Interview: Naomi Parkhurst, Gannet Designs.

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Meeting of the Waters

I’m secretly using the GAL as an excuse to interview one of my favourite designers.🙂 Naomi Parkhurst of Gannet Designs

I first met Naomi during the 2014 GAL. Since then we’ve become friends, I’ve woven her secret code stitch patterns into many of my own designs, and we’ve collaborated on several projects.

Clockwise from left: Blood and Roses, Paper Snowflake, Ellerbe Hat.

What got you started designing?

My family in general in places a high priority on being able to do traditional crafts, and one piece of that includes a strong emphasis on being able to modify patterns and improvise one’s own. In my childhood this was intensified because none of the sewing patterns for dolls fit my dolls and stuffed animals, so I had to learn to make my own patterns.

Fast forward to when I finally took up knitting in my thirties. I learned some basic recipes for socks and bags and things, and starting just improvising my own patterns. I posted pictures on LiveJournal, and people asked me for patterns. I like sharing, so I quickly dashed off some badly-written patterns and stuck them up. (These are currently unavailable or have been rewritten, depending.) After I joined Ravelry, I found a local knitting group, who also encouraged me to make patterns for the things I made.

Combine that with working part-time, and then quitting my paid job when I started homeschooling my son, and selling patterns seemed like the way to go. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot from other designers on Ravelry and from a book or two about pattern-writing, and so I’m not embarrassed by my pattern-writing anymore.

What are your favourite parts of the process?

I like thinking of unusual but practical shapes and then trying to make them into shawls. I enjoy solving problems or coming up with something slightly quirky and then figuring out how to turn it into a pattern. Most of all, I like seeing other knitters’ interpretations of my work.

And the challenging parts?

Scheduling the photography is one major problem. Actually sitting down and writing out the pattern for a sample. And figuring out which of the many ideas I have to work on next.

What would you like to explore (or do more of) in the future?

I would very much like to do more work with my hexagon lace ideas, both shawls that are pictures (kind of like Niebling’s work, but in my own style – this feels hubristic, and yet it seems like a worthy goal) and things that involve code work.

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Suffrage

Do you have a favourite design?

I suspect this is a pretty common answer, but it’s usually whatever I’ve worked on most recently. At the moment that’s Suffrage, though I am also particularly fond of New Hope Creek, which is a good way to tone down a difficult yarn and which fits nicely over the shoulders.

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New Hope Creek

Have you decided what you’ll knit for this year’s GAL?

I’m starting out with Lisa Chemery’s Boy Sweater (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boy-sweater), and then plan to knit Elwood, by Jenny Wiebe (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/elwood), and then, who knows? There are thousands of amazing patterns in the GAL.

Thank you so much for the interview!

November 27, 2016 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

It’s Giftalong time again!

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The 2016 Indie Design GAL is here!

This year we have an amazing 335 designers from 33 countries, banding together to have a huge 25% off sale (till midnight Nov 30, US EST), followed by an enormous craftalong (think fun, games and prizes) running until the end of the year!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long group has more info, just follow this link.

To quote a large chunk from the thread linked above:

“There are eight KAL/CALs to participate in, prizes of all sorts given out, games, and generally a lot of fun! The Gift-A-Long KAL/CALs will run from November 22nd at 8pm US EST through – December 31, 2016 at 11:59pm US EST. All patterns by the participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CALs and all not-free patterns by the participating designers are eligible to win prizes.”

Come along and craft up a storm!

Thanks to Kimberly Golynskiy of 80 Skeins for the grest infographic.

November 26, 2016 at 9:30 pm Leave a comment

Tree – a free pattern

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For the most part, I’m a bit bah humbug about Christmas. The muzac carols and obligatory gift exchanging mostly just give me the grumps. But there’s something about a Christmas tree which still holds the magic in a it’s-not-a-real-birthday-till-you-blow-out-the-candles kind of way.

Blinking lights, shiny tinsel and tatty old gewgaws with outlandish names from childhood; the tackier the better. Maybe it’s because the tradition of celebrating evergreens at midwinter goes right back into prehistory and spans several continents.

Or maybe not. Even now, memories of sleeping on a rickety truckle bed under a sweet smelling tree on Christmas eve, watching the coloured lights dance their syncopated jitterbug can still make me wax lyrical.

This Christmas we are a long way from home, but we couldn’t not have a tree. It needed to be small and portable, and because everything on our trip needs to be multipurpose, it had to be practical as well as decorative. (And besides, it’s getting cold!)

So it’s a cowl that moonlights as a tree.🙂

http://knitty.com/ISSUEw15/PATTtree.php

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Fold it in half and admire it on the mantelpiece, and then snuggle it around your neck when you head outside for a walk in the woods, or possibly to leave food out for the reindeer..

And in the spirit of Christmas, Winter Solstice, Yule or what you will, I wanted to share it to say thank you for all your support over the last year and a half.

Merry Christmas Tree!

December 9, 2015 at 7:13 am Leave a comment

Shawl of Many Shapes, a fundraiser.

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We’ve been slowly making our way from the Netherlands down to Turkey over the past 4 months, and along the way we frequently read about, and occasionally meet, refugees heading the other direction.

I can’t imagine doing what they are doing. It must be hell. We see them most often outside supermarkets. We walk out carrying bags of supplies, and they are sitting outside in the cold, looking very tired, and often with small children just like ours.

And reading the news.. well, let’s not go there.

As a small way of doing something useful, I’m releasing Shawl of Many Shapes.

Full proceeds go to MÊdecins Sans Frontières. Every time I read about some new awfulness, they are already there helping out.

The pattern includes 4 separate shawls made from the one lace, and is a mini lesson in shawl shaping.

Each shape includes a simple repeatable chart which can be worked to any size, in a range of weights.

Beginners can can keep it simple and work a stockinette shawl, using just the edging for an elegant finish.

The lace has a short repeat which is quick to memorise, and is interesting enough to be knit more than once. (Several of the test knitters went back for a second shape, and one decided to knit one of everything!)

Many thanks to the test knitters, who did a wonderful job in record time, and also to all those who buy a pattern for a worthy cause. Happy knitting!

November 28, 2015 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Pattern Release: Dragon’s Breath

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I’ve been keeping a secret which has been burning a hole in my pocket for some time now, and I’m very, very pleased to be able to share it at last!

Dragon’s Breath is a beaded lace weight cowl, named for that last burst of heat that sometimes flares up in autumn, before the fire-breathing summer flies away to the other hemisphere.

Simple to knit and dramatic to wear. Both the width and length of the cowl can be adjusted, and the beads are optional but fun. This would make a good first project for working in the round, or trying beading.

Best of all, it comes to you thanks to Knitty!

http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEff15/PATTdragon.php

(Please forgive me tooting my own trumpet but I had to share as I feel like I’m on top of the world just now, and not only because I’ve just flown 20,000 kms northward to begin our year long vagabonding travel adventure!)

Dragons breath

Special thanks to my dear friend Lizzy for being a fire breathing dragon for me.🙂

June 10, 2015 at 4:36 am 3 comments

Ominously quiet in the corner

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It’s been very quiet here since November. Usually when the kids are quiet it means they are Up To Something, and usually something dubious.

In my case I’ve been head down, knitting up a storm, so here is a catch up post. Apologies for the number of links.

So far this year I’ve been working on 3 series; Oriental Tales, the Little Book of Fairy Tales, and am just finishing up a series about love – Love is like friendship caught on fire. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is love of the interpersonal variety, or for the love of knitting!😉

The Nimble Knits group has grown, and the community continually blows me away with its warmth and kindness. We now have regular knitalongs (check out the KALendar here for updates if you like to knit with friends.) Currently there is a knitalong of the Leaf Cycle shawls.

I’m excited to say there’s been a lot of leaping of the language barrier, with a number of patterns now available in French thanks to the delightful ladies of  Madlaine Yarns, in German thanks to TinaStrickt, and in Italian thanks to Unfilodi Knit House (who hosted a KAL of the free cowl pattern Whimsycowl in April).

And soon I’ll be doing some leaping of my own as our family of 5 is about to embark on a year of vagabonding. After several years of planning and dreaming, we are finally only days away from setting off to travel around Europe and the UK for 12 months. In a bongo van. Wish us luck! (We may need it..)

I’ll be keeping some sort of record of our journey here, for any who are curious.

May 20, 2015 at 11:55 pm 1 comment

Pattern release: The Dragon’s Tale

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I’m going to release a dragon into the wild tonight!

I’m really chuffed by The Dragon’s Tale as I had to step right out of my comfort zone to make it, and would have been thoroughly lost if it hadn’t been for a number of very kind helping hands. (Thank you Catnach, Sandra8981, Madquilter, Alpacaspinner, and the whole group of testers..)

I’ve been quietly in love with this stitch pattern ever since I first saw it. I spent several hours just looking at its construction, and I’m honestly in awe of it. Apart from its sheer rippling beauty, the amount of experience and understanding that went into working out where to place the increases and decreases to get the scales to lean and flow as they do is quite remarkable. My sincere respect to Marjorie Bialkowski for either creating it, or passing it on to the wonderful Barbara Walker.

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However turning it into a sideways shawl presented some challenges, for me at least.

I’m airing my ignorance woefully here, but I figure that if even I could manage to knit this, then anyone could.

Because:

– I hadn’t worked side to side before.
– I hadn’t tried an integrated I cord edge.
– I hadn’t worked pattern on the WS before and I had to turn my brain inside out to figure out how to work a ssk on the WS, (I was still turning my work around to work out which way I was supposed to lean for the first 3 pattern repeats! Fortunately there is only one decrease and a yarn over worked on each WS row, and the placement and direction is established on the previous row, so it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of it.)
– And I hadn’t used anything above fingering for a couple of years, so this was a stretch in every direction.

In my (albeit limited) experience, dragons tend to be rather opinionated creatures, and this one proved no different. In my imagination, it was originally going to be a shawl, however it was determined to be more lithe and serpentine than I had envisioned, so it became a scarf instead.

Then it needed a tail tip. Apparently all the really cool dragons have them, and this one wasn’t happy without one.

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Playing with beads and buttons for eyes until Mr Postman makes a delivery from Etsy.

And once it had a little barbed tail, it just didn’t look complete without a head, so back to the graph paper we went again. This time we (the dragon and I, that is) played around with cables for dramatic effect, and then got way too carried away with the button jar trying out different eyes, which was great fun. (If you happen to be looking for some serious dragon eyes, I can highly recommend ArtistJP on Etsy, he has a great variety, and is very helpful.)

But we still weren’t quite done. All this was merely a scarf, and ‘we’* wanted to spread our wings and truly fly, so Dragonflight, the shawl version, was born. This is a deeper crescent (and adaptable to become deeper still, and or longer/shorter) with a wider border, and designed to work with lighter weight yarn, in this case from fingering up to DK, compared to the DK and up for the Dragon’s Tale scarf. It’s testing at the moment and should be out in a couple of weeks.

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Dragonflight shawl, sister to the Dragon’s Tale scarf.

So the moral of this tale seems to be ‘beware of dragons, because they’re bossy’. Or perhaps that following your imagination can get you into all sorts of fun mischief.

*Dragons apparently believe they are entitled to use the royal ‘we’.

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The amazing Solstice Yarns ‘Sea Fey’ is a beautiful green gold by day, and turns to secret dragonish gold at night.

The Dragon’s Tale is the second in the Oriental Tales series, along with The Peacock’s Tale, Scheherezade’s Tale, and the tale of the flying carpet, which will hopefully come off the needles in the next day or two. And after that there are a bunch of fairy tale archetypes I am itching to play with, and then.. well, the list is getting rather long.

December 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm 4 comments

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