Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Maeve: Evolution of a cable

For the next couple of weeks we'll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here

Today, we're delighted to have talented designer Bristol Ivy discuss her design process when creating the bold and unique cable for her stunning design, Maeve

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BI: One of the things that I’ve been really interested in recently is how different designers draw inspiration for their patterns. Some work from emotions, some from artwork, others from wanting to incorporate a specific technique. Still others take inspiration from hints and peeks at readymade garments, deconstructing a stitch pattern from a random sighting in a restaurant window or thrift store. In the case of the cable pattern on my design for the Maeve cardigan in the Knightsbridge Collection, it was just one of these random sightings that sent me down a path of graph paper and sketches galore.

Now, here’s the thing. These glimpses are never somewhere logical. You never see them anywhere you have paper and pencil at the ready, able to sketch them down quickly before they disappear around the corner.  Nope--these are the ones that have you grabbing whatever’s at hand--receipts and a crayon, gum wrappers and a permanent marker--to sketch, or whipping out your phone and taking a covert picture, or frantically pausing the movie at just the right spot so you can take a screenshot. In Maeve’s case, I had mere seconds: a glorious, tantalizing white sweater appeared on screen, the diamond-shaped cables a beautiful tesselation in the sunlight (never mind that it was Anthony Bourdain’s cameraman and they were discussing squid ink pasta in Sicily). That was all I saw of it, but the idea of those diamond cables stuck in my mind.

Once I was able to sit down with graph paper, I started sketching. I am a huge, huge fan of antler cables, so I knew it had to start there. From there, it was a series of decisions--would the cabling rate over the top half of the diamond be the same as over the bottom half? I decided no--it would be stronger and more visually interesting to have them move at a different rate.  Would the diamonds all face the same direction, or would they flip back and forth? I decided the same--though it meant more rows as the angles of the cables wouldn’t fit into each other snugly, it would create a more interesting use of negative space.  Would they mirror on either side of the body of the cardigan, or continue in the same direction? I decided on mirroring--I wanted the same line of cables traveling up and over the shoulder.  In all of these situations, graph paper was my guide.  

It surprises people sometimes that I don’t do a lot of swatching when I’m figuring things out; most of the time I rely either on thinking it through (chances are, if I’m staring off into space, there’s a sweater in my head) or on sketching things out with graph paper (and sometimes Photoshop, to manipulate the basic graphs into different iterations).  Only when I’m completely satisfied with the preparations do I pick up yarn and needles. In some cases, that can reveal a whole host of issues I hadn’t thought about yet, and so it’s back to the drawing board. But in the case of Maeve, the cables played nice in its very first swatch, and with those cables coupled to a clean, architectural and wearable shape, I couldn’t be happier with how the final piece turned out. 

{sketches, from top to bottom: The original Idea for the cable panel, option 1, and option 2. All sketches © Bristol Ivy and used with permission}