I spent most of my summer away and traveling which also meant away from my blog. Now that I'm back into my working mode, it's time to start blogging again! Many might think I take a break from knitting in the summer, the hot temperatures and wooly garments don't really seem like the best combination. However, I'm often very busy at this time. I'm focused on designing upcoming winter garments and also preparing for the launch of autumn pieces. This summer was particularly special since it marked the release of my first sweater designs! This past January I started branching into larger projects and I'll talk about my first two sweaters in this post.
Even though these next two pieces were my second and third sweaters to be released this year, they were the first two I designed and knitted. Their conception began back in 2016, just before Christmas. I was excited to hear that The Fibre Company was putting an autumn collection together with pieces from several different designers. I was super thrilled to be considered but this also meant that I needed to spend some of my Christmas break developing ideas and knitting swatches. I was in Helsinki for Christmas so I spent lots of time during the dark Helsinki days in some of my favourite cozy cafes with lots of tea and my knitting. Once the final designs were chosen, I patiently waited for the yarn to arrive and spent January and February knitting.
Each designer who was chosen began with The Fibre Company's design brief and was assigned one of their blends to work with. The yarn I was assigned was Arranmore, an aran weight yarn and blend of merino, cashmere and silk. The yarn is spun in a mill located in Donegal, Ireland and pays tribute to their long tradition of producing tweed yarns. Even their colour palette is inspired from the rugged Irish coastlands. "A yarn for the modern maker, developed through a deep love for the heritage and tradition of textiles" describes the essence of this yarn on their website. I felt I had won the jackpot with this yarn! I do love a hearty and rugged yarn especially when there is a hint of luxury. Working with an aran weight was a plus, as it helped move my first designs along just a bit quicker.
As for the design brief, they requested cozy garments and accessories with relaxed silhouettes and of course, to use the landscape of Cumbria and Northern England as inspiration since The Fibre Company is located in the Lake District. Both sweaters are very different in terms of their finished look but do have some strong similarities. I wanted casual and comfortable looks and used strong horizontal and vertical lines. Plus the majority of both designs only use very simple stitch combinations and are easy to construct. Since it was my first time designing sweaters, I didn't want to make things too complicated for myself or future knitters. I think either piece would be doable for someone just getting into knitting sweaters. The first sweater idea I started to develop later became Binsey. I think this was a design I had been envisioning to knit for myself.
Binsey is a cozy, oversized pullover. Strong, thick lines of ribbing decorate the hem and cuffs of the sweater. The rest of the overall texture is what I like to call "horizontal ribbing", a few rows of Stocking Stitch and then a few rows of Reverse Stocking Stitch. A raised line of slipped stitches runs up the centre and divides to create the appearance of a v-neck. However, I wanted the back to be slightly different so the lines of slipped stitches continue down the back as two separate vertical lines.
So here are the final photos of Binsey for The Fibre Company's collection Fell Garth II. Their whole treatment of the collection and the individual designs are simply stunning. Set against the backdrop of the Lake District, The Fibre Company team has managed to capture the essence I had imagined for these pieces. Binsey is knit in their colour St. Claire.
My second design for the Fell Garth II collection was Mirehouse. This second pullover resembles more of the traditional tweed pullover. Mirehouse is knit in pieces and then assembled. The front panel has a repeating diagonal texture all over, created by knits and purls. It felt rather architectural and reminded me of brick work. It's almost reminiscent of the country's northern castles. Thick, rolled back cuffs finish off the pullover but can easily be eliminated if the knitter prefers.
I had originally proposed this design to be in two colours but ended up loving the simplicity of just one and I'm glad The Fibre Company made that call. However, when my yarn arrived, I was a bit hesitant when I opened up the package to see brown yarn. Brown or tan are not colours I wear in my wardrobe and rarely choose to knit with them. Mirehouse was my most straightforward design, so I cast it on first. After knitting with their colour, Cronan, it began to grow on me. The colour has beautiful hints of bronze in the tweed but I wasn't completely won over till I saw the finished photographs. Now I'm embarrassed I ever had any doubts about Cronan. The colour looks like it was picked directly out of the landscape and destined to become Mirehouse.
Once again the photos of Mirehouse are incredible. I love the natural moody feel of the weather and sky in the background. While I was working on this piece I discovered the show Outlander on Netflix and may have binge-watched as I knit Mirehouse. I know it was pure coincidence how The Fibre Company's team styled this look but the model's red hair paired with the plaid and landscape really do evoke the style and feelings from the show.
A huge thank-you goes out to The Fibre Company and their team who really brought these designs to life. The support and feedback from the knitting community has been really touching and motivating. Thank-you!