The Land of 10,000 Lakes: Choosing Summertide Colours

This very special guest post began its life as a message on the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group, in the Summertide MKAL thread. There have been so many wonderful conversations going on about colour, but this post just jumped off the page. Shelley, also known as MisKnitz on Ravelry, wrote this very inspiring piece about how she decided on colours for Summertide. It’s a captivating example of just how personal these project choices are for us as creative people, and the language she uses is so beautiful and evocative. It really captures so much of the soul I put into the Summertide pattern, and Shelley hasn’t even seen the first clue yet! I thought her process and storytelling deserved a wider audience, so I asked her if I could share it here with the wider Curious Handmade community. I know you’ll love it as much as I did. 


In choosing colors for my project, I really pondered Helen’s description of her inspiration for this MKAL pattern – that glorious feeling of summer and how when this time of year rolls around, we want to hold on to it as long as we can – and asked myself the question, “What does summer mean to me?” The answer was easy …


I live in Minnesota. Land of 10,000 Lakes. (Actually 11,842 named lakes of a certain size and over 15,000 lakes when the smaller, unnamed bodies of water are included.) Land of Sky Blue Water. (“Sky blue water” is the English translation of the Dakota word “Minnesota.”) When one thinks “Minnesota,” one thinks “lakes.”

Growing up and living in Minnesota, my life has always revolved around lakes. I’ve spent countless hours over the years on and in our beautiful lakes. To this day, I spend as many hours as I can enjoying them – almost every weekend from May through September, my family and I are at the lake cabin.

So once I gave it some thought, choosing colors for this project was easy. Lake = Blue. However, not just “blue.” Spend time on a lake, and not only will you see every shade of blue imaginable, you will seen grays, greens, purples, whites, yellows, pinks and oranges. All, however, touched with blue. The light blue, almost clear, shallow water. The navy and purple of deep, deep waters. The gray and black of a reflected stormy sky and the bright crisp blue of a clear sky. The smokey white reflections of passing clouds. The bright, foamy turquoise of a boat’s wake. The greenish water surrounding a field of rushes, cattails and lily pads. The pinks, oranges and yellows of the rising sun on the calm morning lake and the reddish glow of the sun setting on the lake’s western edge, all bathed in the blue of the lake and sky. The purple-black bottomless depths of a lake at night with the reflected stars dancing on the surface. The roiling steel blue-gray and white of whitecaps on a windy day. It’s all there. It’s all blue.

So, I threw out my notion of picking colors just because they looked good together and they happened to be in my stash. I discarded thoughts of using warm fall colors or the deep jewel tones often associated with winter. Yes, I will be wearing the shawl during those seasons, but the point of the shawl is to capture the feeling of summer and wrap myself in it during the cold, gray days of winter. Perhaps this winter I will ice skate or ski on the frozen lake wearing my Summertide shawl and I will compare the colors of an awake summer lake to the sleeping lake of winter – still beautiful but without the depth and variety of color of a lake in summer.

With all of that in mind, with my large TML stash laid out in front of me, my hands instantly reached for these two skeins. The Celadon is breathtaking. I’ve had this skein in my stash for years and have never been able to bring myself to knit with it. I knew the project had to be special. It is predominantly a cool greenish blue, but take a closer look and you’ll see pale, washed out blue; smokey lavender; light, steely-gray; fresh light green; jewel-like turquoise; and a hint of dusky pink. All colors represented in the lake depending on the time of day, the weather, the depth of the water, and the movement of the water. This color represents the ever-changing color of the lake.


But, always, there is the blue. The blue is predominant, and the second, darker skein is that base. That “ever present” nature of the lake. Despite it’s changeable mood, the blue personality of the lake is always there. Ink is a deep, deep blue that looks like a rich, dark purple depending on the light and the colors that surround it. To me it represents the solid base of the lake – the inky darkness of the deepest waters. The lake’s foundation in the earth.


As with most yarns, the colors change depending on the light and which colors they’re surrounded by. The Celadon can look very greenish or very blueish. The pink and lavender tones can be very noticeable or not so much. The Ink can look like a deep navy blue or like a royal purple. The surprise of seeing which colors come through will be part of the charm of this shawl just as they are a part of the lake!

I hope to wear the completed shawl and feel surrounded by the lake and capture that feeling of summer all year long.

Thank you so much to Shelley for allowing me to repost this lovely reflection on the blog. There are still a couple of days left before the Summertide MKAL officially begins, so if you’d like to join Shelley, myself, and over 480 other knitters (so far!), come over to Ravelery! The pattern is on sale now, and the first clue will arrive on September 10th. 

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