Friday, 3 August 2012

Featuring Louise Zass-Bangham

We've really enjoyed featuring lots of new designs and the designers that created beautiful pieces using Fyberspates and Scrumptious yarns. A while ago we featured 'Song of the Sea', a beautiful design created by Louise. Louise has also created Midnight Ocean, using Sheila's Sparkle Sock, so we thought it would be lovely to ask her some interview questions to share a little more about this great designer.


Midnight ocean1
Midnight Ocean

What is your inspiration when creating knitwear?
Most often I’m drawn to beautiful yarns - I have a big jar on my desk so I can see my favourite skeins. I love to test yarns to see how they behave, trying to find a way to show them off best. I do a lot of messing around with stitch patterns, which has given me a reputation for being an inveterate swatcher!

My studio is crammed with inspiration - I have piles of yarn, sketchbooks, photos and design books that I dive into. I love lots of other design disciplines, so I have books on jewellery, gardens, art, fashion, furniture, wrought iron...the list is long. The V&A is the most inspiring place for creativity in general. It’s completely overwhelming but I could just move in there.

I also get lots of ideas out walking absolutely anywhere. If I’ve got a good camera with me, I drive my husband mad taking photos. I always buy books about beautiful places I have visited, so I can remind myself later.

Song of the Sea

What particularly inspired these two designs?
I was tinkering with lots of variations inspired by a stitch pattern I like. I scribbled many charts and swatched in everything from stiff cotton glace to mohair, fine silk blends to worsted wool mixes. Then a swatch in Scrumptious started looking like waves to me. So I looked at some of my beach pictures to help develop the idea in that direction.

The version I liked best was worked in every row, rather than having a “rest” purl row. It was also much easier to see what was going on if it was worked on the right side only, so knitters would have fewer mistakes. I abandoned scarf and shawl ideas to develop the cowl and capelet shapes. Worked in the round they would result in an easy-to-knit design that would look great - my requirements for a good pattern.

What is it that draws you to Fyberspates yarns?
I love the colours and luxuriousness of Fyberspates yarns so I took some swatches to the stand at the Unravel show in my search for yarns. I was looking for a gorgeous sea-blue for Song of the Sea, and I found it in the interesting dyeing of Rural Charm - it has more life than a flat solid colour and I thought that would help the design have more movement and character, like waves.

For Midnight Ocean, I wanted a 150g skein for the yardage needed and the sparkle sock was perfect. The colours and twinkling stellina reminded me of light catching the waves at night. I went back with the yarn to a favourite photograph to finish the design. I knew the sparkle would make the capelet more suitable for special occasions, but was still subtle and elegant. I can be a bit impatient to see things finished and I didn’t fancy the time it would take to bead the piece, so I knew the yarn would add the glamour element for me. Perfect.

Midnight ocean
Can you share any quick tips for successful knits?
Use the best quality yarn you can afford - to borrow from computing, garbage in means garbage out! It’s not much fun knitting yarn that squeaks, and you want hours of knitting pleasure not purgatory.

The right colour makes or breaks a design, and ultimately determines if a handknit is actually worn or not. Choose yarns in shades you, or your recipient, regularly wear.

When you’ve finished, wet blocking is only for lace or very open structures. Otherwise, just steam finished pieces. I rarely actually press handknits because it makes the textures and colours go flat. I want to enjoy the sculptural handknitting and beautiful yarns at their best.


Song of the ocean
A huge thank you to Louise for taking the time to talk to us and answer these questions. To knit your own versions of the patterns, please see Louise's pattern page on Ravelry to directly download a PDF. To choose your yarn, please visit the Fyberspates shop.

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