If I had to choose just one colourway from all of those that Countess Ablaze dyes, that typifies her ethos, it would be Nerds prefer their rainbows darker. It's deep, it's complex, it's saturated, it's unlike anything you've ever knit with before, and above all, it's beautiful! It's also, understandably, one of her most popular colourways.
What I love about it is just how different it can look on different yarn bases, knit up in different ways, or even sometimes between batches. The skeins above are a few from my own stash, showing some of the subtle differences between yarn bases, in this case; Viscount of Spark, Lord Kitchener Lace, and The English Gentleman DK.
The chemistry of dyeing is complex and subtle, a tiny difference in the temperature, or the length of time in the dye bath, or the pH of the solution, and you get interestingly different results. Part of the skill of the dyer is in controlling each of these elements to ensure that the resulting colours are recognisably those that were intended. It is impossible to create exactly the same shade every time, this is why commercial yarn manufacturers mark the dye lot on each skein to help you make sure that those you buy will all match perfectly. For the independent dyer, these differences can be a huge part of the appeal. The very first skein of Nerds (fans of Countess Ablaze are nothing if not efficient, the name of this colourway is almost always abbreviated to just "Nerds") that I bought was incredibly dark, it reminded me of an oil slick spilled on black tarmac. In some lights you could fool yourself that you were looking at something black, but then the light would shift, and like a little miracle, all of these beautiful colours would appear. I learned later that I was the envy of many for having secured a single precious skein of this rare variation! Of course, I have long since knitted up that skein, so I'm unable to show you just how stunning it was. Instead, let me show you some beautiful things created by the Ravelry community in this inimitable colourway:
This lovely scarf is knit to a pattern called Bias, by Verdandii. The yarn is Count Cashmerino high twist. I've chosen this project because it demonstrates the way that the colours of a fairly dark batch of Nerds can really shine when they catch the light.
Knit in Grand Merino, this beautiful Snow-in-May cardigan was created by Carmenatalie. I've chosen this project because it shows how Countess Ablaze some how manages to create colourways that resist pooling when knit up into large garments.
I love this Slouchy Sockhead Hat knit by Sehepworth in Lady Persephone. I've chosen this project because it shows how different colours can become dominant within the colourway, depending on the batch and the yarn base. Usually the most dominant colour in Nerds is the purple I think, but in this particular project it is the blue, and the green really pops!
This pattern is SuperSymmetry, both designed, and knit by Stitchnerd, in English Gentleman DK, and I've chosen it because it shows off Nerds prefer their rainbows darker so beautifully, but also because it demonstrates the matte effect that the colourway gets from being dyed on a yarn base with a slightly rustic handle.
These are Spike Socks, knit in Viscount of Spark by Britishbeaknits. Unfortunately it doesn't look as though she has released this pattern yet, but we can hope! I've chosen this project because it shows how Nerds can produce lovely patterns when used to knit smaller items. In this case I just love the neat spirals around these socks!
Last, but certainly not least is this gorgeous Spring into Darkness cowl, knit by Silwen, in Viscount of Spark. I've chosen this because it shows how Nerds is one of those rare variegated colourways that somehow doesn't mask the detail of a lacey pattern.
Of course, now I really want to cast on something new with one of those beautiful skeins I showed you at the top of the page! Sadly, I have a birthday present on my needles that I need to finish soon, so my next affair with Nerds shall have to wait.