Monday, 29 April 2013

Cornish Capers

I've been away for a few days enjoying a well deserved holiday.

It was my husband-to-be's birthday last month. It ended in a "0", so I took him away to Cornwall to help drown the trauma in fresh fish and cream tea. I did this entirely for him you understand. I didn't enjoy a moment of it.

This is where we stayed. It's a gorgeous place called Newlyn, just outside Penzance.


The scenery was stunning and I was amazed by how blue/green the sea is. I'm an east coast girl originally so being so far south and what a difference that makes, was really interesting.

Of course I found plenty of textures to get my creative juices flowing.

The whole trip was joyously relaxing. It was wonderful just to sit and watch the sea rolling in over the beach.

I've had so many new ideas for shawl patterns I want to knit. My notebook was out almost the entire time so I could make notes for techniques I want to work on and develop. Before you worry, it wasn't all work. We had a glorious time and have promised to go back next year. By which time I'll have worked through this lot of inspiration and be ready to do it all over again.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Caithness Craft Collective Interview

I've been emailing with the lovely Louise Hunt, who hosts the hugely enjoyable Caithness Craft Collective podcast off and on since last summer. Not only do we share a love of knitting, but we have a similar sense of humour and general outlook on things.

A little while ago, Louise asked me if I'd be in the "Designer Alley" segment of her podcast. At first I was hesitant but she was gently persuasive and today the interview went live. You can listen to it here and I would heartily recommend it. Not just because I'm featured, but because Louise has a really warm and welcoming style. It feels like she is talking just to you which a not an easy thing to achieve.

I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Asking the Right Questions

It would be easy to imagine that the life of an international knitwear designer is a simple one. The knitting muses, wake you gently from your slumber with a million and one ideas that are rattled off your needles, sent to the client and everyone relaxes on the veranda with a nice G&T.

Or not.

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, the samples are not what the client had in mind.

I had an email from the studio at the beginning of the week telling me that the samples I'd sent weren't right. My boss was excellent and explained the problems with them so I don't do it again but it was a blow. Before we go any further, this is not a pity post. It is sharing a tale so that others may ask the right questions. As with so many things in life, experience teaches us how to deal with the next time the same thing happens. Learning from someone else's experience is not cheating.

Don't be afraid to ask a question that may seem inane. If you don't know that answer, you don't know it. That's not your fault. It may have been assumed. Sometimes the client gives you so much detail, the information gets lost. Whatever the reason is you have a gap in your knowledge. Plug it.

Size matters. Makes sure you know the size of the final piece required and by that I mean proper measurements. Use a tape measure, use something with a firm edge and a known length, use your camera phone and something beside it for scale but make a proper note. Do not trust your memory, it lies to you,

Be very clear about the details. Does this require more than one stitch structure/motif? What weight is it? Can I use novelty yarns? Can I incorporate non-yarn items? Is it menswear/womenswear? Is it high fashion or high street? What season is it? Again there is no wrong question.

If this is a conversation, make sure you repeat all the information back at the end. "So to confirm you need ...." This is not just to make sure you've got everything but it will highlight anything in your head that you need to know but don't.

Take notes. I use a page a day diary so everything is kept in one place. Again this can act as a check list. Client, job, deadline, sample/finished garment etc, number required, fabric requirements (lace/7 stitch structures per samples/type of construction),size.

This is not a hard and fast list and I'm sure as I learn there will be more to add, but it's not a bad place to start.


Saturday, 6 April 2013


It would be easy to think that, with all my recent posts, I've only had time for graveyards. Not true.

I've also been finishing my Wattlebird sock.

This is the series of socks I'm working on inspired by the passwords from the Harry Potter books the first password found in The Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Ron arrive at Hogwarts in a “borrowed” Ford Anglia, meeting the Whomping Willow in the process. Ron ends up vomiting slugs after trying to curse Malfoy and then of course there's the voice that only Harry can hear. I've used these themes within the pattern of the sock.

Twisting snake cables.

Slug cuff detail.

 A Whomping Willow.

The pattern was written and then given to test knitters. They knitted it and found my mistakes, corrections were made and then it was checked over again. This goes on for a bit until eventually everyone is happy.

Now the pattern is finished, the pictures have been added and it's available in my Ravelry store which means the whole process starts again for the next sock.


Friday, 5 April 2013

Tempting Glances.

Over the last few posts I've talked about the process I go through when I'm designing a garment. That's not to say that it's my only method - it all depends on the inspiration - but it is my more usual way of working.

The next part of the process is the one that takes the longest. I actually have to knit the thing. Don't get me wrong - this is not a hardship - but it can be a little daunting at first. Mainly will it look the way I want it to? I've found you can swatch all day but it's not quite the same as when it's on the needles and starting to finally exist. Usually within the first few repeats I know for certain.

So having knitted nearly half of my graveyard inspired stole, I thought I'd share some first glimpses with you.

Interesting edge detail happening here.

Drop stitches make ladders inspired by the railings I took photos of. I like the way they "frame" the stole.

The lace work looks rather like circular church

The yarn really shows off the twisted stitches on the right.

As I said, I'm about halfway through so still plenty of work to do but it's really taking shape and I can't wait to finish it and show you the final piece.