Kate: Add me to the list of people who love your Clawthorpe combination!
One of the things I - and many others, I'm sure - respond to is your choice and use of color. You seem to have used quite a bit of multi-colored yarn, but now create dramatic color effects through stranded colorwork. How does your swatching and color picking process work. What is a combination that surprised you with its success - or, as in the case of your Clawthorpe, its "failure"?
Jenn: Yes, in my early knitting days, I used a lot of multi-colored yarn, but now I haven't been knitting variegated yarn much at all, although I still have some in my stash that needs some love.
My color choice process isn't the most efficient, but I enjoy the process nonetheless. I don't swatch at all. I almost never buy yarn with a specific project in mind, I choose yarn that interests me and then figure out how to use it later. I really like natural brown and grey wool yarns, as well as slightly tweedy and heathery colors. I tend to go for jewel tones and earthy shades. As I knit a project, I'm very often planning my future sweaters and also considering what colors to use in the yoke of my current sweater project. I'm trying to create a combination that harmonizes together well, is colorful, yet hopefully not obnoxious.
When I finish a project, I'll often take a day off from knitting and take that time to choose what to knit next. My first step is choosing the body color (MC). Sometimes I can visualize exactly what sweater I want to make with the color I have in mind, but usually I'll go through my Ravelry queue and choose a lopapeysa design that will work well with the MC I've chosen. As I knit the body I am repeatedly thinking about what colors I'll use in the yoke, taking a mental inventory of the coordinating colors I have in my stash that will work well with both the MC and yoke pattern. That planned combo might evolve quite a bit by the time I get to the yoke. I often combine yarn brands if I think the shade works best with the other colors I'm using. I'm looking for colors that contrast a certain way. In some spots in the yoke I might need to combine dark and light shades so there is high contrast, but many times I am looking for colors that are of similar intensity so they harmonize well. I like to buy inexpensive bags of scrap wool yarn at the local thrift store, and have been surprised by how often the colors I find come in handy when I am looking through my stash for something that blends just right with my other colors.
Sometimes my planned color choices don't work out like I'd hoped, and I'll rip out and keep switching colors until I feel like they are working well. After partially knitting the yoke a few times and deciding that things aren't working, I sometimes choose not to go forward with my current yoke and knit a different design than anticipated. There have been times I have done quite a bit of unraveling in order to get an outcome that makes me happy. I can be very finicky and indecisive, yet other times a sweater just comes together from start to finish with no problems with color and yoke combo - those tend to be the ones that have fewer colors involved. Lately my color choice process has become a little easier for me. I haven't been changing my mind as often, and I think it's because I've become more comfortable with combining colors - it's getting easier with practice.
In terms of success of color combos, I was really surprised by the popularity of my "Gemini" lopi. The design is Christmas in July on Ravelry, written by Tanis Lavallee. It was featured on the front page of Ravelry for "Eye Candy" and I was really shocked by the level of interest it drew. I have seen quite a few Ravelers that tend to shy away from really colorful knits, so I was very surprised my version was so well liked. In terms of failure, the reason why I didn't go forward with Clawthorpe was because I felt like the colors I chose were just sort of OK. The color combo would have been more effective if I had put white or another really light shade where I'd knit the black. Usually when choosing colors, I am trying to come up with a unique color combo while at the same time, trying to keep my darker and lighter shades in the same sequence as the original pattern example. I think the white, used in the original pictures of your Clawthorpe design, was placed in good areas throughout the yoke, and the darkness of the black I used in mine just wasn't as effective in those same spots. Also, I felt like the greenish blue I used needed to be replaced with a more blue toned aqua in a similar intensity. I think it would have blended better with the gold I used.