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Web-Letter, Issue 49 – Summer Set by the Sea

If the soft, cool colors combined in the patterned yoke of this week’s Web-Letter project call to mind rounded bits of colored glass scattered on a beach, then you’ve hit on the inspiration for Michele Rose Orne’s Summer Set by the Sea Top. The colors were culled from a storyboard Michele created for her book Inspired to Knit (Interweave Press, 2008).

Read more about Michele’s book below.

Pam Allen


The Story:

Having a peak at designer's creative process—what sparked an idea and how she ran with it—is sometimes more interesting to me than looking at the final product. In her new book, Inspired to Knit, Michele Orne talks about the inspiration and development of her 19 lovely projects.

The sweaters in Inspired to Knit showcase Michele’s stitch virtuosity—Fair Isle, intarsia, lace and cables—and demonstrate her instinct for well thought-out details—unusual edgings, subtle stitch changes, collars, embroidery, a gore inserted for flare, and more. Long cardigans, short cardigans, coats, capelets, slinky tops, flowing tops, and even a wedding ensemble—each sweater has its own story, no two are alike in stitch or silhouette.

But lovely patterns are only part of the story. Inspired to Knit is a meditation on designing knitwear. Michele culls ideas for stitches, colors, silhouettes from everything around her. In each pattern spread, Michele discusses her design thinking—why she chose one yarn over another, why she deviated from her initial concept, how she came up with a palette, how a particular stitch pattern inspired a silhouette, how she tinkered with a disappointing outcome to turn it into something lovely. She suggests ways for knitters to take one of her designs and use is as a step in creating their own version; how to take a basic idea and change it through color, stitch pattern, yarn, and shape.

To encourage knitters to find their own ideas and execute them, the book has four chapters on the basics of designing knitwear: Finding Inspiration, Building a Color Palette, Swatching and Sketching, Styling and Fitting.

If you get this book, savor the pictures, study the details, read the text, and ponder what you’d like to make. 

The Yarn:

Summer Set — 64% cotton, 19% alpaca, 12% polyester, 5% lyocel

Alpaca and Cotton—a love affair

With cotton firmly rooted in the vegetable world and alpaca squarely landed in the animal kingdom, you’d think they wouldn’t blend together particularly well. But these two quite different fibers combine to form a very strong couple—and a great all-season knitting yarn. Cotton is very happy to keep you cool by carrying heat away from your body, while the hollow core of alpaca holds air to keep you warm on chilly nights. Though both fibers take dyes well, it is the wonderful luster of alpaca that assures there is never a dull moment.

Added to the mix of cotton 64% and alpaca 19 % is a bit of lyocel. lyocel is the generic name for Tencel.

Learn more about Tencel/lyocel.

pattern image
more photos

The Pattern:

Here is the free downloadable Summer Set by the Sea pattern.

pattern image

The Stitches:

When you need to cast on stitches at the beginning or end of a row, there are two common methods you can use: the Cabled Cast On and the Single Cast On. Michele Orne used the Cabled Cast On to extend the front and back bodices into a circular yoke.

The Cable Cast On can also be used for casting on at the beginning of a piece, but it can be rather loose. It works well, though, for ribbing. 

Learn how to cast on at the beginning or end of a row.

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