a PDF version here.



a PDF version here.
Magazine Number 54
Digital Edition
Magazine Number 54
Digital Edition
Marie Wallin • Martin Storey • Lisa Richardson
Kaffe Fassett • Kate Davies • Sarah Hatton
Vibe Ulrik • Julia Frank • Gemma Atkinson
Amanda Crawford • Jennie Atkinson • Josh Bennett
It is with great pleasure to introduce the turning page edition of Magazine 54.
The turning page really does bring the magazine to life. The next best thing to
having the magazine actually in your hands. Once you have viewed all these
beautiful designs why not go that step further and become a Rowan subscriber
to the magazine and have it delivered direct to your door.
2013 is the perfect season for Rowan with knitwear sitting centre stage of the
fashion world creating the drama for the season ahead. Many of the catwalk
designers have drawn inspiration for their collections from historic references
such as the Baroque. Fashion is also looking to the handicraft textiles of Eastern
Europe and the nomadic lifestyle.
The Rowan designers have taken these strong trends and worked the different
key looks into three distinctive stories.
ROMANCING…. inspired by the dark beauty found in haunting and
mysterious landscapes. The mood of this exquisitely beautiful collection is dark
but romantic and sometimes sinister with a touch of gothic. This story has a
little bit of everything from lace knitting to simple textures and some more
complicated colour work.
FOLK… is inspired by traditional folk patterns. A patchwork of reclaimed
layering pieces, pay homage to richly patterned kilims and rugs to create a rich
tapestry of colour and texture.- a truly Rowan story that will appeal to the
knitters amongst you that like a challenge with the rich colours and tweeds of
the autumn. Knit yourself one of these exquisite designs or knit for the special
person in your life
ESSENTIALS… continues to promote the key shapes of the season in a
simpler and more accessible way.
Whatever yarn, colour or design appeals to your creative side I hope you enjoy
the magazine.
Berenice Wrap by Marie Wallin
Photographer Peter Christian Christensen
Art Direction & Styling Marie Wallin
Hair & Make-up Frances Prescott (One Make Up)
Model Anna Quirk (Bookings Models)
Rowan Brand Manager Kate Buller
Rowan Head Designer Marie Wallin
Design & Publications Manager David MacLeod
Marketing and Publications Co-ordinator Lyndsay Kaye
Rowan Digital Marketing Manager Karl Hallam
Rowan Graphic Designer Paul Calvert
Graphic Designer and Web Assistant James Knapton
Rowan Designer & Pattern Editor Lisa Richardson
Rowan Assistant Designer Gemma Atkinson
Yarn & Photoshoot Co-ordinator Ann Hinchliffe
Garment Co-ordinator Vicky Sedgwick
Knitting Co-ordinator Andrea McHugh
Garment finishing Lisa Parnaby & Pauline Ellis
Rowan Magazine Design Layout Simon Wagstaff
With special thanks to the following handknitters:
Andrea McHugh, Sophia Reed, Audrey Kidd, Helen Betts,
Yvonne Rawlinson, Gwynneth Allen, Marjorie Pickering,
Clare Landi, Paula Dukes, Violet Ellis, Ann Banks, Carol Bayless,
Ros Miller, Ella Ferguson, Janet Mann, Linda Watson,
Brenda Willows, Janet Oakey, Glenis Garnett, Val Crutchley,
Sandra Richardson, Linda Blaire, Cindy Noble, Val Deeks,
Fiona McCabe, Margaret Morris, Wendy Shipman, Angela Warner,
Elsie Eland, Wendy Stevens, Jenny Cooper, Honey Ingram,
Elizabeth Jones, Joyce Limon, Chris Davies, Judith Chamberlain,
Jenny Shore, Jyoti More.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or any part
of all material, including illustrations, in this magazine is strictly
forbidden. No part may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means
electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical
photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission
of the copyright owners having been given
in writing. The designs in this magazine are copyrighted
and must not be knitted for re-sale. Reproduction of this
publication is protected by copyright and is sold on the
condition that it used for non-commercial purposes.
Yarn quantities are approximate as they are based on
average requirements.
First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Coats Crafts UK.
Green Lane Mill, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England, HD9 2DX
E-mail: [email protected]
Copyright Coats Crafts UK 2013
Reprographics by Gemini Marketing Solution Ltd
Kate Buller
Rowan Brand Manager
A beautiful collection of romantic lace and
patterned knits photographed in the historic
setting of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire.
Includes 3 FREE downloads for
members and behind the
scenes videos.
The patterned folk textiles of nomadic
eastern cultures inspires this colourful
collection of women's and men's knits.
Includes 3 FREE downloads for
A collection of the key shapes and textures
on trend, designed into simple, easy to wear
styles that compliment the season's
ESSENTIAL looks. With behind the
scenes videos.
Click on the
symbol where it appears
for a link to further information.
Click on the download button where it
appears to download the pattern PDF
An introduction to the amazing design
resource that is the Knitting Reference
Library at the University of Southampton.
An interview with Rowan's newest
designer, Kate Davies.
An interesting insight into the mystique of
knitting on the round.
A step by step guide to working steeks.
Interesting facts about the Mohair fibre.
This season sees the students of Winchester
School of Art designing a collection of
vintage inspired knits. 6 FREE downloads
members and video
Interesting information on the location
Our seasonal review of current
publications, exhibitions and other
inspiring events and products.
Further information on our
members clubs.
Fine Lace, Kidsilk Haze &
Anchor Artiste Metallic
Marie Wallin
Kidsilk Haze
Vibe Ulrik
Kidsilk Haze
Vibe Ulrik
Fine Lace, Kidsilk Haze &
Anchor Artiste Metallic
Marie Wallin
Kid Classic
Marie Wallin
Kid Classic
Marie Wallin
Kidsilk Haze
Julia Frank
Fine Lace & Kidsilk Haze
Martin Storey
Fine Lace & Kidsilk Haze
Martin Storey
Fine Lace & Kidsilk Haze
Martin Storey
Kidsilk Haze
Marie Wallin
Pure Wool 4ply
Jennie Atkinson
Pure Wool 4Ply
Sarah Hatton
Fine Lace & Kidsilk Haze
Sarah Hatton
Fine Lace
Lisa Richardson
Kidsilk Haze & Pure Wool 4ply
Jennie Atkinson
Kidsilk Haze
Vibe Ulrik
Pure Wool 4ply
& Anchor Artiste Metallic
Lisa Richardson
Kidsilk Haze &
Anchor Artiste Metallic
Marie Wallin
Photographer: Peter Christian Christensen. Styling: Marie Wallin. Hair & Make Up: Frances Prescott (One Make Up)
Art Direction: Marie Wallin. Model: Anna Quirk (Bookings Models). Location: Haddon Hall, Derbyshire.
Inspiring the
The Knitting
Reference Library
Words by Linda Newington.
The Knitting Reference Library (KRL) is part of the University of
Southampton Library, and is located at Winchester School of Art, a
campus of the University.The KRL was launched at the first In the loop
conference in 2008 and is founded on the bibliographic collections of
Richard Rutt, Montse Stanley and Jane Waller. Each collector possessed a
serious passion for knitting, their individual approaches are illustrated
through the resources they collected and established as an essential part of
their working lives.
The library comprises of nearly 2000 books, 425 journal and magazine
titles, an estimated 12,000 knitting patterns and hundreds of knitting
pattern books. It includes many widely known classic books from the
Victorian period through the decades of the twentieth century to the
present day.
Richard Rutt and the history of hand knitting
Richard Rutt (1925-2011) once popularly known as the knitting bishop, was a scholar and knitter
known for his classic book A history of hand knitting published by Batsford in 1987, it remains a key
text on the subject.
I first met Richard Rutt at his home in Falmouth to discuss the generous donation of his library.
Many return visits were made to discuss knitters and their books whenever I made a trip down to
Cornwall. It was always a pleasure to meet with him and his wife Joan and to chat over tea and cake.
I also saw many examples of his and Joan’s knitting including hats, gloves, cardigans, jumpers and coats.
A particular distinction and strength of his library is the range and number of Victorian knitting books
which commenced publication in the 1830s. These are small books that include recipes, more akin to
guidelines rather than the strict instructions of patterns, sometimes with illustrations in either black and
white or hand coloured. They promoted knitting at this time through mass publication. They are
interesting antecedents to the contemporary printed knitting pattern and the “how to knit” books of
today. Rutt devotes a chapter to The Victorian age and the belle époque in his book providing context and
information about a number of the lady authors. He also gives a check list of English knitting literature
published before 1910 which lists these small works. He knitted a group of “pence jugs” from the
Victorian patterns to test their accuracy and to learn the technique first-hand.
On the left: Examples of some
of the vintage knitting patterns.
A further feature of his library is the back runs of magazines including Weldon’s, Stitchcraft, and Vogue
His knitting pattern collection is especially strong on menswear from the 1920s through to the 1980s
including many gems of popular culture. A reference to the Beatles is made by Patons in a dark and
moody image of a look-alike Beatle wearing an edge to edge cardigan under the title The Liverpool
Look. An unknown classic may be the book entitled The manly art of knitting by Dave Fougner, published
in 1972 by Schribner which includes knitting patterns for dog and horse blankets, a hammock and cap.
He also collected books on knitting from other countries including Korea and Scandinavia.
Montse Stanley: tradition and renewal an expert of construction and technique
Montse Stanley (1942-1999) was born in Barcelona and established her collection as the Knitting
Reference Library in her Cambridge home before its acquisition by the University in 1999. Her
collecting started in rather an unexpected way with photographs and postcards on the theme of
knitting. They were acquired when attending postcard fairs with her husband Thomas Stanley who
possessed one of the largest postcard businesses in the UK.
Montse Stanley is well known amongst the knitting community for her charisma, enthusiasm and
knowledge which is clear from her many publications and the inherent legacy of her collection. The
indispensable The handknitter’s handbook: a comprehensive guide to the principles and techniques of hand
knitting first published in 1986 by David and Charles has been reprinted and translated many times.
It is apparent that she worked closely with the collection of knitted objects which richly illustrate
her approach to construction, design and technique especially in the third revised edition dated
1993. I detect that she considered knitting traditional yet inventive, aesthetically beautiful and
utilitarian, every day and kitsch, fashionable also comforting, even humorous.This is seen in her copy
of Wild knitting published in 1979 by Mitchell and Beazley with many surprising projects for unusual
items such as an armadillo cape, unusual dresses and a selection of punk ties.
Her collection of knitted objects numbers about 1000 items. It comprises clothing, bags and purses,
accessories, domestic items and novelties. The bags and purses date from the late 18th century
through to the mid 20th century and are complimented by books detailing the techniques not only
in Victorian publications but also in secondary sources for example, Classic beaded purse patterns by E.
de Jong-Kramer, Lacis 1996.
Her library includes a run of the Girls Own Annual dating from 1881 to 1923. In some copies there
are small markers with pencil notes in her hand writing all denoting references to knitting. She also
collected fiction, again noting in pencil on the title pages of Agatha Christie murder mysteries all
references to knitting.
She reveals particular interest in her cultural background with books and knitting patterns books
from France, Italy and Spain. They include some interesting works such as Spanish costume of
Extremadura by Ruth Matilda Anderson published by the Hispanic Society of America in 1951 with
many reference to knitting. There is also a copy of Andean folk knitting: traditions and techniques from
Peru and Bolivia by Cynthia Gravelle LeCount, published by Dos Tejedoras in 1990 richly illustrated
as yet to be superseded.
Her own expertise as related to the construction of garments and objects is clear in further published
work Knitting your own designs for a perfect fit, published by David and Charles in 1982 as it notably
includes some of her own designs. The emphasis on construction was intended to encourage
knitters to develop their own patterns by learning the appropriate skills and techniques through a
European approach as illustrated in Continental knitting by Esther Bondesen published by Maurice
Friedberg in 1948. This is the practice in Shetland and many other textile cultures where knitting is
embedded in a way of life and construction is part of learning.
Jane Waller a vintage original
Jane Waller’s first book on knitwear entitled A stitch in time: knitting and crochet patterns of the 1920s,
1930s & 1940s published by Duckworth in 1972 remains a classic of an earlier vintage knitwear
revival. I remember visiting Jane to view the knitting patterns at her home in London. Whilst feeling
quite excited about acquiring such an unusual collection I was also thinking rather nervously about
the practical issues of sorting, cataloguing and storage.
Waller started her collection through a chance house clearance when she found and rescued a large
number of knitting patterns and women’s magazines. This was the start of her longer term project
to recognise their relevance and special value to knitters. Waller also published a compilation of
vintage patterns for menswear The man’s knitting book: classic patterns from the ‘20s to the ‘50s published
by Thames & Hudson in 1984, she describes the cardigan as “sensible and functional not
fashionable.” It is interesting that fashion designers have rehabilitated the cardigan for men as an
alternative piece of clothing now seen as signifying urbanity and understated subversity.
On the right: Further examples of
publications within the collection.
The extensive range and variety of knitting patterns, pattern books and women’s magazines dating
from the 1920s provide a rich resource for the fashion historian and contemporary designer. The
image of knitting in the early patterns is remarkably glamorous and stylish. It is this quality that Jane
Waller identified and brought to knitters in the 1970s which Susan Crawford has continued and
refreshed. The many visitors to the KRL both professional designers and students continue to be
inspired by the quality of these images and designs.
The magazine Women’s weekly is also part of this collection. It is one title amongst many popular
women’s magazines held in the KRL unexpectedly retained given the academic context of the
University. They richly illustrate the prevalence of knitting and dress making as thriving domestic
activities over the decades with some notable peaks and troughs.
Are you in the loop?
I co-organised with Jessica Hemmings the first knitting conference entitled In the loop: knitting past,
present and future in 2008 at Winchester School of Art. A constant buzz from the conversation
amongst the generations of knitters who attended as delegates was heard throughout each day. The
Knitting Lounge located in the Rotunda proving a popular venue. The conference resulted in a
published book In the loop: knitting now edited by Jessica Hemmings and published by Black Dog in
In the loop 2: tradition and renewal took place at the Shetland Museum & Archives in September 2010
and was co-organised with Dr Carol Christiansen. A day trip on Sunday up to Yell and Unst in the
far north of Shetland proved an unforgettable experience. Prior to the conference we had the
opportunity to identify the constancy of knitting and the new generation of knitters through an
interview on Radio 4 for Woman’s Hour.
In the loop 3: the voices of knitting took place at the Winchester Discovery Centre in 2012 once again
including a variety of themes.The themes of adornment, exploration and discovery, sport, voices and
well-being were richly explored by the keynote speakers.
In the loop 3.5: making connections is at the planning stage and will be taking place as part of the
Shetland Arts International Textile Festival 31 July to 5 August 2013.
And Finally
The Knitting Reference Library today comprises books, exhibition catalogues, knitting patterns,
journals and women’s magazines. It covers knitting, crochet, tatting, macramé and netting. There is
also contextual material broadly covering costume, dress and other aspects of textiles. The earliest
printed works date from the Victorian period of the 1830s, the latest include the publications of
today. New resources are acquired regularly to ensure the library reflects the diversity of approaches
to knitting in the 21st century.
Montse Stanley’s collection of knitted objects, knitting tools, postcards and photographs is located in
Special Collections at the Hartley Library at the Highfield Campus, University of Southampton.
This resource compliments the published material enabling the potential link between object and
Contact information
Our website is at www.soton.ac.uk/intheloop
The Victorian knitting manuals have all been digitised and may be accessed via our website link at
A pilot project to digitise knitting patterns has recently been completed. The digitised patterns are
available via www.soton.ac.uk/intheloop
E-mail enquiries to www.wsaenqs.soton.ac.uk
On the left:
More examples of patterns.
All images courtesy of the KRL,
University of Southampton.
The books and journals are all catalogued and indexed on the University’s online catalogue which
is accessible via the internet at www.soton.ac.uk/library
Special Collections may be contacted in the first instance by e-mail at [email protected]
Kate Davies
Kate Davies’s designs celebrate the colours and patterns of the scenery that surrounds her and her recent
collection was inspired by the history and landscape of the Shetland Islands.We met up with Kate in Edinburgh
to hear her thoughts on craft, inspiration, and why knitting a sweater is just like writing a poem.
I suppose I’ve had a rather unconventional route into designing. I grew up
in Lancashire and was taught to knit by my grandma and to sew by my
mum. I think much of my aptitude for designing comes from these
women, who taught me to be resourceful and adaptable as well as to trust
my creative instincts. My grandma kitted out the whole family in her
favourite knitting patterns from Woman’s Weekly, and as a teenager, I
enjoyed spending Friday nights with my mum at local jumble sales, picking
up clothes which were later divided up and added to the mending pile for
modification. I wasn’t so keen on stitching up my own school clothes, but
I really enjoyed these jumble-sale customisations, which made me think
about how dressing oneself is always to some degree a creative act, and
began a long-standing obsession with fashion and textiles.
When I left home, I took a different professional route, and after three
University degrees, became an academic, researching and teaching
Eighteenth Century History and Literature at the University of Sheffield,
and later the Universities of York and Newcastle. My work often took me
to the U.S., where I spent long periods working in some wonderful
research libraries. On one of these trips to Philadelphia, I became
fascinated by how textiles were central to the lives of a group of
eighteenth-century women writers whose letters I was reading. As well as
exchanging poems and essays, these women spun, sewed, knitted, and
swapped patterns for lace collars and embroidery. It was their enthusiasm
for textiles that inspired me to start knitting again. From the moment I
took up my needles I found it immensely enabling to create garments that
didn’t exist in the world of mainstream fashion, and I particularly enjoyed
the way that knitting connected me to a place or to a moment, allowing
me to bring an idea to life in a very material way.
In this respect, as in many others, I find that designing is very similar to
writing, an activity which I also enjoy. Essentially, you are giving free-rein
to your creativity, but there is a tremendous amount of hard work involved
as well. I feel that technical knowledge is just as important as artistry: in the
same way that its crucial to know about rhythm in order to write a good
poem, I think its also desirable to have reasonable technical knowledge of
one’s craft in order to create a beautiful garment. For me, these things are
hand in glove. I enjoy the nitty-gritty of figuring out a technical
conundrum, and the actual crafty process of making, just as much as any
lightbulb moment of inspiration, and I think that the pleasure I find in
designing arises from this singular combination of creativity, process, and
Designers are often asked the “where do you find your inspiration”
question, which I find a little odd. I think that if you are someone who
enjoys texture, pattern and colour, then the world is constantly alive with
inspiration, whether you are on the streets of Kyoto or out in the Scottish
Highlands. Because I live in Scotland, and because I love to be outdoors,
the colours of this landscape and the textile traditions that have shaped it
are endlessly inspiring to me. But inspiration is everywhere, and I think
that a hat or a sweater can be an opportunity to celebrate many beautiful
things that are often overlooked, from pavements to vegetables. I also think
that, while its important to take yourself seriously, its also crucial to retain
a sense of humour. That way you are able to recognise when an idea is
probably a bad one, such as the time I attempted to knit a sweater inspired
by the curious texture of a rhino’s behind.
01. Kate.
02. Blaithin Cardigan.
03. Funchal Moebius - inspired by the mosiac pavements of Madeira.
04. Nepal Wrap from the FOLK collection.
Knitted in beautiful autumnal colours
influenced by the British countryside, the
FOLK collection is inspired by the
traditional patterning of Eastern European
folk art, creating a collection of relaxed
knits for both women and men with a
nomadic spirit.
Kid Classic
Kaffe Fassett
Felted Tweed
Marie Wallin
Brandon Mably
Felted Tweed
Kaffe Fassett
Rowan Tweed
Martin Storey
Marie Wallin
Josh Bennett
Frost & Kid Classic
Lisa Richardson
Felted Tweed Aran
Lisa Richardson
Rowan Fine Tweed
Martin Storey
Rowan Fine Tweed
Martin Storey
Rowan Fine Tweed
Lisa Richardson
Frost & Kid Classic
Marie Wallin
Colourspun & Rowan Tweed
Marie Wallin
Felted Tweed
Marie Wallin
Rowan Fine Tweed
Kate Davies
Felted Tweed Aran
Martin Storey
Photographer: Sheila Rock. Styling: Marie Wallin. Hair & Make Up: Frances Prescott (One Make Up). Art Direction: Marie Wallin.
Models: George Waters (Select Model Management) and James Crabtree (Select Men). Location: Erwood House, Powys, Wales (www.lightlocations.com).
Rowan Fine Tweed
Kate Davies
Circles, steeks
& stitches
Words by Dr Kate Davies
There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to knit:
different styles suit different individuals, and a wide
variety of methods and techniques exist to match an
equally wide variety of garments and fabric types. Yet
knitting is a community with its own particular trends
and followings, and like any other community, notions
of “either / or” divide it. Do you knit English or
Continental? Top-down, or bottom up? Do you work
back-and-forth, or in-the-round? Such questions of
technique — of the “best” stretchy cast-off method; of
the “right” way to strand the yarn in colourwork —
can transform a bunch of friendly knitters into fiercely
opposing camps, each with its own passionate
adherents. And there is perhaps no technical
opposition more fundamental, or more divisive, than
that which is perceived to exist between knitting
back-and-forth and knitting in-the-round.
01. Traditional Setesdal costume
including sweaters.
02. Girl knitting a sock on Whitby Pier c.1880
by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe. Courtesy of the
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe Gallery.
03. Knitting Madonna (detail of Annunciation
from the right wing of Buxtehude Alter,
Bertram Minden, 1400-1410.
The standard arguments of the two camps go as follows:
The back-and-forth faction insists:
I like a sleek well-fitted garment. Knitting back and forth allows a garment to be carefully shaped
using the best tailoring techniques.
The torso is composed of curves and lumps of differing proportions. Tailored pieces create the best
lines to accommodate these complicated shapes.
In the beginning was the sewing needle. Early humans fitted the first garments to the body by
stitching pieces of animal skin together with seams. It must be right.
The pattern writers of knitting’s ‘golden age’ created beautiful vintage garments designed to be
knit in pieces, back and forth. They knew what they were on about.
Flat knitting follows industry standards of garment construction and pattern design. Fashion knows best.
Against which the in-the-round faction counters:
I hate sewing seams and finishing. Knitting in the round involves little or no finishing.
The torso is basically a tube, supplied with two smaller, narrower tubes. Therefore all sweaters
should be knit in tubular fashion.
The beginnings of knitting were circular. Medieval paintings depicted the Virgin Mary knitting in
the round. It must be right.
Folk knitters all over the world have knitted socks and ganseys in the round for centuries. They
knew what they were on about.
Elizabeth Zimmermann once designed a seamless yoked sweater which was violated by editors
‘translating’ it into back-and-forth instructions. EZ knew best.
While these two positions may seem intractably opposed, in fact, there are elements of truth in both.
Though back-and-forth knitting has certainly dominated the standard lexicon of commercial
knitting patterns since the 1920s, instructions for many items (socks, gloves, hats) have habitually
been written to be knit in the round. And while the knitters of Estonia and Shetland, Norway and
the Faroe Islands have produced in-the-round garments for centuries, these women were also
talented seamstresses who used sophisticated tailoring techniques to add shape, structure and
decoration to their knitted ganseys and jackets. Today, despite the strong antipathy that one method
or another can arouse among some knitters, there is more interplay than ever between methods
associated with knitting back-and-forth and knitting in-the-round. Commercial patterns are
increasingly written to accommodate many different techniques of flat and circular knitting, while
knowledge of aspects of both methods — of the speed and ease of knitting in-the-round or of the
structure and clean finish of knitting back-and-forth — lends knitters the freedom to modify the
construction of garments in ways that best suit them. One such technique — which enables an inthe-round jumper to be easily transformed into a flat cardigan — is the practice that is known as
steeking. Because steeking involves taking scissors to one’s creations, it strikes fear into the heart of
many knitters. But this technique, common to all Northern knitting traditions, is much simpler to
work than many knitters imagine.
The etymology of the “steek”
The word ‘steek’ has its root in the general Middle English verb ‘steken’
meaning to shut or fasten. By the Eighteenth Century, ‘steek’ was a term
common to Shetland, Scots and Northern English dialects and, while it
might be used in reference to a closed gate, door, or mouth, it was most
often associated with needlework or knitting. In Scots, the verb, ‘to steek’
meant to sew, darn, or knit:
“Wull ee steek this slittin oxter afore it geets ony woare?”
Will you stitch this fraying underarm before it gets any worse?
Or, when used as a noun, the word ‘steek’ simply meant ‘stitch’.
“For want of a steek a shoe may be tint”
For want of a stitch, a shoe may be lost
While in some parts of Scotland and Shetland the word “steeking” still
primarily means to stitch or close, in contemporary knitting parlance, the
word has mutated and morphed to signify the opposite: that is, for most
knitters, steeking now means to cut open, rather than to fasten shut. Thus,
in pattern books that have been produced over the past thirty years or so,
one finds the word “steek” being used in reference to what, in sewing, is
commonly called a seam allowance (a few stitches that are worked
additionally to the main pattern). Put simply, then, for today’s knitters, a
“steek” is a bridge of extra stitches, connecting two separate pieces of
knitted fabric, enabling them to be worked swiftly in the round. Preparing,
reinforcing, and then cutting open this seam allowance (the practice now
commonly known as “steeking”) transforms the tube back into flat pieces.
Why use steeks?
Steeks can be inserted into any kind of knitted fabric, but their most
common application is perhaps in knitting a cardigan using the Fair Isle
method of stranded colourwork. This is because carrying and purling two
shades of yarn can prove tricky: many knitters find that the purl stitches
create significant differences in their tension, or are much slower and more
cumbersome to work. But if a steek is cast on in the places where the
knitting would have to be divided to be worked back and forth — namely,
at the cardigan’s centre front opening, and sleeves — the knitter can work
the entire garment in the round, without purling, all the way from hem to
shoulders. When the steeks are cut open, the extra cast-on stitches act just
like seam allowances around which the knitter can pick up stitches to
create button bands and sleeves.
But don’t steeks unravel?
Knitted fabric certainly likes to unravel, but it does so horizontally. Steek
stitches are cut on the vertical, making them far less likely to do so. As
anyone who has pulled back their knitting will know, wool is also a very
‘sticky’ fibre which likes to retain its shape. If one is knitting with a purewool or majority-wool yarn then it is very easy to work a steek simply
because the stitches ‘want’ to hold their shape rather than to unravel. That
said, because the cut edges of the steek are generally used to pick up a
sleeve or edging afterwards, it is useful to reinforce them before cutting to
help them deal with any strain they might take afterwards. Steeks can be
prepared, reinforced and finished in a wide variety of ways. Taking a look
at the interiors of a range of historic and contemporary cardigans that have
been knitted in the round, before being “steeked” open, illustrates just how
different steeks can be.
Steeks: an inside view
Figure 04 on the previous page, shows the front button bands of a 1920s
cardigan knit in several natural shades of Shetland wool.The band has been
worked in corrugated rib; buttonholes have been cut vertically into the
band; and machine stitching has been used to attach a reinforcing grosgrain
ribbon to the inside. Figure 05 on the previous page, shows the grosgrain
button-band reinforcement from the inside, and, to its left, the raw edges
of a steek, which has been cut open, and folded back to the inside of the
garment, away from the bands. The steek has not been reinforced, or
stitched down: because the natural Shetland wool is very ‘sticky’ and has a
tendency to felt, the knitter has trusted to the natural action of wear, and,
over time, the steek edges have slightly felted together and adhered to the
inside of the cardigan. Leaving steek edges ‘raw’ and allowing for felting in
this way is a common feature of many Shetland hand-knitted garments,
such as the yoked cardigans that are still produced and sold today.
Figure 06 on the previous page shows the front button band of a cardigan
that has been knitted in an Argyle pattern, and figure 07 on the left shows
the interior of the same button band. A steek has been cut to create the
cardigan front opening, and the raw edges have been trimmed back, bound
over, and secured to the inside with blue blanket stitch. Figures 08 and 09,
which also show the front and interior of a button band, illustrate a
different and rather more laborious method of securing raw steek edges to
the inside of a cardigan. Rather than casting on extra stitches for a steek
bridge and knitting across them, the knitter has wound both strands of
working yarn round her needle several times. Each time these wound
strands are encountered, they are dropped off the needle, creating a giant
ladder of strands across the cardigan front. When the knitting is complete,
the knitter cuts this ladder in two, creating a series of ends, which are then
individually woven in to the back of the work (figure 8). A button band
has then been picked up from the edge of the wound steek, and worked
in moss stitch. The careful finishing of the ‘wound steek’ has made the
edges of this 1930s garment extremely neat and durable.
Figures 10 through 13 show recently-knitted colourwork cardigans that
use similar techniques of steeking and reinforcing as those used in the
earlier garments. For the cardigan in figures 10 and 11, a crocheted steek
has been worked, a button band has been picked up along the steek edge,
and a ribbon reinforcement has then been hand-sewn to the inside. Rather
than leaving the steek edges raw, the crochet reinforcement has been
carefully removed, and the steek edges lightly hand-stitched down to the
inside. In figures 12 and 13, a ‘sandwich’ edging has been worked to cover
and enclose a crocheted steek, securing the cut edges, and rendering them
completely invisible.
Steeks: beyond the cardigan
As we can see from these examples, there are a wide variety of ways to cut
and finish a steek. And, because shaping can easily be worked around a
seam allowance, steeking is a technique that can be used to knit just about
any garment or object. Steeks easily lend themselves to the creation of teacosies and blankets, dog jackets and tank tops. Once you are able to cut up
knitted fabric without fear, you really can make just about anything.
Inventive knitwear designer, Stephen West, discovered just that in his
radical transformations of some favourite thrift-shop finds. Discovering a
traditional Setesdal sweater in an Amsterdam vintage store, Stephen had an
idea. “The wide drop shoulder construction lent itself perfectly to legs,” he
“so I transformed the sweater into a pair of tailored pants. I spent the day
executing my first crocheted steeks, and re-seaming the fabric using three
needle bind-offs and kitchener stitch. I used the arms and shoulders of the
sweater for the pant legs, and part of the sweater body for the waist. I
appliqued a section from the stranded fabric for a cod piece, which is lined
with super-soft merino wool.”
Figure 14 shows how Stephen transformed the sweater into pants. The
steeked Setesdal pants were just the beginning. Once Stephen started
steeking, he found he couldn’t stop:
“I’ve now made several other pairs of repurposed sweater pants and they
keep me toasty-warm as I roam the streets of Amersterdam. I’ve had
dozens of onlookers stop in their tracks staring, laughing, or congratulating
me, and offering to buy them.”
Stephen thinks that knowing how to work a steek has given him the
freedom to transform any piece of knitted fabric into a different shape. “I
hope to inspires more knitters to relax and have fun with their knitting.”
He says, “the possibilities are endless.”
The author would like to thank the Frank Meadow Sutcliffe Gallery
www.sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk and the Shetland Museum and Archives
www.shetland-museum.org.uk for their permission to reproduce
images from their collections.
how to
Instructions written by Dr Kate Davies.
Here, we’ve illustrated how to practice working a steek over a simple
colourwork swatch (A). The basic methods illustrated here can be used
for converting any jumper pattern into a cardigan.
1. First, you’ll need to ensure that the pattern is balanced
around the centre (where the cardigan fronts will be). If the
pattern is not symmetrical, you may need to add extra
stitches to complete a full repeat at the end of the round.
In the example swatch shown, the pattern is worked over a
multiple of 8 stitches, plus 1 to balance the end of the
round. (B).
2. Next, you’ll need to decide whether you would prefer
to work a crochet or a machine-sewn steek. If you are
working a crocheted steek, you should cast on the number
of stitches your pattern requires, plus a small odd number
of stitches for the steek (I recommend 5). If working a
machine sewn steek you should cast on the number of
stitches your pattern requires, plus a small even number of
stitches (I recommend 6). (C). Whichever method you
prefer, work your steek in a simple stripe sequence
alternating the yarn shades. These stripes will make it easier
for you to identify the individual stitches later, and show
you where to reinforce and cut.
work to one side, away from the steek stitches (where you
are going to reinforce and cut later) (D, E, F).
4. If following the crocheted steek method, you’ll now
need to work two lines of double crochet around the
steek’s centre stitch (stitch 3 of 5). Work the first line from
top to bottom, and the second from bottom to top, so that
the two lines pull away from the centre stitch. (G)
5. With a pair of sharp scissors, carefully cut up the centre
of the steek, separating the two lines of double crochet (H).
The crochet edging contains the raw yarn ends and creates
a neat, sturdy and flexible edge along which to pick up
stitches (I, J, K)
6. If following the machine-sewn steek method, you’ll
now need to work two lines of machine stitching up the
centre of stitches 2 and 4 of your 6 steek stitches. (L, M)
Then, using a pair of sharp scissors carefully cut your steek
through stitch 3. The machine stitching holds and secures
the raw edges of the steek, creating a firm edge along
which to pick up stitches (N,O).
3. The round will begin to right-of-centre with the first
steek stitch. When switching yarn shades, always do so on
this first stitch of the round and, when you have finished 7. Have fun!
knitting, weave in any yarn ends along the back of the
Vibe Ulrik
Kid Classic
Amanda Crawford
Kidsilk Haze
Marie Wallin
Lisa Richardson
Martin Storey
Felted Tweed
Julia Frank
Felted Tweed Aran
Vibe Ulrik
Pure Wool 4ply
Sarah Hatton
Julia Frank
Kid Classic & Anchor Artiste Metallic
Gemma Atkinson
Gemma Atkinson
Kidsilk Haze
Marie Wallin
Photographer: Peter Christian Christensen. Styling: Marie Wallin. Hair & Make Up: Frances Prescott (One Make Up).
Art Direction: Marie Wallin. Model: Ray (Select Model Management).
words by Marie Wallin
Continuing our series of interesting fibre
facts, this season the spot light is on
MOHAIR. This truly wonderful, versatile
and luxurious fibre is an important
component in many of our beautiful Rowan
yarns including: Kidsilk Haze, Cocoon, Kid
Classic and the new Fine Art.
MOHAIR is the lustrous long and strong hair of the Angora
goat. Used alone or in blends, this soft and hard wearing fibre
imparts its unique characteristics to a wide variety of end uses
but is mainly used in fashion garments, textiles and knitting
and weaving yarns.
HISTORY Believed to have originated in the Himalayas, the
Angora goat was first domesticated in Turkey, where the name
Angora was derived from Ankara, the province where the goats
thrived. Heavily protected from export with an export ban
until the 19th century, the first Angora goats were imported
into the South Africa in 1838 and into the United States in
1849. They came to the UK in 1881 when animals were
imported from South Africa by the Duke of Wellington.
TODAY the major producers of mohair fibre are South Africa,
Texas in the US and Australia. However there are small pockets
of Angora goats being bred for their mohair in numerous
countries throughout the world. Over the years the climate and
geography of these very different areas, together with the
different breeding programmes adopted by each country, have
led to very different characteristics of the mohair fibre produced.
QUALITY American fleeces tend to be dense with a long
staple length producing a marvellous lustre. South African
fleeces are noted for their evenness of the fibres, whilst mohair
from Australia is regarded as being the fineness.
CHARACTER The distinctive properties of mohair give rise
to a soft luxurious handle which has a great durability. These
properties make it desirable for use in quality products from
clothing to furnishing. Mohair has an excellent affinity for dyes
and colours produced on mohair fibre have an unmatched
clarity. Fabrics made of smooth mohair do not crease, mat or
pill and dust and dirt can simply be brushed off.
• All mohair sold commercially is graded and sorted prior
to sale. The grades are sorted by the staple length of the
fibres: long, medium and short.
• Grading is defined by the fibre diameter or micron, eg.
Super Fine Kid Mohair (the finest quality) has a
diameter of 24 – 26 microns.
• Mohair of 13 to 16cm length commands the maximum
• Angora goats are first sheared at six months of age and
then at six month intervals.
• The first clip generally provides the Super Fine fibre,
whilst good Kid fibre is produced at 18 months of age.
• The fibres then become coarser as the animal ages.
• The Angora goat produces mohair at rate of 2.5cm (1”)
a month.
• Mohair, like wool fibre is a natural insulator.
• Mohair is naturally flame retardant.
References: www.angoragoats-mohair.org.uk
01 & 03. The Angora goat.
02. A close up of the curly fleece
of the Angora goat.
Felted Tweed
Meghan Lewis
school of art
Words by Dr Margy Cockburn.
Amazing what a challenge can realise and the
Rowan Design Award 2013, executed for the
first time with the students of Winchester
College of Art and Design, is no exception.
Non-knitters have morphed into passionate
aficionados, garter stitch novices have come up
with completely novel ideas, historical figures
have been stylistically reinvented, family
relationships have been given a boost as all hands
were called on deck and the marvel that is the
Knitting Reference Library at Winchester has
been thoroughly pillaged and proved, yet again,
just what an inspirational resource it is.
The ‘Between the Wars’ brief set by Marie Wallin,
Rowan’s Head Designer asked students to
concentrate on the traditional stitches, colour and
garment detailing of the 1930’s and 40’s. Taking
advantage of the wealth of design inspiration
found within the Knitting Reference Library, the
students were asked to design six contemporary,
women’s wear hand knits to reflect this heritage
trend. The final six selected designs are shown
over the next few pages and we hope that these
beautiful knits will inspire you to look at vintage
knitting patterns in a new light.
WOVEN CABLE TUNIC DRESS, Felted Tweed, Emma Middleton
BETWEEN THE WARS CARDIGAN, Pure Wool DK & Wool Cotton, Katie Agar
Pure Wool 4ply & Rowan Fine Tweed
Lucy Jones
Felted Tweed
Lucy Jones
AMELIA SWEATER, Felted Tweed, Alex Pengelly
travel journal
words by Marie Wallin
Romancing location
Nestling in the valley of the River Wye,
about two miles from the Derbyshire
town of Bakewell, lies Haddon Hall.
Celebrating its description by Pevsner as
‘the English castle par excellence’, it
proved to be the perfect setting for our
stunning Romancing collection.
Haddon Hall is a good example of a
fortified manor house, offering the visitor
with fine examples of medieval and Tudor
architecture and beautiful gardens restored
in the early 20th century by the 9th
Duchess of Rutland.
The History of Haddon Hall
Built of Derbyshire gritstone and limestone, the
hall seems originally to have followed the plan
of a Norman fort and it was in 1195 that
Richard de Vernon was granted permission
from King John to build an enclosing wall
around the Norman courtyard, tower, chapel
and probably other wooden buildings which
comprised Haddon. It wasn’t until 1370 that the
walls were raised and battlements added during
the reconstruction of the house by Sir Richard
Vernon VI. However the large size of the
windows built during this period suggests that
defence was no longer the main priority and
instead the emphasis was on the wealth and
status of Sir Richard. The Great Hall or the
Banqueting Hall was also added during this
restoration as well the kitchens (which were
housed in a separate building to minimize the
fire risk to the main house).
The chapel was also extended during the 14th
century and alterations continued into the 15th
century with the addition of a new chancel and new
windows in 1427. During the latter half of the 15th
century further extensions were made to the chapel
which saw the addition of the bell tower and the
exquisite fresco seccoes on the walls.
Towards the end of the 16th century, several rooms
were altered by Sir John Manners and his wife
Dorothy Vernon, who acquired the Haddon Hall on
the death of her father, Sir George Vernon. Sir John
and Dorothy constructed the beautiful Long Gallery
in the typical Elizabethan style. This major building
project was proved to be the last phase of building. In
1703, Sir John Manners, 9th Earl of Rutland and
grandson of the original Sir John and Dorothy, was
created 1st Duke of Rutland and Marquess of
Granby by Queen Anne and the family moved to
Belvoir Castle, leaving Haddon Hall empty. The hall
remained uninhabited for 200 years until the 9th
Duke and Duchess of Rutland in the early 20th
century instigated the extensive restoration
programme which still continues to this day.
Now, Haddon Hall is once again the
family home of the Manners family
and is owned by Lord Edward
Manners. It is thanks to him and the
dedication of the staff that it is now
perhaps the finest example in
England of medieval and Tudor
domestic architecture.
Haddon Hall is open to the public
on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays
during April and October and open
daily from May to September. Please
refer to www.haddonhall.co.uk
for up to date visitor information
including special events and
Christmas opening times.
The Rowan crew would like to thank Janet and her
team of dedicated staff from Haddon Hall for their
kind hospitality and help.
The crew stayed at the Devonshire Arms, Pilsley,
Derbyshire. www.devonshirepilsley.co.uk
what’s new
A whole season’s worth of knitting books, magazines and
exhibitions covering all aspects of knitting and textile design.
Rowan Angora Haze
With 14 beautiful luxurious designs by Martin Storey, this lovely brochure showcases one of our new yarns for the season,
the exquisite Angora Haze.
Rowan Angora Haze is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB142
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Thick ‘n’ Thin
Sarah Hatton has designed 15 simple and very wearable garments and accessories using one of our new yarns for the season, the fun
Thick ‘n’ Thin. With an emphasis on easy to make projects this fabulous collection will be perfect for the beginner hand knitter as well as
the more experienced.
Rowan Thick ‘n’ Thin is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB138
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Alpaca Colour
Featuring our exciting new Alpaca Colour yarn, this brochure showcases a collection of 17 contemporary and easy to wear
hand knits by Lisa Richardson. This yarn has a beautiful blended colour effect which is perfect for plain and textured knits
alike, whilst the alpaca adds the super soft hand feel.
Rowan Alpaca Colour is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB143
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Autumn Knits
Inspired by the continuing trend for heritage country wear, this is a collection of 14 sumptuous hand knits for women and men by Marie
Wallin. Using two of our most popular winter yarns Cocoon and Lima, together with our new yarn Lima Colour. Featuring cable textures,
small tweed patterns and fairisles and knitted in fabulous autumnal colours, these lovely designs will be both a pleasure to knit and to wear.
Rowan Autumn Knits is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB144
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Little Star
Little Star is a charming collection of vintage inspired hand knits for girls and boys from 3 to 10 years of age. With 21 lovely designs
by Marie Wallin using some of our popular yarns, Wool Cotton, Wool Cotton 4ply, Pure Wool DK and 4ply and also featuring our
beautiful new Angora Haze. This is a collection that will be a must for knitting grandmothers and mothers alike.
Rowan Little Star is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB141
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Pioneer
Inspired by the pioneer spirit of America’s Mid West, Martin Storey has designed a collection of 14 cosy, easy to wear hand knits for
both women and men. Using our popular Big Wool, Pure Wool Aran and Creative Focus™ Worsted yarns, this collection features looks
ranging from Amish inspired patterning through to Martin’s signature cable textures.
Rowan Pioneer is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Order code: ZB140
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Rowan Warm & Toasty
This fabulous collection showcases easy and quick to knit contemporary winter accessories and simple garments. Perfect for the
beginner hand knitter, the collection is designed by the Rowan design team and features 14 designs using our wonderful Alpaca
Chunky and Tumble yarns.
Rowan Warm & Toasty is available from Rowan stockists from 15th July 2013.
Visit www.knitrowan.com to view the collection online.
Order code: ZB139
Aran & Nordic Knits For Kids - 25 designs for babies and young children
aran & nordic knits for kids
Martin Storey
The beautiful motifs and patterns of northern Europe have provided the inspiration for Martin Storey’s collection of cables and
colour knits for little boys and girls. Martin has chosen a range of Rowan’s natural wool yarns for a range of garments and
accessories as well as cushions and throws.
25 designs
for babies
and young
Aran & Nordic Knits for Kids is available from Rowan stockists from Autumn 2013.
Rowan (UK) St Martins Press (USA). Berry & Bridges Ltd.
ISBN 978-1-907544-61-3
Martin Storey
Price £15.95
Sarah Hatton & Martin Storey - Designer Knits
Two of Rowan’s popular designers – Sarah Hatton and Martin Storey – have joined forces to create a special ‘his and hers’ collection of
20 knit designs for girls and guys. In it they showcase their talent for creating the kind of designs in Rowan’s classic yarns that knitters
love to knit, wear and just keep on wearing!
Sarah Hatton & Martin Storey Designer Knits is available from Rowan stockists from Autumn 2013.
Quail Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9567851-9-0
A Knitted Sock Society - 10 Modern sock designs using Rowan Fine Art.
Rachel Coopey
The Knitted Sock Society is a collection of 10 sock patterns knitted with Rowan Fine Art hand painted sock yarn. The patterns include
twisted stitches, cables, lace and colourwork, with geometric patterns, strong lines and intricate details.
A Knitted Sock Society is available from Rowan stockists from Autumn 2013.
Quail Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9567851-8-3
Dee Hardwicke’s Little Colour Knits - 10 colourwork and textured designs.
With a successful track record in creating beautiful, colourful ceramics, Dee Hardwicke fell in love with the Rowan palette of yarns
and has used them to create some brilliant knits for the home and for accessories.
Dee Hardwicke’s Little Colour Knits is available from Rowan stockists from August 2013.
Rowan/Berry & Co Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-907544-62-0
Dee Hardwicke’s
little colour knits
Knit to Fit - Sharon Brant
The beauty of being able to knit is to have something unique, personal and most importantly a garment that looks like it has been made
for you! And that comes with the fit of the garment. This book will help you to understand the measurements given in patterns and how
that relates to your own shape, the importance of the tension square and how you can adjust the patterns to suit your own personal size.
Knit to Fit is available from Rowan stockists from Autumn 2013.
Quail Publishing
Socks made
simple, plus 8
patterns with
Rowan Fine Art
sock yarn
ISBN 978-0-9567851-7-6
Price £9.95
Rowan Sock Knitting Workshop - Georgina Park
For anyone who is keen to learn to knit socks, or wants to improve their sock-knitting skills, this small book offers all the
information needed to raise your game. It covers basic sock knitting techniques, with step-by-step instructions and photographs,
and offers 8 different sock patterns for all the family, all knitted in Rowan’s new Fine Art hand-painted sock yarn.
Rowan Sock Knitting Workshop is available from Rowan stockists from Autumn 2013.
Rowan & Berry & Co
ISBN 978-1-907544-63-7
Price £8.99
Club to Catwalk
9th July 2013 – 16th February 2014
Discover the creative explosion of London fashion in the 1980’s in this major exhibition at the V&A. Through more than 85 outfits,
Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980’s showcases the bold and exciting new looks of the most experimental young
designers of the decade, including Betty Jackson, Katherine Hamnett, Wendy Dagworthy and John Galliano.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Admission charges will apply.
Dress designed by Williams Brown, 1980. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.
Cl b
ub er
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