This morning I pressed GO on the fourth print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. I have always had relatively small print runs in order to manage the storage space required for distributing books myself, and the financial risk involved in stumping up for lots of printed materials all at once. Still: it feels pretty exciting to me to be ordering another whole fresh batch of books and pretty amazing to think of all those books already out in the world, on people’s bookshelves, and – happiest of all – stashed in folks’ knitting baskets along with needles and yarn.
I’ll freely admit that when I started my Kickstarter Campaign back in 2014, I genuinely thought I’d print a couple of thousand books, send copies to all the Kickstarter backers, sell enough books to pay myself for my time, and move on to The Next Big Thing. I never imagined that I’d still be working with this book four years later, nor that the ideas I put into it would have become so central to my life.
In the course of writing the Sourcebook I discovered that teaching my ideas is one of my greatest passions; that translating everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork is my vocation; and that I had another whole book inside me – the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Playbook – just waiting to come out. I still get all the feels and have been known to cry when I meet people at knitting events who say “I backed your Kickstarter” because you – yes, you – genuinely changed my life.
I now spend a couple of days a week organising stock and managing fulfilment for orders and wholesale. The rest of my time is spent working on new knitting patterns and projects, trying to get back to regular podcasting, and working on sound art commissions and projects. Since 2015 I’ve been experiencing a massive arthritis flare up that has hugely infringed on my capacity for all my work. The impact of disability and arthritis on my hopes and dreams has been rough and I don’t want to get into it here but let’s just say that through this whole time I have felt incredibly lucky to have been able to support myself and to grow my little business largely through book sales.
All of this is awesome, but do you know what is even awesomer? Seeing what people do with my ideas once they are out and in the world. I wanted to celebrate ordering the fourth print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by sharing some of the amazing things people have been making based on the ideas in my books. Thank you Lucy, Jane, Julia and Marshall for permission to share your gorgeous knitting here and for finding such inventive and magnificent ways to put the KNITSONIK system to work. Readers: please shower these amazing projects with hearts over on Ravelry!
First up, how beautiful is this inventive, commemorative phone cosy created by Lucy Kershaw? Lucy designed and knitted this after coming to one of my workshops earlier this year at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and I love her attention to detail in picking out a palette by looking carefully at the tiles and how ingeniously she has adapted their intricate patterning for the medium of stranded colourwork. Gorgeous.
Chart was designed from some tiles in a restaurant we were at in Paris earlier this year.
– Lucy Kershaw
I’m always amazed at the many different ways in which people put my ideas to work. Lucy’s beautiful swatch shows her thought process in designing her whole phone cosy herself, but it’s equally inspiring to see how a completely unique piece of knitting can be created through adapting and reworking the charts provided in my books.
In this magnificent project Jane Monk has modified my Cherry Blossom motif by reworking the palette to reflect her chosen inspiration source and combining it with her own rosehip and leaf inspired charts. The results are stunning and she had the brilliant idea to work two swatches at once, then have them framed. Jane’s mum received one copy of this beautiful knitterly exploration for Mother’s Day, while Jane kept the other for reference. Isn’t that a lovely way to share knitterly inspiration and adventures?
I’m blown away by how Jane’s adaptations have transformed my Cherry Blossom motif (from the Playbook) so that it is, indeed, a glorious blossoming of Wild Roses in her work.
Jane’s mellow palette and inclusion of pinks and greens is gorgeous and there is something both restful and diligent about her swatches. From using up stash in unexpected ways, to the glorious charts and notes on the Ravelry project page, to the lovely framing of the end result, everything speaks to carefulness and an appreciation of process. In our correspondence Jane says she found this a really absorbing knit, and I think you can see that in what she’s knitted.
My first attempt at a Knitsonik style swatch, inspired by rose bushes on my walk by the river.
– Jane Monk
A different sort of adaptation (and one I really love as we draw into Autumn) is Julia Walker’s combination of my Hops Legwarmers pattern (from the Sourcebook) with the charts from the “My Street” inspired edition of KNITSONIK Fingerless Mitts. I *love* seeing these charts transposed to legwarmers, and the clever ways in which Julia has tinkered with the motifs to fit in more bricks and weeds than could ever have fitted onto a pair of mitts. Shade 2 – the toasty warm grey that makes up the ribbing here – is one of my all time favourite shades of Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight. The proportions are a bit different for legwarmers than for mitts and I feel that shade really gets to shine with the extra space afforded by a larger stitch count.
Julia Walker has some helpful notes on her Ravelry project page about wearing a completed legwarmer as motivation to finish its partner (second legwarmer syndrome perhaps?) and a comment that really celebrates the relationship between the knitted project, its real life inspiration source, and the joy of wearing your Finished Objects amongst the very things that inspired their creation. How perfect is it, too, that Julia’s legwarmers also match the plumage of those chickens in the background? I swear the big grey one has some shade 2 in its feathers!
I put the finished legwarmer on for motivation today and and seem to have worked through my obstruction. Iâ€™m hoping to finish them soon, as the dandelions are currently in full bloom.
– Julia Walker
Finally, another special project I’ve really enjoyed seeing recently which utilises the KNITSONIK System to great effect is Marshall Dozier’s spectacular stranded colourwork vest, knitted for the Nature’s Shades Along organised by my dear comrade in wool, Louise Scollay.
Marshall Dozier’s vest embodies the sort of inventiveness that can often result from a tight deadline, a competitive context, and some creative limitations. Louise’s brilliantly thought out Nature’s Shades Along included the following rules: cast on in July; finish by August; project must be wearable; and project must utilise undyed, unbleached wool. The vest is a triumphant response to these guidelines and makes superb use of the creative potentials (and restrictions) of Jamieson & Smith’s fantastic Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight yarn range which is created entirely from different natural shades of Shetland wool. As well as satisfying the criteria for Nature’s Shades Along, Marshall’s vest also speaks to the broader spirit of Louise’s clever KAL in that it specifically celebrates the versatility and creative potential of natural, sheepy shades. The whole gallery for the Nature’s Shades Along is really inspiring and I recommend some happy time spent scrolling for ideas on just how many different ways we knitters can use natural shades of wool!
I just love seeing how Marshall used them to translate graphic elements from the world to produce an adapted version of Ysolda Teague’s Bruntsfield vest pattern. Here are some amazing collages by Marshall that reveal how each motif was designed.
There’s something so joyous and vibrant about Marshall’s whole project and the magpie-like way in which charts have been derived from buildings; an old portrait gallery; and door handles and chairs. What a fresh appraisal of the possibilities for knitwear design presented both by a super sheepy palette, and overlooked architectural details. I’ll freely admit that I dislike this sort of chair – uncomfortable! Always feels flimsy to sit on and somehow cuts into the sides of my thighs! But next time I encounter such a chair, I will forget these things and see instead their interesting shape immortalised in Shetland Black.
The subtle use of greys in the background to make the ball like shapes “glow” in knitting as in this lighting is perfect!
Just look how those “beads” of white knitting pop and glow on their banded grey background.
Elsewhere in the vest, the repurposing of portraits feels pleasingly subversive.
I’m rather pleased by transformation of “dead white dudes” to smudges.
– Marshall Dozier
Thank you! I was doubtful abt that as repeat is long. Tho I'm rather pleased by transformation of "dead white dudes" to smudges.
— (((MarshallDozier))) (@mafrado) August 6, 2018
I’ve really enjoyed charting the progress of this project on Twitter, and how the urban landscape with its details will now forever be bound up in my mind with the lovely Shetland names of the yarns in the Supreme Jumper Weight range: Mooskit, Shaela, Moorit, Shetland Black, Gaulmogot, Sholmit, Katmollet, Yuglet… I think it’s such a super project, and how it cross-pollinates with ideas of celebrating daily life AND celebrating nature’s shades, in knitting.
Each of these projects speak to the ingenuity of its maker. From translating the world into stranded colourwork motifs for a phone cosy, to adapting charts for the purposes of celebrating a favourite flower, to mixing and matching different KNITSONIK patterns and motifs, to exploring the possibilities of a limited, sheepy palette and the shapes and patterns of the built environment, KNITSONIK readers are exercising creativity in wonderfully varied ways. I love, too, how all these projects solve problems in daily life on some level. The problems of what to do if you keep losing your protective phone cosy, what to do with finished swatches, and how to overcome second legwarmer syndrome are all solved here alongside the more abstract problems associated with turning the rich 3D world into things to knit and wear.
Seeing my ideas acting as a springboard for so much knitterly innovation is an enormous privilege and something for which I feel grateful every day; projects like these are why I wrote the Sourcebook in the first place. I am happy beyond words to have found such resonance in a community of knitters who, like me, also seem to enjoy the possibilities afforded by embracing everyday life as the subject for our knitting. I feel like I have found my home amongst you all.
Here’s to the fourth print run of the Sourcebook and to my amazing, talented readers. I can’t wait to see what you make next!
YOURS IN TRANSLATING EVERYDAY INSPIRATIONS INTO STRANDED COLOURWORK,
Many thanks to Lucy Kershaw, Jane Monk, Julia Walker and Marshall Dozier for kind permission to share your gorgeous work here; photos all © their creators apart from the wondrous legwarmers + chickens photo, which was taken by Fenn Martin.