Wide Open Spaces with Romi Hill
Rosemary (Romi) Hill is a beloved lace designer, and in her book New Lace Knitting: Designs for Wide Open Spaces (Interweave, 2015), she brings us a collection of shawls, garments, and dreamy knits. As the manuscript for the book came together, Romi realized she had too many projects for it and offered three designs to the editors of Interweave Knits. We were thrilled to take the designs shown here for our Fall 2015 issue and thrilled to photograph them in the wide open spaces of Colorado’s Front Range. We asked Romi some questions about the book and her work.
Q: What was your main objective with this book?
A: I am obsessed with the versatility of lace. People might think of it as frilly, but by changing the lace pattern, yarn used, and amount of lace in a piece, it can look elegant, sporty, or fashionable. In my book, I wanted to show the amazing range of possibilities. My music background led me to think of it as a theme with variations. I chose five traditional lace patterns that I really love, and my feeling was that, with different constructions, deconstructions, and weights of yarn, each lace pattern could support multiple designs that would hang together without looking repetitive.
Q: Tell us about the designs that didn’t make it into the book (the shawl and socks) . . . what is at work in them; what do you find successful about them?
A: The Squall Line Shawl is a cuddly oversized shawl incorporating the Wind-and-Shore stitch pattern (from the book) as a knitted-on edging. On this one, I explored how a heavier-weight yarn changes the nature of a lace stitch. The center triangle uses a lace pattern worked on both the front and back sides, but combining this potentially difficult patterning with a heavier yarn makes the stitch just fly off the needles.
The Purple Sage Socks (both versions) incorporate a variation on the Twin Leaves pattern found in my book. For this one, I scaled down the leaves to make a perfectly sized panel for socks. There’s a plain version with ribbing between the leaf panel and also a version with lace ribbing. My favorite part of these is the transition between foot and leg patterning. A traveling mini cable crosses above the heel and opens up into the back leaf lace panel. I completely geek out over that little detail!
Q: What kinds of yarns do you like best for lace knitting?
A: I adore luxurious fiber blends in particular. Right now I am really deeply loving knitting with singles of different weights and blends. They block out so beautifully and keep that gorgeous open lacy look without bouncing back, even in a heavier aran-weight yarn. I used several singles in my book: Artyarns Cashmere 1, MadelineTosh Dandelion, Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk Single, and The Fibre Company Terra from Kelbourne Woolens. The Malabrigo in the Squall Line Shawl is also a singles and I absolutely love the way it drapes and holds its shape.
For lace, you have to be really careful in choosing a 100% wool yarn since wool has so much memory. It often just bounces back from being blocked. So I’m also crazy for fiber blends that combine silk, bamboo or Tencel with wool. It’s all about blocking the lace and having it stay blocked and pairing a fiber with no memory (and bonus! some lovely sheen) with springy wool that makes the finished project retain its lovely post-block shape.
Q: Tell us about the open spaces that inspire your work.
A: We live in the high desert at about 5,500 feet on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. The gorgeous scenery, air quality, and wide open spaces here free my mind to wander. And whenever I hit a snag figuring out details or get anxious about deadlines, I go outside, take a walk or a kayak to the local lake, and remember how small and insignificant my problems are when compared to the wide world around me.
Find more at www.designsbyromi.com.
This Q&A was originally published in Interweave Knits Fall 2015.
Escape with Interweave in 2019 and MEET ROMI HILL!
Meet Romi, explore her projects, and more!