Category Archives: Patterns and Yarn

Biggan Design Patterns and Yarn

Why Merino?

As anyone who saw this week’s Australian A-Plus section knows there will be a very special competition happening this Saturday at London Fashion Week. The International Woolmark Prize will be handed out to one of six designers (including Australian Dion Lee) who best highlights ‘the beauty of the Merino wool fibre’ (“International Woolmark Prize – The Preview”, The Woolmark Company, http://www.woolmark.com/mr-iwp-preview2013). With luminaries such as Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella Versace and the one and only Posh Spice herself busy judging Merino masterpieces it is as good a time as any to revisit the many advantages Merino brings to everyone from fashion giants to your humble knitting blogger.

Woolmark itself published an article just last month detailing why Merino is such a good chioce for fashion and design (http://www.woolmark.com/benefits-fashion-and-design).  Obviously the luxurious drape, versatility and extremely soft feel of Merino are big advantages to anyone, but it is the lightness and breathable quality of clothing made from Merino that makes it so comfortable to wear, particularly in a variable climates.

When it comes to knitting the unique benefits of Merino really come into their own. The softness means that any yarn made from Merino is pleasant to handle and easy to knit with, in the fleeces used to make Biggan Design yarn Merino’s softness is crossed with the more durable Border Leicester fibers to make a yarn that is as strong as it is luxurious. When you’ve had the pleasure of knitting together a garment from BD yarn you’ll notice even more benefits. The resulting clothing will be breathable, able to release heat and absorb water while resisting odours, all while staying so comfy you can wear it right against your skin.

So next time you cast on with some scrummy, luxury Merino yarn remember that what you are about to make will be a delight to look at AND a delight to wear!

In Praise of Jade

When you jump on the Biggan Design train one of the first questions you are forced to ask yourself is which colour is your favourite? Now personally I could see myself happily trying out all the shades over many years worth of projects before I figure out that answer. However when I became official Blog mistress the powers that be at BD insisted I pick just one colour to start with, I’d only been looking at the enticing colour card for about a minute so I panicked. I didn’t give it any thought really and just chose on the spur of the moment.  However as time has passed I’ve become more and more convinced I made the right choice. Bright Jade, and its slightly haughty sibling Imperial Jade (Nos 650 and 630 respectively), are really great colours.

Not only does it look sumptuous on the shelf (see above) but there are persistent rumblings around this time of year, with Northern Hemisphere winter starting to threaten, that this rich jewel tone is going to make a big fashion splash. Regardless of where you live the bright but intense quality of Bright Jade in particular can work for you in a variety of garments. A stunning, warm, Jade blanket would keep anyone snugly in the winter months and those of us facing Southern Hemisphere summer can rest assured that the bright, happy colour won’t seem out of place even if we can’t wear it for a few months yet!

In one of the older blog posts Biggan talked about how her greens were inspired by Bush walks and the stunning variety of colours that surround us Down Under. The other thing that strikes me about these jades is how much they remind me of pics my Dad takes when he goes Scuba Diving – check out this fishy/wreck image from the somewhere off the Sunshine Coast and how it echoes some Biggan colours.

 

When I take the plunge next week and start knitting the ‘Continental’ way I’ll be starting off with Bright Jade and no doubt enjoying the final product all the more because of the colour and the method! I’m also excited because I’m pretty sure the turquoise-y tone of Bright Jade is going to go well with my freakishly pale skin. I think I’ll even save up these earrings I picked up at a vintage fair to go with the finished project.

 

Here’s the thing. I was going to tell you all about how this particular shade fits in with my ‘colours’ because I’m a Spring in those seasonal colour palette things you can get done. I WAS going to show you my special flip-out pouch of colour swatches and get really excited about greens. Unfortunately the spiteful fairies that inhabit my desk and hide vital items from me at useful times have done away with it.

You see I know where this pouch is, I know where it lives and it SHOULD be there gosh darn it. So being the sensible, rational creature I am I refused to accept the evidence of my eyes and instead decided to repeatedly open and move around the contents of my desk drawer until the item in question deigned to reappear. A flawless plan. The complication arose because of the very sophisticated nature of my filing system (the open-the-drawer-and-stuff method) and resulting overcrowding of my desk. Somehow the desk and all its contents conspired against me to jam folders in such a fashion that I could not open the drawers. That, dear reader, is when I decided the laws of physics need not apply to me and that the solid folder vs. solid drawer problem could be fixed by squeezing my child-size wrists into the gaps. This somehow resulted in me getting stuck for a distressing amount of time with my arm inside my desk drawers, on the verge of hysterics, cursing at the world.

To summarise my wildly unsuccessful day I have failed to find the pouch or anything else to say about colour and am now experiencing mild post-traumatic-drawer stress. There is nothing for it but to lock myself away with my existing unfinished project and try and knit the pain away! There’s just something so soothing about straight lines of stitches … *sigh*

This is what I’ll be recovering with – what I’ve got so far of a jumper in super pale pink (note the cleverly placed white objects on my desk to show up the pink-ness).

 

 Coming Up Next Week: Adventures in Continental Method. 

Living Life In Colour – Bushwalk Inspiration

“I was out for a walk in the rain forest at Cunningham Gap this morning and got so inspired by all the shifting and luscious greens. The canopy overhead and around shifting from lightest Apple-, Gentle- and Emerald Greens through to the darker Imperial and Ocean Greens to Black in the dancing sunlight. They are all the colours I’m using in the upcoming Daintree Sweater-dress I’m working on at the moment.” – Biggan

Inspiring Bushwalk gets the creativity flowing.

Biggan Design Yarn combination inspired by a bushwalk.

HAPPY EASTER

It is a particular pleasure for me to welcome the many new members to our website, not just here in Australia, but all of you from many different countries all over the world. I would like to say a very warm welcome to you all and thank you for joining us and enjoying working with our yarn.

A lot is happening here at Biggan Design, since my husband and I returned to Australia from a three year stint overseas in the UK and Sweden for my husband’s work. Though almost half of that time I had to spend in Australia to work with the yarn. It was very interesting for me as a knitter and designer to spend time in both these countries, as there is such a strong and ingrained tradition for knitting and again becoming such a popular pastime.
And, of course, over in the UK and Sweden you do need your knitwear to keep warm!! Layers of sweaters, skirts,throws, scarves, beanies and tams I could fully indulge in and never feel too hot. In sunny, subtropical Brisbane, where we are based, you certainly don’t need so many jumpers!

I want to acknowledge that this set up being overseas was only possible for the very competent help from my daughter Henrietta in the first two years, and then from Anita, who took over the reins for the last year. Anita also instigated the new website together with her husband Stephen. They have done a stellar job, of which we are very proud. Thank you all three for you devoted help to the company!

Our 4ply range is now up to 47 colours in total and will keep growing as we need to order more yarn – so please keep buying!! The 4ply is a wonderful yarn for socks, as it is both soft AND strong, so the socks last the distance and can be washed in the machine on a wool or gentle cycle in 30°C. It is also lovely for any lace projects, especially shawls and light summer cardigans, of which I am currently working on a new design.

The DK/8ply is not only great for garments, but we found is also great for baby blankets which are so soft in the Biggan Design yarn, and in which you can make very colourful combinations from the big range of colours. Babies’ brains it has been found respond very favorably to strong colours in their development. And don’t forget that the blankets can be washed over and over again.

I have just come out with a new, classical V-neck cardigan pattern, Robyn, which goes with everything, for size 85cm – 110cm bust measure.
I am working on up sizing several of my patterns to a 130 cm bust. I would love to get some feedback if this is something you knitters are interested in. I feel that so many patterns are only made for tiny teenagers and not for real, grown up people. It’s lovely to knit for your children and grandchildren, BUT also for yourself!
Sizing I’ve decided to keep to centimeters and inches, instead of the actual sizes you find in the shops, as sizing differs so dramatically from country to country. This way everyone knows where they stand by using a tape measure around the bust, waist or hip and thus get the size that is right for them. All my patterns are written in this way.

I have knitted a whole range of both knee- and ankle length skirts, to which I am particularly partial, as they are so comfortable to wear and never restrictive or tight, they don’t seat even after years of wear and washes beautifully in the machine on a wool or gentle cycle in 30°C. As the yarn is so soft you can’t feel the skirts on your skin, even without a slip and stockings underneath during summer. That is how I wear them in Brisbane and how my three daughters wear their Eleanor miniskirts.

All through the winter months I will be giving workshops in Finishing techniques, Circular knitting, Colour work, Fair Isle knitting and steaking at Tangled Yarns here in Brisbane. If you are interested please read our Events page in early May, when classes should have been decided on.

I wish you a Happy Easter, with lots of time for knitting projects on the go. My husband and I are off camping with friends in the beautiful Gibraltar Range National Park in NSW and I will bring plenty of knitting along to do by the campfire or in case it rains, which is not unusual during the Easter holidays here!

HAPPY KNITTING!

Biggan Ryd-Dups

Creative Director and Founder