Archive for May, 2010

Captivated By Katia

Monday, May 31st, 2010

In Barcelona, a city richly flavored in culture and fashion, well-known for its impressive vistas from hilltops sloping gently towards the Mediterranean Sea, one yarn company has stood the test of time.  For close to sixty years, Katia has spun out innovative yarns, reviving the industry with trend-setting styles based upon European design.  The Katia team has built a solid reputation with quality products that grace the shelves of yarn stores in more than forty countries from Austria to Costa Rica, Guadelope to Hong Kong, and all points in between.  

Katia publishes ten design catalogues a year, focusing on handknitting patterns for babies, children, teens and adults.  A company remaining true to its name, Katia (translates as ‘pure’ in English) sticks with a proven formula that works, covering the gamut from posh elegance to relaxed sportswear as effortlessly as winding yarn around a needle.

For the coming season, Katia pumps up the volume with polar weight yarns  in solid and multi coloured shades, and reaches to deeper depths with smoky hues in self-striping wool blends.  Metallics glisten and gleam in the evening light in shades of silver, black and indigo.  Novelty yarns are puffed up with eye-catching texture displaying remarkable ingenuity from a company that doesn’t hold back when it comes to raising the bar.  Have a glimpse at some of the highlights from Katia’s Collection for Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 and see what catches your eye.

Fabula by Katia

Fabuliscious Fabula!  A polar weight yarn in pure superwash wool, this cowl neck pullover from Katia Book #63 will look great in a range of self-shading colours- red, magenta, teal, charcoal, or denim blue.  Don’t worry about the length of time it takes to knit on 9 mm needles, with nine shades to choose from, it will take much longer just deciding on which colour.

Memory by Katia

The warmth of Autumn is spun into Memory, a supersoft chunky wool blend that balances somewhere between a tweed and a self-striping yarn blending brights and darks together.   No need to sort these colours out before washing, its all in the mix.  This pullover stands out in Katia Book #63 with its unusual ribbed waistband ruched into a front cable panel.   

Alhambra by Katia

A little bit of shimmer goes a long way with Alhambra, an elegant new yarn combining ribbon and just a sliver of mohair for a subtle hazy effect.   This one knits as a chunky weight on 7 mm needles in seven fanciful shades for all out glamour- teal, charcoal, taupe, pearl grey, navy, burgundy and black.

Alhambra by Katia

Alhambra by Katia

Another two alluring styles from Katia Book #63 in Alhambra, a classic cap sleeve with a shawl collar in deep and mysterious teal blue warms up nicely with matching arm warmers.  Cool evenings are all wrapped up in a butterfly stitch shawl in charcoal black. 

Azteca by Katia

Azteca is back again with twenty-one inspiring colourways, the magic of stripes appearing in every ball of this popular aran weight yarn.  In a comfortable blend of wool and acrylic, this simple to knit cardigan with deep pockets from Katia Book #64 shows off the rustic shades of Autumn in the country.    

Azteca by Katia

If you prefer more slimming lines, knit vertically from side to side and add the ribbed border afterwards.  Its a super easy slipover vest that highlights the amazing colourways of Azteca

Illusion by Katia

Make this Illusion a reality in a fiery shade of red.  Its a headturner, a classic swing coat, lightweight and warm enough for gusty Autumn days in a delicate blend of superkid mohair, merino wool and a touch of nylon for durability.  With eighteen shades to choose from, in lively brights and subtle neutrals, why limit yourself to just being a lady in red.

Designer Chat With Debbie Bliss

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

A fair-haired icon in the world of knitting, Debbie Bliss continues to impress us with her down-to-earth signature style.  Living a busy life in London, with her husband, two children and a bouncy beagle named Monty, Debbie works mainly in her home-based studio designing classic knitwear with a modern edge, patterns which has been published in more than fifty books.  Twice a year, she visits Italy to source out new fibres for her own line of exclusive yarns, and regularly travels to North America to teach workshops and seminars.  Just last year, she added Editor in Chief to her long list of accomplishments.

Debbie Bliss

Debbie takes time out from writing and designing for the next issue of her magazine to fill us in on her design background and inspiration.

MM:  Hi Debbie, thanks for taking a break from your work to chat.  Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?

DB:  Tea please!

MM:  What a phenomenal journey your career has taken you on, did it all begin right after college with a knitted collection of plants and flowers?

DB:  Yes, it really did.  I was on a fine art based Fashion and Textiles course, which meant I had great fun making cardboard coats and hats from crisp packets, but when I left art school, I was virtually unemployable!  At the time there was a trend for making everyday objects such as a cake or a plate of bacon and eggs out of fabric, rather like the funky knitted pieces you see today.  I started to make knitted plants which I was able to sell to stores such as Liberty of London.

Lacy Shawl in Eco Baby

 MM:  From the start, your baby and children’s patterns have been a breath of fresh air.  Did you draw inspiration from your own two children, and as they grew your designs grew along with them?

DB:  Thank you!  I think the practical element became important after my first child, Billy.  Before then, I would definitely have been just interested in style over comfort but he was a very colicky baby who did not like to be dressed or undressed so I soon learnt that wide necks, button shoulder fastenings and cardigans rather than sweaters were easier to get off and on.  As my second child Nell grew older, and I mean three years rather than thirteen, she had very definite ideas about what she wanted to wear and my designs didn’t get a look at anymore.

Sleeveless Smock Dress

MM:  Looking back on that very first published design, what do you remember about it?

DB:  As far as I can remember, my first published designs were in a book called Wild Knitting, in which I contributed a knitted garden- a child’s raincoat knitted out of cling film (saran wrap) wrapped around beads, mad ties, and knitted insects.

MM:  Wow, that would be quite a feat, knitting with plastic wrap, but a brilliant idea.  The launch of a knitting magazine was also a brilliant idea.  Not only does it open doors to a brand new generation of knitters, it also presents a fabulous lifestyle.  How did this project come about?

DB:  I am a magazine junkie so was very thrilled when Soho Publishing (Vogue Knitting) approached me with the idea of collaborating on one. 

Boat Neck Top

MM:  In the Spring/Summer issue, you describe being a part of the Vogue Knitting Cruise to Mexico and Belize.  What did you enjoy most about your time at sea with a group of knitters?

DB:  It was a really enjoyable experience, my husband and daughter came along too, and it was wonderful to catch up with Nicky Epstein and Carla Scott, the other teachers and their families.  It was a great chance to meet up with all the knitters and share their enthusiasm for the craft.

MM:  Are there any design moments that you look back on now with a smile, and say, “what was I thinking?”

DB:  There are so many, its difficult to pinpoint just one!  I think proportion is so essential to a style, so it might be that when something comes back from a knitter, I wish I had made it longer, narrower, etc.  The knitted fabric can sometimes have a life of its own, and the completed garment can look rather different from the one I had in my head.

MM:  Your upcoming Fall/Winter Collection looks especially enticing, with the striking contrast in texture between Glen– a merino/alpaca tweed and Andes– a mulberry silk blended with baby alpaca.  Where did the inspiration come from in choosing these new yarns?

DB:  Andes, the mulberry silk is just so beautiful that as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted it in my collection.  I have always loved this particular blend with the softness of the alpaca combining with the sheen of the silk.  I do prefer smooth yarns that show off the stitch as a lot of my work includes stitch texture.  I have intended to avoid fancy or multi coloured yarns as they are not compatible with my style of designing.  Glen, however, is the perfect compromise, a tweedy style that has subtle tonal shadings in each ball to make the garment shade from dark to light and back again.  It makes a really unique fabric.  Although its a chunky weight yarn, it is soft and surprisingly lightweight, to make even the most generous jackets and coats really wearable.

MM:  What is your idea of a ‘blissful’ Sunday?

DB:  Aha, this is an easy one!  Sunday morning reading the papers, then a huge traditional Sunday roast with my family and friends around the table, the more the merrier, followed by a light snooze on the sofa with the beagle, waking up in time to watch the original version of Pride and Prejudice on TV.

A Line Cardigan in Amalfi

(images courtesy of Debbie Bliss)