|She's a sassy shawl, ain't she?|
As I wrote about here on Monday, I'm participating in Ravelry's Independent Designer Gift-a-long. (An aside: if you don't think this shebang has grown volumes since last year, think again: so far, there are over 5,000 participants in 8 different gift-making categories, and one can sign up and gift-a-long until the end of December. Folks, indie designers and their gift-making pals are on fire.) As part of my design purchases, I picked up fellow designer Gabriella Henry's Lucie Shawlette pattern.
I cannot quite explain what it is about this pattern, but I became absolutely enthralled with it. Maybe it's the perfect combination of gloriously wonderful garter stitch with an elegantly simple crochet edging; perhaps it's the no-thinking-required aspect of the pattern - I wound up not putting it down and completed it in about four days (record speed for me).
Or maybe, just maybe, it's been the genuine respect shown me by a fellow designer half-way around the world, at a time when I sorely needed a show of professional respect, that's made this shawl such a breath of fresh air. I've recently experienced a doozie of a professional blow and I have remained rather silent about it. Nevertheless, I had been feeling a fair amount of anger and disappointment, but I continued forward with my plans because I believe in myself. That's cold comfort, though, when you're in the middle of it.
And then, along came Gabes (tweeting @Sweetpknits) and her ditty of a shawl and turned my thinking right 'round. Like a perfectly stitched record, if you will. Along the way, she's been nothing but gracious and complimentary, and it's made All.The.Difference. This is the season of giving thanks, and so I sincerely thank her for her kindness and open appreciation. Far beyond the counting of dollars and cents is how we make each other feel; that's what we'll remember. So it brings me great joy to show off my version of Gabe's Lucie Shawlette:
Speaking of good things, it is rare to see Mt. Rainier in any horizon shot in the Pacific Northwest fall and winter, yet it made a guest appearance for this photo shoot (check out the above left background). It guilded the lily rather nicely: what a great pairing of pattern and fiber, don't you think?
Even though these two fibers are (I think) discontinued, they played well together: Laines du Nord Prancer for the main body of the shawl and Noro Cash Iroha for the edging. I worked this up on U.S. 10 1/2" circular needles (6.5 mm) and a U.S. H hook (5.00 mm) for the edging, which is smaller than called for in the pattern. I also made my shawlette more akin to a shawl by using about 147 grams of yarn for the body and approximately 44 grams on the edging, for a grand poobah total of 366 fibery yards.
I cannot tell you how much I love this shawl. It's super warm and the perfect thing to throw over the shoulders or double up around the neck. Make one for yourself, and you'll see exactly what I mean.
Now, in keeping with the spirit of design/er giving during this gift-along (which, again, runs straight through the end of the year), I've had the pleasure of interviewing and getting to know Ella Austin, a/k/a Bombella Knits. Here's a designer after my own color-filled heart - her claim to fame is stranded color work and she has a love of Karie Westermann shawl designs. Without further ado, I present:
The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
with knit designer Ella Austin
|Ella Austin. Photo used with designer's kind permission.|
Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit garments and accessories?
Just before I started designing I was a stay at home mum and breastfeeding helper. Before that I worked in admin and IT for a charity in London and before that I studied sociology and classical studies at Reading University. But I’ve always loved art and design and I’ve always been an avid knitter -ever since I was a child.
When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer?
Although I’d knit for all my life I had never really tried to push myself as a knitter until I met the Reading-based Outcasts knitting group about seven years ago. Then soon after Ravelry came along and inspired me further. I started to have ideas for things I wanted to knit and so I started experimenting… and found that I loved it!
Please describe your personal knit design philosophy?
I love stranded colourwork so I tend to think in terms of colour, line and pattern. I mostly design small, colourful knits that I consider to be fun!
What is your greatest knit (or design) memory?
It’s hard to pick a single moment because knit design involves a lot of gradual development of ideas. I’m most proud of my knitting kits and I hope to continually improve and develop them. For a single moment memory, I was very excited when one of my early designs was commissioned by Knit Now magazine.
This is a hard question. Most of my old knitting group the Outcasts have done at least a design or two so I’d pick a bunch of them!
Throw or pick?
Throw. I’m a very slow knitter!
It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use?
There’s so much I want to knit, it’s too sad to think of a last thing! One thing I’ve been wanting to do for ages but haven’t done yet is a small woodland creature in Skein Queen Blush 80% merino 20% cashmere.
What trait do you most admire in designers?
Diversity. I admire designers who can do all sorts of things with all different techniques. I also love a good cardigan so a designer that does a good cardigan has my respect!
What trait do you most detest in designers?
Detest is such a strong word! I don’t like snobbery in knitting whether it’s ‘I only use x yarn’ or ‘I’d never knit y type of object’.
You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?
Suzanne Stallard’s colourwork mitts (especially the Alfredos) or a Karie Westermann shawl.
All right everyone - now head on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see how everyone else is interacting with the gift-a-long. As for me, I'm officially blogged out ... for the moment.
Stay tuned ...