Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This month our own Lizette Venter in Edinburgh has agreed to share some of her secrets on 


It starts as a dream.  A picture, sometimes a flower, a tree, the rush of water, the feel of the sky and the landscape.  Colour, texture, season are intrinsic to the initial idea, and is part of the first spark that makes me grab pen and paper.  Yes - pen and paper, not my knitting needles, although I am already so impatient to start turning this idea into reality.
  And then… what would I love to wear.  What kind of wool would I like to wrap myself in, and how do I make the shape of the item suit all kinds of body shapes, and still be flattering.
I don’t have to look for inspiration, I am surrounded by it. I love rambling about the countryside, and I take photo’s of everything that  inspires.  There is texture, angles, and such fragile beauty to be found, I could run around all day, and simply revel in ideas and the potential of translating my environment into a design. And it is not only nature.  Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, full of gardens, parks, and stunning architecture.
Who would not be inspired by the grandeur and beauty of this?

So, back to pen and paper.  What does this mean?  I’ll tell you a story about swatches, stitch counting, measuring, adding and subtracting.  I like to design for everyone, from size XS to 5XL.  This means, having to work out the dimensions of every single size, and knitting a prototype across the sizes, just to make sure my calculations were correct.  This is the part of designing that has me drinking too much coffee, scratch my head, sigh in frustration.  I’m not a numbers person, and because of that I have to be extra careful to get those digits right.  Although every ball of yarn has a guide to how the yarn should knit up over 10cm square (or inches if you prefer),  once you dive into the realm of lace or cable knitting, all this changes.  Even a little bit of Fair-Isle can draw the work in and make a difference between a fit or an ‘oh no, it’s too small!’  And let’s face it, knitting a whole jumper that you really, really wanted for yourself, and now the only person who can wear it is your slightly snooty second cousin,  well… who wants that?
Making sure the pattern works - translating a swatch into a garment.  
  Inspired by the Misty Isles, Spring Blossoms and landscape

 I love bright punchy colours too,  I grew up in South Africa, and the geometry and texture of that landscape is equally part of who I am.  I think design is an expression of personality,  and the geometry, rhythm, colour and texture of Africa is very much a part of my design inspiration too.
It is  necessary to consider what your yarn will do for you.   A very fluffy yarn, such as angora may not always show intricate work to it’s best either, but is lovely when you want to create a garment that suggests, like a misty, soft focus  memory.
 A nice crisp cable for a winters garment requires a nice lofty, springy yarn, be it wool or bamboo.  And a lace can often look a bit busy when knitted in a yarn with eclectic colour variation.  Now, these aren’t rules.  They are guides.  A very geometric lace pattern can look stunning in a variegated yarn, and a softly halo’ed suggestion of Aran in a jumper can make you look absolutely huggable.  It all depends what you would like as an end result.  If you want a garment that is very similar to the one a designer made, then look for a similar yarn.  If you are unsure of how a yarn would work, then do knit a swatch.  It can save hours of work.
 I generally opt for a lighter colour when I want to photograph the end results.  The design just shows up better this way, because of the way that light and shadow is created.  This is especially true when there is some Aran work or detail involved.  Colour… well that’s a whole different story, and I will get to that in a moment.
The clean lines created by this linen blend accentuates and adds to the pattern.  An art yarn, busy colours or the fine halo of angora or mohair would detract from the design of this scarf, and obscure or overshadow the beauty of the pattern.

Lace in a thicker yarn  (here I’ve used some left-over Noro Kureyon)  can be used to create texture, without being very lacy.
The yarn definitely makes the garment, be it scarf, hat or jumper.  It defines the outcome, and the overall look of what you want to make.  If you are unsure of what to use, then find the look you want, and go for a similar yarn.

Which one is your favourite?  Only your wardrobe will tell…  Colour evokes mood, personality, season.  So much is said in colour.  We all have colours we simply can’t wear.   I long to wear ochre or mustard , but they make me look ill.  So I have ochre and yellow socks to satisfy that need. (there’s always a way!) Playing with color is fun!
There are no hard and fast rules as far as colour is concerned.  Here’s a few pointers though:  To get a professional finish whilst using an array of color, I’d suggest using a specific yarn range from one company.  Why?  The yarn texture is similar, and the colours, even though they are varied, should complement each other.  Now, once that is said, I’d like to remind you of the beauty of a blanket made out of granny squares.  All scrap yarn, from many different sources. So use your discretion.  It can be really difficult to find colours that work together, whilst looking at a ball of yarn.   It is easier to see them when you wrap the yarns around a ruler to see what a knit would look like.  Often the look on a flat surface can be more revealing. However, there is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ color.  Getting the wrong yarn for one project, might mean getting the right one for another.  Just a word of caution:  if this is making your yarn stash take over your living space, it is time to start using what you’ve got!
The browns in this little jacket looked as if they didn’t fit when looking at the ball of yarn.  But how perfect once it was knitted up.
A color wheel or mood board can be a great boon for anyone wanting to play with colour.  Often a small amount of contrast will enhance the main color, and give it some oomph.
 Try a new daring colour combination.  Noro is one of my favourites favourite as far as color is concerned.  There is always something a little unexpected in there, and even though it might look a little jarring in a ball of wool, it seems to make perfect sense once it is seen in the knit.  And often that little surprise colour lifts the whole garment into a new dimension.

And then Etsy…  There are so many wonderful artist on Etsy, who use beautiful and inspiring colors.  Look at treasuries, or find someone’s work that you love.  Especially those dyers and spinners.  You will find  colour combinations to inspire!  Or else… take a walk outside, nature mixes a palette beyond compare!

We've been getting ready for Fall!

Korinne created this Jack-o-Lantern!

Janet thinks life's a hoot with Oliver the owl!

Meet a couple of our members :) 

Signing in from Spokane, Washington, Jane's shop is called Lady Jane Darcy -- She says, "I first learned to knit
in order to make a Gryffindor scarf for my aunt, who introduced me to Harry Potter. It was the first thing I knit and it was 11 feet long. Since then I've enjoyed knitting scarves, hats, wrist warmers, sweaters, and more for family and friends. I decided to open this little store to fund my concert trips & book habit! As you might be able to tell from my seller name I'm quite a Jane Austen fan! I spent a lot of time in university and outside of it studying the Regency period in English history, the literature, the history, the people. I am a lover of books and cannot stop buying them. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. I am also a Harry Potter fan and a Hunger Games Fan.  I also love music, especially English folk, and have been blessed to see many of my favorite musicians & bands the last few years: Bobby Long, Marcus Foster, Mumford and Sons, Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, Langhorne Slim, Horse Feathers, and more.  I love to travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor, laugh my head off when watching Community and Parks & Rec, solve crimes with The Closer and Bones, cheer during Friday Night Lights, and can often be found compulsively listing every recipe I want to make from cooking shows. Cheers! x"

While running her shop -- KateJKnits -- Katherine Johnson joins the Miss Marples from Lucasville, Ohio.  She says, "I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom from Southern Ohio. When I have spare time, I love to knit. Oh, who am I kidding, when I have spare time from knitting, THEN I live the rest of my life! :P"

Thanks for reading! 

Come find us all on Etsy!

Miss Marple's Knitting Club