It’s All About the Fade

I like to think of myself as an astute observer of knitting trends. I feel like I walk around with my head immersed in the knitting universe at all times. I guess that means the knitting universe hovers about 5 feet above the ground. I’m not sure how astute I really am, but I’ve noticed one thing lately: it’s all about the fade. There’s really nothing new about this look that’s variably called gradient, dégradé, ombre, and fade, but there’s a slightly different emphasis in the “fade” of 2017.

Pink hair + ombre hair!

Side note: Remember when ombre-dyed hair was all the rage, like 10 years ago? Ok, so I’m not as up on hair dye trends, though I have noticed a preponderance of soft pink hair ever since I read this article about “Millenial Pink” on I even tried it myself, but nobody ever tells you just how much upkeep is involved in maintaining pink hair! Has anyone ever used hand-dyed yarn as inspiration for a hair dye job? Mim keeps talking about Malabrigo hair lately. But I digress…

When I first started working at Over the Rainbow Yarn just a few years ago, I noticed that long-striping gradient yarns were all the rage. Noro in particular is famous for the long-striping gradient look, and we’ve carried a few yarns in the gradient-striping style for years including Gina, Seasons, and Jawoll Magic Dégradé.

Lace shawls in super-long gradient yarns are practically magic. Pictured: Winter Largo shawl by Anna Victoria.

Then there were the super-long striping gradient yarns that took the entire length of a skein to fade from one color to the next. They were hard to find, being mostly arduously hand made and necessarily wound into cakes before selling in order to display the full color spectrum. But oh my, they made the most stunning shawls. Alternatively, there were the sets of gradient mini skeins which produced a similar look when worked in wide stripes.

The Anastasia scarf.

And there was also the marled gradient formed by knitting with two strands held together and switching the color of one strand at a time. The Anastasia Scarf, for example, has been on my mind since well before I wrote about knitting with two yarns held together in September 2016.

Color play has always been one of my favorite aspects of knitting. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I can hardly ever limit myself to one color in any given project. When I wander about the yarn shop or peruse my personal yarn stash, I’m always thinking about color combinations before thinking about weight, fiber or even what I intend to knit. I once visited a yarn shop that was organized entirely by color rather than yarn weight, yarn company, or fiber content. Even yarn from the same line was separated by color. I imagine it was a nightmare for most shoppers, but it completely delighted me. Patterns like the “Find Your Fade” shawl are all about the color play, and I personally love it!

I think knitwear designer Andrea Mowry has been the vanguard of the latest gradient knitwear trend ever since she released the “Find Your Fade” shawl pattern in December 2016. To date, 4048 Ravelry users have shared photos of their own Find Your Fade shawls and 17,408 people have added the pattern to their favorites. Frankly, it’s surprising how popular this particular shawl is because it’s a big project. I mean, it’s really huge – it takes at least five full 100g skeins of fingering weight yarn, and it recommends using seven colors. It’s like a blanket. A big, gloriously colorful and eminently wearable blanket. But on the other hand, it’s the look of 2017!

Find Your Fade is different from the popular gradients of a few years back in several ways:

First of all, you get to pick your colors. In my opinion, calling it “Find Your Fade” was a stroke of genius. The implication is that you played a part in the design of your own shawl. And you did! A shawl of seven colors affords you all kind of opportunities for personalization!

Second of all, it typically features the speckled and hand-painted yarns that are also wildly popular these days.

And thirdly, it’s less subtle. You can make a fade out of any bold combination of colors – be free, color-loving hearts! The transitions from one color to the next are simply produced by knitting a swath of color A, then a swath of Colors A and B alternated every other row, then a swath of color B.

Andrea Mowry and other designers including Stephen West have released a number of fade-themed patterns this year, so the sheer big-ness of the Find Your Fade shawl need not stop you from getting your fade on. I’ve collected a few patterns for your viewing pleasure and inspiration, and maybe for posterity. I’m really curious too – are any of these fade-themed designs on your to-knit list? Which colors would you choose?

Other posts that might interest you:

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

3 Comments on “It’s All About the Fade

  1. Hi Lauren, coincidentally I asked the question “What is a find your fade shawl?” just yesterday on Instagram and while waiting I got your wonderfully comprehensive answer on here. Thanks so much. That is a powerful lot of knitting for an inpatient person such as myself. Seven colors??? Yikes!

  2. Pingback: That One Neon Stripe | Crochet | Knitting | Over the Rainbow Yarn

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