My current work in progress:

Sundew,by Martin Storey, knit from Rowan Softyak DK, using 3.25mm and 4mm 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.  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 appendix  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. 😀

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 under  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. Ginger Klein says:

    I love this book! Keeping my fingers crossed. One of my first, yes first, sweaters was a 3 color fair isle. I was about 10 or 11. I don’t make sweaters now, though I have been considering it. The last few I started I ‘outgrew’, in that way we 50 somethings can do, before I finished them. I think there are 3 or 4 stashed away around here someplace. ;- /

  2. It looks like a beautiful book–and my granddaughters would love some of those sweaters!

  3. there is always room for one more color book!

  4. Love your blog. Don’t know which I love more your knitting or your kitty. The only color work I have done so far has been stripes. The book cover is beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Please enter me for the book. Thanks.

  6. Wow…I would love to win this book!

  7. {want} to learn fair isle knitting!
    .-= Leigh´s last blog ..My Husband is Full of Awsomeness =-.

  8. Looks like a great book I would love to have. Please include me in finding a home for the 2nd book?

  9. I would love a copy…and Lucy looks so cozy!
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..November is Variable =-.

  10. Kristin’s work is just so amazing. I didn’t know she had a new book coming out. Thanks for reviewing it!

  11. ohh what a treat! it looks like a great book – and i am a big fan of her blog.

    also it was my birthday this week – wouldnt it be a great present?

  12. I’d love a copy of the book!!

  13. oh yes sign me up please! kristins work is fantastic!!
    .-= turtle´s last blog ..check it out! and rememberance day =-.

  14. Awesome color work! I would love to have this book. Thanks for the opportunity, Wendy.

  15. Nice interview and review of the book! I would love to win it!

  16. Peggy Sands says:

    Would like the book after reading your great review. Your next yarn choice is lovely. Can’t wait to see the project.

  17. Love the colors! The Pacific Northwest is SO gray in the winter – we need more color!

  18. I was introduced to fair isle by a friend and have been intrigued by it ever since, I would love this book because fair isle becomes ALIVE with color!

  19. That book looks great! Hoping for luck from the random number generator!

  20. myra Harrell Fleming says:

    I just love getting your email and checking in on what you and lucy are up to…I love color and yarns and spinning and knitting…all of it!

  21. I just love your generous heart. It would be neat to win such a nice book!! I like Lucy’s idea for the weekend.

  22. Beautiful book.

  23. Ooh…this book looks amazing! Time to add it to my Christmas list….

  24. Gail Lucille says:

    I think your book review was very A+….
    Now all I can say is…Come on random number picker…
    Pick me. ((((((Hi Lucy)))))))))
    Thanks for the chance to win this book..Gail Lucille

  25. Those colors are awesome!! Thanks for sharing.

  26. Wendy, I’d love to see Kristen’s new book. Thanks for the chance!

  27. That book looks fantastic – thank you for sharing! It looks to be a wonderful addition to any knitting library. Thank you for being so generous!

  28. Executive Knitter says:

    I just finished my first fair isle hat and sweater this week, I am hooked! sounds like a great book for me to have to further my new found skills!

  29. Looks like a neat book!

  30. Boy, I really need to check this book out. The pictures alone that you showed are beautifull.

  31. Do I want one? Yes. That looks like a beautiful book. Lucy’s probably the only one around not impressed.

  32. Mary Ellen says:

    Maybe this book would jolt me out of my color rut!!

  33. Natalie Doyle says:

    Color! can lift me out of a serious funk. This book sounds useful as well as gorgeous, and having a look at it will beat eyeballing the paint chips at Home Depot.

    One of the pillows reminds me of a Klimmt needlepoint design that I’ve scanned hoping someday to write a pillow pattern. And the ottoman’s given me an idea what to do with mine.

    I haven’t been hiding under a rock but have somehow never run into “Julia” from Nashua. It’s high time I looked!

    Thanks for the interview, Wendy. Your blog is always worth reading — even when it’s almost wordless. And if Lucy didn’t exist, you’d have to invent her.

    Cheers to all,
    Natalie in Shirlington (Arlington), VA

  34. Oh, I’d love to win that book!
    .-= Malin´s last blog ..Update of sorts =-.

  35. picadrienne says:

    Oh, mighty random number generator please, please, I am just starting to get into stranded knitting, this book would be wonderful.

  36. I’ve been a big fan of Kristin’s bold colors and interesting stitch patterns for a long time. I would love to get her latest book.

  37. My goodness! Yours is the second review of this book I’ve seen in as many days. It looks amazing!
    .-= Genny´s last blog ..A wee bit more shopping =-.

  38. Really starting to explore color and texture more myself. I think this would be a cool book.

  39. Kristin Nicholas is a genius, and I would really, really love to get my hands on her book.
    best wishes from Iceland
    .-= Fríða´s last blog ..FO nr 36/2009 =-.

  40. Looks like a truly beautiful book… and colour is the spice of life!
    .-= Karen S´s last blog ..The geek in the girl… =-.

  41. Dawn in NL says:

    Nice interview and lovely photographs of the projects.

    All the best,

  42. The book looks great!

  43. Kristin is one of my fav artists and I would to win her book. Thank you for the offer.

  44. I have her earlier book and it is wonderful, there seem to be an endless choice of more things to make in this one, droooool!

  45. I would dearly love this book. My colour sense is a bit warped and I tend to play safe by using black or white against a colour.

    Also, it’s grey and damp here and I’m feeling grey 🙁

  46. Thanks Wendy for the add’l info on Kristin. I am inspired by both of you!

  47. Looks beautiful and I would love a copy of the book!

  48. ooooh! sign me up! I’ve been too intimidated to try fair isle, but this book may be just the thing to get me inspired enough to jump in. Thanks for the chance!
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Woo Hooooo! =-.

  49. Me, me, me! Lovely book. I really enjoy reading your blog.

  50. What a lovely book! I would be pleased to own a copy.
    .-= Sewbeads´s last blog ..9.28.09 =-.

  51. I would absolutely love to receive the new book!!! The pillows and Ottoman are incredible. Please random generated select me.

  52. Sounds like fun knitting. I’d love a copy.

  53. I have admired Kristin’s work for many years and would love a copy of her book.

  54. This is a great book lucky or not somehow I’m making that wonderful Ottoman. Thanks Wendy!

  55. The book looks very spiffy.
    .-= Saren Johnson´s last blog ..List Day! =-.

  56. I have plans to make this book the heart of winter projects when it is post-holiday and dark and gloomy outside. The colorful ideas should brighten the days!

  57. I’d love the book although I’m not sure how long it will be before I can knit again – I just adopted a kitten and he’s fascinated by my wool bag – he sits on top of it, peers over the edge at me and anytime I try to get a bit of wool he chirps at me. I’m thinking he was a knitter in another life 🙂

  58. Looks like a beautiful book. Thanks for giving us a chance to win a copy.

  59. This looks like a fabulous book. I’d love a copy!

  60. Dear Random Number Generator — please pick my number on this go around. This book is on my Santa Wish List. It would be great fun to have the book in advance and use it to complete a project or two for my Santa Give List. Thanks for sharing with your fans!

  61. I’d love to have a copy of this book for my library. Thanks for bringing it to our attention with that lovely review. I will have to look more closely at the Julia yarns as well. Have a good weekend, Valerie

  62. I’ve never done any colour work – I’d love to try – and Kristin’s book looks like a great place to start! Oh, mighty random number generator – pick me!!

  63. At the moment I have a very painful right hand, so no crafts 🙁 , but I am sure a beautiful book about colors will have just the right healing effect.

  64. Laura from beautiful West Michigan says:

    Love, love, love Kristin’s colorwork. Again, thanks for your generousity! Give Lucy’s head a scratch for me and tell her “hey” from Annie and Abbie!

  65. You make the book sound so wonderful that I would love to have a copy. Understanding color combinations is a new skill for me. Maybe I’ll be lucky this time.

  66. Wendy, you haven’t done colorwork in a while, does this book inspire you to try one of the patterns?
    .-= Cindy in FL´s last blog ..Various Pursuits =-.

  67. 2009 has been my year to learn intarsia and add some color to my knitting. This book would be a great addition to my library!

  68. What a wonderful review of the book. Sadly I am not familiar with the author. I would love to learn to do “colorwork”. This would be a great book to start the process.

  69. I would love to have a copy of this book

  70. It look like a great book

  71. Great interview. I love hearing about the process. Thank you!

  72. margaret carroll says:

    I like Kristin too

  73. I love color!! Random selector, please choose me!

  74. I would love a copy of the book! thanks Wendy.

  75. PinkSkatingGirl says:

    Wow, that’s a colorful book! I would love to have a copy. Love the thistly socks, too!

  76. Lovely book, beautiful pictures. Thank you for the review.
    .-= Patty Madrigal´s last blog ..Zinfandel of Beef =-.

  77. I’d love the book – great review!

  78. The book looks lovely. I’ve only been reading your blog for a short time, but your cat is beautiful and a nice addition to your posts 🙂

  79. I’m in! Looks fabulous. Happy knitting (and reading!)
    .-= Lynn B´s last blog ..People! People Who Need People… =-.

  80. Stacy Buchmann says:

    This book looks delicious. It certainly would brighten up a dark November day. Looking forward to having a copy of my own.

  81. Great question about how the Julia yarn was developed–what an interesting process. Thanks for the giveaway, and count me in!

  82. I really need this book! I need to learn fair isle!

  83. Thanks for doing the interview. I love hearing from authors on their work.

  84. Stacy Buchmann says:

    This book looks delicious. Just the thing to brighten a November day. Can’t wait to have one of my own.

  85. Thanks for the review, Wendy! I hope that you and Lucy have a great weekend!

  86. Sounds like I need this book to help me get some knitting for the home done.

  87. Wondering the size range on the Best Friends Sweater???

  88. I’d love a copy of the book! I adore the way she uses colors.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Because it’s Friday… =-.

  89. This looks like a really fun and interesting book. Please add me into the drawing.
    .-= Celestial´s last blog ..Back to basics =-.

  90. Alice in Portland says:

    Thanks for the review. The approach in the books sounds like what I would need to get going to try to design my own stuff. I have trouble when the color ‘stuff’ is in a book with no practical examples of its application


  91. My love of color is why I knit so I’d love to win the book.

  92. Sounds like a fabulous book!

  93. I would love a copy of the book.

  94. Looks like a great book. Oh mighty RNG, please pick my number this time??

  95. 1) I love the way Kristen Nicholas puts colors together. 2) It takes a lot to motivate me to knit household items instead of clothing, but those pillows and that ottoman are definitely calling my name! 3) Of *course* I would love that book…

  96. I just requested this book from the library! Would love to win! Thanks.

  97. Looks like a great book, please count me in. Thank you for sharing!
    .-= Sharilyn´s last blog ..Randomish Monday =-.

  98. Oh please do enter me for the draw! I love color, but have a hard time finding patterns that suit my style. This book seems to be the solution!!

  99. This book looks amazing! I’d love to learn how to use color better, and I think those pillows are stunning! I have my fingers crossed. . .

  100. Wendy, Thank you SO much for giving us the opportunity to win Kristen’s wonderful new book. I fell in love with her work on our PBS channel. She is amazing.