Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Capsule Collection for Louet North America

Rosehip Scarf - photo by Jane Heller

I recently did a collection of 6 garments and accessories for Louet North America in their Gems Merino Wool qualities – two designs in each of the Fingering, Sport, and Light Worsted weights.

Here is the Rosehip Scarf, worked in Gems Merino Fingering Weight. It is knitted on a long circular needle from side to side. The scarf begins with a garter-based scalloped edging which morphs into a lace pattern. It is finished with stockinette and reverse stockinette welts. The differently patterned sections are separated with bands of eyelets. The design is inspired by the foliage and fruit of the wild rose bushes which grow along the banks of the St Lawrence river near my home.

This yarn is a delight to knit with, it has beautiful stitch definition and nice memory. The colour range is super, and the shade in which the sample is made, Candy Apple Red, is surely one of the best reds, ever.

Hawkweed Scarf - photo by Jane Heller

The Hawkweed Scarf, shown here in Golden Rod, is also worked in the Fingering Weight Merino. It’s a deceptively simple pattern, easy to work and looks amazing. The central pattern is a sort of criss-crossing mesh. The scarf is worked on a biggish needle to give it lots of drape and keep the central pattern light and airy. Each of the side panels biases in a different direction, making this a very fluid design.

The Hazel Cardigan is knit in Gems Merino Sport Weight, a great yarn in a versatile weight. The knitting is fairly quick on a 3.75 mm needle, yet the garment is lightweight and comfortable to wear indoors. Inspired by the twists of corkscrew hazel, the knotted cables also appear in a panel of three on the Back of the garment, and are also bordered by twists. The cardigan has waist shaping and raglan-style sleeves. The button bands, collar and edging are worked in 2×2 ribbing. The colour shown here is Sandalwood, a warm light brown with  hint of pinkness.

Hazel Cardigan - photo by Jane Heller

Hazel Cardigan, back detail - photo by Jane Heller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also in the Sport Weight, I designed the Ironwood Shawl, a half-hexagon shape, shown here in Caribou, a lovely neutral brown.

Ironwood Shawl - photo by Jane Heller

It is the perfect size for wearing either wrapped about your shoulders or closer to your neck as a scarf. The stitch patterns are inspired by the roughly textured surface of the Ironwood tree’s bark and the linear patterns of branch shapes.

The shawl is worked from the edging up to the apex, so the number of stitches get smaller and smaller and your work just seems to fly by the further you get. Since the columns of eyelets flow in a linear manner, the chart pattern is easily learned. I think that most knitters wouldn’t have to look at the chart past the first few rows of the main pattern.

 

Opaline Cardigan - photo by Jane Heller

 

 

In Worsted weight, The Opaline Cardigan is a very fast knit. The leaf motif is worked on either side of the center front opening, and in a double panel at the center of the cuffs. The edging is composed of a broken rib with a little rolled stockinette trim. The rolled stockinette trim on the collar is designed to hide the buttonholes, so that when the cardigan is worn unbuttoned, the nice line of the front edge is unbroken. The neckline decreases begin at the point where the leaf-pattern decreases end, so the line flows from the pattern to the shoulder. There are a few short rows worked into the collar to give it a little shape around the back neck.

Opaline Cardigan, sleeve detail - photo by Jane Heller

 

The increasing and decreasing of the leaf motif gives a little wave and dip shape to the center of the cuff. This cardigan is shown in Champagne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightjar Pullover - photo by Jane Heller

The Nightjar Pullover is also worked in Gems Worsted, shown here in Steel Grey. It features a central panel composed of a mirrored eyelet pattern, set off from the background with springy rope cables. The eyelet pattern is a medley of directional decreases and garter rows. The panel is worked on the back as well.

The hem and cuffs are edged in garter stitch with a horizontal band of eyelets. The flared cuffs have a line of decorative buttons sewn along the outer edge, and matching buttons at either side of the wide neckline. The shaped waist and set-in sleeves make this a great wardrobe piece, flattering and versatile.

 

 

Nightjar Pullover, sleeve detail - photo by Jane Heller

This was an awesome project to work on. As a designer, a collection allows more creative space to explore the themes of the projects. Working with a specific group of yarns entices you to play upon their very best qualities and to design specifically for the emphasis of those qualities.

I also styled the garments and directed the photo shoot, which is a great privilege for a designer. It is a great accomplishment to work on something from beginning to end, and to see the finished product coming out as lovely as you imagined.

The Gems family of Merino yarns are an absolute pleasure to work with. They have a firm twist and smooth surface for superb stitch definition. The yarns are worsted spun from South African Merino. These characteristics make the yarn wear very well which is important for a fine, soft fleece such as Merino. So, you get the best of both worlds, superior wearing and delicate softness. Did I mention it’s Superwash? Yay! With these yarns you can create heirloom quality garments that you won’t have to slave over to maintain.

You can find the Ravelry entries for the patterns here.

As you may be able to guess from my descriptions, I draw a lot of my ideas from the shapes and textures of plants, trees, and flowers. I enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors absorbing the colours and textures that nature has to offer, and incorporating them into my imaginings. Textiles and materials give me similar tactile impressions as flowers and seeds, and it is intuitive to me to integrate these two worlds.

Capriccio

photo by Jane Heller

Capriccio is in the fall issue of Twist Collective. It is worked in lovely Zara Plus Merino wool from Filatura di Crosa. When I design a sweater, if there is a lot of patterning, I like all the elements to be related and to reference each other in a way. It allows you to have variety without discord.

I wanted a simple, wearable silhouette in which to showcase my big beautiful lace panel. I chose raglan style sleeves, because I love the look of fully fashioned decreases in ribbing, and there are more decreases and they are very prominent on this style of sleeve. The eyelets of the main lace pattern are reiterated in the ribbing pattern at the hem, which is a mix of rib, garter rows, and eyelet rows. This same combination appears in bands on the lower sleeves, and on the cowl collar. However, I remix it so that it does not appear in the same configuration, thereby avoiding the formulaic repetition of “same edging everywhere syndrome,“  nearly as fatal as “OMG different edgings everywhere syndrome,” which you also want to steer clear of.

Notice how when the cowl falls forward, the pattern on the inside is equally as attractive as the pattern on the outside. A small detail, maybe, but I think that it makes a garment nicer to wear when you don’t worry if your collar is folded the wrong way.

Of course my opinion is totally biased, but I think this sweater is nice to knit, and even nicer to wear.

Zahedra

Zahedra front

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge

One of my patterns in the Fall issue of Twist Collective is Zahedra, a cable and textured long cardigan knit in Briggs and Little Atlantic. I can’t wait to get this garment back, I can picture it as my fall cardigan-coat of choice for right now. The weather is at that perfect temperature, the leaves are just starting to change, and I find myself craving a nice robust wool cardigan. With pockets, because I admit, I am a chestnut-and-acorn-collector. I can’t help it. When Fall comes, my pockets are full of nuts, seeds, leaves, and pine cones.

 

 

 

For a longer or heavier garment, I prefer to construct in pieces and then sew them up, rather than knitting in the round. I find that the garment keeps its shape better. I usually set in the sleeves using backstitch, it makes a very professional-looking finish. I love finishing, and I want my garments to look handmade, not homemade.

neat seams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backstitch provides the neatest finish when you are joining pieces worked in a stitch pattern other than Stockinette. Sometimes I set in sleeves using mattress stitch if the garment is worked entirely in Stockinette stitch and it won’t be worn very often. But, backstitch is better if there are stitch patterns involved, and/or if the garment will be worn a lot.

I design a lot of garments, and it is sometimes tough to come up with interesting names for them all. Also, working as a production assistant for Twist Collective, I help name other people’s garments as well, so that adds to the list of names. I must confess, I named this garment after my favourite World of Warcraft character. And yes, I did grind out Netherwing rep for that mount. If you know me personally this will not surprise you!

Recently published….

I’ve been working very hard the last few months, both in the sweatshop and chained to the computer. Here’s a recap of my designs that have been recently published.

Themis by Robin Melanson

Photo by Jared Flood

In June, I was honoured to have a pattern included in Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People Volume 3 collection. Themis, which I named for a group of Asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter (because–as you know–I am a nerd who loves science), is a cute vintage-inspired cardigan knit in Loft fingering weight yarn.

The sleeves have an interesting detail, a diverging set of eyelet columns which wrap around the upper arm. They are actually very easy to work, you just make an increase into the Reverse Stockinette Stitch portion on the inside, and a decrease on the Stockinette Stitch portion on the outside, on the two outer eyelet columns. You keep doing that every right side row, until the columns magically disappear into the seam allowance. Well… it’s not magic, but it’s close!

Themis by Robin Melanson_sleeve detail

Photo by Jared Flood

I was also the technical editor for most of the garments in this collection.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue Knitting published a design from me in their Early Fall issue, a cabled cardigan with 3/4-length ribbed sleeves, trimmed in a wool ribbon yarn which ruffles as you knit into the loops at the upper edge of it. It is worked in Trendsetter Yarns Merino 8 and Cha Cha. It is quite a glamorous sweater.

Cabled Cardigan by Robin Melanson

Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2012, photo by Paul Amato for LVARepresents.com

Early Fall was published in mid-July I believe. In the knitting world, we love fall so much that we have decided that summer is too long, so part of summer needs to become fall. It’s kind of like how Julius Caesar decided that he should have two months in the middle of the year, named after himself and his great-nephew Augustus Caesar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have two patterns in the Fall issue of Twist Collective, Zahedra and Capriccio.

Zahedra, Twist Collective Fall 2012

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge

Zahedra is a thigh-length cardigan, and is my interpretation of vintage Tyrolean-style cardigans. It is knit in Briggs and Little Atlantic, which is a very rustic and hearty yarn that wears like iron, and is quite economical to make a large garment out of. I love the cute little rounded collar and how the pockets fit perfectly between the cables that flank them. Almost as though they were designed that way…well guess what, they were. I am a designer who thinks ahead. No afterthought pockets for this girl.

 

 

 

 

Capriccio is a delightfully soft Merino wool pullover with a central panel in a lace pattern, eyelet-and-rib sleeves and a lovely cowl. It is knit in Zara Plus yarn from Filatura di Crosa. I am a big fan of the Zara family of yarns. I love this fabulous green, it is a little greyed so that it is a perfect shade of jade, clear and not too seafoam-y.

Capriccio by Robin Melanson

Photo by Jane Heller

In the next few days, I will be doing more in-depth posts on these two sweaters in Twist Collective. I will discuss garment construction and finishing for Zahedra, and a little about where the name came from (those who know can’t keep a straight face). For Capriccio, I will talk about design process and how to mix elements and repeat elements to produce a cohesive design, and a little about the inspiration behind this sweater.

Some of my time has been spent producing designs, but I spend more time behind the scenes. I have been tech editing like crazy this summer, on Wool People Volume 3 like I mentioned, and on their new BT Fall 12 collection, also a counter-edit for STC Craft for a great book that will be coming out next year (I’m not sure if I am allowed to say what it is), and some super secret stuff. I am also a production assistant with Twist Collective, and we have been working hard on photo shoots and assignments to produce some stuff that is so awesome you will want to play air drums with your knitting needles on the dining room table.

There will be more design announcements in the coming weeks, I am working on an exciting new project that will be ready for public consumption soon!

Sylvatica

Sylvatica
My most recent pattern for Twist Collective is Sylvatica, a short-sleeved Henley pullover in the spring issue. It’s worked in a lightweight wool, Filatura di Crosa Zarina. It has a delicate stitch pattern on the Front and Back, composed of columns of eyelet rib and lacy leaves. As I am usually inspired by the natural world,  the name Sylvatica signifies a woodland habitat or origin. In my rather vivid imagination, I think of plants and mushrooms and flowers in a rather anthropomorphic way, that is, in my mind I give them characteristics that normally you would think only people have. It is a common theme in fairy tales and lore.

The_Juniper_Tree
My sweetie gave me a beautiful edition of Grimm’s Fairy tales called The Juniper Tree, selected and translated by Lore Segal and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are fame). The tales retain their original horror (compared to the watered-down versions often told to children) and are a really fun read. In the title story, the juniper tree resurrects a little boy to avenge his own death at the hands of his stepmother (who had then fed him to his father in a stew – gruesome!)
So this is a peek inside what runs through my head as I sketch or knit, thinking of new designs. Particularly in the spring my mind turns to fantasy. The colours of spring sort of encourage it.
yellow butterfly
I went to the Papillons en Liberté exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. The exhibit was a large indoor garden with free-range butterflies just flying all around around you as you walk through the garden. Oddly enough, there were numerous security guards, I’m not sure if they were crowd control for the butterflies or the humans.
turquoise butterfly
The colours of both the butterflies and the flowers were beautiful. They had set out plates of kiwi and oranges for the butterflies to eat. In one section there was a waterfall with a two story chasm in which were fluttering tons of giant turquoise butterflies. Pictures didn’t really do that justice as you couldn’t see the motion of the fluttering , though it was a pretty amazing effect in person.

I guess I try and use my imagination to re-create the beauty and mystery that I see around me, as people have always been doing. Whether you do it with words, brushstrokes, or yarn and fabric, the important thing is that we are thinking and interpreting.sylvatica_c_500

 

Garment photos by Jane Heller for Twist Collective.

Di Corvidae

I’m publishing patterns under a new label, di Corvidae. The patterns are sold as individual PDF downloads from Patternfish. The Bristlecone Collection seen here is the first collection under this label, and here is a peek at the creation.bristlecone_filmstrip

Vivika_tagged

Vivika_shoulders

 

This cabled sweater is Vivika. I designed a very wide cable panel some time ago, inspired by Corkscrew Hazel. I often get ideas from plants and trees, I find their shapes very interesting. I was waiting for the perfect garment in which to use this cable panel, and I believe I found it. The panel fits well between the shoulders, so the armhole shaping is worked over the Stockinette stitch portions of the sweater.

Katrien_progress

Here is Katrien in progress. If you know me, then you are familiar with my Lopi obsession. Well, I have indulged. Here is a lovely shoulder wrap in my favourite yarn. I love Alafoss Lopi, the colours are amazing.

Tekla_detail

Bristlecone_garments
This spring and summer I will be visiting local gardens and arboretums in order to study the shapes of plants and flowers more closely, so that I can offer more nature-inspired patterns. I’m also planning some camping trips, as I find that an appreciation of nature can only be enhanced by campfires, beer, and toasting marshmallows. As wonderful as it is to have the convenience and culture of a city, it is so nice to get away from it for a while. Falling asleep to the sound of owls hooting in the distance is quite magical. Plus I can bring my wool.

Garment Photography: Anthony Biancardi. Still life photography: Robin Melanson.