It’s only 2 weeks until Mardi Gras Day here in New Orleans! How time flies. The myriad of Mardi Gras themed knitwear that I keep thinking about won’t make it off the needles in time this year but it has got me seriously planning for next Carnival season. And that of course means sourcing the right yarn for Mardi Gras projects.
Have you ever been to Mardi Gras?
It’s hard to overemphasize how big of a deal Mardi Gras is here in the South and especially in New Orleans. This year Mardi Gras Day falls on February 25th and everything else that happens around this time (i.e. Valentine’s Day) will be completely overshadowed by all the other parades and parties going on. Mardi Gras is related to the Carnival you may be familiar with in other Catholic parts of the world, notably the famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro. The origins are the same but it has picked up so much of it’s own history and tradition in Louisiana – all of which I had to learn when I moved here and went through my first season.
For instance, I had no idea that the celebrating actually starts right after Christmas – on “12th Night” or “The Feast of Epiphany” – which is the celebration of the three Magi bringing gifts to baby Jesus (and where we get that other wonderful New Orleans tradition of King Cake, yum!). Then the celebrating rolls right on through Fat Tuesday (Mardi = Tuesday, Gras = fat) which is the day directly before Ash Wednesday …which starts the 40 days of Lent …which leads up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and finally Easter Sunday …Phew! It’s a lot of tradition to keep track of!
Mardi Gras Colors
Purple, green and gold are the colors of Mardi Gras season. The purple is said to symbolize justice, green is for faith, and gold is for power. For textiles the gold is often substituted with yellow and white will lend a background to many designs. Everywhere in the city people are wearing these colors and have replaced their houses’ Christmas decorations with sparkling purple, green and gold. Did I mention it’s a big celebration here?
I’ve made a point to keep my eye out for colorways that would fit well into Mardi Gras designs. If you’re interested in combining these colors for your own projects here are some of my finds:
My all around top pick for Mardi Gras yarn so far is Cascade 220 Superwash in ‘Dark Violet’ (#310), ‘Christmas Green’ (#864), and ‘Golden’ (#877). These colorways:
- look great together (though I’ll try a purple that is one shade lighter next time)
- are from a major brand that’s easy to source all over the country
- don’t bleed when you block the final piece (so important for colorwork!!!)
- will hold up to all the merrymaking and wash easily after the parades
Purple has a lot of leeway. I’ve seen so many shades used – dark, light, blue-toned, red-toned. Anything that feels royal without being too dark will work great.
Green has a big range as well and it will just depend on what looks good with the shade of purple and yellow you’ve chosen. I’ve actually had a difficult time finding rich emerald greens that I like. “Millpond” is a great colorway by Madelinetosh, but it was discontinued for a while so I’m not sure about it’s availability. I also really like their colorway “Mood” but on most of the wool bases it would be too dark for these projects.
For yellow the idea is to simulate metallic gold – so something with a rich, golden hue is preferable.
I’m excited to play around with adding metallic elements to my knitting – either by holding crochet thread double or holding a strand of gold embroidery thread along with a strand of purple yarn. I’ll use these “fibers” sparingly though since they are stiff and scratchy.
Hopefully I’ll have some fun projects to share later this month! Are you making anything festive for Mardi Gras?