What people made…

…in my KNITSONIK classes during Shetland Wool Week.

My swatches laid out at the start of the class

One of my favourite things is teaching the KNITSONIK System to comrades excited about translating their world into their own unique palettes, patterns and shading schemes. This year I offered three different types of class during Shetland Wool Week, each of which was a variation on this central theme.

About my classes

In Quotidian Colourwork comrades choose an inspiration source that matters to them and then bring it to the class. I provide a vast array of yarn shades from which each knitter draws a palette based on whatever they brought with them.


Class time is spent developing motifs and shading schemes from individual inspiration sources and talking about problems and solutions viz translating the everyday world into stranded colourwork. Everyone leaves the class with the beginnings of a swatch documenting their thought process thus far; with clear, printed instructions; and with small quantities of yarn for finishing work in their own time. With this class, I especially love seeing the individual things that knitters bring along. Here is a very small subsection of some of the amazing things people made in Quotidian Colourwork classes this year at Shetland Wool Week!

Shetland Colours is a variation on Quotidian Colourwork. Instead of bringing along an individual inspiration source, we all work together from the same source. I document the inspiration ahead of the class, print out many photos, and pre-select a tailored yarn palette.

yarn palette for Shetland Colours, Hermaness edition

Again, class time is spent developing motifs and shading schemes and everyone leaves with the beginnings of a swatch and everything they need to finish it in their own time. What’s particularly special about this class is seeing the unique ways in which a roomful of knitters interpret, celebrate a shared inspiration source. You really get to see how individually everyone views and perceives the world. I also like that this class has a kind of collective feeling and can often bring some of our focus to the present context of the class… like, when we’re in Shetland for Wool Week, it’s really nice to celebrate the beautiful sunsets and distinctive light around the islands; and to turn our knitterly eyes towards the greys and blues of Hermaness in Unst. These photos offer a glimpse of some of the knitterly translations of sunsets and cliffs worked by knitters this year in Shetland at my Shetland Colours classes this year.

I especially enjoy seeing how two different knitters will uniquely translate the same inspiration source… how beautiful are these contrasting views of water seen through rocks? Maja has concentrated on the warm tones within the rocks whereas Lene has been looking at the gradations of blue… and how the scale of a motif changes our perceptions of the shades with which it is knit.

Maja’s rock strata
Lene’s sea and rocks

The J&S Mittsalong class was developed exclusively as a class for J&S this year because I have now run quite a few #knitsonikmittsalong online kals (knit-a-longs) and thought it would be fun to do a class from the same premise.

Gunnister sunset mittsalong class setup

The Mittsalong classes this year for Wool Week used the same inspiration sources as my Shetland Colours classes, but we had an even more restricted palette from which to work, because everyone took 8 balls away with them with which to finish making their mitts. If we used more than 8 yarn shades, the cost of the class would have gotten out of hand! As with the other classes, the focus in the workshop is on developing motifs and shading schemes from individual inspiration sources and talking about problems and solutions re: translating the everyday world into stranded colourwork. However, unlike the other classes, the outcome at the end of this workshop is not a swatch but the beginnings of a pair of mitts, the colourwork portion of which is full of stranded colourwork experimentation! A swatch you can wear, if you will. It’s a nice way of addressing the fact that not all knitters like to swatch, and making sure that even when you are playing and experimenting, you end up with something useful and wearable at the end. The discipline of working within a much more restricted palette also has a lovely real-life knitterly practicality about it as well, and I hope that this class gives knitters who don’t want to buy ten million balls of yarn the confidence to develop beautiful ideas within a limited palette. Here are the beginnings of some Shetland inspired mitts begun in Shetland during Wool Week!

For all KNITSONIK classes I bring my growing swatch collection as I have found my swatches to be invaluable tools to have on hand. They are a living library of ideas about palettes, patterns and shadings and every time I teach I am grateful to them! This year ahead of Wool Week I washed, blocked and ironed all the KNITSONIK swatches and packed them neatly with a tea-towel infused with cedar essential oil and little fabric pouches containing lavender. It was beautiful to lay these clean, fragrant, hardworking pieces of knitting out at the start of each class and also to share some of the swatches from the new book. I love swatching for its own sake – a topic that came up frequently in my classes – but at the same time, it is always amazing to see designs growing out of swatches begun in my classes, and to see knitters wearing or making things to wear that began life in a KNITSONIK workshop. Keen eyed spotters and long-term readers might remember Lene’s beautiful fern swatch, started in a KNITSONIK workshop in Edinburgh back in the spring? Now it’s becoming the yoke of one of her distinctive floral cardigan designs.

Lene’s fern swatch and cherry blossom cardigan
Lene’s Yoke (left) KNITSONIK Sloes swatch (right)

I was also made up to get an update on a swatch begun in a Shetland Colours class… Linda did not like the “wave” shape she had designed and kept working into her swatch until she was happy with the results. It is always joyful to see how comrades solve problems in stranded colourwork.

Linda’s initial Shetland Colours swatch
Linda’s swatch-in-prorgess

Christine finished one of her mittsalong mitts and brought them along to show me and I was made up to see her friend wearing a swatch begun in my Shetland Colours class as a fringed arm-warmer.


Since returning home I have really loved seeing the completion of Christine’s mitts on instagram. They are a beautiful testimony to her love of birds and coastal landscapes and I especially like the clever detail of the waves breaking around the ribbing! I’ve also been blown away by Kristi’s hat, for which a holiday photo provided the palette inspiration.

All of this is very topical as the joy of swatching and ways to develop concepts sourced through swatching into things that you can wear are key elements of the second KNITSONIK book. The second book also builds very much out of questions and issues that have arisen in my workshops over the years.

As I get into the writing I’ll be thinking of these classes I taught in Shetland… of the questions you all asked; of the beautiful things you made; of our conversations; and of your knitting. Thanks for giving me so much to work with, for your willingness to play and experiment, and for bringing your unique ways of seeing and knitting to KNITSONIK classes. I learn so much every time I teach a workshop, and it’s really one of my very favourite things to do.

Thank you to everyone who came, and to Shetland Wool Week for having me.
If you have enjoyed this post, you may be interested to learn that I’m teaching more workshops at the following places in coming months:

Amsterdam (Stephen & Penelope) in December
16th December, Colours of Amsterdam
17th December, Quotidian Colourwork

I’m also teaching at Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018, for which tickets went on sale today

…and I’m really happy to say I’ll be teaching in Dublin on 3rd and 4th February at This is Knit; details to be announced shortly.

For now, I’ve a book to write!

4 thoughts on “What people made…

  1. I know I already told you this a week or so ago but your class was absolutely brilliant, even though my swatch came knitted up a bit rum, your words and work processes will stay with me for a long time…seeing the swatches from your book was such a treat, I was as excited to see those as finally getting to meet your good self… knowing that my swatch doesn’t have to be this perfect thing, more a way of gently translating, coaxing out the patterns, the colours will keep inspiring me with my colourwork knitting….thank you so much.

  2. What a lot of lovely patterns and yarns! Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to buy the new book.

    Side note: The link to Christine’s mitts on Instagram sends me to an Instagram page that says “Sorry, this page isn’t available.”

    1. Ah I think Christine has a private instagram account so maybe if you are not already friends it might be impossible for you to view her photos…

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