A bit later than I’d hoped (ok 3 weeks actually) I’ve finally found the time to blog about a project that consumed much of my 2019.
Warm Hands is a collection of 15 fresh glove, mitten and fingerless mitt designs which I co-edited with Kate Davies. The patterns have been created by a global collective of 15 designers and each use either Milarrochy Tweed or Ard Thir from Kate’s own range of yarns.
Although I’ve written four books before this it was the first time I’d collaborated with anyone on a publishing project and of course because everything produced by KDD.com is done to such exacting standards, I knew the results would be good. I just didn’t know how good. Or how much I’d enjoy working on it with Kate and the KDD team.
In this, my first-time role as co-editor, I had creative input right from the beginning. This book is special because it brings together a mix of newbie designers (who were invited to submit designs in an open call on Instagram and Ravelry) as well as more well known designers. With the work of BIPOC in Fiber always in mind it was important to me that new BIPOC designers (black, indigenous and people of colour) felt encouraged to submit and, having creative input into the look of the book, I felt it was essential that they be represented in our choice of models too.
Trying to curate a collection of designs that Kate and I felt was balanced in terms of technique, style and skill level meant going through a pretty rigorous selection process. From over 100 submissions it meant looking and re-looking at each design and evaluating them in isolation, then how each would or wouldn’t fit in with the other design submissions. At this early stage I only knew of a couple of the designers and kept losing track of which design belonged to whom so as we gradually whittled them down to the final 15 I found that drawing the designs helped my shockingly poor memory. What I didn’t foresee was that when it came to the final layout these sketches would actually find a home in the introduction pages of the book.
Toasty Cosy is my own design contribution to Warm Hands. Like the majority of the patterns in the book it’s knitted in the Fingering weight Milarrochy Tweed but of course, being me I chose to use it held double rather than single. The back of the design is worked in columns of two colour calliper cables which, in the doubled yarn produces a really dense, warm fabric with a slightly ribbed texture. This is contrasted by a subtle slip stitch texture in stripes that echo the colour changes of the cables but this time on both the palm and thumb.
As I’d never previously worked with any of Kate’s yarns there was of course swatching to be done. I know many of you roll your eyes when I talk about swatching and tension but I find it a really enjoyable and necessary part of my design process. In this case I knew I wanted to make a mitten and fingerless mitten option and whilst the combination of Cranachan and Buckthorn immediately worked for the mittens the first combination I chose for the mitts – Cowslip and Garth – really didn’t work at all. It looked sludgy and sad so I ended up replacing Garth with Hirst and the results are much fresher.
Oh and why the name? Well Toasty Cosy is the term my best friend Margo uses to describe when she’s just perfectly warm. Seems appropriate don’t you think?
I hope you’ll enjoy Warm Hands. Aside from being the brightest book KDD has ever produced (yes, my work is done) a lot of thought has gone into how the finished collection looks. Kate and I pooled ideas – and clothing – to style the designs with a contemporary feel in order that you could see yourself (or your loved ones) wearing each of them. Those ideas were captured and brought to life by the fantastic photography of Tom Barr (Kate’s husband) and it was his invaluable local knowledge that kicked off the ‘in your face’ vibe for the location shots . As well as regular KDD models Fenella and Jane it was a pleasure to work with new models Samira and Mimi for whom this was their first job but who behaved like absolute professionals – even when I was trying to get them to relax on command while art directing the photoshoot. And lastly what brings all of that together so beautifully is Tom’s skilful graphic design that ties all the designs together but at the same time gives each one space and allows it to shine.
Warm Hands 15 fresh designs edited by Jeanette Sloan & Kate Davies
Format: Print copy
Each print copy comes with a download code for the ebook on Ravelry.
To order your print copy visit the website by clicking here
With Storm Denis on its way to the UK tomorrow I’m wishing you a weekend of Warm Hands and even warmer hearts