WP7: A conversation with Gudrun Johnston
Posted by Jonathan on
.JF: Welcome back, Gudrun! Thanks for joining me again on the blog to talk shop! (I interviewed Gudrun in November about her “Little Wave” cardigan included in Wool People 6) GJ: Hi Jared, great to be back! JF: You have become somewhat of a Wool People regular and knitters respond so positively to your designs. I think they are such a great balance of design, process and wearability - a great combination for hand knitters! Aside from the overall appearance of the finished piece, what other things do you think about before you begin crafting a knitting pattern? GJ: Well I often try to think of a way to include some of my Shetland background. More often than not this is a starting point. Sometimes it's a particular colour that calls out to me too. In this case I may quite quickly know what I want it to become.
.JF: Your newest design for us is the Halligarth Shawl - and we can clearly see your signature Shetland-inspired style shining through. Where did the inspiration for this design begin? GJ: As you know I like to use traditional Shetland Shawl constructions and also play around with them. For Halligarth I wanted to try the same method used at the initial shaping of the center triangle (with the yarn overs to increase sts) but instead of a plain center I chose to use a lace tree motif. I was drawn to this pattern for its nicely-defined lines and its ability to play nicely with my stitch counts! JF: You often name your patterns after places in Shetland, or words from Shetland dialect. What is Halligarth’s namesake? GJ: Halligarth is a woodland (and house) in Unst, Shetland that was planted by a naturalist, Dr Laurence Edmonston, in the early 1800's. Due to using a tree motif in the design it seemed a good choice! My other connection to it is that my father wrote a book about the Edmonston family!
.JF: One of my favorite parts about this design is the construction method. I love the idea that the entire “field” of lace trees grows from a single stitch. Can you explain the overall architecture of the piece to our readers? GJ: Indeed it begins with just one stitch! As with traditional Shetland Shawl constructions, the triangle shape grows by creating a yarnover at the beginning of every row and the lace pattern is incorporated as the stitch count grows. Once the center triangle is at its desired width you pick up the yarnovers down either side of the triangle, and in the case of Halligarth I chose to skip the border section and instead worked a knitted-on edging directly on to the center triangle. I also keep the top side of the triangle as live stitches that you return to once the edging is complete. These stitches, along with a few picked up stitches from the edging, are then worked for a few rows of garter stitch before binding off. The entire thing is completely seamless!
.JF: Projects like this really get me itching to cast on a new project. This seems like one of those projects that seems to knit itself, and leaves you wanting to try another in an alternate color or size. GJ: Well that's definitely a good thing! I love seeing how different a piece can look in another color. JF: I'm sure knitters will love knitting this – thanks again for another great design (and for sharing a bit more about the process today). GJ: Always a pleasure!