Karie Bookish Dot Net

Category Archives: Authors And Artists

A Library of Byatts

I am really enjoying all the Byatts popping up both on Ravelry and at the events I attend. While my own group’s KAL officially ended at the end of March, several other KALs have strung up. It’s such a marvellous thing to see all the colour combinations and personal touches out there. As I enjoy looking through all the project photos, I thought I’d share a couple of the finished Byatts with you.

First up is JessieMcKitrick who chose to combine a rich red-purple with a stunning gold colour. This warm colour combination is rich and sumptuous – and it reminds me quite a bit of the Game of Thrones series wherein crimson and gold are the colours of the royal house of Lannister. Hey, I happen to live with someone who has read all the books..

JessieMcKitrick

Continuing on with the gold theme, I gasped when I first saw the colour combination that CountrySinger had chosen for her version. I have mild synaesthesia and those two colours vibrate when I look at the photos. I especially love how it’s miles outside my own comfortzone and yet I’d wear it in a heartbeat. Now that is colour appreciation for you!

countrysinger

Whitehart, aka Sadie, chose to stash-dive for her Byatt. I chose this photo because I think the blue-turquoise looks so stunning on Sadie and works incredibly well with her skin tone. I know many people have been focused on getting the contrast colour right, but here Sadie shows why it’s even more important to get the main colour right. This colour combination suits her so well.

whitehart

I have seen the next Byatt in person and it looks so delicate. EllaSkye ran into the problem of not having enough yardage to complete the pattern as written. Her solution was to add a third colour that was a slightly darker shade of her original main colour and she opted to do the cast-off in the darker colour too so the shawl had a strong sense of continuity. It looks amazing and even prettier when you get to see it and squish it in person, I can tell you that.

EllaSkye

Another Byatt I have seen in person: Helen of RipplesCraft. Helen chose a very contemporary colour combination of a neutral slate gray (she calls it ‘peat’ – who am I to debate colour with a dyer?!) and a zingy lime green. I love how this makes the stripe section sing.

ripplescraft

Finally, Noirem’s Byatt. I will confess that this photo stopped me in the tracks. A beautiful combination of subtle blue-teal with a silvery contrast colour and then the stunning shawl pin that echoes the cast-off edge. I knitted my original Byatt in a warm teal with a bronze-like edging. Jennifer has somehow made a cool, elegant twin version of that shawl.

noirem

A lot of other Byatts out there – I’ve seen gradient versions, glittery versions, and variegated versions. I have somehow managed to design a shawl that lends itself to a lot of experimentation with yarns and I’m really proud of that. Keep uploading those photos. I adore seeing every single one.

(Photos all used with permission – thank you so much!)

PS. I cannot resist linking to this thoughtful post about knitting Byatt. It really stopped me in my tracks.

Hello Byatt KAL (and Other Things)

Thank you so much for all the lovely words regarding the Byatt shawl. It is my first real stand-alone release after I completed the Doggerland collection and I was nervous about what people might think. Doggerland was all about a very pared-down design vocabulary and Byatt is positively decadent by contrast. I am relieved that people appear willing to tag along with me on my new design adventures and I cannot wait to see which colour combinations you choose. I have already seen quite a few people comment that Byatt is perfect for stash-diving (we all have those one-off skeins in our stash, don’t we?) while other people have been searching on their book shelves for colour inspiration.

books

Here is the challenge for all of you going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival: can you knit a Byatt before then? I have a few incentives in store for you. Firstly, you’ll get a 10% discount on Old Maiden Aunt yarns if you show up in a Byatt knitted in OMA. Secondly, if you show up in a Byatt and you manage to grab a photo of yourself and me at EYF, you get a staggering 50% off my next pattern.

And the final challenge is open to everybody regardless of whether you can make it to EYF or not: finish a Byatt shawl before March 31, post a photo and you enter into a really exciting prize draw. I’ll be picking out a few goodies from EYF vendors and you get to help me design a shawl. I designed Byatt partly because a few people had told me they wanted a two-skein shawl. What would you like to see? Cables? Triangular shawl? Semi-circle? A shawl in a DK or worsted-weight shawl? You tell me.

Now , there is a very good reason why I let David take photographs of all my knitted things. I took the photo below and it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. It was surprisingly hard to take a photo of the Byatt shawl flat – I have worn it quite a bit (so it’s a bit crumpled) and it’s rather big (so it’s hard to capture in one fell swoop). Still, I hope this helps those of you who wanted to see the shawl shape (though a schematic is included).   January 2015 183

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have heard I got up this morning to a very cold flat (8°C / 46°F). It’s really pretty outside with all the snow, but our old-fashioned (and very pretty) Victorian tenement flat has no double-glazing, very high ceilings and two badly-sealed fireplaces. I’ve turned on the heating and it’s now a staggering 12°C/53°F. Hooray for wool! Yet again I am a complete convert to woolly socks, I’m wearing my old pair of Fetchings and my bedraggled Noro jumper which fits nobody (and especially not me). Nothing like winter to make me break out the old knitted things that are now so tatty I cannot wear them in public anymore.

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Look! Baby Karie! So young & so pleased with her fingerless mitts! Awwww.

I hope you’ll join me for the Byatt KAL and I am really looking forward to being gazoomped at EYF by you all. Stay tuned for colour combo suggestions and ideas. I’m off to speed-knit another pair of woolly socks.

Authors & Artists: the Byatt Shawl

January 2015 112After a few teasing posts, I am happy to say that the Byatt shawl is now available from Ravelry (and will soon be available from LoveKnitting too).

The shawl is named after one of my favourite novelists, A.S. Byatt.  I first encountered her books when I was a young woman on the cusp of starting university. I read her Booker Prize-winning novel Possession in translation by Claus Bech. I later learned Bech had been awarded the Prix Baudelaire for his work, but that was no help to me as I diligently worked my way through dense poetry sections.

A few years later I read Possession in its original English and Byatt’s book was transformed. While Bech’s work was lauded, I could not connect with it in the same way I could connect with Byatt’s own language. It was rich, layered, warm, gently witty, and wonderful. The book became a touchstone and I have read it eight or nine times now.

And so Byatt’s novels became part of my life.

The Frederica Potter novels – The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower, and A Whistling Woman – kept me company as I grew from a young woman to whoever it is I am now. I read The Biographer’s Tale whilst travelling around New Zealand (it remains my least favourite Byatt novel to date). And I curled up with her short stories – Angels and Insects and the Matisse Stories, among others, when I lived in a suitcase trying to figure out who I was going to be. Reading Byatt quietens that voice inside my head that urges me to be less bookish, less arty, and more .. normal. I owe her much for writing about quiet, creative people with complex inner lives who muddle through life trying to remain intact. We exist too.

The Byatt shawl takes its main design cues from the cover design of  The Children’s Book. The rich teal and the golden brown are obvious nods towards the teal and gold found on the cover. Insects recur often as motifs in Byatt’s books – the slip stitch pattern forms braids on top of the garter stitch, but the individual stitches can also resemble tiny wings or delicate leaves.

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The horseshoe edging was my toughest design decision. I wanted the shawl to have an Art Nouveau feel, so I first added leaves to the edging. Interestingly, I found that very open lace patterns clashed with the remainder of the shawl and I experimented with bold chevrons until my eye was caught by the classic horseshoe pattern. Its light chevron feel and close/open movement worked both within the context of the fabric and also with the design inspiration. The edge is finished off with a picot edging which just adds a touch of polish.

I’ve had a few questions about the shape of the shawl. Funnily enough, neither my photographer, my tech editor nor myself even considered that issue, so I have uploaded the schematic to my Rav project page to tide things over until I can get my photographer (also known as David, the boyfriend) to shoot some photos. Many apologies for the oversight. On the other hand, it is the sort of feedback that improves my patterns, so thank you for getting in touch!

The only other issue is that I am currently waiting for my lovely friends at LoveKnitting to publish the pattern, so it becomes available in all EU countries. I am keeping tabs on the situation and am exceedingly frustrated that not all you lovely people can buy the pattern straight away. Maybe an excuse to go stash-diving or plan colour combinations?

Stay tuned for colour combination suggestions from Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. If you are planning on going to the Edinburgh Festival, you will want to stay tuned to learn why knitting a Byatt shawl might be a good idea. I did say plans were afoot, non?

Introducing Byatt

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The first pattern in my Authors and Artists series is called Byatt. It is an asymmetrical shawl that starts with just one stitch. Most of the shawl is knitted in garter stitch and it uses two colours of hand-dyed 4ply sock yarn. You never work more than one colour at any time, as the braided effect is obtained using a slip-stitch pattern. Byatt is finished off with a lacy edge in the contrast colour and a picot cast-off.

Hand on heart, I knitted most of Byatt during pub quizzes and knit nights. I found it a very soothing, relaxing knit – yet it looks quite complex when it is done. I chose to work with Old Maiden Aunt merino 4ply as I was after depth of colour and excellent drape. Several people had asked me to design a shawl that used more than one skein of hand-dyed sock yarn, and I was happy to comply.

The combination of a deep blue-grey main colour and a coppery brown contrast is not an accident. This shawl takes its name from the British novelist A.S. Byatt whose books are not just full of beautiful, rich details but are also beautifully designed. I shall write more about Byatt (the novelist) when Byatt (the shawl pattern) is released tomorrow.

I have had a very rough week, but I am very happy to say that working with some most excellent collaborators on this project has really made a difference. It is so incredibly nice when people come together in an organic way and all get aboard my rather vague concept of “contemporary pomo Victoriana but in a minimalist way”. (Sometimes I wish I was more of a cupcake hat designer, but you cannot change who you are.)

More pictures and details and general Byatt enthusiasm tomorrow. Tomorrow!

Sneak Peek

January 2015 107Yesterday we went to Glasgow’s Pollok Park to take in some much needed daylight. We also had a photo shoot of the first design in the Authors & Artist series. The pattern is off to its technical editor this week and I hope to release it this week (fingers crossed). I love how the photo shoot turned out and I cannot wait to share more photos with you.

The new design is inspired by one of my favourite authors – someone whose work has kept me company for twenty years (or thereabouts). It is all about layers, depth, and richness of thoughts and emotions.

If you are heading to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, you’ll be able to see the shawl on the Old Maiden Aunt stall as it is knitted in two skeins of OMA merino 4ply. Lilith and I are also putting some suggested colour combinations together as we know many of you can feel rather overwhelmed when faced with all of Lilith’s colours.

But more on all this when my excellent tech editor gives me the thumbs up!