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