When I taught my first darning class at Super+Super HQ, I noticed Amy’s cardigan, as it has some delicately embroidered details on shoulders and cuffs.
Amy has had the cardigan for about 18 months now, and at first, she wore it everywhere she went – she was that excited about this beautiful merino fine knit garment. But as often happens when the candle burns too brightly, the novelty soon wore off and the cardigan suffered from Familiarity Fatigue and ended up in the back of the wardrobe.
She was in dire need of a Fashion Intervention, but it took a while before inspiration struck. However, when she found out about Karen Barbé’s embroidery style, it was not long before the Eureka! moment happened.
Mainly whilst sat in bed watching Mad Men Series 4, nimble-fingered Amy embroidered and embroidered and embroidered. She claims the colours used ‘were just lying around’ – she’s done a great job putting them together using running stitch, cross stitch and straight satin stitch. They remind me of Italian ice cream, the ones that are put into a cone with a spatula as it’s too soft to scoop.
The sleeves were a little bit too long, and Amy always wears the cardigan with the cuffs turned up. She decided to turn that into a permanent feature and embroidered them in place; a job she found particularly satisfying.
As you can imagine, after putting in all that work, this cardigan has turned into a firm favourite once more, and it’s shows how with a little bit of embroidery in the right places you can put your own mark on what used to be a perfectly nice, if somewhat unremarkable cardigan.
Years ago, when I just caught the knitting bug, I made myself a black brick stitch scarf. It’s a lovely scarf and very soft and comfortable, and I wear it a lot. In fact, I wear it so often, that I’ve started to get a bit bored with it. I no longer appreciate the looks of this scarf and the work I put in it. But what to do about it? I don’t really fancy knitting a new scarf, I don’t want to not wear it (if you know what I mean), and I most definitely don’t want to throw it out either. And yet, I’m bored with this scarf. It’s a classic case of Familiarity Fatigue.
I feel there’s only one remedy for this illness: a Fashion Intervention.
Regular readers of my blog know that I love my Shetland wool, and indeed you may have identified the two balls in the picture as Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Here’s an excellent opportunity to combine my favourite wool with my once-favourite scarf.
In a random fashion I coloured in some of the ‘bricks’ with doubled-up Spindrift, using Swiss darning (also known as duplicate stitching):
I like the purl side of Swiss darning too. The purl nubs of the original black yarn and those of the coloured yarn create a striped effect.
I used three different colours here. Jamieson’s called them ‘surf’, ‘bracken’ and ‘burnt umber’. I think ‘surf’ and ‘bracken’ are particularly well-chosen names for these heathered tones of blue and green. I think the Shetland wool works really well here for various reasons: it provides a nice textural contrast with the supersoft merino/silk blend of the scarf. Then, of course, there’s the contrast between colours and black. In addition, as Shetland wool is quite ‘grabby’, so it was possible to weave in short ends, and not have to worry they will work themselves out again, especially after a burst of steam to set the yarn.
As the days are getting warmer now, I’m not sure if I will be wearing this scarf again until after summer. But once I have packed away this scarf, I have something to look forward to come autumn. I leave you with some close-ups of the scarf, as it caught the sunlight beautifully this morning: