Friday, 28 March 2014

Unwind with Karie Westermann

Say hello to Karie Westermann. Born in Denmark and currently residing in Scotland, Karie is a creative and multi-talented knitwear designer, tutor, translator and technical editor. Within her multiple roles in the knitting industry, Karie explores her craft with a passion for tradition and authenticity.

Karie will be applying her considerable knowledge and experience to 3 afternoon classes at Unwind this year. The first is Knitting with Beads on Friday 11th, July, then Continental Knitting on Saturday afternoon and the last is Beginning Crochet for Knitters on Sunday afternoon. You can find the classes and further information here

I asked Karie to answer a few questions and share some of her crafting experiences with us...

What was your first knitting/spinning/crochet project?

I cannot actually remember when I learned to knit and crochet – I must have been very young. My great-grandmother taught me to knit and an aunt taught me to crochet, I do remember that. I spent my childhood making clothes for my dolls and I vividly remember making a fair-isle jumper for my Barbie doll! When you are a child, you never realise things are supposed to be too difficult for you. You just do things. Something worth keeping in mind as an adult!

My very first garment was a crochet jumper I made out of my mum's cotton scraps. It was yellow, orange, pink and lime green. A hideous thing, really, with granny squares stretching across my bosom and strips of colours down the bottom. I was 17 or thereabouts. I was really proud of it and wore it around town. I am very thankful that no photos exist.

What’s your favourite thing to knit?

That is a really difficult question. I have recently discovered how much I absolutely love colourwork – it's like painting with stitches and I absolutely love watching how colours combine. On the other hand, if I were on a desert island and all I had were 4mm circs and a huge stash of hand-dyed yarn, I'd be equally happy as I love designing and knitting lace shawlettes. Then again, there is something special about garments you've made yourself…

... it is possibly easier to say I don't enjoy so much. I'm not a huge fan of knitting sleeves, but I live in Scotland, so you do need sleeves to keep warm!

Would you say you are a process or product knitter? 


My least favourite part of knitting is the casting-on part. I really like being in the middle of a project – that stage where things flow and I can see where I am going. I don't have that much time to knit for myself but if I do, I make sure the project is fun to knit and has some sort of interesting process to it. I've become much better at looking at the end result though – I don't have time to knit anything that I cannot see myself wear.

As a designer, I am all about the process. I love sketching ideas, doing research and pulling everything together. I tend to get these big, conceptual ideas and I have to chip away at my ideas to get them into workable forms.

I really got sucked into the research process for my Doggerland collection:

it's a collection of knit accessories inspired by Mesolithic archaeology and psychogeography. I ended up trawling through German treatises on 3D mapping of marine landscapes – it was at that point I had to remind myself that I am a knitwear designer, not a geologist!

What are you working on right now?

At the time of writing I am putting the final touches to the penultimate pattern in the Doggerland collection. I am also working on a pattern (and a related article) for a well-known UK knitting magazine. I am tech-editing a handful of patterns for a super-talented UK designer and I am overseeing an administrative project for a commercial yarn company. I like sticking my fingers in a lot of pies! It's a bit “the calm
before the storm”, though.

Knitting-wise, I have a couple of non-work projects lingering: I am one sleeve(!) away from completing a fair-isle cardigan and one front away from completing another. I am quietly working on a Woolly Wormhead hat as well. It's important to me that I have some non-work knitting at hand for when my head is tired and I just need some comfort knitting.

If you had to pick just one kind of yarn to knit with for the rest of your life what would it be?

I apologise in advance for the long answer, but this is the best question ever.I like working with all sorts of different fibres but I love wool above all else. I have been working a lot with rustic yarns recently - yarns where you can still sense that the wool's come from a sheep and it hasn't been processed beyond recognition.

Snældan 1ply (available in the UK from the Island Wool Company) is quite possibly my favourite lace yarn for that reason – it is a Faroese yarn which is so beautiful to work with. There's an obscure Danish yarn - Hjeltholts Håndværksgarn – which mixes Gotland fibre with Falkland merino. I discovered it a few years ago and I am really excited by it.

On the other hand, Rowan Kidsilk Haze is as far from rustic as you can get. It is such a versatile yarn that makes even the simplest design shine. I also love how many colours you can get with KSH – you can either knit it on its own or combine shades to get new combinations. I have been working a lot with Rowan Felted Tweed DK recently and it's amazingly versatile as well.

For hand-dyed indie yarn, I think we are so incredibly lucky in the UK to have some of the world's best dyers. I absolutely love Old Maiden Aunt yarns – Lilith's sense of colour is so unique and I am dying to knit a cardigan out of her Merino/Silk Sport. I also recently worked with Juno Fibre Arts Belle which has this amazing handle, Eden Cottage Yarn does some of the richest palettes around, and I'm currently working with Triskelion Yarn Amaethon 4ply – unbelievably rich, gorgeous colour and feel.

So, in short, I cannot choose just one because every yarn has its right time and place (apart from fun fur). As long as I'm working with natural fibres, I am happy. I do think people should try to shop more local and try out more local yarns. I'd love to see people really support their local knitting communities and vendors.

Where do you get your knitting inspiration? And whose work do you most admire and why?

I am not someone who goes “There's a tree! I'll make a scarf!” - instead I notice things like the bark having a specific structure or how ice crystals form patterns on leaves. I basically try to keep my eyes open as you can see the most marvellous things if you really look. For instance I really love a specific pedestrian footpath over the motorway here in Glasgow – its combination of colour and form is fantastic. I also tend to use knitting design as a way to explore my own heritage.

Designing is tricky and I am full of admiration for people who keep coming up with classic, wearable designs that have a certain quirky sensibility or a very well-defined aesthetic. Personally I want to knit everything Amy Christoffers and Heidi Kirrmaier design – both nail contemporary and classic at the same time.

I also like designers who are not afraid of pushing boundaries within tradition: Susan Crawford and Hélène Magnússon spring to mind. I do like thoughtful design and I especially like designers who understand the tradition within which we all operate.

Finally, people like Andi Satterlund, Ann Weaver, and Annie Watts are just fantastic. I always get excited when I see they've released a new pattern – very individual styles and great ideas.

What are you most looking forward to about Unwind / Or visiting Brighton?

I have never been to Brighton before, so I am super-excited about that! I am a bit of a Regency nerd... and it is going to be great to see everybody. Knitting events are often the only time I see far-flung friends and I always love seeing new faces, great new yarnies, and finding out about exciting designers. The line-up of classes, talks, and vendor is truly exceptional – it is going to be amazing.

A big thank you to Karie for taking the time to share some insight into her knitting world. To keep up to date with her latest designs and inspirations, visit her blog or keep an eye on her Twitter feed where she’s often engaged in a lively conversation.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Unwind with Tom Of Holland

Meet TomofHolland, a Brighton resident I had the pleasure of meeting in person to invite to teach at Unwind. Tom is a self-taught knitter and mender, originally from The Netherlands. Meticulous in his approach to crafts, he is known for the way technical detail, tradition and narrative inform his projects. Tom is a strong advocate for British Wool and is an great supporter of the Campaign for Wool.

Tom will be hosting a darning drop in session at the Friends Meeting House on Saturday the 12th July, and will also be teaching his popular Darning Masterclass on the morning of Sunday 13th.

(c) Tom Of Holland

I asked Tom to answer a few questions and share some of his crafting experiences...

What was your first knitting/spinning/crochet project?

One of the first things I remember knitting was a small cabled scarf in stripes for my teddy bear. I also remember not enjoying it very much, and it was not until much later in life I picked up needles and yarn again.

Do you have a favourite knitting tip to share?

Swatch, swatch, and swatch.

Do you have any other crafty hobbies? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m a fanatic darner and mender! I also spin a bit.

Would you say you are a process or product knitter? 

I like to make things that take forever, so I guess I’m a process knitter in that respect, although I do get satisfaction from finishing things.

What are you working on right now?

I’m doing a big repair commission at the moment, and I’m also spinning and swatching for a new art project. It’s still early days, so there’s not much to report right now.

If you had to pick just one kind of yarn to knit with/ tool to work with / fibre to spin for the rest of your life what would it be?

As a Team Wovember Member, it has to be WOOL!

Whose knitting work do you most admire and why?

My most favourite knitting person must be Mary Thomas. Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book and Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns should be on any knitter’s bookshelf.

What are you most looking forward to about Unwind?

Meeting lots of fellow yarn enthusiasts.

(c) Tom Of Holland

A big thank you to Tom for taking the time to share some insight into his knitting world. You can keep up-to-date with upcoming classes and other events that Tom will be attending by visiting his blog.
You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as tomofholland.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Unwind with Brioche...

Did you know you could do really cool things with Brioche St? Like this:

photo (c) Bristol Ivy

Let Bristol Ivy lead you through the fun world of Brioche in this class, based on her Windrow Cowl pattern on Saturday 12th July.

Brioche is an easy stitch that creates a lush, drapey, warm fabric. In this class you’ll learn the basic principles of working brioche flat and in the round, and increasing and decreasing in pattern, and get started on knitting the Windrow Cowl pattern.

I'll probably pick up a skein of Lush Worsted from The Uncommon Thread in the marketplace and cast on myself, what will you use?

photo (c) The Uncommon Thread

Monday, 10 March 2014

Striped Short Row Shawls... Every Day

Just in case there's anyone out there who has yet to knit a striped short row shawl.. or if you've only recently paired two (or three) colours for the first time to cast one on, you may not know that this fashion began with one, dramatic, fabulous asymmetric triangle, Stripe Study:

photo (c) Veera Valimaki

With this design, Veera Valimaki sparked a whole new trend for striped, short row shawls. Her subsequent patterns using the same techniques, are equally irresistible, and soon other designers were taking the concept and running with it. Before we knew it, ravelry's pattern database was brimming with innovative short row shawls.

In Veera's Striped, Short Row Shawls class at Unwind, you can choose your favourite pattern (Stripe Study, Different Lines, Colour Affection or Happy Street) and end up knitting a gorgeous shawl. All of these shawls include garter stitch, short rows, and a great opportunity to play with colour. After this class you will be working stripes and short rows even in your sleep. The hardest part may be choosing your perfect colours!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Unwind in the Marketplace

I'm happy to announce that the following vendors are confirmed for Unwind Brighton! With many more to be still to be added it really is going to be a fabulous marketplace, with an unprecedented collection of high quality yarns and fibres along with patterns by your favourite designers and beautiful tools, notions, accessories & more!

Marketplace tickets will be available to purchase online from April.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Unwind with Tristan Bristow

I invited Brighton based illustrator Tristan Bristow to take part in Unwind Brighton after falling in love with his Streets of Brighton illustration pictured (below).

(c) Tristan Bristow

I want to give visitors a little piece of Unwind Brighton to take home in the event programme, and as well as finding your way around the festival, it's a lovely way to remember being here! The illustration is a map of the venues for Unwind Brighton, including Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Jubilee Library, The Friends Meeting House, The Old Courtroom and features Brighton Pavilion.

Tristan will be incorporating knitters' likenesses into his bespoke Unwind artwork. No-one appreciates hours of painstaking detailed work like a fibre artist, so I want to tell you a bit about the man behind this special work in progress.

Already, Tristan has enjoyed a diverse and extensive career within the arts. Starting off as a realist painter, he then found  joy in creating large backdrops for the underground dance scene... the same backdrops are used around the world at clubs, parties and festivals to this day. After completing a Fine Art degree in Southampton, Tristan became interested in producing intricate ink drawings, before returning to realist painting, to visually describe his experience whilst travelling through India.

Tristan now is focused on creating intricate street scenes from various locations. Starting with his home town of Brighton, he will produce a dazzlingly intricate series of works reflecting the unique character and dynamic of each location, and inviting the residents to be featured as a part of the work. This two-way working relationship adds energy and life to the production and of the art.

Tristan says: I am excited to be part of the team that will be putting this festival together. The concept is great and I am enjoying producing art the artwork to match. Remember to get involved and be featured in the map for this great event.

Please send your photos to to be included in this piece, or post a photo in the ravelry group or on the facebook page. Submissions should reach us by the end of March. Please send a head to toe shot!

You can see more of Tristan's work on his website and follow what's he's upto on his facebook page.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Hat Design Workshop with Woolly Wormhead

There are only a few spots left on the Hat Design Class with Woolly Wormhead on Saturday 12th July!

In this workshop, participants will learn about 2 basic Hat styles (beanie and beret) and how different crown shapings are developed using different increase/decrease techniques.
Participants will then design themselves a Hat based upon their own measurements and style requirements.

Simple stitch patterns can be used, and we will consider how to incorporate shaping into the stitch patterns. Time permitting, we will start knitting in the workshop and participants can continue in
their own time to complete their unique Hat!
(c) Woolly Wormhead
Can't wait to get knitting great hats? Check out Woolly Wormhead's most recent pattern: Kermantle