By the time you read this I will be starting my very first day as a sewing and knit techie, nervous with excitement and a few worlds away from the relaxed Friday afternoon I had last week. The route to my fairly LYS, Sharp Works, is through one of my favourite parks, and I picked up a copy of the latest Rowan magazine, no. 58.
It’s been a good while since I’ve bothered with a Rowan magazine, but I happened to look at their summer offering this year and it was noticeably different – enough to make me buy it! There were new names, new ideas, new shapes…so very refreshing from the designs we’ve been accustomed to in recent years. There’s a lot to be said for having an ensemble cast of designers on a magazine like this: yes, there does need to be someone in charge making sure that the collection is cohesive, but for me creative direction is about accepting that you can’t be brilliant at everything and having the vision to recognise and get the best out of talented designers who may be better suited to certain aspects of knitwear design. Speaking for myself, my favourite suits are lace and fairisle – and although my portfolio of published designs is quite small and I think I need to keep pushing and developing my self-expression or ‘handwriting’, an onlooker could probably see that I like working with lace and colour. It isn’t that I dislike cables or that I don’t see their charm – far from it – but there is something about designing with cables that I can’t quite gel with. Perhaps it’s just not for me; perhaps I need to work a bit harder and give myself more time; or perhaps that’s just the way it is. Regardless of the truth, my response would be the same: find someone who is better than me at designing with cables, unless your patience matches my perseverance, and the prospect of mixed, unconfident results doesn’t bother you too much!
This is really just another way of saying that one cannot be brilliant and everything, never mind all things to all people, but whoever’s been in charge of the current Rowan magazine seems to be comfortable with those concepts! There are forty designs, but I can see myself knitting ten of them quite easily – which beats their having sixty and me only liking about two! Here are my picks, starting with the colourwork:
Furthest left is the Gale sweater; next left the Unst cardigan, and below is the Anglesey sweater. Of these three, I will probably knit Gale first. I have Felted Tweed in Midnight for the dark contrast, so it’s just a question of which colour and which yarn I use for the background. The texture is very interesting, and when I first saw this design online it was tricky to see exactly how it worked or appreciate just how attractive the pattern is. Seeing Gale in print really brought it alive for me. The details are simple – roll neck, turn-backs on the sleeve and cuff – but they also point to the fact that both sides of the knitting are very nice. Unst is a labour of love, but it will have to wait in a queue behind the Bellini cardigan from Rowan 44, which I have got to at least start! Anglesey has some lovely autumnal shades. There are a couple of oddments needed in the first and largest area of fairisle, before you get onto the green, but you can easily do without these; they jar a little with the overall colour scheme. I know I’ll be leaving them out! The green would pop nicely, I think.
Next up are the textured knits I liked best: Blustery, Frosty and Noelle.
The Blustery sweater (furthest left) resembles one of Kim Hargreaves’ recent designs – the red cardigan I started last winter and would dearly love to finish in time for the chilly months – but it’s knitted in Lima. The back is knitted in rib and the cable pattern is reserved for the front and sleeves. I’m the kind of person who’d want to put patterning on the back as well as the front and sleeves, so hopefully the 12 balls I have stashed away in the loft will stretch to this little challenge.
Frosty is a felted tweed cardigan with a cabled yoke and looks to be a quick knit. This design is by Sarah Hatton, and one thing I admire about her and try to incorporate into my own designs is not making hard work of the knitting. The design needs to be as much of a pleasure to knit as it is to wear. The green cabled sweater, Noelle, is also one of hers. I couldn’t resist casting on for this jumper straight away – it’s one of two that I wanted to get stuck straight into. You know those singing moments when you see the design, and you have exactly the materials you need at home to make it happen? (After all, what’s a stash for?!) This was one of those times. I give you six rows of ribbing:
You might be wondering why on earth I’m knitting from such a massive ball of yarn, but I’ll explain in my next post! You might be able to tell from the distinct kinks in the yarn that something has been ripped out, but doing that got me thinking and there might be a bit more frogging to come…
There isn’t a huge amount of lace in Rowan 58 but me being me, I managed to find it 🙂 This next group of three also promise to be a pleasure to knit and wear, and include the second project I have already cast on for to get ahead of the weather. Here we have the Brona and Brannagh sweaters, and the Chilly cardigan:
Brona (first right) is a 4ply knit. I have a slight fear of 4ply, somewhat unfounded because I haven’t knitted much in that yarn weight, but also because my sweet spot is any needle between about 4mm and 7mm thick. My hands don’t feel entirely comfortable on thinner needles, but one day I will have to face my demons. If/when I do, I could do much worse than knit Brona. The yoke pattern is a sort of honeycomb-like lace worked on the right side only, so all wrong side rows are purled *ticks boxes*.
Similarly, Chilly in Kidsilk Haze has more plain rows than you might expect, and is by Vibe Ulrik, who doesn’t seem capable of disappointing me! I’m not sure which colour I’ll knit this cardigan in, but it might be a pale green, not too dissimilar from the shade I’m using for Noelle.
Brannagh is the second project I’ve started from this collection, but I’ve decided to use Wool Cotton instead: partly because I don’t think I have enough Felted Tweed salted away for that and Frosty, and partly because I think the stitch definition of Wool Cotton will be equally beautiful and possibly accentuate more of the detail. You might not be able to see it in the photo, but the cable is half moss, half stocking stitch. The other bonus of Brannagh is that it’s knitted all in one piece, so I can put it over my head almost as soon as the neckband’s finished. Here’s a bit more ribbing for you – only four rows this time! I’m slipping up…
The last favourite of mine is the Nippy sweater: a simple roll neck with a cable at the front. We all need comfort knits in our wardrobes, and one day this will be one of mine. Plus, Nippy has waist darts, so no danger of looking too sloppy and relaxed.
So there we have it! That’s how I spent the last weekend before my exciting red letter day: perusing these pages and working my way through the initial ribbing. You’ll be seeing more of these in weeks to come.