Interview

Wearing my Brooklyn Tweed Copywriter hat, I had the pleasure of interviewing five of the Wool People designers for the BT blog. All are first-time contributors to Wool People and it was interesting to learn more about their designs and their various points of entry into the knitting world. Since Haro was my second WP design, I didn’t interview myself for the feature, but then I thought it might be fun to answer my own questions anyway!

What’s your favorite detail of your WP10 design contribution?

I think I’m going to have to go with the way the Fir Cone lace pulls the final ridges of garter stitch into gentle waves. You can just see it in Jared’s photo below:

haro

A close second is the way you can subtly change the look of the edging depending on where you pin it. I opted to pull out the little details between the tree forms; they actually look even more tree-ish if you pin the bases of the “trunks,” but I decided I liked the more abstract effect. Try your swatch both ways!

Any interesting techniques in the design you’d like to tell knitters about?

The cabled cast-on is often dismissed in favor of fancier and stretchier options, but sometimes you want a good firm edge—especially against garter stitch, which will totally man-spread if you give it a stretchy cast-on. In this case, the cabled cast-on really helps the shawl hold a crescent form. It’s easy to work and the slender, rope-like roll it produces looks particularly classy as a base for garter fabric.

What’s your favorite place to knit?

Oooo, let’s get personal. I knit absolutely everywhere—waiting rooms, faculty meeting, red lights—if I don’t have at least a sock in my handbag I feel naked. I knit in bed with Masterpiece Mystery! a lot after my kids go to sleep. (I should start a series of designs inspired by English detectives, I really should. I can’t believe I let Amy Herzog beat me to a sweater named for DCS Christopher Foyle. Though I’m strongly considering that sweater for my Tour de France project, if I can only choose between the pullover and cardigan versions.) My favorite, though, has to be the kind of knitting I did last night: on the porch swing on a warm but breezy summer evening, with a Hendricks G&T + cucumber spears and a knitting sister for mellow company.

Who inspired you to start designing knitwear?

I think the itch to depart from the beaten path is innate. Almost as soon as I could knit I was tinkering with other people’s patterns to see what would happen if I altered one detail or another. Mothers of the revolution like Elizabeth Zimmermann and historians like Priscilla Gibson-Roberts piqued my interest in the wide variety of possibilities for sweater construction and gave me the confidence run the basic math to figure things out myself. Coming into knitting just as independent designers were beginning to use the internet to sell their designs directly was wonderful, too—the more I see, the more I imagine. I love following other designers’ processes and seeing their careers blossom. And I’ve never been to school for fashion or design, so everything I’ve learned about fit and construction has been from knitting other people’s patterns. I have such appreciation for designers like Ysolda Teague and Amy Herzog, who go to such painstaking mathematical lengths to write patterns we’ll all enjoy wearing as much as we’ve enjoyed knitting them.

Matchy-matchy

When I finished knitting the Haro crescent, I had extra yarn. Really quite a lot of extra yarn. This gives a knitter some flexibility: if you like a deeper shawl, you can merrily add extra repetitions of the Fir Cone section. Or you can work the edging chart a few more times. You’ve got plenty of runway. But I wanted a narrow shawl—a scarf, almost—just a little something around the neck for adornment and a bit of coverage for bare shoulders in summertime. And all that leftover Brooklyn Tweed Plains was really giving me the eye: use me, dummy.

Plains is special. There isn’t much of it in the world and there won’t be more, and for many folks it’s an indulgence to buy yarn at this price point. So I was feeling guilty about writing a pattern that require two skeins but uses only a little of the second. And I hatched a plan.

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Now there’s a matching cap. It’s a free pattern, because I like to publish at least one of those per year in gratitude for the generosity of the worldwide knitting community in sharing wisdom, techniques, and encouragement. Like Haro, the Fir Cone Lace cap begins with a curvaceous short-row crescent in garter stitch and then breaks into a simple openwork pattern.

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Unlike Haro, the cap is worked in the round. To avoid a jog in the garter stitch, there’s one jaunty little fir cone placed within the brim itself. I initially thought I’d wear it with that wee detail at my temple and let the garter crescent fall asymmetrically to the side, but found I like it more centered on my forehead. (And please do excuse the fact that these photos look like I’d just spent three days in bed with a fever. I’d just spent three days in bed with a fever.)

Since I had all that yarn to play with, I knit my cap long and slouchy. If you prefer a close-fitting beanie or something in between, the pattern contains directions for working to two shorter lengths. Plains is very springy, so I made this a one-size-fits-most in terms of circumference. The sample measures 19 1/2″ and easily stretches to accommodate my rather large 22 1/2″ noggin. If you have a small head or want to knit for a child, I’d recommend casting on 10 fewer stitches so you’ll have one less repetition of the lace motif. (Your garter crescent will come out proportionally a little wider, but I doubt this will affect the fit.)

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You can download your copy of the Fir Cone cap on the Free Patterns page or from the link in the sidebar. I hope you have a jolly time knitting it and wearing it. Plains is very soft with a pleasant dry hand; the cap is weightless and just a little bit warm. (Read: a good solution for bad hair days. Or no hair days.) I like mine with Carhartts under the oak trees, but you could dress yours up a bit more if you prefer.

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Thanks to everyone who’s written in with kind words about Haro! I so look forward to seeing it in the wild as you share your versions. (Fun fact: my kids pronounce that word “virgins.” I can’t read or write version without substituting theirs in my head and tittering like an elementary schooler. #arresteddevelopment)

Launch day!

haro

Photo by Jared Flood for Wool People 10

Glad to share a new design today—the Haro crescent shawl is pleased to meet you! I’m so fortunate to have a piece appearing in the wonderful Wool People 10 collection. Go browse Jared’s beautiful photos from Sauvie Island and soak in the scrumptious cables and exquisite lace… I’m wanting to cast on Nadia Crétin-Léchenne’s simple, soothing Scalene triangle, Bristol Ivy’s Marylebone cardigan, and Melissa Wehrle’s Bronwyn pullover especially!

Haro is a simple little summer accessory knit in laceweight Rambouillet Plains. It’s a quick knit and a good project for building your lace skills—the Fir Cone pattern is among the easiest lace motifs to work, but I love how effective it is. And you’re working over the full stitch count during all the lace knitting, so you don’t have to keep track of patterning over an expanding number of stitches. The edging is a step up, with lace maneuvers on both sides of the work, so you’ll feel really accomplished by the end. I’m thinking of making a second Haro in a bright persimmon wool/silk skein (it’s been in my stash for more than a decade!) for times when I want a pop of color to liven up my growing wardrobe of neutrals.

Thanks, Brooklyn Tweed, for another great collection!