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Pattern: Vintage Moments Hat & Gloves

karie hat #1What a lovely surprise I got this morning. We are having family visiting due to Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games and as soon as they left for another day of sports, I sat down to check my inbox. And then I started giggling.

I just got my first cover, folks, and I had no idea it was happening.

Several months ago, I was approached by the lovely people at Let’s Knit magazine. They commissioned me to design a hat/gloves set celebrating my Scandinavian heritage. I also did an interview with them talking about my family background, how I got into designing, and why I am passionate about getting other people thinking about crafts.

And I started out sketching my design.

I was watching a film from the early 1930s when the initial idea came to me, so I knew I wanted a 1930s colour scheme. I had just finished working on a big colourwork project so I used the left-overs for the swatch but I already knew the green wasn’t quite right. I needed a cooler seafoam green. Next came the idea to do very, very straightforward colourwork. I picked some of my favourite motifs and played with them until I had some simple, fun motifs I could scatter across my canvas. I drew upon my knowledge of Faroese knitting which is more geometric than Shetland colourwork – and I ended up with something that was super-cute and super-fun .. even for people who are not that confident at colourwork.

I was very lucky that my Let’s Knit editor was onboard with my ideas very quickly and knew what I meant about getting the right colours. Sarah suggested looking at Jamieson’s Spindrift which is a wonderful British yarn that comes in a myriad of colours. I have used Spindrift before and it knits up beautifully. The pattern only uses three colours, so working out a colour scheme is relatively easy.

Let’s talk colour substitution. I would suggest looking at it the following way:

Neutral Background – make sure to match this colour in terms in warm/cool undertones. My sample used Pebble, a white with a cool, grey undertone

Main Contrast – make sure to choose something that makes a statement as it’ll dictate the overall look of the knit – the sample used Eucalyptus, a cool seafoam green with a grey undertone

Second contrast – make sure this matches the other two colours but make sure it doesn’t take over the entire look – the sample used Sorbet, a cool mid-range pink with a grey undertone.

794-eucalyptus-386-p[ekm]185x184[ekm]-horz

Here is a warm version (using Granny Smith, Lipstick and Mooskit) – it feels less vintage and more playful:

1140-granny-smith-269-p[ekm]185x185[ekm]-horz

Or maybe a slightly more modern colour scheme?  You will still get the contrast  but with a dark background (Yellow Ochre, Eesit and Shaela):230-yellow-ochre-horz

The colour combinations are endless. This is partly what I love about colourwork – you get to paint with yarn.

I cannot help but feel that autumn is on its way – I am utterly delighted to have secured the cover of Let’s Knit and I can see many other new patterns are heading out into the world right now. I love this time of the year.

A Little Bit About Designing

July 2014 845

Summer is always one of the busiest periods of my working life as magazines are commissioning items for their autumn/winter issues. I have just finished the last of my many commissions and am now looking forward to getting stuck into the self-publishing side of my life. I have been asked many times how I go about doing what I do, so here’s a little run-down.

  • I start by compiling a moodboard (this is my moodboard for a mini-collection I did together with Old Maiden Aunt yarns). As I add pins, a theme will eventually emerge and I start editing the moodboard down to the bare minimum of pins I need to convey the idea.
  • I sketch ideas based upon the moodboard. This can be anything from stitch pattern ideas to the shape of a sleeve or even the actual piece I want to design.
  • The stitch pattern is charted and I start pondering things like what sort of ribbing I’d use or what type of drape I’d require from the yarn.
  • I decide upon yarn and swatch. I always knit a generous swatch (at least 6″ x 6″) and I wash & block my swatch.
  • Basing my numbers upon my swatch, I then write the pattern. Numbers are everything. Before I have cast on a single stitch, I will worked the entire piece in my head and on paper.
  • And then I cast on.

There are many ways of going about designing, and I always advocate doing what feels right and natural to you. However, by working out the entire pattern before I commit to knitting it, I reduce the risk of having to rip back because the numbers do not add up and, of course, the risk of forgetting to take notes.

I’ll write more about my design process later this year when I’ll show you my sketches and swatches for a garment that is due to be published around November.

I talk more about my working life, my sources of inspiration and my plans for the future in this interview I did with the lovely folks of Love Knitting. The interview took place just after I returned from Unwind Brighton so I am pleasantly surprised by how coherent I sound!

Speaking of Unwind Brighton, my head is buzzing with ideas and plans.. and I finally have time to sit down and do something about all the things in my head. Huzzah!

Botanical Gardens Shawl

Welcome to new visitors brought here by Knit Now and Yarnwise magazines! It has been a bit of a bumper week in terms of media coverage, it is fair to say.

I have a pattern in the latest issue of Knit Now. The Botanical Gardens Shawl was a lot of fun to design: it starts off as a standard stocking stitch triangular shawl and then moves into a striking flower pattern which gives way to softly falling petals. I really enjoyed designing something that just flows organically from one stitch pattern into another and which  looks clean & non-fussy.

Botanical Gardens Shawl

© Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

The shawl also served as a master-class in how magazine work actually works. It is not a designer having a definite vision: it is always a collaboration.

I designed this shawl for Knit Now‘s Garden Party story in December or January. I first envisioned the shawl knitted in lace-weight yarn and in soft pastel colours – a very soft sage green or a pretty primrose. The Knit Now team suggested the gradient SparkLynne 4ply yarn from The Knitting Goddess instead – the chosen colourway ran from a cool white via pale lavender to  a dark violet. It was a completely different direction but the graduation works perfectly with the way the stitches travel and a 4ply makes far more sense too. The ombre yarn meant that the shawl was moved from the Garden Party issue to the Colour Graduation issue as well – and the shawl works so well within the context of the other designs in the issue.

(I know that Joy of The Knitting Goddess is planning on restocking her shop with more colour-gradient yarns, so if you don’t see a colourway straightaway – keep looking!)

Both Knit Now and Yarnwise focus on my Doggerland collection – Knit Now has a wonderful interview with Fiona of The Island Wool Company and Yarnwise has written an entire feature about the collection(!). I know a lot of people are still trying to catch up on knitting from the collection, so I am slowing things down a tiny bit. The next pattern is a unisex pattern and it should be out by mid-week next week.

So, it has been a bumper week – maybe it is more like a bumper year, really. Apart from the Doggerland collection, I have more ‘things’ in the pipeline. I am working with Old Maiden Aunt on a special project which will be unveiled in November, I’m collaborating with The Yarn Project, and I am also busy swatching for other 2014 work. I can show you a tiny, tiny glimpse of what I worked on yesterday – any guesses?Swatching

Catching Up

If the knitting world ever decides to have a competition for “LYS with Best View”, Gourock’s Once A Sheep has to be a top contender.

March 2013

I made my way out there last week – just before winter really hit Scotland again – and I couldn’t believe my eyes. If I lived in Gourock, I’d be camped out at OAS knitting and staring at those mountains all day long.

(I just had to check on Google maps those were mountains because I am still just an ickle Dane from pancake-flat Denmark who thinks Scottish hills are mountains .. but nope, them there are mountains)

OAS has a lovely range of yarns and fibres – they seem to be carving out their own niche with a particularly strong selection of spinning wheels (and related equipment) and hand looms. If you went to the recent EYF, you will have seen Karen and her helpers demonstrate spinning and weaving. They also have a nice selection of needle-felting supplies which is a rare sight in Scotland.

I meant to travel further afield this past week but the combination of foul weather and catching up on sleep following that amazing (and exhausting) day at Edinburgh yarn Festival meant that I had to stay at home and focus on clearing my to-do list. Which included writing a few patterns and doing a lot of knitting.

March 2013

This is one of the patterns from the Doggerland collection. It is knitted in Snældan 1-ply (also known as Karie’s favourite lace yarn ever) in the “Basalt” colourway. It has a different construction method to the rest of my shawl patterns and I really love how the yarn drapes in this photo. Better photos to come, of course.

And better photos to come of the Gillean hat, another Doggerland pattern.

March 2013

At Edinburgh Yarn Festival I taught colourwork using this hat pattern so there are some people out there with a preview of Gillean! It is a good colourwork project if you are unsure about stranding. You are just working with two colours and the crown shaping is very clever (even if I have to say so myself).

Again, this hat uses Snældan yarn – this time in 3-ply which is roughly equivalent to DK. The two main colours are undyed and the trim just adds a pop. I really love working with this yarn – it is a bit sticky (perfect for colourwork) and very bouncy.

Finally, I did a podcast with Louise of the Caithness Craft Collective Podcast. We recorded at Edinburgh Yarn Fest which is why 1) you can hear loads of people in the background and 2) I am slightly hyper. It was lovely to meet Louise – it felt like meeting an old friend – and she made the whole recording/interviewing process a lot easier than I had anticipated.

Handmade Living

Handmade Living feature

Handmade Living landed on my doorstep this weekend. It is a lovely, accessible and crafty lifestyle magazine which encourages people to make a go at things themselves.

And (probably because I am the sort of person who likes to have a go at things herself) I am in this issue.

Handmade Living feature

There I am. Hello you.

Blogging (and micro-blogging on Twitter) may give you the impression that I am a bubbly extrovert person, but I am not. I am quiet, introvert and only truly relaxed when in a small group of friends. I am never very comfortable talking about myself – and giving the interview to Handmade Living was really difficult for that very reason. Like pulling teeth, I tell you. Luckily, the journalist was very patient and kept loping me some very good questions that made me relax and open up.

So, if you have arrived here thanks to Handmade Living: hello!

It is a funny old world. One day a girl may be in the depths of despair as her world tilts on its axis, then she decides to “make a go of things” out of sheer bloody-minded determination and a few years down the line, magazines ask her questions about herself as though she was somehow special or interesting. Yes, it is a funny old world.

Dust From A Distant Sun

March 2011 152What a lovely day.

The postman brought me the April issue of UK knitting magazine Let’s Knit in which I appear. Elaine from the editorial team contacted me back in January and after my busy few months I had actually forgotten I was going to be featured. A nice surprise. I spent an hour in bed looking through the magazine. I particularly liked the editorial on how to tie knitting into the key fashion trends of the season. Sometimes I think knitting likes to live in its own little fashion-bubble so it was nice to see how knitters can relate to, ahem, the normal world.

The postman also brought me some clearance-priced yarn from Kemps (that place is responsible for about half my yarn stash, I swear). I stocked up on RYC Cotton Jeans for some forth-coming baby-knitting projects as well as some RYC Natural Silk Aran which is earmarked for a stashbusting project. Lovely textures and colours at a good price. I was chuffed.

March 2011 153I continue to be chuffed about my Fancy jumper too. The combination of an Estonian lace stitch and Kidsilk Haze = heady stuff.

The stitch pattern is now so intuitive that I can knit it on my commute, at knitting group and in front of the TV. Madness. I’m really enjoying working on it.

I am still worried about the sizing though. I have gone down a clothes size but it still looks very wide. As a result I’m changing the garment a tiny bit: the jumper is supposed to hit you around the lower hip-area, but I’m going to make it shorter so it has an almost cropped appearance and I’m going to shorten the sleeves too. Hopefully it’ll sort out the dimensions. I still wonder if it weren’t meant to be knitted on 3.5mm needles instead of the recommended 4.5mm?

March 2011 137 I want to share a project made by a friend from my knitting group. I was lucky enough to see this crochet blanket in person earlier this week and I was blown away.

It really makes me want to sit down and make my own crochet blanket .. but that way madness and stash-enhancement lies.

Plus I’d go slightly nuts after the first twenty motifs.

March 2011 139My main knitting group is actually so big that it has several divisions: I met the blanket maker when I happened upon the South Side division at the Tramway. I was only there to take down my knitted sculpture but was very, very pleased to see so many familiar and lovely faces. My partner was on hand to help me and was so amused by what he called “a tribal encounter” that he had to take a photo..

.. I have no idea what he means!

Finally, get yourself ready for Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2011! I participated last year and found some new favourite blog reads. I’m in two minds whether I will participate this year (time constraints plus I feel like I have already written about some of these topics) but I know I’ll be reading a tonne of fabulous new blog posts as a result of K&CBW.