Wednesday, 16 June 2010

An Inspirational Pattern

This was supposed to be a post for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, back in April/May, but because we were on holiday, I didn't manage to get most of the posts for the week finished.  For An Inspirational Pattern, I was planning to write about a project that I was then about to start, and had a very preliminary draft written. Now that I have got quite a bit of it knitted, I should update the draft and post it.

The brief for the post was:
Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

The background:  A while ago, I was in Richmond-on-Thames and happened on the Margaret Howell shop.  She is a designer whose clothes I really like when I have seen them featured in magazines, though way beyond my price range.  So I went in to take a look (no harm in just looking).  There were also a few of Marion Foale's  hand-knits in the shop - as readers will know, I am a great fan of her designs.  They were amazing - so well-made, in very fine cotton or wool, beautifully detailed.  They  had wonderful subtle shaping - lines of increases and decreases forming a kind of knitted dart.    I have read a couple of recent interviews with Marion Foale since then - for instance she did one for Rowan magazine, that describes how she designs this tailored knitwear by making it in jersey fabric first.

When I got back home, I searched the internet for patterns for any Marion Foale designs similar to those in the shop.  She has produced a few designs in recent years for Rowan, and two, Veronica and Fontaine,  were featured in the Rowan's Greatest Knits book.  Those two were jackets, though, and I wanted something a bit lighter - though I think Fontaine might be a future project.  It seems that Marion Foale did at one time sell patterns via a now-discontinued web site.  There were also tantalising mentions on various sites, message boards, discussions groups, etc. of patterns for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Weekly and other magazines, but none easily locatable.

But then...  someone left a Woman's Weekly Knitting Special magazine in my local yarn shop, and there on the cover was a photo of what looked like possibly a Marion Foale design - and it was!  (I must admit that I would not normally look at Woman's Weekly.  My Grandma used to read it back in the days when the front cover was printed in blue and peach, so it has a very old-fashioned image to me.  And then of course there's the Victoria Wood song. But I already knew that Marion Foale designs had previously appeared in it.)  

Casual elegance
Woman's Weekly calls it Casual elegance.  It is a cardigan with moss stitch shoulders, cuffs, collar and button bands (I love moss stitch) and waist shaping back and front using a dart, of the kind I saw in her ready-to-wear knitwear. It exactly demonstrates the description in the Rowan interview "her designs are, as they have always been, reliant on apparent simplicity and textured stitching."

It is knitted in 3 ply (light fingering weight) wool, which is not easy to find in general, but it's obtainable from Foale Ltd. There isn't a web site, but you can phone or email them, and they are very helpful in sending out samples.  I have chosen Pearl, a kind of lavender grey.

I usually tinker with patterns a bit (or a lot), but this one I am knitting exactly as the pattern says.  Fortunately, it is quite long - I usually want to make tops longer but here I don't have to.

So this seemed an appropriate project for the day's topic, because it does seem "a huge undertaking of time and dedication".  Starting the back was quite a task - casting on 209 stitches on 2mm. needles.  It seemed impossibly fiddly at first (though I must have knitted on that size of needles in the past, because I already had them).  But now it's going well, and the back is nearly done. The challenge, apart from the sheer number of stitches it's going to take to complete, is to keep the knitting even.  I am not very good at that, I have to confess, so I hope that the blocking will help me out a bit.  I'll post a photo of the back when it's finished and blocked.     

1 comment:

  1. YOu have a big heart - but your previous project was lovely and this has the makings of something fab.............


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