I have not written a blog on this page for quite some time, over the past fours years I have been working as a designer in the Scottish textiles and manufacturing industry for various companies which has meant that my own design work has taken a bit of a back seat.
Over the past few months I have been back home in Shetland, as my work has been closed temporarily due to the covid 19 pandemic, probably the longest I have been back here since I moved away to go to university in 2012, and I have really loved slowing down and getting out of the busy industry life.
This has also meant that I have had some head space to be more creative again and explore some of my own ideas (more to come on this hopefully!!) outwith the constraints of time and cost that often restricts product development in industry.
While I have been back in Shetland I have been sifting through a bank of images and ideas which I have kept in image form or in design journals and have translated a few into product form on my loom and also by hand knitting. I first learned to knit when I was in primary school in Lerwick, unfortunately they no longer teach the pupils here at school due to funding cuts a few years ago, but it is something that I always remember fondly.
If you remember some of my previous work, I trained in woven textile design and often use linear ideas in my design work because it translates well into woven cloth. I prefer the simplicity of lines, stripes and grids compared to overly patterned fabrics.
In my earlier design work for my masters and under graduate collection (follow the links to see more if interested) I was fascinated by the idea of Shetland being a remote island in the middle of Scotland and Norway. I often still wonder how simple Scandinavian design and traditional Scottish textiles, like tartan could be simplified + combined to create a ‘Shetland’ textile of my own. These ideas formed the basis of my work for a long time at university and upon reflection I think that these ideas are still something that is an important layer to my work as a designer.
Using these ideas as a starting point, I designed and developed a hand knit hat pattern which I then made for two friends of mine for their First Wedding Anniversary.
The pattern has linear gradient ideas, which comes from my weaving background and some of the Shetland imagery and inspiration which I have gathered while I have been home. The pattern then moves into a simple ‘O X O’ Fair Isle pattern using the movement of colour in change of yarns, and back to the linear gradient.
I used Jamieson and Smith, The Woolbrokers in Lerwick 2 ply jumper weight wool. I love to use this yarn because its important to me to create Shetland designs using the materials that we have here. I don’t always use just Shetland wool in my work because of its unique qualities, its not always suitable for lighterweight fabrics (especially in weaving), but I love to use it when I can.
All their wool is hand graded in Shetland, with all parts of the fleece being used – so no waste!
Happy First Anniversary Kathryn + Donald!