Skystone Armwarmers

Do you know about Boost Your Knitting? It’s an empowering and thoughtful knitting programme devised and co-ordinated by my friends at Arnall-Culliford Knitwear.

Boost Your Knitting is a year of techniques taught through monthly knitalongs; video tutorials; and a specially-curated set of patterns by different designers. It will culminate in the publication of a printed book later in the year. Knitting the designs results in accessories that are warm to wear, yet which also offer manageable routes into learning new techniques. I love that all the patterns produced for Boost Your Knitting are intentionally conceived as markers of process and learning: such projects are my very favourite to knit, wear, and design. For all these reasons, I was thrilled when Jen and Jim asked me to be part of their project last autumn. Yesterday, my design – Skystone Armwarmers was revealed.

So, what technique does my design – Skystone Armwarmers – explore?

This project is about choosing colours for stranded colourwork. I wanted to produce a pattern with an adaptable motif, which could be knit in different colours to suggest a wide range of different inspiration sources. In knitting stranded colourwork from daily life, I continuously come up against things which could be loosely described as ‘surfaces with differently-coloured “bits” in them’. A bowl of salad; pebbles in a riverbed; spatterings of lichen on a tree; a jar full of odd buttons; a posy of flowers… Rather than reinventing the wheel and trying to invent a new motif every time I encounter such an inspiration source, I thought it might be useful to devise one motif suggestive of differently-sized “bits”, the palette for which could be modified to convey a variety of inspiring contexts. Once I had come up with the motif, my job for the tutorial section of Boost Your Knitting was to provide a simple framework for putting colours together. In developing the pattern and tutorial, my hope is to offer a more tightly-contained and bite-size entry point into the concepts, ideas and processes on which my KNITSONIK books and classes are based.

I developed the designs and colourways for the samples which appear in Boost Your Knitting based on bits of cloud over a darkening sky spotted last autumn in our beloved park…

…and on differently-coloured stones spotted on Porlock Beach.

The process of how I picked the colours for each of these designs is explained in the video below, which I made with Jen and Jim some months back. It’s about half an hour long so it’s worth getting a tea or coffee ahead of sitting down to watch, but I hope that it will help you with what I know is a continuous source of angst for many knitters: choosing colours for stranded colourwork.

If you feel inspired by all this to cast on some stranded colourwork you are very welcome to join the KAL that’s taking place in the AC Knitwear Ravelry group this month. Many folk will be knitting Skystone Armwarmers, but this is not compulsory. If you want to knit with us, you can join in with any stranded colourwork pattern/yarn combination of your choice – just use the free video tutorial to help you pick your yarn shades.

Here are the KAL details copied across from the AC Knitwear group:

AC Knitwear will be awarding the following prizes, chosen at random from eligible entries, at the end of the knitalong month:

  • A £20 voucher for use in the AC Knitwear online shop
  • Three prizes of a single pattern download from the KNITSONIK Ravelry store

In order to be eligible for a prize you need to…

  • Be a member of the Arnall-Culliford Knitwear Ravelry group
  • Post a photo of your work in progress in the KAL thread
  • Tag your project page on Ravelry with BoostYourKnitting
  • You need to choose colours for stranded colourwork, but it doesn’t have to be for the Skystone Armwarmers pattern
  • Works in progress are fine as long as there is a sensible amount of work remaining
  • You don’t need to complete your project within the month – it’s the taking part that counts. :)

AC Knitwear aim for knitalongs to be as inclusive as possible. You are welcome in our knitalongs regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, size, ability, financial circumstances, language, or where you are from. We will not tolerate any form of hate speech, whether intentional or not. We are working on the ways in which our business can be more inclusive and have better representation of all knitters. We are continuing to work on this behind the scenes, but we also welcome being informed if we miss something that goes against this aim. You can contact us via our website here.

I’m really excited about this project and have massively valued the opportunity to reframe what I do with everyday inspirations and stranded colourwork to fit the format of Boost Your Knitting. It’s really nice to see the pattern laid out in the clear, crisp format of the other designs in the collection, and great to be able to play with other stranded colourwork knitters this month in the AC Knitwear forum.

I’ll be joining in with a pair of Pinecone Armwarmers, based on this beautiful pinecone that I found in the Harris Gardens, here in Reading.

I’m still reviewing my selection of browns and – as per the video we made – using black and white photos to help understand the values of the different shades I’ve chosen.

Thanks to Jen and Jim for inviting me to be part of Boost Your Knitting – BRING ON THE TULIPS AND PINECONES, I SAY!

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