Pattern

Storegga Shawl - Leaving Doggerland

October 2014 325sm Storegga is the very last pattern in my Doggerland collection. It is always odd when a journey comes to an end. I wrote about this yesterday, but today it feels even stranger. When I started working on Doggerland, there were two stories I wanted to include:  the story of the Vedbaek excavations and the story of the Storegga Slide - the story of how Doggerland ended. During my research I found other stories I loved (as well as some unlikely sources of inspiration) but I knew the final pattern of the collection would have to be inspired by the Storegga Slide.

The Storegga Slide was a massive landslide off the coast of Norway around 6200 BCE. The landslide prompted a tsunami which rippled southwards. At this point in time, Doggerland was already drowning due to rising sea levels and had been reduced to a marshy island in the middle of the North Sea - but the tsunami marked the end of it. You can still see soil deposits around the east coast of Scotland: the tsunami came with devastating force.

This proved a really difficult source of inspiration for me: how could I base a knitting pattern on a natural disaster? I began thinking about the need to capture beauty wherever we see it and how some things only exist in a brief pocket of time.

And so the shawl began to take shape. It is a crescent-shaped shawl with an easy stocking stitch body and a delicate lace border. The lace border is where I decided to incorporate my inspiration: the opening-up of the lace is countered by sharp decreases. It is a push/pull movement that works to create an abrupt, yet beautiful motif. Just as you can begin to glimpse the formation of the motif, it is gone.

Poets have written of carpe diem and gather ye rosebuds while ye may. In a strange way, I think that is also what I wanted to say with Storegga. The ground can shift beneath your feet at any given time, so treasure those fleeting moments of absolute beauty and joy. For that reason I would recommend working the Storegga shawl in the most beautiful yarn you own. I used the glorious Snaeldan 1ply in "Turf" for my Storegga. It is quite a heavy laceweight (almost 3ply, I reckon) and I used around 380 yds. As with most of my shawl patterns, I have included tips on different yarn weights and modifications in the pattern. You can do a lot with Storegga - just make sure you keep the lace motif open.

And so I leave Doggerland - both the collection and the lost landscape. It started with Ronaes and a beach. Hoxne had you knit your own flint scraper. The Gillean hat & gloves looked at traces left in the landscape. Ythan examined material remains dredged up from the sea bed as well as the ephemeral art of tidelines. Vedbaek was a meditative knit designed to comfort and cradle you. Ertebolle was a deliberate nod towards the shifts in technology and used Mesolithic motifs we still recognise today. Storegga is the final chapter with its drowning landscape and fleeting moments of joy.

People have asked if I plan on turning Doggerland into a physical book. You will be able to buy some of the patterns as single paper patterns in selected yarn stores soon, but there will not be a full book to put on your shelves. I have made this decision partly for practical reasons and partly because  I do not want to expand it: it is a complete work on its own.

People have also asked me what is next. Well, you will have to wait and see. Come travel with me through Doggerland for the time being. Come catch your own moments of joy.

The Knit Generation

A little something on the dining table today. October2014 042

A book from Quail Publishing filled with the most glorious autumnal knits: The Knit Generation - curated by Sarah Hatton.

What's this?

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Is that my name? I do believe so! I have two patterns in The Knit Generation and I am so awfully proud to be included. It is really the most beautiful book I have ever been involved in. Sarah has an eye for detail and her stylistic instincts are incredible. Everything from colour palette to layout has been carefully considered and I just love leafing through the end result.

The Juniper hat is one of those knits I finished and didn't want to send away. It is worked holding one strand of Rowan Felted Tweed and one strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze together - the end fabric is lush: full of drape, full of warmth, and full of colour depth. The sample hat uses FT Clay and KSH Cream together, but I keep toying with the idea of knitting myself one for winter. Maybe holding FT Watery and KSH Trance? FT Seafarer and KSH Turkish Plum? FT Avocado and KSH Jelly? FT Rage & KSH Strawberry? Worryingly, I can do all those from stash (don't judge!). The nature of the fabric meant I didn't want a complex stitch pattern - instead I chose a simple knit and purl pattern which showcases the fabric without overshadowing it. And a pompom on top. Of course.

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The other pattern is the Pinecones Shawl. It is a simple triangular shawl with an autumnal border and it is knitted in Rowan Fine Art, their handpainted sock yarn. The fibre content of the yarn is slightly unusual (it includes silk and mohair) and again it was a case of designing a pattern that emphasised the nature of the fabric (and the lovely, lovely drape).

I am teaching a class at McAree Brothers in Stirling in support of The Knit Generation - we will be taking a look at contemporary lace knitting, shawl constructions and students will have a chance to give designing their own lace a go! Something like Pinecones can look overwhelming to the uninitiated - but my aim is to demystify shawl knitting and show people just how satisfying it can be to wrap yourself in something beautiful. And if you are an old hand at lace knitting, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that'll (proverbially) blow your mind. Promise.

I designed and knitted both Juniper & Pinecones last year - it is so satisfying to finally see them in print. I am particularly pleased to see my name next to people like Andi Satterlund, Anni Howard and Rachels Coopey and Atkinson - all thoroughly good eggs.

I cannot help but laugh, though. Due to the vagaries of publishing, you will see an absolute deluge of patterns over the next few months. I apologise in advance.

Pattern: the Chinese Kites Shawl

September 2014 155Chinese Kites was originally printed in a UK magazine last year. Rights reverted to me around the start of this year and I just added "release CK" to my massive to-do list. You know what those lists are like; they are a big black hole and no matter how many boxes you tick, that list just keeps getting longer.

Then I realised the shawl is perfect for teaching a lot of things.

I use it when I teach beading techniques because it has optional levels of beading, uses one specific technique (the crochet hook method) and there are reasons why you cannot use other methods. I use it when I teach crochet because it has an optional crochet cast (the pattern includes a knitted cast-on too) and people often don't realise how effective an easy crochet cast-off looks when knitting lace. Finally, I use it when I teach lace knitting and lace shawls. I explain the construction and the design decisions involved in the shawl.

Basically, Chinese Kites is a fun shawl to knit - and it is very pretty too. So many students has come up to me and asked where they could buy the pattern, and that's when I decided I needed to move "release CK" to the very top of that big, scary to-do list.

The shawl is inspired by a a photo of competitive kite flying in the Chinese region of Weifang. I saw it at a photo exhibition and the explosion of colours and forms stayed with me. I began thinking about how I could translate this image into knitting and this is the result. September 2014 157 There are a lot of triangles in this pattern - that was a big design decision for me. There are five different types of triangles.

1) The shawl is one big triangle

2) and that big triangle consists of two smaller triangles

3) then you have the big triangular 'kites' flying around the border

4) on top of a field of small triangles

5) and, finally, the crochet border blocks into a neat row of small triangles

(that's how my design brain works, folks)

The shawl is knitted in a luscious, luscious BFL 4ply/fingering from Eden Cottage Yarns. I wanted a rich, deep and dramatic jewel colour and Vikki of ECY came up trumps with her Fuchsia colourway. It is an incredible semi-solid - it doesn't look it in the skein, but it shimmers subtly from one shade to another when you knit. I was deeply impressed.

(Psst, you can actually see the shawl 'live' at the ECY stall at the Ally Pally show this week)

The low-down: The Chinese Kites Shawl is now available to download for £3.00 It uses between 400 and 430 yrds of 4ply/fingering yarn (watch your gauge) 4mm needles / 0.75mm crochet hook (for beads) / 4mm crochet hook (for crochet cast-off) You'd need between 0-500 beads depending upon your beading preferences Difficulty level depends upon whether you decide to use beads and/or the crochet cast-off.

I still have a backlog of previously released patterns but I swear I'm working through them as fast as I can (whilst also working on new patterns). Hope you'll enjoy knitting Chinese Kites and that you'll have fun choosing colours.

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.

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

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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.

The Proserpine Shawl and the Arts & Crafts Movement

Yesterday I had a long conversation with my friend Natalie about life, work, and the whole big thing. I mentioned a long-term project that is slowly coming together, and Natalie laughed: Art history, storytelling and knitting. That is so very you, Karie. It is nice when others can see what I try to do. Still, I suppose it is rather obvious when you look at my latest collaboration with Knit Now magazine. This is a bit of a first for Knit Now. I collaborated with a host of talented designers on a mini-collection inspired by a 19th century design movement, Arts and Crafts. I was also asked to write an article about the Arts and Crafts Movement. It was one of those pitches where I was on board from the very first sentence. You can read more about the design movement in my article for Knit Now - I wanted to explain why so many designers continue to be inspired by it, how core ideas spread throughout the design world and - crucially - why it continues to influence knitters throughout the world (whether you know it or not).

proserpine_medium2The Proserpine Shawl is my contribution to the mini-collection. It is a semi-circular shawl knitted in a stunning custom dye merino/silk 4ply yarn from Triskelion Yarn in Wales. Caerthan was inspired by 19th century tiles at the V&A  and came up with this stunning teal especially for my shawl.

It was very important to me that the yarn should be something special as I was designing the shawl with the Arts & Crafts idea of truth to material in my head. Truth to material simply means that you take the material that is best suited to your project and you showcase it honestly. The long stretches of stocking stitch are designed with a stunning yarn in mind. I am a big fan of basic stitches (like stocking stitch and garter stitch) precisely because they let your materials take centre stage.

Still, you do get lace sections in the shawl. Proserpine was named after a painting by 19th century painter, poet and all-round bohemian, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I read a lot of his poetry when I was an impressionable teen and it remains absolutely lovely. Quite apart from wanting to capture the drape of Proserpine's gown and sighing over DGR's the dragon-fly / Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky, I also took inspiration from the Roman myths of Proserpine. She was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Persephone: a goddess abducted to the underworld but restored to the world where her arrival heralds spring. So if you look closely you can see some leaves sprinkled into the shawl.

I am really quite in love with the entire project. It combines so many of my core beliefs about design - many of which I have inherited from the Arts and Crafts Movement.

I have been asked the following by a lot of people: if  you are outside the UK you can buy a digital copy here, though most UK shops should also stock the magazine.

All photos are © Practical Publishing.

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(PS. the shawl edge looks a bit wonky. I was trying to block the shawl not long after I injured my knee in a serious accident. That was interesting)

Revisited & Loved: Florence & Fyberspates Cumulus

There are a few things I cannot resist: lemon meringue pie, puppies, red lipstick, and fine alpaca yarns. If you put either of those in front of me, I am helpless. So, when I was asked if I wanted to have a look at Cumulus, a new alpaca/silk lace yarn from Fyberspates, I jumped at the chance. And Cumulus is indeed the yarn equivalent of a lemon meringue pie; it's impossible to just have a tiny bit. Then I was asked if I would mind of a few knitters had the chance to play with Cumulus using my Florence pattern - and I got terribly nostalgic. I'll tell you why in just a second but first look at this photo I was sent yesterday.

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Isn't that just pretty? One of my favourite colour is red but it's so gosh darn it difficult to photograph that I don't use red yarn as often as I'd like. Thank you, Jan, for taking such a great photo!

Florence was one of the first patterns I ever wrote down.  I remember being asked for a sweet, pretty scarf pattern by a yarn shop and I came up with Florence. The yarn shop handed out more than 1,500 patterns over the next three months and I was floored.  Florence turned out to be one of those patterns that take on a life of its own: it has been downloaded more than 7,000 times on Ravelry and I know several yarn shops have used it for teaching classes. It's one of my few freebies on Ravelry and I took the opportunity to revise/update the pattern now that people were using it to try out Cumulus. The revised version has a couple of changes. I've cleaned it up (I like to think I'm a better pattern writer these days than when I first designed it) and - much more importantly - I have added beading instructions.

(You know what? I  think Florence looks just perfect in Cumulus. Rawr. )

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A lot of people have used beads on Florence and I have had many emails over the years asking if I could add beading instructions to the pattern. I have made sure the beading is still optional, but I do love how beads add weight to the scarf. It's really great to see that both Jan and Amanda chose to add beads. For my beading instructions, I wanted to emphasise the vertical lines in a pattern that has a lot of things going on horizontally - and also to keep the beading relatively simple and clean.

A big thank you to Team Fyberspates who brought the Florence love (you guys rock) and especially to Jeni who just knows colour.

(Fun fact: Jeni hosted the first ever luxury yarn trunk show I ever visited; I have never spent as much money on a simple skein of yarn as I did at that trunk show. Hey, it was green cashmere/alpaca/silk. It's still in my stash six years on. I told you I was weak in the presence of fine alpaca yarn)