We are always on the look out for new knitting designers and books here at the shop. We were so excited when East London local Fiona Alice’s new book came out! Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Adventure is published by Pom Pom Press out of Dalston, so this book is really made in our neighbourhood!
To create a proper celebration we are running a KAL (knit-a-long) to knit the Ketch Harbour Shawl from the book. You can pick up a kit with the yarn and the book on the website or in store with a whopping 15% discount (that is £66 for the yarn and the book compared to the regular price of £78. If you already have the book, don’t worry, you can join the KAL and get the yarn from us still with a discount. Just use the code KETCHKAL when making your purchase online or mention it to us if popping by the shop. Please note that the discount only applies for 3 skeins bought at the time as this is the amount needed to complete the Ketch Harbour Shawl. One lucky participant will win the value of their purchase back to spend on even more yarn!!!
We were able to grab Fiona over the holidays and ask her a few questions about her new book, and of course her knitting adventures!
How long have you been knitting?
I’ve been knitting since I was little. My mother, Wendy, taught me but it was just a hobby I picked up from time to time as I grew up. I’ve seriously been knitting for the last six years. After graduating university I had time again for my hobbies and began to work at LK Yarns, a little yarn shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shortly after starting there my interest in knitting began to grow, along with my yarn stash.
What inspired you to get into writing patterns?
While working at LK Yarns I found I was continuously altering patterns as my knitting skills and conference grew. Eventually I stated knitting and selling my own accessories at various craft fairs and boutiques around Halifax. However, I was often approached by other knitters inquiring if I sold just the written pattern. It was because of their interest I decided to try my hand at it and that’s when I submitted my first design to Pom Pom Quarterly, Take Heart.
This book is an exploration of costal areas, as well as your journey from Canada to England. Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for the patterns, and especially Ketch Harbour?
Many of these patterns are ones I’ve always wanted to design and own myself. I played with simple textures and motifs that slowly grew into a reoccurring geometric theme.
Ketch Harbour originally began with a few classic textures I was inspired to combine such as the lace and over all simple knit and purl texture. I also wanted to play around with the negative space of the piece and created interesting cutouts. Eventually the subtle whale tail motif grew out my sketches and I decided to keep it.
When naming the patterns afterwards I chose beaches and harbours. Ketch Harbour is a small finishing village in Nova Scotia often know for it’s stunning views of the ocean and whale sightings.
How did you go about choosing yarns for the book?
From the beginning it was an intentional decision to only use yarns from Canadian and British companies. I still had a hard time narrowing down the selection so I picked a few I have always loved working with, such as Illimani, Handmaiden and Toft. Plus a few I was finally excited to try for the first time, like Viola and the Uncommon Thread.
Most of them are blends of fibres I personally love to work with so there’s lots of alpaca, llama and silk throughout the book.
Do you have any plans for future designs?
Of course! I’m looking forward to head back into the yarn festival season. I’m excited to be able to promote the book at the Waltham Abbey Wool Show, Unravel and Edinburgh Yarn Festival this winter. Plus I’ve have a few ideas for some new accessories in my head for a while so I’m looking forward to getting back to my sketchbook to start getting these ideas down.
Are you a process or product knitter?
I would have to say both. The process is a very important part to me. I often start with sketch and lots of swatching before I move on to the final piece. However, the time and effort I put into the evolution of the design is to achieve a desired final product I envisioned when starting. Often the piece can change through the swatching stage, but it is really satisfying when I can produce a wearable accessory from a initial sketch in my notebook.
What are you currently knitting?
I’m actually going back through the book and knitting a few pieces from myself. I’ve almost completed my own Ketch Harbour shawl. I also have the Caswell Bay mitts and Martinique Beach on my needles too. After this is will on to new designs in the new year!