The Picycle Shawl - Designing for Baa Ram Ewe's Bespoke Collection

The cat is out of the bag. Meet the Picycle shawl which I designed in Rowan Kidsilk Haze for Baa Ram Ewe's The Bespoke Collection. Picycle_medium

I want to write a bit about the design process because even though my name is on the design, the whole process was all about teamwork and having a great group of people supporting you.

Verity of Baa Ram Ewe commissioned the shawl and gave me a very cool and tight moodboard to work with. I outlined my initial thoughts for a design that would combine lace and bicycles - Verity was super-responsive and playful. We decided upon doing a Pi shawl Elizabeth Zimmermann-style.


The Pi Shawl construction is genius - with just 6 or 7 strategically placed increase numbers, most of the circular shawl is actually a blank slate upon which you can place your lace motifs and patterns. For a designer, this sense of "blankness" is fairly irresistible and the temptation to go overboard is always there.

I spent a lot of time taking away elements and trying to nail the essential elements. Eventually I ended up with a central bicycle spokes/wheel motif and a recurrent bicycle wheel running out the outer border. I am a big fan of early 20th century art and the design brief made me think of Umberto Boccioni's studies for Dynamism of a Cyclist, so I really wanted to capture the idea of dynamism, of perpetual movement, within the shawl. With this in mind, I designed an asymmetrical mountain range which gave this essential sense of movement to the shawl. The outside border also denotes speed with its small oblong shapes - the shapes are not circular but are forever moving onwards.

Italian Futurism. You wouldn't know the influence was there unless you knew where and how to look for it.

And then teamwork ensued.

Nicky came on board and proved an enthusiastic, perceptive tester with a lot of great suggestions (the outside border would be very different without her input). Elly was a great sounding board for technical conundrums. Rachel remains one of the best technical editors I know. Ashley is a very smart lady who pulled things together like nobody's business. And Verity, of course. Each of those ladies made a huge contribution to my pattern and it is all the better for it (and it even comes as a half-circle! I nearly forgot to mention that) . It feels a bit wrong to have just my name on it when it was a team effort in every sense. A huge thank you to everyone involved.

The Bespoke Collection features a lot of great designs - I am honoured to be included along such names as Ann Kingstone, Sarah Hatton and Rachel Coopey. Ann's Woodrup cardigan with its fanciful little bicycles on the yoke is one of my favourites and Rachel's Frame mitts are incredibly clever.

Bespoke is currently on pre-order from Baa Ram Ewe (any orders will arrive towards the end of this month) and will be available to buy from Rowan stockists this spring.

Wow. That's one way to start 2014, isn't it?