I have to admit that just as a keen cook will pore over recipe books or a gardener leaf through seed catalogues, as a knitwear designer I love looking through books of stitch patterns. When I find one I like I imagine how it would look in different yarns, at different scales, whether it can be stretched or compressed, I really do live an exciting life!
A good example of this is the stitch pattern that I chose for the Glasgow School Mitts. As I recall, it started life as a sample in a Japanese stitch pattern book but as I swatched it went through so many iterations and adaptations it ended up quite different from the original but it worked for me in terms of both the general appearance of the fabric but also how it fit the overall garment and seamlessly accommodated the thumb detail.
A few months ago at Fibre East I caught up with Katie from Hilltopcloud whose stand was, as usual full of really lovely braids and batts of fibre. Katie knows my tastes pretty well so put a batt in my hands saying that this was the one I should have! I didn't think about it for too long as she was right, grey merino and Shetland flecked with pink and aqua silk. It was one of those batts which I had to take home and spin up immediately and it soon found itself becoming abut 160m of heavy aran weight yarn.
Now, as my friends will tell you, I'm not the tidiest, most stylish dresser in the world and don't see myself as the sort of person who wears matching accessories but I try not to look like an explosion in a wool shop. It occurred to me that I might be able to make a cowl that would make a good partner to my grey Glasgow School Mitts now that autumn is on its way without looking like a matching set.
I first knitted up a small test swatch just to get an idea of tension (to give it the title of tension square would be overstating things a little) and then cast on the appropriate number of pattern repeats to give me the size of cowl that I wanted. Once the pattern was established I put in the right hand cable twist then worked the rib pattern until I had used approximately half the yarn. I then knew how many rows of rib I could do before doing the the left hand cable twist , matching ribbed edge and cast off. I'm delighted to say that my spinning is a little more consistent than I feared as I ended up with only a couple of metres of yarn spare!
Overall I was really pleased with this little experiment. It's lovely to feel I have done justice to a lovely skein of hand spun yarn and produced something comfortable and wearable.
I will probably write the pattern up as a bonus 'extra' for the Glasgow School Mitts in a more widely available yarn but I just wanted to share a little something about the way that with hand spun, you tend to have to let the yarn take the lead.
I think the cowl goes quite well with the mitts although I don't think I'm ready for the matching shoes and handbag set yet!