Jane Murison of Yarnison joins the show this week, talking about knitwear design, fish and chips and the urban landscape as an inspiration.
Jane began designing a couple of years ago, and has several knitting patterns now, that are a homage to the post industrial landscape of Manchester, that she sees every day on her walk to work. A UX designer by profession, Jane enjoys bringing together design inspiration, techniques and the user (knitter) experience in her designs. Not one for ‘quiet’ yarns, she enjoys working with bold colours and neons to create striking pieces.
Her approach to design is to make things that she herself likes to wear, but struggles to find in the mainstream pattern world. This results in quite quirky and recognisable pieces that can be made as bold or as quiet as one desires, depending upon the colours chosen to make the pattern.
How Jane got started designing
Jane’s first design was a pair of socks, called Manhole Socks. She was inspired by a Countess Ablaze colour way called ‘Urban’, which in itself was inspired by the steely colours of the city. Jane teamed this metallic looking yarn with another altogether unexpected muse for a knitwear design – a rusty manhole cover. A common sight around Manchester (it always rains, it isn’t just exaggeration!) the textured, non-slip pattern became the basis for showing off this particular colour way to excellent effect. It manages to pick out flecks of colour on top of the overall sock fabric, in much the same way that the texture on the grid is picked out, and can appear to be different colours due to the uneven rusting.
We discussed the juxtaposition between the large amount of conventionally pretty patterns, imagery and branding available in the hand knit world and how it is harder to find things to appeal if that isn’t your aesthetic. As a very urban loving person myself (that’d be the Geographer in me – and I studied at the University of Manchester) I’m attracted to Jane’s neon bright imagery and play on the urban landscape and the colours that can be found everywhere.
One of my favourite of her patterns is the Urban Hero shawl, which was inspired by the neon yellow flashes of hi-vis vests on the builders working all over the city. There is almost constant construction work, and these vests pepper the (often grey, it’s Manchester) landscape with pinpricks of colour.
We discussed the juxtaposition of chevron lace, hi-vis and Batman’s cape in this pattern and Jane explained how her approach has ben reflected in other designs, such as Boomtown Beanie. This pattern was inspired by the ever changing skyline of the city, as cranes move and add more buildings and different materials. She wanted to find a way to capture and document this, whilst introducing the technique of stranded knitting for the knitter. Again it became clear how much the experience of the knitter is considered in Jane’s designs, and how playing around with the colours can create strikingly different effects in this pattern.
Builders came up again when discussing how the domestic arts and quite traditionally male construction roles are actually very similar skills when you break them down. Plastering is, in fact, exactly the same thing as buttercream icing.
We also discussed the traditional Friday meal that is fish and chips. Eye-opening.
Favourite Indie Dyers
How to Knit with Variegated Yarns
In terms of tips for embracing the crazy bright and variegated, Jane recommends pairing with a semi-solid or solid, and avoiding too much detail in the stitches, if you want the detail to be seen. Texture can sometimes work well if you are wanting to play with the colour and create unexpected pops, as she does with her Manhole Cover sock pattern.
From her own designs, Urban Festival was specifically created to work with the variegated yarns.
Rainbow Relay is Jane’s latest shawl and is a fantastic pattern for using up mini skeins whilst exploring the joy that is short row shaping. Jane will be at Woollinn in Dublin this month, 25-27th May 2018. She’ll have kits on the Countess Ablaze stall which will contain yarn from both The Countess and Petra of Undercover Otter.
Want to grab a cheeky 25% discount? Head over to Ravelry and get your copy of the pattern with 25% off before midnight 9th May 2018.
Where to Find Jane
You can find everything about Jane’s patterns over on Ravelry and she is @Yarnison on Instagram.