Last weekend I went on a lovely trip to see my good friend Cecilia, who lives high in the Cumbrian countryside. Cecilia is a spinner and hand dyer of the highest level and she has very kindly (or foolishly) been teaching me to spin. In return, she asked if I would help her improve her stranded knitting skills.
As well as both living on farms and being obsessed with wool and knitting, Cecilia and I have another thing in common. We were both supporters of our mutual friend, Felicity Ford’s ‘Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook‘.
Helping Cecilia to improve her stranded knitting skills seemed the perfect moment for us also to explore Felix’s book and launch Cecilia into a project.
Before I arrived I had set Cecilia some homework based on Felix’s book. She was to study her surroundings and choose something around her as the inspiration for her piece of stranded knitting. She was then also to extract the colours from this and create a colour palette from which she would knit.
As a hand dyer inspired by her environment on a daily basis, Cecilia decided to turn things on their heads somewhat and chose a skein of her beautiful hand dyed yarn as her inspiration. This in turn had been inspired by a view by the near by lake early this year. You can read more about Cecilia’s processes in this interview on the Wovember blog in 2013.
She then chose a selection of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight Shetland wool that reflected the colours to be found in the skein.
Felix’s book helps you to see the range of colours and patterns in everything around you and then shows you how to take those colours and patterns and turn them into beautiful samples of stranded knitting. I would recommend you looking at Felix’s website at just some of the truly amazing images of completed works that people have sent to her.
Felix has herself been using a photo I had taken of my farm, Monkley Ghyll to create the most stunningly, rich swatch. Here it is in progress.
Here is the photo which Felix has used to create this incredible swatch.
And so, once colours had been identified, Cecilia took up her needles and set about learning to create stranded knitting. Sitting at her kitchen table we talked and drank tea oblivious to the day darkening outside; the only sound disturbing us that of Cecilia’s two new Old England goats who have been relentlessly trying to escape since coming to live with her.
Initially awkward, the rhythm of working stranded knitting with a colour held in each hand began to make sense and Cecilia’s speed and accuracy improved dramatically. At the end of the day a small but perfectly formed swatch had begun to appear on her needles. Cecilia is going to continue with this and at our next meeting I will hopefully be able to share with you her completed project.