It’s Month of Lace here at Knit Purl! All month long, we’ll be sharing our favorite lace yarns, patterns, tips, and tricks. For this year’s Month of Lace, we invited local knitwear designer Larissa Brown to design an exclusive shawl pattern for us, which we've made into a kit.
Larissa designed the Bubbly Stole, a modern colorblocked stole featuring a beautiful zig-zag lace design. Curious about her design process, we spent a few moments chatting with Larissa about knitwear design, lace knitting, and more. Read on to get to know a little more about Larissa.
How did you get into knitwear design?
Thanks so much for asking! I’m really excited to be working with Knit Purl and Shibui yarn, because the store and yarn company actually played a fun role in how I got into designing.
I started by knitting improvised personal projects and sharing what I did on my blog Stitch Marker in the early 2000s. Knitty.com was a fairly new magazine, and I decided to send in my idea for a bath pouf made of giant nylon yarn. “Bonbon” was my first published design. Not long after the bath pouf, I entered a scarf design contest at Knit Purl, and the “Eden Scarf” became my second published design. I was overwhelmed to see my pattern for sale in the store. My very next project was a 22-design book—a steep learning curve! Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together came out in 2008 and includes the Eden Scarf in Shibui Sock. I’ve used Shibui yarns for patterns in Knitty and in both my books.
What was the design process for the stole like?
When I had the opportunity to design with Twig, I drew out my old notebook, because I knew that this yarn was perfect for a project I’d been doodling for over a year. I wanted to create a big, wide stole with a lace pattern that meandered along, ending at varying lengths. Twig yarn creates a perfect fabric for summer evenings sipping cool drinks, and the idea emerged for a lace pattern that mimicked the bubbles in a champagne cocktail. After all the dreaming and drawing, it turned out to be quite a challenge to find a lace pattern that would reflect bubbles rising in a glass, and the process ended up consisting mostly of making a lot of swatches.
What was the most fun part about designing the stole?
The most fun part was re-watching An Affair to Remember. They drink pink champagne cocktails on their cruise.
And the most challenging?
The most challenging part was discovering a perfect edge treatment. To me, a neat, pleasing edge really makes a project complete, and I have my own preferred method of slipping edge stitches in my designs. But Twig wasn’t having any of it. I tried several kinds of slip stitches until I came up with one that works with Twig’s beautiful, rustic texture.
Was this your first time working with Shibui Twig? How did you like working with it?
Yes, this was my first time, and I love it. The fabric is amazingly light, the lace is airy and yet the design holds its shape so that you can appreciate the geometry of the pattern. This yarn would be beautiful worked in basic patterns, too, like garter stitch. It would create a gorgeous, rough-hewn-looking stripe pattern.
What do you enjoy most about knitting and designing lace patterns?
To me, the most enjoyable part of lace knitting is the moment when you take the project off the blocking board and it comes to life in three dimensions. You can finally feel how incredibly light it is, see how it drapes and how the light filters through.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Today, I’m working on several shawl designs that all use garter stitch in eye-catching shapes and stripes. They’re made to feature highly variegated yarn, and I’m having fun using many of the hand dyed skeins I’ve collected over the years. In fact, I just finished a prototype that mixes fingering-weight yarn with a skein of Shibui’s cloud-like Cima that I’d been hoarding in my stash.
I'm also working on my second novel. The first one, Beautiful Wreck, is a time travel story that takes place in 10th century Iceland and does feature sheep shearing and spinning. I'm currently writing a companion book that will come out...hmmm, I don't know exactly when. Find out through my e-news! :)
Where can readers find more of your designs?
My designs can all be seen at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/larissa-brown, and more about my knitting and my fiction writing can be seen at www.larissabrown.net. I also send out a newsletter about once a month with new designs, freebies and news about my writing, too. You can sign up for my news here: http://eepurl.com/Y9N4T