We’ve done a lot with Stroll, our soft, sturdy and all-around delicious Merino/Nylon sock blend, but nothing quite like this. Stroll Gradient is a 100g skein with handpainted color changes that extend the entire length of the skein. No repeats, no striping, just blended blocks of lovely color.
Here at Knit Picks, we are genuinely proud of everything we produce. Sometimes though, something comes around that we’re not just proud of, but excited about, and I’ve been greatly anticipating the release of Stroll Gradient. Having been hired halfway through the development process, after much of the creative work was already done, I can say without ego that I really think the team nailed this one. Everything about it, the base, the color combinations, the names, even the put up (who doesn’t love cake, yarn or otherwise?) is delightful.
How It’s Made
Part of the fun of Gradient is knowing how it’s made (it doesn’t come off the sheep that way, just fyi). After the Stroll base is produced, each 100g skein is made into a sock blank. From there each skein is individually painted by hand with each of the colors (3 or 4, depending on the colorway). Then the colors are carefully blended where they meet, in order to create soft transitions. After the dye sets and the blank dries, it is unraveled, steamed, and wound into a cake.
Gradient has some interesting features because of how it’s made. Some gradient yarns are created by tying together different colors; being made in one piece, each cake of Stroll Gradient is one continuous thread for seamless knitting. The painting and steaming process creates a marled look, giving depth of color to even the darkest tones. And the blending means that where the colors meet the actual strand will change in color, back and forth between the two colors, as it subtly shifts from one to the next.
What It’s Like
I can say from personal experience that knitting with Gradient is a singular pleasure. And I mean that in a literal sense, not just as a generic superlative. The shockingly soft and supple Merino glides through your hands and on to your needles almost effortlessly, though the same could be said of any Stroll yarn. The real experience of the Gradient comes with the transitions.
Knitting from the outside of the cake, the first color comes off slowly, strand by strand, the layer peeling away to a shell, paring down to a thin rind. It’s strangely exciting when you catch your first glance of the second color in between the strands of the first, a glimpse which grows and grows. But the transition always seems farther away than you think, like great mountains on the horizon that only grow larger and larger without seeming to come any closer.
It’s a thrilling moment when the first bit of the new color actually reaches your needles. With the blended transitions, it quickly reverts back. The color transforms bit by bit, more like the next color one stitch, more like the last for the next one. It’s hard to say where the exact tipping point from one color to the next lies, so it manages to creep up on you. At some point you look down and realize that you’re in the new color. You look back at your work and see the old color, the shift from one to the next. Effortlessly, as if by magic.
What To Do With It
The photos throughout are all free patterns specially designed to take advantage of Stroll Gradient’s color changes, so you can jump right in to experience knitting with it yourself. The two shawls are the Lavender Fields Shawl in Beach House and the Fonsé Shawlette in Dazzlepants. The two scarves each pair a solid Stroll with a Gradient. They are the Gradient Scarf, using Hula Girl and Black, and the Stacked Chevrons Scarf, with Deep Dive and White.
I don’t get out much, so your mileage may vary in your Gradient knitting experience, but Knit Picks is quite happy to introduce Stroll Gradient to you, and we hope you enjoy it at least as much as we do. I, for one, will have a hard time getting anything else onto my needles for a while.