Vi­brant colour and tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion are at the heart of Lucy’s knit­ting de­sign work

The Knitter - - Contents - Find Lucy’s pat­terns, tu­to­ri­als, books and more at

Es­sen­tial abbreviations, pat­tern cor­rec­tions and stock­ist de­tails

DE­SIGNER LUCY Neatby lives in Nova Sco­tia, Canada, where she pushes the bound­aries of knit­ting with her tech­ni­cal and spec­tac­u­lar ap­proach to colour and con­struc­tion. Her range of books and DVDs, and her busy teach­ing sched­ule, have helped many knit­ters to ex­pand their skills.

Who in­spired you to take up knit­ting?

“My strong­est knit­ting in­flu­ence as a child was my pa­ter­nal grand­mother, Mar­ion. She knit­ted at ev­ery avail­able mo­ment, mostly twin-sets from women’s mag­a­zines in the ’60s. She sup­ported my ef­forts to learn, and later bribed me to knit a project - a blue acrylic rab­bit called Reg­gie.”

Do you have a favourite artist, writer, poet or mu­si­cian who in­spires you?

“I par­tic­u­larly en­joy tribal or eth­nic arts; Turk­ish rugs, Moroc­can ce­ram­ics, South Amer­i­can mo­tifs, African wo­ven de­signs, raf­fia cloth. Source books on tex­tiles from around the world al­ways in­spire me.”

Which de­signer has most in­spired you?

“There are so many won­der­ful de­sign­ers around. I’m very im­pressed by the work of Mar­i­anne Isager. I love her use of such a wide va­ri­ety of chal­leng­ing knit­ting tech­niques in her pat­terns, and her use of tra­di­tional re­gional gar­ment types and mo­tifs to cre­ate her col­lec­tions.”

Tell us about the colours, land­scapes or ar­chi­tec­ture that in­spire your work.

“Colour is my over­whelm­ing pas­sion. Even some­thing very beau­ti­ful, such as in­tri­cate lace, with­out colour feels slightly lack­ing to me. I al­ways pre­fer striped, spot­ted or bor­dered flow­ers over their mono-colour equals.

“I’ve been notic­ing at shows lately that many indie dy­ers are dye­ing a huge range of solid colours and sell­ing them in smaller quan­ti­ties as mini skeins. This is won­der­ful from a de­sign per­spec­tive. Om­bre yarns also mes­mer­ize me, and my projects are of­ten de­vel­oped from find­ing an ir­re­sistible ball - or usu­ally two - that will work well to­gether through­out their re­spec­tive de­vel­op­ments. My cur­rent favourite form of knit­ting is two-colour dou­ble knit­ting, and it looks great with two om­bre yarns.”

What is your favourite knit­ting book?

“Wild Knit­ting - I found it in 1978, and it’s beau­ti­ful and in­spir­ing. Not a lot of prac­ti­cal use, many would say, or not even tech­ni­cally very rich. But the colours and the close-up shots of knit fab­ric and the zany non-pas­tel twin-set-ness set me think­ing about non-trad knit­ting.”

What fi­bres do you love to work with?

“Fine wools and wool nd blends with silk, mo­hair, al­paca or cash­mere, that feel sen­sual to the touch. I love the bounce of wool and the many ways there are to dye it - in the wool, as sin­gles, after ply­ing - to give such a va­ri­ety of colour ef­fects.”

Which de­sign from your port­fo­lio are you most proud of, or is most spe­cial to you?

“My first full-on de­sign project in about 1993 was for a neigh­bour - a sweater to express his Mace­do­nian an­ces­try. It in­cor­po­rated many as­pects of Mace­do­nian cos­tume, and I had such a good time de­sign­ing and knit­ting it, that from then on I have only worked on my own de­signs.

“Another game-changer was my An­dean vest, in­spired by a friend’s trip to South Amer­ica. I woke in the night with the idea that four tri­an­gles would equal a tube, and from a tube a vest could be fash­ioned. Then I could let each triangle rep­re­sent a dif­fer­ent style of hat. I even­tu­ally en­tered this vest into the TKGA in­ter­na­tional de­sign com­pe­ti­tion, and it won.

“Th­ese days, I’m com­pletely en­rap­tured with dou­ble knit­ting and its many facets. My large dou­ble-knit blan­kets are so much fun to knit (usu­ally tak­ing six months) and to de­sign, espe­cially since the ad­vent of JC Briar’s Stitch Maps chart­ing method for non-lin­ear charts. I think my favourite thus far is my ‘Zin­nia DK Blan­ket’.”

‘An­dean Vest’ dis­plays Lucy’s love of eth­nic art

1 ‘Ashanti Wall­hang­ing’ is typ­i­cal of Lucy’s colour­ful de­signs 2 She ad­mires the work of Mar­i­anne Isager 3 ‘Zin­nia DK Blan­ket’ is an oc­tag­o­nal dou­ble-knit­ting pat­tern 4 This vivid jumper us­ing el­e­ments of Mace­do­nian cos­tume was Lucy’s first gar­ment...

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