q&a with norah gaughan

Apr 16, 2017 :: by Leila Raabe

Author Norah Gaughan, the wonderfully talented designer behind Framework: Ten Architectural Knits, joins us on the blog today to talk about our newest book. Enjoy!

How did Framework come to be?

I love that linen makes a garment I would really wear, even in the heat of summer. Both Sparrow and Kestrel had been calling to me for a while and I really wanted to play with them. I like working on a collection of designs so I can fully explore a theme or idea. With these 10 pieces I focused on the fabric, especially the the drape and the use of openwork that was more tailored than pretty. I combined that with my geometric shape obsession and then made a conscious effort to reduce seaming, even in the untraditional constructions.

Knitters understand the inherent geometry of the shaped pieces that make up a typical knitted piece. But the designs in Framework turn some standard knitting principles on their heads, in fun and surprising ways. Was there a lot of experimentation to arrive at these unconventional constructions?

These constructions spring out of ideas I've been working on for a while now. So, yes there was a lot of experimentation, but it took place of a longer period of time, not solely for this collection. When I am designing, one idea often springs out of another. Previous thought processes lead to these thoughts.

These designs encourage knitters to think outside of the box, yet somehow retain a beautiful simplicity in the finished item. Would you say these pieces are challenging for the average knitter? Any tips for newer knitters?

Some of the pieces are easier than others. If you are a beginner knitter you might want to start with one of the pieces made solely of rectangles, like Dormer, Cella or Perimeter. You'll be learning the pattern stitch without having to thinking about anything else, since there is no shaping involved.

Even the most unusual of the constructions, though, isn't that hard taken one step at a time. Don't read too far ahead and scare yourself. Take it as it comes.
 

left to right: Perimeter, Dormer, and Cella

All ten pieces are worked in linen: our fingering-weight Sparrow, worsted-weight Kestrel, or in some cases, a combination of the two. Does fiber type factor into the design and/or construction? 

Yes; it always does, though.

Would substituting a different fiber (e.g. wool) be recommended for these? Why or why not?

Sure, you could substitute another fiber in any of the designs. Just be aware that you will be making something new. The look of the stitches may change, the drape will be altered, so the overall look will be different. The dropped stitch I used for Dormer and the elongated stitch in Gambrel are especially lovely in a ribbon yarn and may be harder to substitute.

Sparrow also makes beautiful dropped ladders, as seen in Arris and Spate. A fuzzy wool just won't look the same, but a hard, smooth wool might do the trick. So, make swatching your friend. Find out how the fabric will drape with a nice big swatch and try out the pattern stitch to be sure the yarn is compatible.

clockwise from top left: Dormer, Gambrel, Spate, and Arris

Any advice for knitting with linen yarns?

Don't be discouraged when your stitches seem crooked and uneven. Also, don't be tempted to over control your knitting with a smaller needle. Linen always looks wiry before it hits the water. Wet block your swatch, and then your knitted piece, and you'll see how beautiful your work will look in the end.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Framework. Thanks again to Norah for taking the time for our Q&A! Check out all of the designs from the book and grab a print+PDF copy right here.

For quick review of Framework head on over to Knotions. More reviews to come!

Related posts in: Book | Collection | Designers | Framework | Knitting | Linen | Norah gaughan | Organic linen | Sparrow
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