Monday, 14 January 2019

A Knitter's Sketchbook

A Knitter's Sketchbook is now officially published! My first book, all about designing with twisted stitches and cables, includes ten accessory knitting patterns and a creative stitch library. The designs in my book are inspired by sources from the natural world and the built environment. There is also advice on how to create your own knitter's sketchbook. You can view a preview on the Crowood Press website and my book will be available for shipping shortly!

Front cover of A Knitter's Sketchbook by Emma Vining

I'll be posting about the designs in my book over the next few weeks and telling you all about the beautiful yarns I chose to use in each project. Today I would like to write about one of the most important parts of writing a book, the people who helped to make it all possible. I have had great deal of encouragement and advice during the writing and editing of my book and I am very grateful for all of this excellent help. 

My family have been my biggest supporters throughout, with my Mum always encouraging me to experiment with design and knitting and my husband, my daughter and my son helping with proof-reading, technical assistance, accessory photography and much, much more. Many friends constantly listened to me talking about the book and helped me to clarify my ideas and I am particularly grateful to Teresa and Sue.

The skills and techniques I constantly use to interpret designs in knitting were developed and refined during my time as a City and Guilds Student. I was extremely fortunate to have an outstanding tutor, Loraine McClean, who continues to inspire me to look for and find pattern everywhere!

I am passionate about supporting the Knitting & Crochet Guild and was delighted to be able to draw on the Guild's collection for examples of historical cables in knitting. Barbara Smith, Publications Curator and Angharad Thomas, Textile Archivist, provided me with images and a great deal of fascinating background information, for which I am very grateful.

Stitchmastery software is an integral part of my design process, allowing me to work out my ideas in chart form. The charts throughout my book were all created using Cathy Scott's excellent software.

The Crowood Press have been great to work with and I'd like to thank my editor, Lucy, and production manager, Christine, for all their help in bringing my book to life. My thanks also to Joanna Miles, an excellent copy editor with a superb eye for detail, who was a real delight to work with. The accessory patterns in my book were professionally tech edited by Heather Murray and, as always, her positive and constructive approach was very much appreciated.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has helped me throughout. Please do look out for more details about A Knitter's Sketchbook over the coming weeks!


Back cover of a Knitter's Sketchbook by Emma Vining

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Holland Park Cardigan in the Knitter Magazine 133

Using reverse stocking stitch within an interlocking cable design creates a raised, textured appearance. I have used this technique in Holland Park, my latest design for The Knitter Magazine. My Holland Park cardigan has a lower trellis cable panel, worked in a light shade of purple. The upper body is knitted in a sumptuous dark shade of purple and has long textured cable lines that appear to emerge from the lower panel.

Holland Park by Emma Vining
Image from The Knitter Magazine

Detail from Holland Park by Emma Vining
from The Knitter Magazine

The gorgeous yarns used are both from the John Arbon Knit by Numbers DK range of yarn. The shades are KBN89, light purple and KBN87, dark purple. This beautiful yarn is a joy to knit with as is so soft, yet shows the textured cable definitions beautifully. The cardigan front bands are knitted at the same time as the fronts, with a contrasting "smooth" cable pattern.

Further on in the magazine is an advert for the next issue of The Knitter featuring another of my designs! I loved designing and knitting this beautiful cabled sweater and I can't wait to see the pattern in the magazine next month.

Sweater design by Emma Vining for The Knitter Magazine

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Cover Design for The Knitter Magazine!

When Issue 131 of the Knitter Magazine arrived in the post, I was really excited to find my Shaftesbury cardigan design was featured on the cover! Knitted in Walcot Yarns gorgeous Opus yarn, Shaftesbury is an elegant ribbed cardigan with openwork details on the upper body. The stunning shade is called Goldenrod. 
Shaftesbury by Emma Vining on the cover
of The Knitter Magazine 131
The openwork pattern is knitted using the one row buttonhole technique. As well as being my preferred way of making buttonholes, I really like using this method to make slots in knit designs. In Shaftesbury, the slots are linked by a rib pattern and placed to form a larger lattice. I love the way a little glimpse of whatever you wear underneath will show through the slots. In the shoot for the Knitter Magazine, my cardigan has been paired with beautiful Gudrun Sjoden garments. As well as more images of Shaftesbury, you can see several of the other beautiful designs from issue 131 on Ravelry.

Shaftesbury by Emma Vining in The Knitter Magazine 131
Shaftesbury by Emma Vining in The Knitter Magazine 131

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Taro Sweater in The Knitter Magazine Issue 129

My new sweater design, Taro, is in this month's issue of the Knitter Magazine! Taro is part of a beautiful collection of garments called "Light and Shade". Knitted in John Arbon Knit by Numbers DK yarn, Taro has a black and white stranded pattern border and a textured upper body pattern. The drop sleeves have the stranded border at the cuffs and the textured pattern on the upper sleeve. The textured pattern is a continuation of the diamonds and diagonal lines featured in the two colour stranded pattern. You can read more about this lovely issue of the Knitter Magazine over on the Yarn Loop website.

Taro by Emma Vining
for The Knitter Magazine

Taro by Emma Vining
for The Knitter Magazine

Taro by Emma Vining
for The Knitter Magazine
I took the last photo when Taro was still in several pieces on my blocking board. The right side and wrong side of the stranded pattern look great together and I love the way the textured pattern picks up the diamonds and diagonals. This was one of the images I shared on Instagram during September for #septtextilelove, a fun challenge organised by Seam Collective. There are some really beautiful posts by some very talented people, so if you get a chance please do take a look!


Saturday, 11 August 2018

An Interview on the How to Become a Professional Knitter blog!

Designer Robin Hunter has just posted her interview with me on her excellent blog, "How to become a professional knitter"! Once a week, Robin posts interesting interviews with knit designers and I am delighted to have been included in her amazing list of interviewees. Thank you Robin!

I really enjoyed talking about designing knitting and about the Gladys Jeskins knitted sampler from the Knitting and Crochet Guild. You can read the full interview here and browse Robin's excellent blog here

Stitch detail from Sampler Scarf
by Emma Vining

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2018

2018 is a very special year for the Knitting & Crochet Guild (KCG). Founded in 1978, with the aim of preserving our shared knitting and crochet heritage, the Guild is now celebrating its 40th birthday! Yes, there was a celebration cake and as always, there was a varied and fascinating programme on offer. This year's Convention (July 6th to 8th 2018) began with an introductory welcome meeting before we all enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by the excellent Radcliffe Conference Centre at the University of Warwick.

The KCG 40th Anniversary Pin!

Our keynote speaker after dinner was Sasha Kagan, who is a patron of the Guild. Sasha told us about her life in knitting and crochet, beginning with learning to knit with her mother. After moving to Wales, Sasha’s business began to grow and her distinctive designs became instantly recognisable. We all enjoyed seeing many of Sasha’s designs close up, especially her stunning crochet shawl for the Rowan Yarns 40th Anniversary, also being celebrated this year. When asked why she became a patron of the Guild, Sasha replied that she is passionate about knitting and crochet because “anything made by hand has a touch of the person’s spirit in it” a sentiment we all wholeheartedly agreed with!

Crochet Wrap by Sasha Kagan
celebrating Rowan's 40th Anniversary

A full day on Saturday began with a talk by an honorary member of the Guild, crochet expert Pauline Turner. As the first editor of the journal Slipknot, Pauline had many fascinating insights into the Guild’s early history. Pauline’s career in crochet has resulted in her travelling all over the world. She is the author of several renowned books on crochet and design and the founder the first international distance learning diploma course for crochet. When asked about some of the more unusual challenges she has undertaken, Pauline told us about crocheting onto ice-cream! Her many achievements are the result of meticulous planning and as Pauline remarked, “if you are going to succeed, you have to prepare”.

During the afternoon session, Tricia Basham and I shared some of the discoveries from our work on the Gladys Jeskins sampler. Gladys was an amazing knitter who created a continuous piece of knitting containing 899 stitch patterns. The sampler is over 50m long and was still a work in progress on the needles when it was donated to the Guild some years ago. With the help of all the conference delegates, we unrolled almost the whole length of knitting! We had also brought along the accessories inspired by the sampler that now feature in the Guild’s Ruby Celebration ebook for members. Each of the accessory designs by Tricia, Juliet Bernard and myself were inspired by single stitch patterns in the sampler. My Ruby half pi shawl (knitted in Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply) and Tulip Scarf (knitted in Willow Knits Silk yarn) took pattern number 40 as the starting point. 

Accessory designs celebrating the KCG Ruby Anniversary
Beautiful Willow Knits cranberry silk yarn used for my Tulip Scarf design

Once we had rolled the sampler up again (no small task!), it was time for the afternoon workshops. There were a wide variety of workshops available and I had chosen I cord and it’s uses with Clare Griffel. Claire’s workshop covered icord cast off and applied icord and there was also the option to create an icord necklace. Claire had brought along some lovely examples. I managed to complete all sides of my swatch in icord edging and look forward to using this excellent technique again soon. Thank you Claire!

Dinner was followed by one of the highlights of the convention, Show and Tell. Led by excellent compere Rachel Lemon, we saw many garments created by members that were either inspired by, or made in, the 1970s. The skill level on show was amazing and this was a great moment for us to have our celebration cake!

Sunday began with a talk by Alison White from Arena Travel, showcasing a variety of exciting knitting and crochet holidays. Marion Dye also updated us all on plans for a knitting cruise to Norway in May 2019. There will be workshops co-ordinated by Marion and she had just received the exciting news that she will be giving an on-board presentation all about the Guild!

During the morning workshop session, Tricia and I ran a joint workshop on sampling the sampler. Our participants were able to take a close look at Gladys’s work and many have been inspired to create their own designs. Tricia had created a beautiful series of boards displaying the samples that had been reknitted by guild members. These samples show 60 of Gladys’s patterns over a larger knitted swatch. We had a wonderful discussion about the sampler and about Gladys and her early career as a comptometer operator. It was fascinating to hear about the skill and speed required to operate these early calculating machines. 



After lunch, it was time for some forward planning and to say thank you to everyone involved in running this successful event, in particular, the Board Members and the local Birmingham Branch members who coordinated and organised the whole Convention weekend. Individual members volunteered to run knitting and crochet workshops and everyone contributed excellent ideas, suggestions and discussions throughout the Convention. The Guild's theme for 2018 is "Pass on the Passion" and, judging by the enthusiasm on show at the Convention, we are all looking forward to doing just that! 

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Isle of Berneray and The Birlinn Yarn Company

Last year, the Birlinn Yarn Company (BYC) held a design competition and I was absolutely delighted to be the winner!!! The prize was in two parts. Firstly, two of my accessory designs, showcasing the gorgeous BYC yarns, were made into knitting kits. Meg Rodger, owner of the BYC, and I worked on these designs together last year. The Machair Wildflowers Shawl and the Storm Cast Cowl were released in the run up to Christmas 2017 and are currently on sale through the BYC website.

Meg and Emma
The second part of the prize was a week long stay in Meg's beautiful self-catering cottage on the Isle of Berneray. The date of our trip was set way back last year. I can't believe that it is now almost two weeks since we returned home from our wonderful trip to the Outer Hebrides.

Lamraig Cottage on the Isle of Berneray
Lamraig cottage is a traditional thatched Hebridean building with incredibly thick walls, set right by the shore. Views from the windows gave us a lovely perspective across the bay to the harbour and into a small lagoon. Being so close to the water meant that we had the company of several greylag geese families all week!

Greylag Geese outside the cottage windows

A short walk from the cottage took us to stunning local beaches and to the rare habitat of the Hebridean machair. Seeing the sheer abundance of wildflowers in bloom was wonderful. As we walked along the paths, we were surrounded by birds nesting in the machair. Tiny orchids were also beginning to show their stunning colours.

An orchid beginning to bloom in the Machair
We spent most of our trip exploring the many beaches that Meg recommended. Our only company on one beautiful beach walk was a sea otter which appeared suddenly from the water, paused to check the beach, then disappeared into the dunes!

West Beach, Isle of Berneray

Did I mention the yarn? Well, on this trip I saw first hand the beautiful Hebridean colours that inspire Meg every day. The colour of the sea pink flowers seemed to be on every shoreline we explored. The gorgeous shade of corn marigold appeared everywhere too. Of course, some of this yarn has come home with me. I'll be thinking about new designs over the summer and cant wait to work with Meg later in the year.

Sea pink flowers near Udal, North Uist

So, thank you Meg, for a wonderful week, for your great hospitality and especially for your friendship. Walking the croft with you and sitting with you at your kitchen table talking yarn and design, were the highlights of the trip!

Meg's Hebridean sheep on her croft

By co-incidence, our final day and return journey to Glasgow was on Work Wide Knit on Public Day. What better place to knit in public than on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Lochmaddy to Uig and with this gorgeous BYC Corn Marigold 4ply!

BYC Corn Marigold on the needles on the Calmac ferry!