Designer Crush: Mary Jane Mucklestone
Mary Jane Mucklestone has been fascinated by and drawn to the Shetland Islands for years; particularly Fair Isle, the place for which the stranded knitting technique is named. Her most recent book, Fair Isle Weekend, is a beautiful work of written history, breathtaking photography, detailed patterns based on traditional Fair Isle works, with a dash of tour guide thrown in. In the book and on her blog, she speaks of how lucky she was to have been able to spend a month in residence on the island to work on the book. My idea of heaven on earth!
Fair Isle Studio Residency Croft House
Most of Mary Jane's knitting and designing life has centered around stranded knitting. She has said it began out of the necessity of buying most of her yarn in small amounts on sale and figuring out what to do with it....I think we can all agree she did a great job of making that work for her (and all of us!).
Her study of stranded knitting and dedication to small detail really shows in her design work. Traditional Fair Isle motifs are very symmetrical and balanced in both their lines and use of color, and while she does not alway strictly adhere to those principles, they underlay nearly all of her work. I find her designs very soothing and rhythmic to work on....after a little while I can almost not refer to the pattern and just read my knitting from a few rows below to see what I should be doing next.
Vementry Vest I knitted for my son-in-law and grandson
In addition to Fair Isle Weekend, Mary Jane has written three other great books. Fair Isle Style contains 20 styles inspired by traditional designs, but with a more modern interpretation. Her other two books are 200 Fair Isle Motifs and 150 Scandinavian Motifs; both are reference books filled with stand-alone charted motifs and lots of great information for use in designing your own stranded knitting masterpieces. I refer to them both frequently....such great resources! There are also many individual patterns of hers available on Ravelry, go take a look!
Her most recent work is to be found in MDK Field Guide No. 17: Lopi. All of the designs in this sweet booklet call for Lett-Lopi, traditional Icelandic yarn made from Icelandic wool. Icelandic sheep are an amazing breed and we are going to spend some time getting to know them better in the near future (hint: watch for a future Journal post all about them and for a super-fun event coming soon in the shop). The designs all use the Lett-Lopi at different gauges and varying levels of difficulty, so there is sure to be something for everyone.
We just finished teaching a stranded knitting class based on the Destination Scarf from this book. What a super-fun way to play with color and design your own scarf!
My Destination Scarf in progress
We have one upcoming class from the book as well: the Daytripper Cardigan. It is a top-down, stranded yoke sweater which is knit in the round with a steek and then cut open when finished. We are here to help you with gauge, fit, color selection, and then to hold your hand when it's time to chop your beautiful steeked sweater open!
My Lett-Lopi colors and yoke in progress
If you've ever wanted to try cutting a sweater open but have been afraid to try, now's your chance for doing it under supervision (perhaps under anesthesia would be better?). It really isn't as scary as it sounds, we promise. Click here for more information.
Head to our classes page for more information on this Mary Jane-inspired class. Check out her books too, you will enjoy them and learn lots at the same time!