A dear designer friend, Carol Feller recently published ‘Among Stones‘, a collection of patterns themed around her favourite places in Ireland, her native home. I am honoured to be part of the blog tour for this lovely book!
Among Stones includes a variety of sweaters and accessories for women and children. My personal favourite is Gabbro, a fitted top which features some beautiful lace at one side and very interesting shaping at the hem:
I also love this boy’s hoodie, Liathite Jr, and especially this photo which has such a Celtic feel. I adore being in places like that, where I feel so connected to the ancients. Want one for yourself? There’s a woman’s version too!
Having designed patterns with a regional theme myself (for ‘Born & Bred’) I was keen to explore with Carol how a location can inspire a design, and she has kindly answered some rather searching questions about this. As a designer myself, I find questions about how my designs are inspired quite difficult to answer, because the way I am inspired is rather eclectic, with all kinds of ideas, feelings, and wishes coming together in the final product. So, I’m very grateful to Carol for being willing to attempt to describe the process of realising her inspirations in the designs she created for Among Stones:
Tell me a little about your favourite places: What attracts you to them? What do they evoke for you?
I spent most of my childhood in the country, I like the quiet tranquility. I love being able to walk for miles, allowing your thoughts to brew. Nothing is more inspirational to me that a long solo walk. Walking through woods is my favourite, the dark browns and greens, the muted sounds and usually the distant sound of running water. It calms the soul and creates a deep feeling of contentment, allows you to breath deeply and let the tension go.
My life is very busy, some days I spend up to 5 hours driving, so that calm tranquility is very precious to me. The name Among Stones came from this, if you’ve ever walked in Irish countryside you’ll know that it’s hard to avoid stones at every turn, even my house is surrounded by high stone walls!
How does a place inspire a design?
Often my bigger design ideas come to me when walking. In this case, several months before I began work on this book I was walking in a local woods and I came across a ruined building that was just magical. I took a photo of it on my phone and found myself staring at the photo imagining what an evocative photo shoot you could use it for!
The combination of a beautiful location and a desire to create a calm, relaxed knitting mood created the inspiration.
What do you attempt to capture in the design?
With this book I wanted to capture that feeling of relaxation you get from woodland walks and the release of tension. It was not a deliberate direction, it just flowed naturally from the concept of natural settings, colours and simple wearable designs.
What aspects of a design do you manipulate to express the inspiration?
The most obvious is in my choice of colours. I kept my colour palette muted, dark greens, blues, greys with just occasional splashes of brighter colour. These are all colours I love, I find them very flattering to wear and easy to combine with most outfits. Plus they evoke the shadowy, mottled colours of woodlands and hillsides.
In addition to this I wanted the designs to be simple with natural details that flowed from the stitches. The beauty of the countryside is in it’s simplicity and natural beauty.
Can you describe how some of the pieces in /among Stones express the locations they were inspired by?
One of the first pieces I designed was Liathite. Knit in a light grey yarn from the top down with a dramatic but simple cable pattern running down the front edges. This is one of my favourite styles of hoodie to use for walks; snug fitting so a coat can fit over it with a hood for those inevitable showers! This was such a functional garment I knit a second child’s version that my youngest son fell in love with.
The socks, Pyrite, have a subtle but effective slip stitch pattern that allows yarns with several contrasting colours to blend nicely. One of the yarns I used for this design, Easy Knits ‘Deeply Wicked’ has greens and rusts running through it which beautifully echo the colours of the Autumnal leaves.
Which piece do you feel was the most expressive of your theme? Why?
The cover photo shows one of my favourite designs in the book, Dacite. It was photographed inside the ruined building in the wood that started the whole book off. It’s designed with a suitably rustic yarn, Studio Donegal ‘Soft Donegal’, that uses a soft merino but retains it’s rustic tweedy nature. The colour is a deep green that almost changes colour when it’s seen in different lights. The design itself is subtle and simple, a top down jacket with large cross over front garter panels at the front. But it’s simplicity allows it to be worn in a whole variety of ways and in fact looks completely different depending on whether it is worn open or closed.
Aren’t they lovely? I love Gabbro so much I’m going to see if I can create some downtime to knit one for myself this winter!
Many thanks to Carol for inviting me to participate in the blog tour! You can find the schedule for the rest of the tour here. Enjoy!