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. 

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A Grand Welcome

Good things are happening for Biggan Design in 2012, from a U.S. tour for Biggan to the brand spanking new HQ in Newstead, Brisbane. So we thought why not breathe fresh life into our blog and spread some colour and joy to all the lovely Biggan Design fans?

To that end I have been brought on board to be your source for all things Biggan online, your one stop shop for year-round yarn-spiration and all round Blog fairy. As the newest convert to the BD ethos I feel I should type out a little ‘about me’ introduction.

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Greetings! I’m Catriona, or Cat for short since the extra syllables always seem to cause unnecessary confusion.

Since I was little I’ve always watched in awe as my mother whisked up super fast knitted garments with what I was convinced were sticks of magic because my child’s eyes could not fathom what it was she was doing with the yarn. Seriously, for far longer than I’m proud to admit I slightly believed that some mystical creatures were scuttling in to do all my mum’s work for her and leaving oddly long scarves in their wake.

Skip forward a decade or so. I found myself sitting around the theatre at my high school watching rehearsals and sorting through the prop list in my very important role as Stage Manager for the school musical (the pity role the given to drama students too senior to be sidelined but too sonically challenged to be allowed anywhere near the stage!) A quick glance down the list revealed that one of the main characters was going to need some knitting needles and a half-knitted jumper on stage. It was three weeks before we opened and we needed a comically large amount of knitting to go on stage by the dress rehearsal. I can’t remember who started that jumper off but something rather unlikely happened by the end of that week. Not only had we successfully made all our props but all the cast were fighting over who got to knit next and clacking away on their own knitting in between scenes. Gradually I started to see kids all over school whipping out a pair of needles and balls of yarn at lunch, in the corridor, on the bus. That was it. I couldn’t believe it, knitting was COOL! I knew I might have to wait a few years for knitting to be a good look again but I was determined that one day I would get the hang of it.

So that’s why I started knitting again just last year. I, like most recent Arts graduates, had moved back to the parental homestead and I started pestering mum for needles and patterns. A year later I had finished my first ever knitted garment—a blue-y purple cardigan with some cute flowery buttons. Now I’ve never been cool in my whole life. I’m clumsy, I watch way too much Doctor Who and my idea of an ideal weekend involves a splash of Scotch, stocking stitch and an Agatha Christie adaptation on TV. That said when I showed my friends that finished cardigan I felt seriously smug about how impressed they were.

 

Since then I’ve been collecting vintage knitting patterns and trying to improve my technique. Up next for me is a light pink short-sleeved jumper and then possibly a 1940s style one.

As a little taster I thought I would share with you something I came across on the Trove (National Library of Australia’s digitised newspaper archives) website during my day job as a lowly Museum intern. How glamorous is this 1930s crochet collar and cuff combination from a 1932 edition of The Brisbane Courier?  Just think how adorable it would look like added to a simple, modern shift dress or brightening up an old, plain jumper with a splash of Biggan colour. From  http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/21983468?searchTerm=%20%20crochet%20collar%20and%20cuff&searchLimits=l-title=16. Check out the article on Trove, it even has *gasp* the pattern.

So check back every now and again for the Biggan-related goodies I’ll be blogging about. Potential highlights include:

  • Vintage knitting inspiration
  • Updates on my slow progress with knitting and my conversion to Biggan’s continental knitting method.
  • Colour trend reports and suggestions.
  • News and insights from the main lady herself, Biggan.

Welcome Bigganites to the Biggan Design Blog 2.0.

Astounding Autumn in New Hampshire

Exciting news. We’ve just had an update from Biggan about her amazing time at the New Hampshire Knitting Lab. Here is what she has to say about the event:

Knitting Lab 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire was a true experience of colour. The landscape around me was a breathtaking palette of the most vibrant autumn colours imaginable. Reds, oranges and yellows in every possible shade, looking as if they were taken straight out of my colour card!

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It has been an immensely stimulating and positive experience for me coming in contact with so many wonderful customers, especially ones as crazy about colours as I am!

Here is Edd, the Mayor of White Hall, Michigan and also a knitter, but of small things as he put it. He put a smile on my face every morning when he appeared at the Market place in yet another formidable creation knitted by his talented and indefatigable wife Lynn. I promised Edd that when I get back to Oz I’ll design a vibrant Rainbow sweater for him and call it EDD! Image

Meeting up with and getting to know many of the well-known knit designers in the US was a highlight. Hearing Barbara Walker talk about her knitting life and all the other pursuits she has engaged in throughout her long life was truly inspirational.

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Giving my first two Continental Knitting classes in the US was also a wonderful experience. Every one of my students was so hard working and conscientious that at the end of our three-hour class they were well on their way to confidently knitting the continental way. Thank you all for making it such a memorable experience. Sadly I was so intent on teaching I forgot to take any photos during class!!!

A class with the hilarious and inspirational Annie Modesitt was another highlight, as was an impossibly difficult class with Suzann Thompson, knitting argyle on circ. needles with intartia. Having no lunch and being on my feet since 9am talking to customers was not the best way to prepare for her class at 1:30 pm! I would advise you to be well rested and well fed to get the blood flowing to the brain and you’ll get it at first try. IF, of course, you follow the excellent instructions word by word, instead of thinking you know it all and taking fatal short cuts!!

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