Norah Gaughan at Strik Bornholm

DSCN1195 I was so excited to be invited to hold workshops at Strik Bornholm, and could hardly believe my eyes when I discovered that the American designer and former Creative Director of Berroco; Norah Gaughan would be the star attraction. Well, since I was holding 2 workshops, I wondered whether they both would go ahead with enough participants. For once I had the chance to take part in one of Norah’s workshops, and for awhile I considered whether I could participate in two if my second workshop was cancelled. Just as some knitters signed on for all her workshops; Day 1: Modern Cable Design. Day 2: Designing Modern Sweaters. Day 3 (only half-day): Pattern Stitch Development and Design Possibilities. I took part in the latter one, together with designer Bente Geil (above in the centre), designer Maria Gustafsson, yarn dyer Lene Nielsen of Fredsminde Unika Design (above right) and five experienced knitters. Of course I had to wear one of Norah’s designs I have knitted; the popular Cabled Bolero that was on the cover of Vogue Knitting winter 2006/07. Below is a photo Maria took of me at the workshop, and I captured her in pink in the second photo below. The bolero, or Capecho as Norah called it, is made from several connected pentagons and is a pattern you either adored like me, or needed help to crack the code, see Capecho Workshop.

1I had already met Norah at the breakfast at Hotel Klintely, where we and several other designer & knitters stayed. So I was already star struck before I joined her workshop. To my surprise I was the only one wearing one of her designs, despite the Indian Summer heat we experienced. After seeing her slide show at the Party Dinner, the excitement grew even further. The brief introduction to the workshop – Pattern Stitch Development and Design Possibilities states: “One thought leads to another when it comes to making up pattern stitches. Norah will share some insights about her design process and show the progression of charts and swatches that lead to final products. Then, once you have a pattern stitch, how do you explore what to do with it?” The workshop started with a slide show, where Norah talked about her designs, and how they came into life.

DSCN1181 croppedOur first exercise was to match a series of inspiration photos with Norah’s designs. It seemed fairly obvious, until we started noticing that there were several alternative solutions. The second exercise was to select a ball of yarn from Norah’s collection – all in different fibers and structures – then knit a given lace swatch, a stitch pattern she had found studying a Donna Karan sweater. In a way we were helping her on the next step of the design. We knitted, changed needles, and then started thinking about how we could improve the swatch. I borrowed larger needles since I had brought too small needles, and discovered that due to the two slipped stitches with yarn in front of work, the yarn overs were covered hence a row need to be purled instead of knitted. The minor change I choose made a difference to the pattern, and the visibility of the holes created by the yarn overs. My swatch is second from left.

DSCN1180Above is the result of our knitting and experimentation; proof that we took part in the workshop. The task demonstrated how different a stitch pattern looks in a variety of yarns and fibers. We agreed that the grey ribbon yarn was totally unsuited for this stitch pattern, while the cream colored linen worked the best, followed by the two lighter blue cotton mixes. We learnt the importance of matching yarn and stitch pattern for a perfect combination. Our third and final exercise was to consider what kind of a garment two stitch patterns in a yoked pullover could easily be transferred into. There were lot of suggestions but none of us made the obvious connection to a hat. Other topics covered were her sources of inspiration: Ready to wear collections, nature (see my blogpost on her book: Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan), science, other arts and herself. Norah uses Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries, and is introducing her at Vogue Knitting Live event in Chicago in October. Norah will often change a stitch pattern to simplify, or enlarge the scale of it, or make recombinations and changing the scale. Hence she has built up her own vocabulary of stitches and motifs.

DSCN1196Above is a selection of swatches Norah showed us. We studied the swatches in awe for ages. The large swatches are from the days when she sold swatches to agencies – they demanded large swatches or the whole front of a sweater – to sell on to the high end fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren. These are the ones, Norah could not bear to send off, but wanted to use herself. Her advice to us where to: “Swatch & swatch again; be open to surprises; be one step removed from copying; think of something, then make it easier, be determined, but not in a hurry.” Thank you so much, Norah for a superb workshop! And also to Strik Bornholm for making it possible for me to join this amazing class! My head was spinning for days afterwards. This month she is holding a 4 day workshop called “Cable School” where you are part of her design team, near her studio in Harrisville, New Hampshire. I would love to be there, but if you go, do let me know. Here are more details: Four day workshop modern cable design.


New Design: Lattice Back Jacket

DSC_1619-2I was captivated by an amazing cable panel in one of Barbara Walkers’ treasuries of stitch patterns, and knew I wanted it in a divine but not too dark a colour, so I chose melange purple in one of my favorite yarns: Ask-Hifa 2 using a 3.5 mm/US 4. Both Made By Me editor Mary-Ann Astrup and Makeløs/Remarkable stylist Kristin Elise Halkjelsvik, approved of my color choice for this jacket in our series of Jugend style designs. The cable panel fitted easily onto the back, but not on each front, unless I made a sweater instead of jacket, but the design itself wanted to be a jacket so I had to ponder for awhile how to adorn the fronts and then the sleeves. The solution became obvious after studying the chart for a time; a set of three straight cables, identical to the moving central one in the chart. I knew it would give a classic look to the fronts hence it became a fitted vintage style jacket with a v-neck and eleven small buttons. Of course, I wanted Siri Berrefjord’s bespoke buttons (read: like an addiction) but realized that they needed to be small, hence would not show off their supreme quality. The Lattice Back Jacket pattern is available in Norwegian in Made By Me 2/2014, see the previous post, while the English version is currently being test knitted in my group on Ravelry and will be released on its completion.

DSC_1616-PS Edit-2What kind of edging do I want? I opted for a double hem, which I love, and then increase stitches for each cable in a set-up row, work using a smaller sized needle; a 3 mm/US 2.5 in this case. I do not always work this type of hem with 2 circular needles held together (see my blogpost with a video for hem & tuck making here: Knitting Techniques Videos) and use 1 as a stitch holder until it is complete because it does tend to roll a bit hence not stay as flat as I like it. Therefore I often prefer to attach it on the wrong side by hand, stitch by stitch at the end, that is my kind of embroidery.

DSC_1651-2The jacket is shaped for the waist in the sides in stockinette stitch. Just as the increases on the sleeves are made in stockinette stitch. I have made each front is 1 cm wider than 1/2 the back circumference, to achieve symmetry, usual in typical vintage garments. I was advised by the test knitters of my Tyrol Jacket, which has the same shape, to add under notes: “This jacket is like vintage jackets very fitted, please compare your waist measurements to the size you need and adjust if necessary, to make sure it will fit.” I initially made the jacket in sizes S (M, L, XL, 2XL) but since I received a few messages requesting an XS size, I have added it to the test knit. I am still looking for test knitters for size 2XL, so if you are interested send me a message on Ravelry.

20140605 MbM 680The buttons are made by husband in Fimo Soft modelling clay, they are shaped and a part of a paper clip is bended into a loop inserted into the ball, and then hardened in the oven. I had showed him Siri’s buttons, and this is his attempt. As you can see there is no pattern, and no layers of painted colors, only two colors mixed trying to achieve the right shade of purple. So the result is quite different from what both my husband and I had in mind, but it works very well. To add a bit of glamor to it, Kristin accessorized it with a brilliant brooch made by Siri, added meters and meters of chiffon fabric to make a large scarf bow and chose one of her pastel colored embroidered table cloths as a dress. It looked stunning on model Pia Cecilie/Team Models as the brilliant photographer Eivind Røhne captured on our photo shoot in Fredrikstad.

20140605 MbM 647The Lattice Back Jacket is currently being test knitted in my Ravelry group and the English pattern will be released on its completion. One knitter has chosen to add a zip instead of buttons to make it less vintage looking, while another has chosen to knit the hem in a contrast color. I cannot wait to see the finished jackets and with the incredible knitting speed a few are sporting it will not be long!


A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns

This book, written by Barbara G. Walker – an influential knitting expert, author and feminist – was first published in 1970 by Schoolhouse Press and has been in demand ever since. It is part of a series of four encyclopedic reference books, and it is my favorite of the series – which I just had to buy after flicking through one. Available at schoolhousepressamazon and at norli. It is fittingly dedicated “To the further enrichment of a beloved craft”. In her introduction she writes, “Some of the patterns in the this book are contemporary originals…Other patterns are traditional…I have resurrected these from old, forgotten books and translated them into modern terminology…Still other patterns have come from other areas of the world…Like music, knitting truly is a universal language.”

To give you an idea of the tremendous asset it is I will list the chapters: Knit-Purl Combinations, Slip-Stitch Pattern, Slip-Stitch Color Patterns, Mosaic Patterns, Fancy Color Patterns, Fancy Texture Patterns, Twist-Stitch Patterns, Cables, Cable-Stitch Patterns, Yarn-Over Patterns, Eyelets, Lace, Lace Panels and Insertions, Borders and Edgings. 700 different stitch patterns to chose from, presented with black and white photos with written instructions, whether you design or want ideas to make your own sampler – testing out the different stitch patterns – whether it is going to be a scarf, baby blanket or bed spread.

You do not need to be an experienced knitter to enjoy and use it. An ideal way of learning to knit different stitch patterns and how to read patterns. The book contains a detailed description of terms and abbreviations, how to adapt patterns for circular knitting and a handy index. Each pattern will tell you how many to cast on to make 1 pattern repeat as well as it multiples so you can calculate to your own size. My copy is so full of post-it notes that I have now started using yarns in different color to mark my selection of patterns to test and use. I think Barbara G. Walker will approve.