Four Knitting Patterns from Bristol Ivy

One of the best parts of planning an issue of Knitscene is running through a list of designers I've worked with and deciding who should be featured in that issue. I'd love to say that there's a formula, a magic equation that tells me exactly who to contact about doing a design collection, but there really isn't. Mostly it's just me choosing to work with people who I think are doing quality designs and providing a unique perspective into knitwear—and happily for me, there's so many incredible designers doing just that, I will never run out of people to feature in the issue!

For Knitscene Spring 2015, I reached out to designer Bristol Ivy about doing a collection. I've started planning these out months in advance, so the designers have time to work on multiple pieces, and Bristol and I started talking about her collection almost a year ago—probably at least ten months before the magazine was published! I generally try to let the designers do what appeals to them—after all, this is their featured collection and it's showing off their design aesthetic—though there are occasionally small changes that I'll suggest (there's one edit I suggested to Bristol's Coburn Pullover, and Bristol, if you're reading this and remember what that was, I still hope you'll try to work in that original element in some way!).

I asked Bristol to talk about her design process and what she was aiming for with her four incredible knitting patterns from this collection. Here's Bristol to tell you a little more about her designs!

One of my favorite things about being a knitting designer is the ability to go off on single-minded tangents. I love finding a new technique or way to create fabric and then following that idea down the rabbit hole for months at a time. I can look back over my sketches and swatches to watch how a concept progressed during that period, as I pushed in different directions and explored the possibilities inherent within. There are always little threads of cohesion and repeating motifs during this exploration; this sketch ties in with this one, which ties in with this one, which was the basis for turning the idea in a completely different direction. It's a fascinating game of telephone!

When I look at my sketches and swatches from the time period when Amy and I were first discussing the collection, the prevailing thread was curves. I was fascinated at the time with the shape and structure of nautilus shells, and the gentle shapes and curves they create stuck with me as I was designing these pieces. Curves at hems, curves along a shawl wingspan, curves in the yoke of a sweater. Knitted fabric already lends itself to organic and draping shapes, but I was (and still am!) so interested in exploring how you could push that even further with shaping or stitch placement. Starting with classic and wearable shapes—triangular shawls, a circular yoked-pullover, a half-pi shawl and an open front cardigan—I started playing, seeing how I could combine the simplicity and meditative quality I loved about knitting with the exploration and inquisitiveness of interesting constructions. All of this took lots of sketching, swatching, and math, and it's been a long path between my original, preliminary ideas and the patterns published in Knitscene Spring 2015. But the feeling is still there: the simple shapes, the easy, meditative stitches, and the gentle curves of the nautilus.

The four pieces in this collection, Agamenticus, Coburn, Spaulding, and Tumbledown, are all tied together with these common threads. The yoke of Coburn opens and twists like an aperture.

Agamenticus swoops and expands as more and more dropped stitch columns are added to the fabric.

The skirt of Tumbledown sends out rays of ribbing on the background of a traditional half-pi shawl.

Spaulding opens like a fan of short rows, garter, and elongated stitches.

Though separate and complete in its own right, each plays off the other pieces and the original idea, creating a collection of garments I can't wait to get back so I can wear them! I couldn't be more proud of how they turned out, and couldn't be more grateful to the Knitscene team for their amazing and hard work in helping me to share them with you.

Thank you for sharing your thought process, Bristol!

If you're itching to knit one of these incredible designs (I'm thinking I need the Coburn Pullover, while I know Senior Project Editor Joni Coniglio has been eyeing the Tumbledown Cardigan), which one is calling to you right now? Let us know in the comments!

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