I’ve got another design to tell you about today, but first I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who followed, commented, liked or tweeted about my last-post-but-one, Barmouth. I was really overwhelmed by your heartwarming responses and I never expected such a big reaction, thank you!
Now I suppose I should tell you about that design, Siskin:
Siskin is published in the latest issue of Knit Now Magazine (out today!) as part of a collection inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement (you can see the rest of the collection and the mood board that inspired it on Pinterest here).
My original inspiration for Siskin was the work of William Morris. I really love the use of flora and fauna in his patterns, such as the famous ‘Strawberry Thief’ print and I wanted to create my own original colour work pattern, using some of the key elements and characteristics of designs from the Arts and Crafts movement.
The more you study various Arts and Crafts style repeating patterns and prints for wallpaper, fabrics, tiles etc, the more you begin to notice recurring themes, such as the use of motifs from the natural world (birds and flowering plants especially), mirroring and hourglass shapes.
After absorbing all these different inspirations and leaving them to ‘brew’ for a bit in my head, I got to work with Stitch Mastery, charting out a repeating pattern through trial and error. I really enjoy this stage of designing stranded colour work patterns, when you’re really inspired by something it just flows and is very satisfying, just like the endless drawing I used to do as a child.
Eventually, after faffing about with various subtly different ways of representing birds, I came up with a design I was happy with. Then, on to swatching:
This swatch was knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Tweed Imps (for the background) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply in Oyster (for the birds pattern). I wanted to use a subtly variegated yarn for the background to allow me to use all the rich colours popular in Arts and Crafts designs, without introducing too many different yarns and give the pattern depth.
But what to do with the colour work pattern? My original idea had been to use it for a small crescent-shaped shawl, but that would be a bit of a faff working to a tight deadline, so I settled on a tablet/e-Reader cosy, just the right size for a Kindle or iPad Mini.
Of course it didn’t end up as a tablet case did it? Kate from Knit now emailed me to tell me that she would like my design to be in the magazine, but that they had rather a lot of tablet cosy designs…. could I make it into a hat perhaps?
I panicked for a weekend while I worked out what to do.
The pattern repeat was big, I knew the shaping would probably end up interrupting the pattern messily and that grading it for three adult sizes would be impossible. But I really wanted to accept the commission, because I was excited about the design. What to do?
Being a glutton for punishment and not good at saying no to offers of work I decided to offer a couple of alternatives. A cushion, or a little crescent shawl (my original, rather ambitious plan) perhaps? Kate replied that either would be fine so I could choose. So I chose the crescent shawl, because I really wanted to make it!
In due course, the yarn was chosen and sent out to me, (Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend Fino in Lava #6921 for the background and Topaz #2220 for the birds pattern) and I got to work. I had a panic about the amount of work I had to do in the time available (with Christmas slap bang in the middle) and got started! After a lot of late nights and only Christmas Day off from the long rows of fairisle, I finished knitting the shawl! Yay!
…..it’s just as neat on the back too (I always stranded the background colour above the birds pattern colour – this makes the stitches for the birds pattern very slightly longer and gives it more impact – doing this consistently throughout the whole piece keeps the knitting neat on the right and wrong sides of the work) making the wrong side look almost like a tapestry.
So, all the hard work was worth it in the end, just look at the gorgeous photos taken on the photo shoot that Kate arranged at Gorton Monastery:
Hope you like it!