When we planned our collaborations for the new book, we knew merging the adventurous and kaleidoscopic stitches of Stephen West with the rich colours of Madelinetosh would result in something remarkable. Plus, we have a bonus custom colour in this design: ‘Ghost’ from Orkney Angora. The result? A cosy shawl that is a squishy delight of brioche!
Make sure to read to the end of the blog to find out how you can pre-order our new book, plus how two of you lovely readers can win all the yarn you need to make Stephen’s shawl! (Competition now closed- but we’ll have lots more in the future!)
Paving the way for knitters with his innovative and modern knitting designs, Stephen West’s patterns can be recognised by their use of colour and clever texture. His new pattern ‘Meandering’ for our new book is no exception, so we had to find out more about the process behind it.
Hi Stephen! What were your initial ideas and plans for your design?
I definitely wanted to do something with the two-color brioche stitch. Brioche stitch looks so sophisticated. You don’t have to add extra texture or complex shaping to make the ribbed fabric look amazing so I kept the design simple with zig zag increases and scalloped border. I love mixing fibers and I was so pleased with the fuzzy angora on one side and the slick Tosh on the other side.
Any brioche tips for knitters who are trying this shawl to learn more about the technique?
To quote Nancy Marchant, the queen of brioche, “Don’t make any mistakes.” It took me a couple brioche projects before I became comfortable fixing my mistakes like the occasional dropped yarn over so if brioche is a new technique for you, make a headband or hat to start and then move onto a bigger shawl like this design. Nancy Marchant has excellent books (Loop stocks two of them, which will be back in stock soon!) and Loop also has a brioche class coming up in November – check out the details here)
Orkney Angora is so fluffy and soft! I love the halo after washing this yarn and the colours are so rich. Tosh Merino Light will always be one of my favourite yarns. It’s smooth and easy to knit and the colours are illuminating.
What other yarn combinations or variations on your shawl would you recommend?
We caught up with founder of Madelinetosh Amy Hendrix, to discover more about the process behind our new custom colour ‘London Cosmopolitan’
Hi Amy!Tell us a little bit about how ‘Madelinetosh’ started.
Finding a full palette of colours in one yarn brand was difficult, ten years ago. Coming from a painting background I wanted to pick colorways like tubes of oil paint in an art store. I wanted twelve gradations of red and a whole host of neutrals to play with for pairing; I couldn’t find that so I made it. Google and a library card allowed me to learn how to dye. We were a young family with little money to spare, so I found great books in which I was able to study and absorb the different approaches to applying colour. It was the process of application that was so mystical to me, because that is where the true magic happened.
I dyed a few batches of yarn in my kitchen and posted it on Etsy while my toddler was napping; someone in Oregon bought it and the cycle grew from there. I built up my nerve to approach my local yarn store and practiced my pitch in front of my two-year old. Thankfully, they took some skeins on consignment and I had officially landed my first wholesale account. Now Madelinetosh Hand Dyed Yarns is currently stocked in more than 200 different colourways and supplied to over 800 retailers around the world including the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan.
What was the inspiration behind the colour, and then how did you create the shade?
Susan’s photo! Susan emailed us a photo for colour inspiration (cocktail photo below) and it was our job to take that photo and bring it to life in skein form for her, thus translating the colour that inspired Susan from one visual format to another. I wanted to create something that matched Loop’s style and sophistication.
For us and our lead dyer Hortencia now it is the challenge of making that translation from one art medium to another that is fun in custom colour projects like these. A colour that may read as peach in a photograph on paper will translate completely differently on a creamy fibre base, knowing how to bridge that gap in terms of colour is the key. If peach as a colour rests on the surface when applied to paper but is soaked up into a fibre when applied to its surface you know that your subtle peach may translate to a light or medium orange in application on your denser fibre. So you throw orange in the dye pot, but after, steam, water, rinsing and drying a soft peach on your dry and fresh wool emerges. Colour and its infinite translations is what has always kept me up at night, I’m sure it always will as I am still learning its secrets.
Do you have any plans to knit yourself anything in this colourway?
An undisclosed Madtosh employee kept a few skeins from the original shipment and made the most beautiful cowl with this colourway, she knit a simple garter stitch pattern but on oversized needles so it creates a soft and scrunchy fabric, every time I see it at the office I think I need one as well, it’s so brilliantly simple but functional.
If you could chose one yarn that Loop stocks (other than your own!) what would it be?
Anything tweed! London and Loop are so fortunate to have direct access to so much incredible fibre from all over the U.K., of course I could drool for hours of the intricacies of the colours in Jamieson’s but it is also inspiring to see the fibre works of talents like Eden Cottage on the shelves as well.
My memories of Loop go back to teaching on some very chilly days in London. I walked into the cozy shop and was led downstairs into what we call the basement and a table full of students, it was hard to pass up all the delicious yarns upstairs tucked in every nook and cranny!
So, after building up so much suspense over the past few weeks, we’re happy to announce that we will now be taking pre-orders for the book! A collaboration between Loop and a whole host of knittings most talented designers and dyers, it’s the perfect way to celebrate 10 years of Loop.
Not only will you be one of the first to receive our gorgeous new publication, early birds who pre-order before 1st September will get a 10% discount! Order through the online shop and your purchase will already be discounted to our pre-order price of £18. Our anniversary book will include all the patterns you’ve been reading about on the blog (plus one or two more that we are yet to reveal!) and a download code so you can access your own PDF copy of the book.
And as we were feeling extra generous we are giving two lucky winners the chance to win all the yarn you need to make Stephen’s shawl! Two balls of fluffy Orkney Angora in ‘Ghost’ and one scrumptious skein of Madelinetosh Merino Light in the new shade ‘London Cosmopolitan’ are up for grabs, and there are two ways to enter. Either leave a comment below letting us know what your favourite Madelinetosh colour is, or head to our instagram account LoopLondonLoves and follow the instructions detailed on our Tosh/Orkney Angora picture to enter.
(Competition now closed- but we’ll have lots more in the future!)
We’ll be choosing one winner at random from the blog, and one winner at random from Instagram, so you are welcome to enter yourself for the competion via both! The giveaway closes at midnight GMT on Wednesday 29th July and the winners will be notified next week on the blog.