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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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

Robyn Cardigan Now Available

Robyn Cardigan

As the weather gets cooler and autumn is most definitely in the air, it is time to start casting on warmer garments in Biggan Design’s DK yarn. To inspire you all to create cardigans for the cooler weather, Biggan has just launched her new Robyn pattern as part of her 2011 Collection. Here it is pictured in Burgundy – one of the key ‘Berry Tones’ colours of the season.  If you are feeling creative and daring – why not give the cardigan your unique/ personal twist and work it in stripes in a colour combination of your own choosing.

Happy Knitting

The Biggan Design Team x

Gelati now available

If you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas, Biggan has just released three new patterns.

The luscious sorbet colours of Gelati will brighten even the darkest winter day. With three individual patterns available – a miniskirt, boobtube & wristwarmer set, and scarf & beanie set – there’s a little something for everyone’s Christmas stocking.

Spring is here!

At least that’s what the calendar says!

The warm spell we had at the beginning of September convinced me that it was time to pack away the winter woollies for another year. But the past week has been rainy and a little chilly, and I’ve found myself wishing for a light wrap or shrug.

To celebrate the onset of spring, Biggan has come out with a gorgeous new shrug pattern. Worked in our 8 ply merino, the Anita shrug is just perfect for throwing on over a summer dress or tank top in this changeable weather.

In fact, I couldn’t resist popping one of the samples on this morning while I watched my kids playing in the garden!