As we have an exclusive pattern from Patricia Martin on sale at the moment, I thought it would be a great chance to be really nosey and ask lots of questions!
What got you interested in designing? What was your first design?
I started designing when I couldn’t find a pattern that was exactly what I wanted. I’d been tweaking patterns almost from the time I started knitting so it felt like a natural step. The first pattern I released was Warm Feet, a pair of slippers with some variations. My oldest sister had asked for some slipper socks and I couldn’t find anything perfect. They were made in a lovely cashmere merino blend and the pattern is still available (for free) on Ravelry.
I think my first ‘design’ was something I started my first months of knitting. My next oldest sister was pregnant with her first child and I wanted to do something special for the baby. Along with my other sisters and sisters in law I put together a knitted patchwork blanket with some embroidered fabric squares showing the size of the baby at different points (an orange, an avocado etc). I remember being amazed by a wonderful square my sister in law produced with an intarsia ladybird and was convinced I’d never be that good. My niece, who’s just started school, still uses her unique blanket. She’s a very knitworthy child.
Which design are you most proud of – and why?
Probably Diamond of the First Water, first published in Issue 1 of Knit Now and now available as a Ravelry download. It was my first print published design and uses some interesting techniques such as short row lace borders. It’s also my first sideways knit shawl. It was inspired by one of my sisters who is a budding historical novelist – Diamond of the First Water was Regency slang for an incredibly beautiful woman.
One of the things I love about your designs is the clever use of shaping. I’ve just finished Striding Folly. What draws you to particular shapes and styles?
This is really hard to say! I get a lot of inspiration from architecture details and natural textures. I’ve got a whole load of photos of lichen that will end up as part of a pattern mood board.
Striding Folly was actually inspired by the cover art on various editions of Mary Stewart, Dorothy L Sayers, and Georgette Heyer mystery and crime novels. I have various notebooks with sketches that will eventually end up as parts of designs and I’ve been trying to get into using Pinterest to keep ideas together. I currently have a Pinterest board of jellyfish that will form a design at some point – I’m not sure what it will be though.
French 75 comes complete with a cocktail recipe. Apart from a taste for fine drink, are there any other vices you’d like to share?
I do like fine wines and cocktails…and good food. I don’t have too many vices although sloth is probably one of them!
What draws you to particular yarns – feel, appearance, performance?
Colour draws me in, and stitch definition. I really like silk blends because you get the drape and sheen and the stitch definition. I also use quite a lot of smooth high twist yarns because the definition is so good for cables and lace. I very rarely use cotton as I find it quite tough on my hands. Alpaca and angora make me sneeze but wool, silk and blends with mohair are good for me.
When we talked about this collaboration you had clear ideas about what colours you’d like to work with. Do you have a favourite colour range, or so particular colours seem ‘right’ for different designs?
Some colours just seem right but some come from the inspiration behind the pattern. For example the colours used for Ardtornish Point in Issue 12 of Knit Now came from the amazingly clear seas on the Sound of Mull where my mother in law lives.
For Striding Folly I had a very clear historical palette I wanted to work with and you obviously helped me make the final decision!
For French 75 I wanted something vibrant but not overwhelming and this gorgeous lapis shade worked so well – especially with the pink beads. I tend to work with solid and semi solid shades and my favourites are blues, greys, purples, greens, and reds. I don’t usually go for anything too bright mostly because I tend to do my own modelling and very bright colours drown me completely.
I’m thrilled that we have another collaboration in the pipeline – what else is planned for the next few months?
I’m really looking forward to our next collaboration. The yarn is amazing and the swatches look great. I’ve got a couple of magazine publications in the pipeline but I tend not to plan too far ahead. I combine design work with a daily hectic full time day job so I try not to accumulate too many design jobs – sleep is important too!
When I get some time I’ll have a good trawl through my notebooks and start to work up some sketches. I know I want to do some more cables based on some Florentine architecture that I sketched on holiday last year, and some colourwork based on the Celtic carving on the gravestones in the Highlands. Normally when inspiration strikes it does so with a vengeance and all of a sudden I’ll have a whole stack of sketches and swatches to work through.
Thank you Patricia – this has been fun. If you want to catch up with Patricia on ravelry you’ll find her as pmcblonde.
For anyone who hasn’t cast on yet, I can confirm that French 75 is a delight to knit – and you can find the pattern here.