I like the story behind the knitwear in Gudrun Johnston's The Shetland Trader: Heritage almost as much as I like the designs themselves. The patterns are based on clothes that were originally designed by Gudrun's mother, Patricia Johnston, for her family. The designs have a 1970s vibe, but just the good bits—think tunics and billowing sleeves rather than flares and wide collars.
The surprising thing is that Patricia couldn't actually knit herself. She didn't need to, because she was lucky enough to be living in Shetland so there were plenty of skilled knitters around who could turn her designs into reality. When other people started asking how they could get hold of the knitwear for themselves, she realised she had an opportunity to start her own made-to-order business. The business was successful right up until the Johnston family left Shetland a few years later.
I find it inspiring to think how Patricia Johnston's entrepreneurship must have brought benefits to so many local knitters, not to mention all the customers who got access to fabulous knitwear! Now, thanks to Patricia's daughter, Gudrun, we have access to it too.
As wonderful as crochet is for projects like blankets and toys, I've not previously wanted to use it for garments. Crochet garments often look a bit solid and unyielding to me. So I was surprised how much I liked "Hinton", the cover pattern on High Desert. I'm not sure what's different about it to other crochet designs that I've seen, but it looks cosy and easy to wear, like I could throw it on over jeans and feel comfortable for the day. The book contains patterns for cowls, bags, hats and fingerless gloves, just in case you're still not ready to put a crochet sweater on your to-make list!
An unusual technique used in Knit Like A Latvian: Accessories is the Latvian braid. It gives the effect of a two-color line of chevrons and is used in the book as decoration for mitten cuffs, hat brims and shawl edges.
I think it looks pretty. One thing that bothers me is that the mittens in the book have the chevrons pointing in the same direction on both hands. I'd prefer them to be mirror images of each other. Luckily it's easy to make the chevrons point in the other direction. In case you wanted to know how, I've explained it in more detail below.
I think Latvian braid is well worth trying. And since it's often easier to learn a new technique on something small, a pattern from Knit Like A Latvian: Accessories might be just the ticket.
Latvian braid technique
Here's my explanation for how to point the chevrons in either direction. The instructions for making Latvian braid are slightly different depending on whether you're knitting back-and-forth or in the round. I'm giving instructions for working in the round, as that's what's used in Knit Like A Latvian: Accessories.
The first step is to knit a setup round in two colors, alternating colors for the entire round.
The next round creates the lower half of the chevron and is worked in purl. Follow the color pattern as set in the previous round, stranding the non-working yarn at the front of the work. Usually with stranded knitting, you would keep one color over and one color under when changing colors, to avoid tangles. However, on this round, always take the new color over the old color, as shown below.
To complete the chevron, work another round in purl, but this time taking the new color under the old color.
As I mentioned earlier, in the book the braid is always worked exactly as explained above, resulting in left-pointing chevrons. However, it's easy to make the chevrons point in the other direction— just take the new color under the old color on the first round of purl and over for the second round.
New and discontinued yarns
Cute and Cuddly – Bulky – 100% Polyester – Faux fur – Solid colors
Select Chunky – Bulky – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Solid colors
Baby Shower Crochet Thread Size 3 – Thread – 100% Cotton – Thread - size 3 – Solid colors
Bendigo Woollen Mills
Rustic 4-ply – Fingering – 100% Wool – 2 ply – Solid colors, Heathers
Blanket Extra Thick – Jumbo – 100% Polyester – Chenille – Solid colors, Tonal colors
Forever Fleece – Super Bulky – 100% Polyester – Fleecy single – Solid colors, Semi-solid colors
Sheepy – Super Bulky – 100% Nylon – Fleece style – Solid colors
Biches & Bûches
Le Lambswool – Sport – 100% Wool – Plied (woolen-spun) – Solid colors, Heathers
220 Superwash Fingering – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
BFL – DK – 100% Blue Faced Leicester Wool – Plied – Solid colors
ReFine – Fingering – 75% Merino Superwash Wool, 20% Nylon, 5% Viscose – Plied (woolen-spun) – Solid colors, Heathers
ReVive – Aran – 100% Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Nell – Bulky – 78% Mohair, 13% Merino Wool, 9% Nylon – Fuzzy – Solid colors
Everyday Wool Chunky – Bulky – 50% Acrylic, 50% Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors
Kid Sparkle – Lace – 38% Acrylic, 31% Nylon, 27% Mohair, 4% Metallic – Brushed bouclé – Solid colors with metallic
Kosho – Lace – 90% Merino Wool, 10% Cashmere – Plied (woolen-spun) – Solid colors
Berwick Bulky – Bulky – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Heathers
Juniper Moon Farm
Bluefaced Leicester – Worsted – 100% Blue Faced Leicester Superwash Wool – 2 ply – Solid colors, Heathers
Kate Davies Designs
Ooskit – DK – 100% Wool – Plied – Solid colors, heathers, undyed
Germantown Bulky – Super Bulky – 100% Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Tremendous – Bulky – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Tonal colors, Multicolored, Gradient, Self-Striping, Speckled
Kremke Soul Wool
Vegan Cashmere (Pure Cotton) – Aran – 100% Cotton – Chained – Solid colors
Como Grande – Heavy Worsted – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Heathered colors
Verona – Light Fingering – 50% Merino Wool, 30% Silk, 20% Cashmere – Plied – Solid colors, Heathered colors
Soft Sensation – Lace – 76% Acrylic, 24% Polyester – Brushed bouclé – Solid colors
Lily Kate Makes
Axis – Aran – 90% Merino Wool, 10% Alpaca – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors, Heathers
Marks & Kattens
Fiesta – Fingering – 80% Lurex, 20% Nylon – Metallic chainette – Metallic
Dashing Sassy – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Single ply – Solid colors, Tonal colors, Multicolored, Speckles
Vandre – DK – 100% Wool – 2 ply – Solid colors
Premium Merino Yak – Fingering – 58% Merino Superwash Wool, 28% Nylon, 14% Yak – Plied – Solid colors, Self-striping
Tencel Blow – Worsted – 58% Tencel / Lyocell, 42% Alpaca – Fiber-filled net – Semi-solid colors
Ashfield – Worsted – 67% Merino Wool, 33% Bamboo Viscose – S on S plied – Solid colors
Authentic Hand-Dyed Luxe – Fingering – 99% Merino Superwash Wool, 1% Metallic – Plied – Multicolored with metallic
Something to Knit With 4-ply – Fingering – 70% Highland Wool, 30% Superfine Alpaca – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors
Something to Knit With Aran – Aran – 70% Highland Wool, 30% Superfine Alpaca – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors
Naturalia Alpaca – Jumbo – 70% Wool, 30% Alpaca – Single wrapped with thread – Undyed
Lace Merino – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Tightly plied – Solid colors, Multicolored, Tonals
Phoenix DK – DK – 100% Mercerized Cotton – S on S plied – Solid colors
Rustic Lace – Light Fingering – 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Silk – Tweedy – Semi-solid
Starz – Fingering – 100% Metallic – Metallic chainette – Metallic colors
Fur Wool – Super Bulky – 97% Wool, 3% Nylon – Faux fur – Solid colors
Chunky With Wool – Bulky – 80% Acrylic, 20% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
James C. Brett
Misty DK – DK – 94% Acrylic, 6% Viscose – Plied and eyelash fibers – Tweed colors
Luxe Craft Angel Hair – Bulky – 50% Acrylic, 28% Nylon, 22% Wool – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors, Multicolored
Degradé – DK – 100% Cotton – S on S plied
Tre Seta – Worsted – 40% Merino Superwash Wool, 35% Silk, 20% Baby Alpaca, 5% Viscose – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors
Amantani – Super Bulky – 100% Baby Alpaca – Chained – Solid colors
Ayumi – Light Fingering – 77% Cotton, 23% Nylon – Chained – Gradient
Super Soxx Alpaca – Fingering – 55% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon, 20% Alpaca – Plied – Self-striping (fair-isle effect)
Yak Tweed – Aran – 50% Merino Superwash Wool, 50% Yak – Tweedy – Tweed colors
LB Collection Hand-Dyed Superwash Merino – Worsted – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Multicolord
DK Twist – DK – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Tightly plied – Tonal colors, Multicolored
Baby Wool – DK – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Jet 8-ply – DK – 70% Wool, 30% Alpaca – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors
Songbird – DK – 50% Acrylic, 50% Mohair – Fuzzy – Multicolored
Super Quick – Super Bulky – 70% Acrylic, 30% Merino Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Tuscan Aire – Bulky – 90% Merino Wool, 10% Nylon – Fuzzy chain – Heathered colors
Elemental – Super Bulky – 72% Acrylic, 15% Wool, 9% Nylon, 3% Alpaca, 1% Metallic – Thick and thin – Marled with metallic thread
Pearls – Bulky – 100% Polyester – Pompom – Solid colors
Bamboo Bloom – Bulky – 48% Bamboo Viscose, 44% Wool, 8% Acrylic – Thick and thin – Semi-solid colors, Multicolored
Classic Shades – Aran – 70% Acrylic, 30% Superwash Wool – Single ply – Self-striping marls (gradient change)
Classic Shades Sequins Lite – DK – 74% Acrylic, 22% Superwash Wool, 4% Polyester – Sequinned – Self-striping (gradient transition)
Conway – DK – 60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic – S on S plied – Solid colors
Willow and Lark
Plume – Lace – 70% Mohair, 30% Silk – Brushed bouclé – Semi-solid colors
Just so you know, I was sent a copy of High Desert for review.
See you in December!
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