In the company of colour… a workshop with Felicity Ford

Just a short 10 days ago we were thrilled to welcome a maestro of stranded colour work to This is Knit. Felicity Ford (aka Knitsonik) led an enthusiastic group of keen knitters and budding designers on a day-long adventure in yarn. Our very own Eimear was part of that group and she has kindly taken over the reins of the blog today, to tell us all about her “Quotidian Colourwork” experience…

I was very excited when Felicity Ford’s Quotidian Colourwork class at This is Knit was announced.  I’ve been aware of her work for a number of years, first through her illustrations for Kate Davies’ Yokes book, and later through her book, Knitsonik’s Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.

This class promised to teach us how to create stranded colour work patterns inspired by every day items. Class participants were to select an image or object as a source of inspiration. I had it narrowed down (ahem) to 17 digital images, 5 children’s books, 2 DVD covers and one ha’penny bridge. I then enlisted the ruthless assistance of my 4 year old. She picked the cover of her favourite DVD, unsurprisingly.

On walking into the class venue, participants were greeted by the delicious sight of a table piled high with sample swatches and with balls of Jamieson & Smith yarn in every shade imaginable. We took our seats, and discussed our inspiration sources. Landscapes, Seascapes, Icescapes, chimney pots, garden ornaments, a favourite coffee mug…and my childrens’ DVD cover.

Felicity talked us through the process of identifying shapes within our items & creating simple charts on gridded paper. She provided guidance in selecting and combining colours, using contrast to show our designs, and gradual colour shifts in our pattern & background.
At the beginning of the class, Felicity gave us a little history in how this class, and the accompanying Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook came into being. She recalled drawing a perfect chart based on brickwork, and knitting the most perfect & beautiful swatch, from which her class participants would learn nothing. There was no exploration in this swatch; it did not show any progression in colour choice or shapes. All the work had been done on paper before touching a set of knitting needles.

Throughout our class there was a refreshing emphasis on experimenting; to try different combinations, and if they didn’t work out, to leave the rejected colour or pattern combinations intact. If a colour didn’t suit, Felicity was on hand with her instant recall of all eleventy billion* shades, by name, of Jamieson & Smith’s 2 ply Jumper Weight, to make recommendations.

On our lunch break, I found that I was looking for further inspiration; looking for details on shop buildings above the ground story, looking for chimney pots & cloud shapes in the sky. Inspiration sources are around us, we just have to sit still & pay attention to them!

Usually in knitting, we put so much effort into having a perfect finished knit; to repair errors, or rip out & start over. A swatch is usually something to be done & get out of the way often a step before working on the ‘real’ knitting of a garment or accessory. It was really refreshing to enjoy knitting a swatch for its own sake, and to be able to see how our initial ideas can change. It was also really refreshing to be given permission to not treat the wool as as precious item; to use it as a tactile textile sketchpad for working out ideas. The class environment encouraged cooperation, with participants trading ideas, chatting about shapes, & sometimes knitting from opposite ends of the same ball of yarn!

Towards the end of the session, we had a chance to see each others’ swatches in progress. It was really inspiring to see how simple shapes within our source items came to life in wool; having access to so many shades of yarn allowed us to explore a variety of colour combinations; subtly shifting shades, and high contrast pops of colour.

I spent the session exploring details of Princess Poppy’s dress, from Dreamworks Trolls movie. I am happy with the swatch I produced during the class, but still feel that my quest to translate Trolls to knitting is somewhat unresolved. Firstly… it needs more pink (according to my ruthless assistant). Secondly, I would like this swatch to eventually become a garment for said assistant, so I have been exploring colours available in super wash yarns.

I think I will use Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran; I have used this before for childrens’ garments & have been very happy with how it wears. And while the range doesn’t quite include eleventy billion shades, there are some good matches for Princess Poppy & Branch.


Oh, and for any parents of 4 – 8 year olds, I do recommend the Trolls movie. You may find yourself singing along to its relatively awesome soundtrack, and the animators were heavily influenced by knitted & felted surface textures.

With our thanks to Eimear for brining us along on her colour work adventure and to everyone who participated in the workshop. We can’t wait to see your swatches come to life… You can catch Eimear on the shop floor in This is Knit at weekends, so you can ask her how the great Trolls design is coming along!

Would you like to learn more skills from experienced tutors like Felicity Ford? Don’t forget we have an incredible array of workshops on offer at the upcoming Woollinn Festival of Yarn!

Comments

  1. Lisa

    Thanks Martine! We’re delighted you enjoyed the day and we have an open invitation for Felicity to teach in Dublin any time! 😉