A few months ago, when Jane decided to learn to knit, I thought it might be nice to design a few things just for her. Simple patterns aimed at beginner knitters are sometimes not terribly exciting, either in the making or the wearing, so I set myself the challenge of designing some simple patterns that were also interesting and fun for someone who was just starting out on their knitting journey. My aim was to create designs that were pretty straightforward to knit, but which also had very strong visual appeal. I wanted the beginner knitter to look at the design and think “can I really make that?” and for the pattern to answer “yes, you can.”
Having learned to knit as a child, Jane re-taught herself the knitterly basics with the help of Pompom’s Knit: How book, some video tutorials, her mum, and a few pointers from Mel and myself. I think this combination of self-teaching from a book, visual learning from the internet, and some personal / community support, sums up how most people become knitters these days. But then, having acquired a great set of basic skills, there’s often a place where the knitter looks at the incredible range of patterns that are available on Ravelry, feels somewhat overwhelmed, stalls, and thinks “I could never make that.”
I wanted to create a group of simple patterns that would assure bold beginners like Jane that they really could make fabulous and interesting knits, right from the off. So when I began work on these designs, I simply assumed that a beginner would have four pairs of basic skills (cast on / bind off; knit / purl; increase / decrease; knit back and forth / knit in the round). With those skills under their knitterly belt, they would be all set.
This blanket is the first design from Bold Beginner Knits. Because of its hive-like hexagonal motifs, I’ve named it Skep – after a traditional beehive. I think there’s something very approachable about a modular construction. Working on small, single motifs is always manageable, rather than overwhelming. And blankets based on geometric shapes are also inherently visually appealing because of the way that repeated geometric motifs (however simple they are) lend apparent complexity to knitted fabric. I learned this modular simplicity / visual complexity lesson myself a dozen years ago when I knitted Norah Gaughan’s famed capecho. The piece looked so amazing . . . the pattern so very daunting . . . but the hexagonal repeats and modular construction of the garment were in practice surprisingly straightforward. The capecho was a revelatory knit for me! And Skep’s motifs and construction are so much simpler than Gaughan’s cable and rib design – the blanket is essentially just garter stitch and decreases, in a range of different colours, all joined together.
When working on Skep, you might acquire some new techniques: garter stitch in the round; centred double decreases; picking up stitches; three needle bind-off. And as each hexagonal motif has to be blocked to size before being joined together, you might also learn something about the importance of blocking and its transformative effect on knitted fabric.
I knitted all of the motifs in this blanket back in March, when I was really very unwell. And as well as being great for beginners, simple, modular, knits can also be very useful when one is struggling: in knitting a single hexagon, you aren’t taking on too much; a range of shades makes each motif a new experience; the creation and completion of each hexagon brings its own sense of joyful achievement, and as the pile of squishy motifs grows, it affords many pleasures of colourful accumulation. I was honestly not in a good place while I was making this blanket, but knitting it was a very sustaining process for me, and I love the finished object with a passion. The very making of the blanket narrated its own course through difficult times. (I know many of you might say the same of many of your own projects, and I have been really stimulated and inspired reading your comments on my last post). And while I knitted this particular blanket sample, our Bold Beginner, Jane, has also been working on her own Skep, and she will say more about her experiences of the pattern next week.
Skep is the first design from Bold Beginner Knits, but what of the rest of the collection? Well, I’ve created:
*A bottom-up yoke pullover
*A top-down cardigan
*A garment that’s knitted from side to side
*A lace-patterned triangular shawl
Each of the three garments and two accessory patterns in the collection introduces different techniques and construction methods, and in each I’ve aimed for a bold visual appeal that belies the straightforward nature of the knitting. All of the patterns in the collection have been designed in Àrd-Thìr – our aran weight yarn which comes in its own beautiful highland palette.
We will be releasing a new pattern from Bold Beginner Knits every couple of weeks, with the collection published as a book and e-book in August. You can now pre-order the print+ebook bundle from the shop to receive each of the patterns delivered to your Ravelry library as they are published, and then receive the book on publication (shipped to any address worldwide). The pre-order price for the print+ebook bundle (with shipping included) is just £15, wherever in the world you are, and represents a 50% saving on purchasing each pattern as an individual download.
To ensure you receive each pattern on the date it is published in your Ravelry library: after placing a pre-order in the shop, wait for your download code to be sent to you by email, pop over to the Bold Beginner Knits ebook page on Ravelry, place the item in your basket and checkout using your code.
I hope you enjoy Bold Beginner Knits!