The Knitter

Nicola Diggins

Designer Nicola creates sophistica­ted patterns using her hand-dyed yarns

- - www.theknittin­

AS WELL AS designing knitting patterns, Nicola Diggins is the co-owner of online yarn store The Knitting Shed, along with her sister Louise. She loves to use their own hand-dyed yarn range, Ainsworth & Prin, for her designs, and she has published a range of elegant sweaters and accessorie­s.

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

“My favourite artist is Eric Ravilious. His landscapes are so atmospheri­c, very English and not at all sentimenta­l. I also love the muted colouring of printmaker Enid Marx, a friend and contempora­ry of his. Their work is from a certain time and place, but its simple style doesn’t seem to date.”

Which designer has most inspired you?

“Andrea Mowry’s designs look so effortless, and even though she uses multiple colours they never seem over-fussy. Isabell Kraemer’s designs are similarly very wearable - you know her jumpers are going to be favourites for years. Always a bonus after the work you put in! Yamagara Knits uses really effective techniques to give her designs a high finish, and she’s not afraid of seams if they mean the garment will wear well for longer.”

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

“Architectu­re is probably the most influentia­l, although that sounds a bit grand - I think I’m more influenced by the domestic and everyday; those little quirks that owners have added to their houses over the years. If I could choose a style it would probably be the Arts and Crafts Movement: practical, simple lines yet homely.”

What is your favourite knitting book?

“Rowan’s pattern magazines were a real eye-opener for me, and I have all the early issues, although they’re a bit dog-eared now. In the early days the emphasis was on natural yarns; their designs had a rustic, slightly folksy aesthetic and a very British look.”

What fibres do you love to work with?

“All types of woolly wool. Shetland wool because the colour choice seems limitless. If you are new to colourwork it’s very forgiving of uneven stitches and the colours merge so well when it’s blocked - always block, it makes the world of difference.

“Our Ainsworth & Prin Heath tweed yarn is my current favourite; it’s nicely rustic and hard-wearing, but not all rough and hearty. The mohair makes it soft enough to wear next to the skin, and best of all it doesn’t seem to pill - and I put my jumpers through some pretty strenuous wear!

“For summer knitting I use our Merino & Silk Single - the silk really takes up the dye to give rich colours and of course a fabulous sheen.”

Which design from your portfolio are you most proud of?

“It took some dogged determinat­ion to work out the cabled heart pattern, but I think ‘Compton’ from The Knitter issue 162 really captures the Arts and Crafts style of its inspiratio­n.”

Are there any techniques or styles of knitting you’d like to explore further?

“I’d love to get my head around brioche stitch. I’m knitting my first brioche shawl at the moment and am struggling to read the stitches. Designers who specialise in this technique have all my respect.”

 ??  ?? e ‘Utility’ top has a neat slipped stitch pattern
e ‘Utility’ top has a neat slipped stitch pattern
 ??  ?? 1 Nicola admires the landscape paintings of Eric Ravilious 2 is is her ‘Concorde Hat’
3 e ‘Ticklish’ pattern combines a classic sock yarn with a mohair-silk laceweight
4 ‘Heart’s End’ has heart-shaped cables
1 Nicola admires the landscape paintings of Eric Ravilious 2 is is her ‘Concorde Hat’ 3 e ‘Ticklish’ pattern combines a classic sock yarn with a mohair-silk laceweight 4 ‘Heart’s End’ has heart-shaped cables
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