Things are moving along, pattern-wise — Manu is now at the testing and editing stage, and so, I am happy to report, is this project, which I’ve been working on for a while, and have really enjoyed both designing and making. This is FUGUE — a tam / mittens set, designed by me, using Bowmont Braf yarn, beautifully dyed by Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt. The pattern will be available from Lilith in kit form, together with yarn, for the knitter to make the accessories of her/his choice. I knit my samples in Lilith’s londubh / dreich colourways — but the lucky test knitters have been treated to range of Lilith’s other signature colours, including “Hebridean” and “Moody”. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been reading a lot about Estonian/ Latvian textile traditions, and one of the things I’ve found fascinating is the mutual influence of weaving and knitting in the Baltic nations. This particularly interests me because it is the case in Scotland too — one need only look at a pair of Sanquhar gloves to see the obvious influence of the black-and-white woven cloth of the Scottish Borders. While weaving undoubtedly influences the surface design of knitted textiles, knitting is much better than weaving at making things circularly, without seams — things like hats, gloves, and mittens.

Here we have a bit of both worlds, then: a circular, knitted garment, with the inimitably graphic logic of weaving thrown in. My FUGUE stitch pattern is inspired by one I saw used on a Latvian tablecloth, and it took me a few attempts to get just right. After knitting the tam, I stared at the finished knitted fabric for a long time and decided to rework a couple of points on the chart. So I got up very early a few Sundays ago to fiddle with it, and spent the morning thinking and knitting and listening to Bach. I had a sudden eureka moment with the stitch pattern, which is entirely attributable to the effect of Bach’s Art of Fugue — hence the design name. The pattern is actually very fugue-like — made up of alternating tones of dark and light; rhythmic, contrapuntal, and slightly mesmeric. Anyway, having experienced it, I highly recommend knitting FUGUE while listening to a FUGUE — the hands, ears and brain really work in harmony! I perfected the stitch pattern on the mittens, and am pleased with the final result.

Both tam and mittens feature braids (also fugue-like, I think, in their twisting forms) — and the fugue stitch pattern is (though I say so myself) intriguing to knit. The zigzagging blocks shift to left or right on alternate rounds, while those inbetween are all worked on the same, simple, 2×2 repeat. I find that there is is a singularly graphic pleasure in seeing a stitch pattern like this emerge from one’s needles — anyone who has knitted a pair of Endpaper mitts will know what I mean. I’ll show you some more of the braids, and the wrong side of the knitting (which I find very interesting too), when I get the time to take some more shots. These were snapped rather hastily — it had started to rain, and I had some errands to do. Still couldn’t resist throwing a few mild shapes, though.

Project: Fugue, tam and mittens, designed by me, inspired by JS Bach, and Latvian weaving.
Yarn: delicious Old Maiden Aunt bowmont braf 4ply (so very, very tasty!)
Needles: 3mm and 3.5mm circs
Ravelled: here