  46. that looks like a fun book, and useful too! Thanks for the chance!

  47. Looks like a wonderful book. Thanks for a great blog and the variety of information you share.

  48. Judy Wilkinson says:

    I keep hoping I’ll win a cool book like this one! I always enjoy your blog, though, so I’ll continue to read even if I don’t win!!!

  49. SnowCat MacDobran says:

    My coworker at the yarn store showed me her first book. Amazing color stuff.

  50. I would love to provide a wonderful home for such an amazing book! And I wouldn’t mind petting Lucy, she looks so soft and cuddly! ^.^

  51. This looks like a very inspiring book; have enjoyed many Classic Elite yarns in the past that still look nice today. …and Lucy is always fun to see, pretty girl!

  52. What a great looking book, I’d love a copy!

  53. The picture of the two girls is great and makes me smile. Nothing like best girlfriends. I would love to have this book.
    Oh, Random Generator, pick me and I’ll introduce you to the random number generator I wrote back in the 60s. Nonsense, he’s not too old for you.

  54. Raye (mother of the other capricorn Jan 2 Wendy) says:

    Kristin Nicholas has always been one of my idols because of her understanding of color. Thanks so much for this marvelous review of her book!

  55. Oh yes please, I love color work!

  56. As a beginning dyer, color has taken on a new importance to me. I’d love to have this book! Thanks for the review and the interview.
    .-= boutrosbabe´s last blog ..Business News Update =-.

  57. Me,me,me oh please random number generator!

  58. helene harris says:

    Oh great random number generator picker, please pick ME!

  59. What a neat book! And it’s always such a joy to see what Lucy is up to.

  60. What a lovely, inspirational book. I would love a copy.

  61. Looks like a great and inspiring book, count me among those who’d love to receive it! thanks….

  62. Me, choose me!

    oh please pick me.

  63. I love the book and I love your blog. I so enjoy reading it.

  64. Patricia Martini says:

    count me in! I would love to own a copy of this book!

  65. Hi Wendy,
    Colour is my middle name. Thanks for the opportunity to try and win πŸ™‚

  66. I would love to win this book. My Aunt and I are going to try our hand at a Fair Isle sweater after the holidays. This book would certainly be a great help. I look forward to your e-mail everyday and think Lucy is great. I have a Luci too, she is a Welsh Corgi. Luci and her sister Nikki do not like me to knit because then they can’t have all my attention. They are so fun. I will look forward to seeing the winner of this drawing.

  67. sarah Fuller says:

    What a terrific review! The book sounds so tempting. I love those sweaters. Nice Job. Maybe I’ll be a lucky one.

  68. I love Kristin Nicholas’s colorful designs. Throw my name in that hat!
    .-= kmkat´s last blog ..Thankful Thursday the third. =-.

  69. Diane McDowell says:

    Wendy, how you are blessed to be able to receive, review, use, and even donate a new book from the authors! I know I absolutely love color, wear a lot of bold, bright colors to make up for being a shy child who always wanted to blend into the background. I am always drawn to gorgeous colors, so I would love to read how to create projects with more color.
    Thank you for being so generous with all the new products you share with us.

  70. The best friends sweaters would be great for my two little granddaughters.

  71. Lovely pictures…and I am just now learning color work.

  72. Carrie McDade says:

    I would love to receive a copy of Kristen’s book.
    ps – now that it is chilly here in Northern California, my kitties are enjoying their kitty pi beds again….wait….they use them in the summer when it is 100 degrees here too! doh!

  73. Wow, that book sounds amazing! I’ll definitely be adding it to my wish list if I don’t get lucky and win! Thanks for the excellent review!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..FO’s like WHOA! =-.

  74. I’m not very good at colorwork, but I love looking at it.

  75. Oh, that would be a fun book to own and spend a lot of time with. Thanks for the review.

  76. Wendy that was a great review. Please add me to the drawing.

  77. I’d love to win the book. I think it would challenge and inspire me.
    .-= Deb´s last blog ..The Big Chunky Cowl =-.

  78. Love the pix! it’s kind of a fantasy life I dream of: sheep (or goats) and lots of loving family on a real working farm. I’m really intimidated by Fair Isle, but I’d love those floor pillows (and I know several others who would too!) hmmm…

  79. Love Kristin’s work!

  80. I love color, too, and the ways Kristin uses it.

  81. Really love the Friendship sweaters. Would make them myself if I had the book…..

  82. I have just started reading your blog! Love it! Thanks so much for all the awesomeness!

  83. I would be thrilled to get a copy of the book! Sounds inspirational –

  84. Beth in Ohio says:

    I am color challanged! Could sure use the help!

  85. wow. I may have to buy it.

  86. I would love a copy of this book. It looks awesome! Thanks for giving a copy away!

  87. I would love it!

  88. Shameless comment left only to get in the book drawing πŸ˜‰

  89. Thanks for the interview/review. The book looks wonderful so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the random number generator picks me!

  90. I would love to add this beautiful book to my collection. I have “Kristin Knits” and I think she is so talented.

  91. Wow, I guess a lot of people want that book. Me, I just like the picture of Lucy. Just kidding, I really would like the book too…ciao
    .-= rositta´s last blog ..A Productive Weekend =-.

  92. Looks like a pretty book. Her work is so vibrant!

  93. I would love a copy of the book! Especially since our New England Winter is coming and the chill-stoppers would come in handy in our Circa 1795 house!!

  94. donna patton says:

    The book looks wonderful and the ‘Julia’ yarn sounds fantastic. All a bit dangerous for the credit card if you ask me………

  95. I’d love a shot at this book as well… to bad you didn’t have one for everybody.

  96. Please enter me in the drawing for this beautiful book !

  97. What a beautiful book — great photography—cute kids! Would love to win it! Thanks for sharing~Also, some of my favorite pictures of Lucy are when she is end to end like that – can’t tell where she starts and where she stops!! πŸ™‚

  98. Why yes! I would love to make those pillows…sign me up! Thanks.

  99. Love those pillows! I hope the RNG picks me. πŸ™‚

  100. Thanks for the link and write up on this book. I just started doing Fair Isle , so this is really something I’d like to look at!