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headshot of Laura Patterson

Today's post comes from Laura Patterson, designer of the stunning beaded shawl Spinner, from our newest issue. You can also find this post on her blog, here, and more about her designs here. Enjoy!





Late last spring I saw Twist Collective’s call for their Winter 2015 issue. It was a theme of wintery contrasts, geometric shapes whose edges were softened by drifts of snow, and accented with the sparkle of city lights and snow falling at night. The images coalesced into a feeling that I had to capture with yarn.



part of the mood board for winter 2015



I immediately knew that my design must reflect those same sharp edges, but softened somehow, and it had to have beads, lots of beads to sparkle and shimmer like lights reflected off nighttime snow.


My home office is upstairs in a spare bedroom, and this is where I do all my computer work: typing up patterns and creating charts, keeping up on the latest knitting news, (most of) my social media interaction. My knitting library lives here, as do my yarn, beads, spare needles and crochet hooks, a sewing machine, shipping supplies, and all sorts of other stuff. This is all well and good. Everything I need is close at hand. This isn’t, though, where I knit. I knit downstairs in the TV room. On the couch. With my feet up. Netflix tuned (do you “tune” Netflix?) to whatever show I’m currently watching (it’s pointless asking how many times I’ve watched Arrow in its entirety, as I have absolutely no idea). Because of this a certain amount of yarn has migrated to the TV room. There’s a large basket next to the ottoman overflowing with it, and on the hearth is a pile of my most-used stitch dictionaries, the latest knitting magazines, a sheet for blocking, and the odd pattern or two. Frankly, I’ve tired of carrying them all upstairs and putting them away, only to haul them back downstairs again a day or two later.



wingspan from the back



Anyway, with Twist’s winter call in mind, sitting on the couch, TV on, probably watching Arrow, I dug through my favorite books of stitches from Japan. Wait. Back up. There it is. The perfect stitch. Diamonds and sharp angles that combine and move knit and purl stitches back and forth across the lace, paired yarn overs and decreases, accentuated with lovely five-stitch cables. I dug through the basket, found the perfect yarn for my swatch: lace weight, but slightly fuzzy because of the high alpaca content. Now the beads, the swatch must have beads. Back upstairs. Yes, there they are.



spinner swatch



When I wrote up my submission I made one fatal error. This is what I said, “Shawl would work equally well in pure white, winter white, snowy-blue, snowy-gray, red, or black (but please don’t make me knit the model in black! LOL).” See? It’s all my fault. I made Kate think that the shawl would look good knit with dark yarn. To her credit, when she sent my acceptance letter, Kate actually asked if a dark color would be okay: “I’m tempted to send you a very dark purple. Would you kill me for wanting to send you that?” This is where I made my second error. I said that it would be fine! Head. Desk.



shawl wrapped around model



Honestly though, the color is fabulous, I had reasonable light, didn’t have to frog it (miracle of miracles), and it turned out beautifully. Don’t you think?



beading detail shot



I love knitting with beads, so naturally I have a small (cough) collection of them. A number of them have been sitting mournfully in my stash for years, waiting for that perfect project to come along. One of the mournful colors was suddenly ecstatic: size 8/0 glass seed beads that look like little pearls. I knit up a tiny swatch to be sure. Yes. Oh yes. They’re just right. The white beads on the fuzzy dark yarn look just like snowflakes falling against a night sky.