With spring emerging in London town, we are starting to dream of warmer days and balmy evenings. With, of course, lighter knitting projects to showcase our favourite colours and to grace shoulders when the weather inevitably changes. Our spring window has the perfect design and colours to inspire you, with Helga Isager’s ‘Camomille Shawl’.
Based in Denmark, the company Isager Strik was founded by Marianne Isager. Her unique designs take full advantage of the beautiful range of natural fibres and colours that Isager offers. Her daughter, Helga Isager is now part of the company and designs her own collections under the name ‘Aminono’ one of which features the ‘Camomille Shawl’. Using a combination of two colours, it is a classic design balanced with tassels on each end of a triangle of comforting garter stitch. We caught up with designer Helga to find out more about her patterns and the shawl.
Hello Helga. Firstly, the classic question we must ask all knitters, when did you first learn to knit? Your mother must have played a part in this!
My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 7 years old, but at that time I didn’t really have the patience for it. My obsession with knitting started in high school. I lived far out in the countryside – far away from fancy shops – and I realized that I could make some pretty cool designs with a little help from my mother. It was in the nineties, where no one else – except really old ladies – knitted, and my classmates thought it was weird that I spent my time on such an old fashioned hobby.
With the wonderful range of Isager yarns available to you, it must be difficult to choose, but do you have one that is your favourite? Also, what knitting projects do you have lined up at the moment?
I only work with natural fibers, so naturally I like to work with all Isager yarns, but my favorites at the moment are Spinni and Alpaca 1 – especially when I knit them together. It makes a very light, soft and still durable fabric. I also love to work with Silk Mohair knitted together with Spinni.
I love to make womens knitwear, but since my daughter Ingrid was born I’m also itching to knit for her. Every piece of knitwear is just adorable in mini size and it’s perfect with small projects, since I am on maternity leave and don’t have that much time at the moment.
(Using Isager yarns, the pattern book ‘All You Knit Is Love‘ is a charming collection of miniature designs)
Do you have a favourite pattern that you’ve created?
From my latest collection – The Map Collection – it is definitely the Manchuria jacket. I like the contrasting colors and the jacket has a perfect fit. This is due to the construction of the sleeves, which have a different shaped front and back, as on tailor made jackets. For me, the most important thing with knitwear, is it’s wearability and I would rather knit a whole piece in garter stitch than use a complicated pattern which compromises the fit.
After being a huge success in Denmark, this book is currently being translated into English. If you would like to be notified when this book is in stock, please email or call the shop.
What is your biggest pleasure and the thing you find most challenging with knitting?
I love the process of starting a new collection – choosing colors, knitting samples and sketching new ideas. I always start with a huge scale of colours and different qualities, which I then gradually narrow down to a maximum 6 or 7 colours in a collection. Also, since it often takes two or three knittings before a style is precisely as I want it to be, it’s always a very special feeling to see the final result.
The most challenging part is still the calculation – I’m really not a maths person!
The sample of the Camomille Shawl hanging in our window has been admired by knitters and passers by alike. Could you tell us a little more about the process behind creating the Camomille Shawl?
The Camomille Shawl is actually not my own pattern. The pattern dates back more than a hundred years. It was originally knitted in a heavy woolen yarn, and it was meant to be worn as kind of a cape around the shoulders and bound around the waist. I wanted to wear it around the neck and thought the original was too bulky for that. So I chose to knit it in two different yarns – the very light and thin Alpaca 1 and Tvinni. I have knitted 4 rows with both yarns and 4 rows with Alpaca 1 alone. The result is a very light shawl. Also, in the original pattern the lace edge was sewn on to the shawl. I have knitted the edge onto the shawl, which makes the finish much nicer, I think.
And we agree! Many thanks to Helga for taking the time to answer our questions.
The rich colours of Squoosh really compliments the subtle tweed texture of the soft alpaca. One skein of Squoosh is enough to complete the shawl (and tassels!), and three balls of Alpaca 1 are needed for the contrast.
So do you chose your yarn colours to follow suit with a springy feel, something with a stronger contrast, or maybe something softer and romantic…
Of course another match for this pattern are the yarns used in the original design – Alpaca 1 with Tvinni . The delicate alpaca matched with the lofty wool makes for a shawl with a wonderful texture and warmth.
The complimentary hues of the yarns lend themselves to endless combinations. We had fun matching the neutrals with various shades and also creating the a selections of purples and greys to choose from.
Many of the colours of Tvinni are also echoed in Alpaca, so you can experiment with how subtle or strong you would like your contrast. There is also the option to create a shawl of the same hue, but with the different textures that these fibres provide.
And for those of you who entered our competition last week to win a skein of Islington, the suspense it over. Well done to winner Heather who has chosen the shade Nori Green. Congratulations! We will be announcing more a few more give aways in the next coming weeks, so until then, Happy Knitting!