Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting

Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting

by Lea Redmond


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612123332
Publisher: Storey Books
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Pages: 168
Sales rank: 542,217
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Lea Redmond is the author of Wonder HuntKnit the Sky, and the best-selling "Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever." keepsake journal series that includes Letters To My Future Self and Letters to My Love. She is the founder and lead designer for Leafcutter Designs, a creative studio best known for its World’s Smallest Post Service teeny tiny letters. She lives in Oakland, California, and can be found online at 


Read an Excerpt


knit the SKY

When was the last time you lay on the grass and watched the clouds drift by? Can you recall whether the sky was a brilliant blue or a hazy shade of gray yesterday? What about the day before? And the one before that? Did you take the time to notice? It's surprisingly easy to forget to look up and appreciate the colorful show that swirls above our heads at every moment. This project asks you to keep an eye on the weather and to track its comings and goings more closely than usual.

Each day, you will knit a stripe in colors that match that particular day's sky, slowly creating your own wearable weather report.

As your daily observations meet the clicking of your needles, nature's patterns — both predictable and erratic — will emerge as the days pile up. Just like the weather, your scarf design will largely be out of your control. You are likely to be surprised by delightful sequences of alternating colors that you never would have devised on your own. Winter's whites and grays might tire you. But as you heed nature's ways, you might also learn something about the beauty of waiting. Is a bright blue sky lovelier if you've knit a month of gray stripes in anticipation? Is a gray stripe more meaningful if you remember getting caught in a sudden storm with a friend and no umbrella?

With each sunset, the colors of an unrepeatable day fade into the night. Unlike knitting, we can't unravel a day and relive it. But as the days slip through our fingers, so does our yarn. At the end of a year, you will have a scarf that the clouds have drifted through. Bind off, keep warm, and let your beautiful garment remind you to keep looking up.

Prepare Your Palette

First, gather balls of laceweight yarn that correspond to the various colors of the daytime sky: bright blue, light blue, white, light gray, and dark gray. Using laceweight yarns means you can use the strands doubled so that you have more color options for illustrating the sky. Using US 3 needles, you'll get a gauge of about 7 stitches to an inch. For example, on a partly cloudy day you might select white and light blue. For a thunderstorm, you might combine light gray and dark gray. And for a pure bright blue sky, you might choose to knit the stripe with two bright blue strands. Make two separate balls of some colors so you'll have the option for the latter. I've found that it's usually sufficient to split only the two blues (the bright and the light blues) in half. Virtually all weather conditions can be represented by creative pairings of the resulting seven balls of yarn.

Check the Weather

Begin your scarf by choosing the two-strand color combination that best represents the weather on the first day of your project. Treating these two strands as one, cast on 40 stitches. Then, day after day, observe the sky, select the two colors that express its essence best, and add a stripe to your scarf by working 2 rows in garter stitch with those yarns. Continue for a year. Bind off and weave in loose ends.

For advice on how to handle a large number of yarns as you work, see Managing Multiple Yarns.


bundle of JOY

Making a striped scarf is not the only way to knit the sky. We can also take aesthetic inspiration from the layout of a wall calendar in which each day is represented by a small square. Imagine connecting all those pages of days into one big sheet. Ta-da — a blanket! Knitting the sky into a blanket makes a sweet newborn gift, especially since the baby is missing out on all those skies while he or she is in the dark womb. As soon as you learn about the pregnancy of a loved one, gather your yarn in a jiffy and begin knitting a square a day in colors that match the weather. Piece the squares together along the way to keep everything tidy and in the proper order. Continue for the rest of the pregnancy and bind off on the day the baby is born.

This also makes a great project for expectant mommies or daddies to knit while they wait for the birth of their own child.

Knitting the sky into a blanket makes an especially sweet newborn gift.

A (Very) Little Math

To make this project manageable, you need to do a bit of planning before you begin. Of course, you won't know exactly how many squares you're going to be knitting before the baby is born, but imagine that you learn about the event about seven months before the baby is due. You might then estimate that you'll need about 210 squares (7 months × 30 days/month). With 210 squares to work with, your blanket could be 14 squares wide by 15 squares long. If you make 3-inch squares, your blanket will be 42 by 45 inches, which is just about right for a baby! It's unlikely that you'll have happened to complete a row on the baby's birth day, so just knit that last piece wider than all the rest to fill out the row of squares.

Purchase yarn in the colors suggested for knitting the sky scarf (here). You can also use the same weight yarns (two strands of laceweight yarns held together with US 3 needles). Cast on enough stitches for 3 inches. You will probably get about 7 stitches to an inch with this weight yarn and this size needles, so cast on 21 stitches. The exact size of the finished blanket isn't critical, but this approach should get you in the ballpark and also result in a fabric that feels nice. Knit until the piece is 3 inches square and then bind off. (You'll find instructions for how to join the squares together in Joining Knit Pieces Together.)


SWEET possibilities

"What color gumball did you get?" As a child, not only did I care remarkably much which color I got, I also wanted to know what color my friend got. Red? Purple? White? I especially wanted to know if my brother got pink. And when I'd insert a coin, twist the knob, and my favorite color — purple — tumbled down the chute just for me, it was my lucky day. The brilliance of a bubble gumball is this: it is both candy and toy, a playful sweet sphere that begins with a coin and a small mystery — what color will I get?

I had my very own gumball machine when I was a child. It was the real deal: a brilliant glass globe filled with a rainbow of gumballs, a shiny red metal base, a coin mechanism with a satisfying click, and a key to eventually reclaim my own quarters. Perhaps surprisingly, being able to open up the machine and cherry-pick my color was not at all tempting. I readily accepted the risk of not getting my favorite color in exchange for the delight of a guaranteed surprise, proof that life can be dull if we always get exactly what we think we want.

This knitting project gives us an excuse to revisit the gumball machines of childhood in the service of a new mission: a pair of colorful striped socks. You will purchase gumballs along the way to determine the sequence of colors in each sock.

The gumball machines of yesteryear are still very much alive and well, and waiting for you just where you left them at age 10. Fill your pockets or purse with quarters, and head out in search of the one nearest you. You might feel a little absurd pocketing ball after ball, but it's worth it. You are a serious knitter, you mean business, and you will go to any length for a genuine pair of gumball socks. You might even blow a bubble or two as you stroll away with your haul.

Choose a Strategy

You can use the basic sock pattern found here or your own favorite design. Gather together gumball-colored yarns in the appropriate gauge for the sock pattern you've selected. Pink, white, blue, green, orange, red, yellow, and purple are the most common colors you'll see. Turn the skeins into nice tidy balls — gumball shaped, of course! — one for each color.

You can purchase your gumballs one at a time as you stumble upon machines, remembering the color each time so you can add a matching round to your in process sock. Or you can buy them all at once, being sure to record the order of colors in a notebook as the balls are dispensed. Bring a bag to carry all those gumballs home! Enjoy a chewy mouthful of nostalgia as you knit, making the stripes whatever width you desire and perhaps blowing and popping a big huge bubble at the end of each round.


twin-stick TREAT

Snap! One Popsicle suddenly becomes two: one for me and one for you. The classic frozen treat with two wooden sticks and a deep indentation down the middle is elegant in design and rich in metaphor. Invented during the Great Depression, the creative two-stick Popsicle design preserved the affordability of these frozen treats. For a relatively small increase in the production cost of each Popsicle, the Popsicle company could serve two customers at once, lowering the price per person. As long as a pair of friends or siblings could agree on which flavor to share (not always an easy thing to do!), they could pool their pennies and enjoy a refreshing treat together, perhaps forgetting their financial woes for a few sweet minutes.

To knit in the spirit of a twin-stick Popsicle, you and a friend will knit two scarves at once on one pair of needles.

I recommend sitting side by side with your friend so that you can pass the project back and forth, taking turns adding a number of rows to each scarf when it's your turn to knit. This is a great excuse to get together on a regular basis and catch up over tea. As you share this knitting project, you might also share stories and secrets, fears and dreams. Like the original two-stick Popsicle, this is a one-color project. Choose the yarn together; there is surely at least one color in the local yarn shop that you both love. Two scarves will soon take shape upon one set of needles. When the scarves are the length you want, cast each of them off to "break" this twin-stick Popsicle in half: one scarf for you and one scarf for your friend. Continue to share the experience for years to come as you wear your twin scarves again and again. Unlike the original Popsicle, of course, these scarves are better enjoyed in winter than summer. (For advice about stitch counts and standard scarf lengths and widths, see Helpful Charts.)

How It's Done

Knitting two scarves at once on one set of needles is, I promise, much simpler than it sounds. You simply use two balls of yarn, one for each scarf, and take care to switch yarns each time you transition from one scarf to the next. Choose a set of straight needles long enough to accommodate two scarves, or use a circular needle if you prefer.

1. Using one of the balls of yarn, cast on stitches for scarf #1. Take the second ball of yarn and cast on stitches for scarf #2 on the same needle, right next to the stitches for #1. Turn your needle around to get ready to knit.

2. Knit a row on scarf #2 with the second ball of yarn. When you get to the end of this row on scarf #2, you'll find that the yarn for scarf #1 is waiting for you right across from it. Drop the yarn for scarf #2 and pick up the scarf #1 yarn (take care not to twist the yarns around each other), and knit across scarf #1 to the end of the row. Turn your needle.

3. Knit back across scarf #1 with that same ball, then switch to the second ball of yarn (which is waiting for you) and knit across scarf #2. Turn your needle.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for several rows, then pass the needles to your friend so she can take a turn adding to the pair of scarves in the same way.

Add Your Signature

It adds a subtle layer of interest to the finished scarves if each knitter chooses her own signature stitch pattern and sticks to it on her turns. For example, one friend could always knit in garter stitch (knit every row), while the other friend always knits in Seed Stitch (K1, P1 across, then purl the knit stitches and knit the purl stitches on the way back). Since the final scarves are solid in color, they will appear to be the same from afar. But up close, you can enjoy knowing which rows were laid down by each knitter based on the alternating sections of decorative texture.


mood RING

Knitting has always been a refuge for me. A project, tucked in my purse or resting on my armchair, is like having my own little retreat center at my fingertips. Whenever I have a big decision to make, have complex emotions to work through, or simply need to take some deep breaths, I pick up my knitting and am instantly transported to another realm.

In a way, the steady stream of emotions and thoughts that transpire as I'm knitting always makes its way into the garment. With most projects, these ethereal details end up lost forever. But with this project, multiple colors will represent our feelings, recording the ups and downs of our daily emotional lives and making the invisible visible. Over time, a bird's-eye view will emerge, and the course of our moods will begin to reveal itself. At its best, this will empower us to be proactive about our emotional health. If we keep knitting along the way, our soft, fuzzy feedback loops will let us know how often we are melancholy or contented.

This project, a colorful cowl that tracks your mood for one month and fits nicely around your neck, is a knit version of a mood ring.

Do you remember mood rings? They claim to hold magic stones that change color with our moods. While I am not at all convinced that they actually work, they are certainly a lovely idea. How convenient to have a ring on your finger that keeps tabs on your emotional state at all times, even when you are unable to see yourself clearly. As your knit version of a mood ring grows to reveal your inner life, you will gain a similar clarity. You can even make subtle adjustments to your daily routine along the way. Call a friend or take a different route home from work. Mix things up and the effects might surface in future rows.

Keep in mind that the human heart is complex, and monitoring one's mood is not an exact science. You may not be able to control enough factors to know if a particular change led to a particular result. Nevertheless, it's likely that you can glean some sort of meaning from the simple practice of paying close attention. While I wish you much orange (happiness) and yellow (calm), we should not assume that this is necessarily the goal of this project. Disappointment, frustration, and restlessness are often inevitable side effects of a diligent search for fulfillment, whether it's personal or professional. It really is up to you to decide what kind of emotional rainbow is healthy and satisfying for you. Blue stripes (sadness) can be beautiful, too.

A Ring That Fits You

Choose any cowl pattern that strikes your fancy, or use the one here for a simple ribbed cowl. If you are using your own pattern, it should have at least 150 rows, letting you add 5 rows per day for an entire month. Collect colorful yarns that are all the same weight. Emotions are complex and can change quickly. Adding 5 or more rows per day will let you use multiple colors for each day, more accurately capturing the emotional nuances of your days. If one day contains both joyful moments and sad moments, knit both of those colors into your cowl, as separate rows in the order in which the emotions took place.

Color Code

As you knit your "mood ring," you can use the color meanings I provide in the key on the opposite page or devise your own. Also, if there is a particular emotion or mood you want to track closely, your whole project can revolve around it. For example, if your biggest concern is stress, the meaning of your color spectrum could range from very stressful (red) to very calm (blue).


NECTAR collector

Like knitters, bees love patterns. The repeating hexagonal structure of their honeycomb is both practical and stunning. Like my favorite pair of socks, bees' bodies feature bright stripes. Bees even dance, communicating with each other by way of tiny figure eights in the air. Although scientists have discovered that the six-sided walls of the honeycomb allow for maximum efficiency of material and labor, they are less certain than they once were about the purpose of the "waggle" dances. In some habitats, honeybee dancing seems to stimulate foraging, while in others it appears superfluous, an extravagance I'm delighted to know about. I like the idea that evolution simply loves to shake it!

Here's your assignment: stick your nose deep into flowers, inhale, and knit a honeycomb purse.

I invite you to join me in a flight of fancy. Let's pretend we're bees for a bit and knit along the way. If nothing is blooming where you live right now, you'll need to wait for spring to begin this project, just like a bee huddled in its hive keeping warm. But when the first blooms of spring appear, hurry to the yarn shop. You'll need enough yarn to make a big handful of hexagons, one at a time, filling each one with honey-colored stitches and piecing them together into a purse.


Excerpted from "Knit the Sky"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Lea Redmond.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

You're Invited
Knit the Sky
Bundle of Joy
Sweet Possibilities
Twin-Stick Treat
Mood Ring
Nectar Collector
Patchwork Postcards
Doodle Daydream
Monster under Your Bed
Navigating by Heart
Inching Up
Heirloom Time Traveler
You Are as Beautiful as the Moon
Hummingbird Heartbeat
Sun Salutation
Butterfly Birthday
String of Pearls
Quantum Entanglement
K1, B1 (Knit One, Breathe One)
Grandmother's Basket of Berries
Mind the Gap
Brave Stitches
Walk around the Block
A Fine Pair
Pins and Needles
Wabi Sabi
Out on a Limb
Dormitory Hop
Party Popper
With Hands Just So
How to Invent Your Own Project


  • Pattern Stitches
  • Techniques
  • Patterns
  • Helpful Charts
About the Author

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Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ksnapier475 More than 1 year ago
I have been a knitter for over four decades, so when I see a book with a knitting reference in the title, I smile. The entire title is : Knit the Sky: A Playful Way of Knitting. It gives crafters a new way to look at life around them, through their knitting needles. There are a total of 32 creative crafts in this book which will stay with the knitter for a lifetime. There is a day-by-day scarf, made up of the colors of the sky, Or a unique growth chart for a baby which will be finished when they turn 18. It is such a beautiful and idea inspiring book. Lea Redmond uses all of her creative skills to help others open their shells and knit away. I loved this book and I am so glad that NetGalley and Storey Publishing gave it to me in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
'Knit the Sky' is an excellent rainy-day read, guiding you -- or your favourite Knit-Wit -- to take up needles and yarn with a vibrant new perspective. Readers will find themselves joyfully seeking inspiration from sources once taken for granted: from the sky to subways to spring flowers, from the houses on a block to the turns of a street. Basic patterns are included, as are a multitude of marvellous methods to make them truly unique and special.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! I am always on the lookout for a book that allows a knitter to combine colors in a different way. Another book to add to your knitting bookshelf.