ARTFUL COLOR, MINDFUL KNITS is not a book for beginning knitters, but it's a major new technical reference for knitting with hand-dyed, multicolored yarns. It needs to be studied to be understood--but it's the first book I've seen that (1) clearly defines the important terms (striping, stacking, blotching, pooling, flashing, spirals, argyles, meanders) with photographs that show the real differences, and (2) fully explains how to control the look of the finished fabric when you're using one of those expensive yarns that looks so beautiful in the skein but so messy and ugly when knitted.
Master dyer Laura Bryant is the genius behind Prism yarns (e.g., Wild Stuff). The key to understanding her book is the Magic Number, defined as "the number of stitches that will use an entire repeat of color exactly once". To determine a yarn's Magic Number, you must identify the color repeat by laying loops of yarn out on a table (photos and written instructions explain exactly how), measuring the length, determining whether the colors read across or around the skein (depends on how the skein was dyed), and calculating the stitches used by one repeat (use any of three methods--mathematical, counting, color-control cast-on).
Once you have your yarn's Magic Number, you swatch, and swatch again, until you find the needle size and tension that works for the effect you want (e.g., stacking, lightning-bolt flashing, argyling). If you note down the gauge, it will help you change effects as desired. At this point, you can try the basic patterns for scarves (half magic, fisherman's rib, K1P1, bias garter) and begin studying--and understanding--how the colors in hand-dyed yarns move and shift as you knit through the color repeats.
With understanding, you can control the effects, even within garments (see the "Siren's Song" poncho-style tunic, shown knitted in Miss Priss). In discussing the "Siren's Song" pattern (and various other project patterns), Bryant includes several "case studies" with photos that illustrate how skeins from different dyers (e.g., Prism Saki, Prism Madison, Lorna's Laces Haymarket, Twisted Sisters Zazu, etc.) will produce different fabrics for the same project.
This book also explains how to get "windowpane" effects--how to control colors to produce blocks or squares of color (see the patterns for the Windowpanes hat, Twilight tunic, Painted Desert top)--or other effects (e.g., chevron, argyle, shaded ombre, softly edged rivers of color). It also discusses how to incorporate shaping (e.g., gussets) that changes the stitch count, in ways that won't mess up the color movement.
The book's title comes from Bryant's classification of the three types of knitting with multicolored yarns: (1) "automatic" ("otto" for short), which requires no thought after the yarn colors have been swatched for a satisfactory result; (2) "mindful", which requires preparation by finding a Magic Number and then some attention to color paths during knitting; and (3) "attentive", which requires both preparation and constant attention to maintaining color paths with adjustments (increasing/decreasing).
There are many project patterns for scarves, shawls, and garments included--each project is designated by its color knitting requirement (Otto, Mindful, or Attentive) and its knitting difficulty level (Easy, Intermediate). The full list of project patterns is as follows: Aegean Dream, Boardroom, Carnivale, Ciao Bella, Cockle Shells, Color Wave, Creme Caramel, Dice Checks, Firefly Cowl, Geisha, Herringbone Weave, Highlands, London Fog, Moonlight, Mosaic, Nautilus, Neon Rivers, Painted Desert, Peaks & Waves, Portofino Spice, Sampler Jacket, Sonata, Sun Shadows, Sunset, Trader's Bag, Tropical Garden, Tweed Checks, Twilight, Watercolor, Windowpanes, Winter Snow, Woodlands Flash.
If you're new to knitting with hand-dyed yarns, you might want to start with either of these excellent, easier-to understand but less complete books: Carol Sulcoski's Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn or Lorna Miser's The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn. But for me, this is the book I've been waiting for, that will enable me finally to make beautiful things from all those gorgeous skeins of hand-dyed yarn that I bought before I tried knitting with it, and learned the hard way that getting good results with hand-dyed yarns is not only difficult, but requires a lot of extra work in swatching, planning, and increasing/decreasing during knitting.