The Book of Haps – Uncia

Today I can finally reveal to you my design for Kate Davies’ The Book of Haps

Uncia is an unusually shaped shawl, based on a 1/12th arc shape and inspired by Gothic and Romanesque cathedral architecture.

Lucy8 copy

Lucy1 copy

Photos by Tom Barr

The pictures for the book were taken on Calton Hill, Edinburgh (not far from where I live, in fact!)

I developed the cable and lace patterns based on cathedrals I visited last summer whilst travelling around France and Germany (in particular: Koln, Mont Saint-Michel and Carcassonne). It was a very fun challenge to try to capture the essence of these buildings in knitted stitches, and it’s probably something I’ll come back to in the future.

Here’s a few pictures of Uncia that I took myself, to show a little of the detail in the lace edging…

 

It was a real honour to be asked to contribute to this book, and to be featured amongst such a wonderfully varied and illustrious group of designers. Thanks to Kate and Jen, and all the team involved in bringing this book to life!

We’ll be having a book launch at Kathy’s Knits, Edinburgh, on Saturday June 11th (which coincides with the Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl!). Kate, Jen and myself will be there, along with some of the hap samples, and we’ll be signing copies of the book, so if you’re in/near Edinburgh, please do come along!

cjhot7sxaaquq

Ishneich pattern release + update on Celtic Cable Shawls book

It’s been rather quiet on this blog for a while – but I’m very happy to announce the release of the 7th (and final!) shawl pattern in my Celtic Cable Shawls collection: Ishneich!

ishneich-web-7

Ishneich is a top down triangular shawl pattern, designed to work well with a variegated yarn and a contrasting semi-solid (or solid) yarn. The variegated yarn is used in the body, and broken up with stripes of the semi-solid, which is also used for a cable border. I used two gorgeous shades of Malabrigo Sock, which I picked up on a lovely trip to The Yarn Cake in Glasgow, the day before my birthday (back in March). When I picked the shades originally, I wasn’t planning on using them together, as I didn’t think they would match, but once I tried some stripes, I was surprised by how well the colours worked together – it’s funny how that can happen sometimes!

ishneich-web-6

I wanted to take this opportunity to also give an update on the progress of the book. Celtic Cable Shawls is going to be released in print format (together with an update to the e-book version – so if you already have the e-book, you will also receive the PDF version of the print book, once it’s ready).

I have had many queries asking me about a publication date, and I’m really sorry to say that at the moment, I can’t give an exact date. I am self-publishing the book myself, and doing most of the work myself too, including layout and photography. I’m also working with a graphic designer to produce some tutorial diagrams, as well as with a couple of freelance tech and copy editors.

At the moment, all the photography for the book has been completed, and all the pattern are finished too. The diagrams are in the process of being completed. The main work left to do is all of the layout, all of the final editing, and also some introductory text that I need to write. So, it’s close to finished, but I’m reluctant to give an exact date, because co-ordinating a major project lik this is a bit of learning curve for me – I’m working with Lightning Source to print the book, and I’m not exactly sure how long everythinig will take to get ready once I submit the final file to them.

I will update this blog as soon as I’m able to give an exact date of release (you can also sign up to my newsletter, if you would like to be the first to hear about any news!).

I know a lot of you have been waiting patiently for the print book for quite some time, and I’m really sorry to not be able to give you an exact date yet – thank you so much for your patience, and for your interest in the book too. It’s really very much appreciated!

Shiny!

I’m sorry, blog. I seem to be pretty bad at updating you, and I’m not sure why it is. Perhaps just a question of habit? And also I guess the feeling that no one’s out there reading this (which I know isn’t true, but anyway even it was – that’s actually a rather liberating thought!).

So, a random assortment of photographs is called for, I think.

First: new shawl pin! I got this from Nicholas and Felice on Etsy and I’m in love with it. It’s aluminium, so a lot lighter than it looks, which is great for lace shawls! I now want to go and re-photograph all my shawls styled with this pin. Hope to acquire more loveliness from them in the future!

Nichols and Felice shawl pin

Ooh, shiny!

New shawl design, which I have so far utterly failed to announce on this blog! Hildina is a simple top-down shawl inspired by Estonian lace and designed to work with a variety of different yarn weights.

Hildina shawl

And here’s a photo of the beach near Dornoch (north Scotland, near Inverness!) where I was recently on holiday with my parents…

Despite my lack of updates on this blog, my design work has been going really well. I had a design accepted for publication in a UK magazine next spring (found out a few weeks ago, and I’ve only just got to the point of NOT HAVING TO SHOUT IN EXCITED CAPS!!!), so I’ve been working away on that, and also have a few other things in the works which I think I’m meant to keep secret (but wish I didn’t have to!).

And that’s enough exposure for one post, I think I will go and hide now… but hopefully not leave it quite so long til my next update. 🙂

Glasgow Rose stole…

Image

New design that I’m currently working on… it’s a rectangular stole version of my original Glasgow Rose shawl (inspired by the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh). I’m using some stunningly beautiful hand-dyed cashmere/silk laceweight from K1 Yarns. Absolutely gorgeous to knit with, and lovely drape and stitch defnition.

Because I always find it interesting to see how other designers work, here’s a photo that conveys the general sense of organised chaos that seems to typify my design process:

Image

Usually everything I do starts with scribbles in my notebook. I’m not particularly artistic but I do find that I need to sketch in order to conceptualise things like construction and proportion I work entirely from charts and only work out written instructions right at the very end of writing up the pattern. I do all my maths and draw out basic charts with pencil and graph paper, then knit from these, correcting as I go, and once I have something I’m reasonably happy with, I do a proper printed chart (seen on the right), which I continue to knit from. By the time I have a pattern ready to send out to test-knitters, it’s already been test-knit at least once (sometimes more!) by me.

In other news – quite proud of my handspun merino yarn! This the third skein I’ve spun since I’ve started teaching myself and it’s very exciting to watch my yarn getting more even and fine with each attempt. Hopefully it won’t be long until I’m spinning laceweight, seeing as that’s practically all I seem to knit with these days…

Image

 

Progressive rock. And lace!

With a deep sigh of relief, I just posted off my entry for the Glasgow School of Yarn Design Competition. I don’t think I’ve ever done so much knitting in such a short time period. Over 300 yards of laceweight, on 3.0 mm needles, over the course of two days. Rather heavy going. My neck is stiff and my hands feel like they’re about to fall off, but I finished it in time! And, just as importantly, I managed to assemble all the charts and instructions into a nice-looking pdf.

The one thing niggling at my inner perfectionist (who has mostly been mercifully quiet since I realised I was running out of time) is this: I had wanted to continue the edging (which is knitted at the same time as the rest of the shawl) over the top of the shawl. Seems like this should work, no? Short rows at one corner, then do the edging knitted on across the top, instead of a BO. For some reason, my brain could just not compute how to juggle all the numbers and get the short rows to work properly (and the number-juggling is usually my favourite part). When I get the sample back, I may have to have another go at it. Might be easier without a deadline looming ominously over my head.

Here’s a little detail from my Rennie-Mackintosh-inspired shawl, ‘Glasgow Rose’:

I kept my sanity during my two-day lace knitathon by listening to lots and lots of my favourite progressive rock. There is something about prog that goes very nicely with lace-knitting. That does seem like a rather bizarre comparison, I know. Perhaps what I mean is – I get the same thing from listening to prog that I get from knitting and designing lace. An appreciation of complexity, depth, structure, beauty, thematic movements (I shall stop before I get too pretentious).

Funnily enough, I just realised that the song I have been listening to the most whilst working on this shawl is “La Rossa” by the incomparable Van Der Graaf Generator (isn’t that Italian for ‘rose’…?). Coincedence!

Glasgow School of Yarn competition

For the past month or so, I’ve been working on an entry for the Glasgow School of Yarn design competition. The brief is to design an original knitting or crochet pattern inspired by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Now, I am a huge fan of Art Nouveau and Deco style, and as soon as I heard about this, I knew had to enter. I had half a skein of lovely yarn sitting in my stash and just waiting to be made into a small shawl – Abstract Cat alpaca silk laceweight. (A funny story about this yarn… last year, I was knitting a lace scarf for a Christmas present. I slept through my alarm one morning, woke to discover I was running late for work, shoved my knitting in my rucksack and ran out of the house and down the street. Got about halfway towards the bus stop before being pulled to a sudden halt. I turned around and witnessed yards and yards of laceweight yarn, strung across the street; I had put the knitting in my bag but left the ball of yarn in the house! It’s a testament to the strength and resilience of this lovely yarn that it didn’t snap…).

I’m designing a bottom-up triangular shawl, with Mackintosh-style motifs, roses and geometric patterns. Here’s a picture of it in progress:

The main problem is: I am my own worst enemy as a designer, sometimes. Particularly when working to a competition deadline, it would seem. I guess I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I also I have a bad tendency to plough on regardless, even when I know I’m going to have to rip back and change something. Because of the construction of this shawl, starting with just a few stitches at the tip and then increasing on every other row, mistakes/changes at the beginning were easily fixed. But now it’s getting bigger and bigger, and I just had to rip back several hours worth of work. Not even to fix a mistake, just to make a design change! I only have a few days left to finish the sample before the deadline, so I suppose I’m just going to have to get my inner perfectionist to shut up, and make a vow to myself not to frog again… anything I knit from this point on is staying in the shawl, whether I like it or not!

Design-in-progress… Averin shawl

Averin – an old Scots word for the cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus.

Here’s a little preview of my next shawl design. It’s currently being test-knitted by some lovely Ravelry members. They all seem to be enjoying the pattern very much, which is great, and there haven’t been too many errors weeded out so far – always a good sign!

This shawl was inspired by Shetland shawl constuctions methods. The main panel begins with a provisional CO, then an inner border is picked up and knitted in the round, around the perimeter of the main panel. Finally, an edging is knitted on to the live sts of the inner border. I’m very pleased with how my sample turned out. I knitted it in Knit Picks Shimmer (Elderberry) and it looks very elegant over a black dress.

The pattern will be available around about the first week of November (possibly a bit sooner if all the testers finish early…).