Raw Concrete: the Béton Brut Shawl

When it rains, it pours. I haven't released a new pattern in ages and then two come along at once. Hello Béton Brut


This is a design which is very much led by its material. Walcot Opus is a fingering-weight alpaca/merino yarn which has a lot of drape, but crucially also a lot of stitch definition. I have been mildly obsessed with the yarn for a while and knew I wanted to design something that utilised both qualities. I also wanted to design something minimal and architectural — something that would showcase the yarn in all its understated glory. 


Béton Brut (French for "raw concrete") is a shawl inspired by mid-20th-century architecture, concrete, and, specifically, the National Theatre building found in London's South Bank Centre. 

The National Theatre building is an example of the architectural school known as Brutalism. It sits as a complex concrete building on the south bank of London's River Thames where it forms part of a cultural complex of buildings and spaces much loved by Londoners and visitors alike. The shawl echoes the architectural style in its rigid lines, simple block-like forms, emphasis upon its raw material, and unusual shape. It is knitted in garter stitch with slipped stitches, an applied i-cord edge, and a surface braid imitating a much more complex technique. Visually it mimics what the National Theatre's architect, Denys Lasdun called 'strata' - the slipped stitches across the surface are angular and sharp, but also forms distinct sections thanks to horizontal bands. 

I am so pleased that my design is as minimal as most Brutalist architecture, yet also incorporates specific architectural references. I love how easy it is to make and wear, but also that contains a strong sense of identity. It feels good to be back designing! You can join the Béton Brut KAL for London's Yarnporium 2018 over at the YITC Ravelry group. I''m teaching at Yarnporium this year (and it includes a brand-new colourwork class) and I'll also be taking part in Yarnporium's Makers Walking the Talk. Hope to see you there with your own Béton Brut!