The concept of telling the story of how I design a garment is something that I have been toying with for sometime now. If truth be told I never used to record where I got inspiration from, and although I might make some sketches and take some notes during my design journey, I found myself asking questions. Where do I start with a Design Story? How can I visually tell my story?
To begin telling the story of a design whether it be crochet design or knitting design , I needed to understand how I approach design. Upon reflection and to my surprise I realised that the way I actually approach knit/crochet design is akin to the way I approached designing a building during my days as a Surveyor. Who’d have thunk it…that attending ‘Architectural Practice’ classes as a college student would stand to me in years to come when I set up a craft business!
In this blog and in a series of up and coming blog posts aptly titled – ‘Design Story through Crochet/Knitting’, I will take you through my journey from start to finish on how I design and approach making a particular project. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my first Crochet Design Story about one of Unravel’s favourite’s and yours…. ‘NESSA’ Hooded Scarf – Crochet Kit.
‘NESSA’ was designed back in early 2014 and was one of the first crochet kits I designed for Unravel. As with most of my designs, I normally start with wanting to make a particular garment/accessory or with a desire to work with a particular crochet/knit stitch. In 2014, hooded scarves were every where, on the catwalk, in fashion magazines and on the high street. My idea for NESSA was born from this trend. I simply relished the idea of creating a striking, different yet beautiful hooded scarf.
Another emerging trend in 2014 was the fresh take the fashion industry was giving to the simple black & white theme. Monochrome was making a comeback in striking patterns and geometrics. Many of which I’m sure were inspired by architectural forms and designs. In my opinion monochrome and geometric patterns are a match made in heaven, they bring out the best in one another and it was these two elements that inspired my concept for ‘Nessa’.
Now my hooded scarf was beginning to take form. I wanted the design to take a modern twist on monochrome and what better way to do that than with a geometric pattern. An obvious pattern/technique immediately sprung to mind, the humble Granny Square, one of the most recognizable motifs used in crochet. Re-working the iconic square was an exciting prospect for NESSA and it was one I simply had to play around with.
Through sketching and note making I developed my idea into a concept, conscious of how I wanted the scarf to look, how it could be worn, how it could be sized and of course how it could be finished. It was at this point I looked to the type and colour of yarn within Unravel’s repitoire. Bouclé Mohair was the obvious choice, a striking geometric pattern in a soft fussy yarn could only produce interesting results. Furthermore, I felt adding a third colour ‘Grey’ to the monchrome mix, would add depth and softness to the striking geometric pattern.
Next up, was to make tension squares with different size hooks, to play around with pattern and to assess the drape of the crocheted fabric. All of which was a precursor to bringing my design concept to life.
making it real
It was time to take yarn and hook to hand and make my concept real. As I’m sure you can appreciate this stage can be a long process and for the most part it’s based on trial and error. As I worked the yarn and hook in my hands I recorded what I did row on row, until a pattern was formed. Thankfully NESSA was an easy project as it was based on the design of one mitred granny square, made lots of times, all sewn together. A simple technique but one that produced exactly what I had set out to do originally – to create a striking, funky yet beautiful hooded scarf. Ta Da!
As you’ve probably already noticed, all my designs carry Irish Names inspired by women from Celtic Myths and Legends . Why? Well, as a young girl I was always enchanted by stories of mythical adventure, fantasy and heroism. The women in such stories fascinated me. Not only were they beautiful beings, but many of them were strong characters who played important roles as warriors and goddesses and yet for me they always maintained a certain youthfulness, elegance and beauty. This is why I name my designs this way. Individuality, elegance, beauty…such traits are woven deep into the fabric of the women who exist in Celtic Myths and Legends, and I believe in creating elegant Irish designs which embrace these same traits. For me, they go hand in hand.
My hooded scarf reminded me of a noteable celtic figure from my childhood called Nessa who was the mother of Conor, the Ulster King who features in the Irish Legend ‘The Cattle Raid of Cooley.’ On occasion, my dad would take the family out for a Sunday drive around the stunningly beautiful Cooley Peninsula in County Louth. During these outings he would often tell us about the legend and the mischievous Nessa. In my mind I always imagined Nessa with wild flowing hair, draped in an ornate hooded cloak. What other name could I give my crocheted hooded scarf, other than the name of the celtic deity who inspired romantic images in my head as a child….and so ‘NESSA’ was born.
I’m delighted that you took the time to read my blog to learn more about my designs and what inspires me. Perhaps you would like to make your own ‘NESSA’, in colours of your own choosing. The pattern and kit is suitable for intermediate crochet level. You’ll find the kit here. I know you’ll enjoy the time it takes to create it…and love wearing it.