Oriel Hat

I recently picked up my needles again for the first time in more than a year. I've tried to knit before, but found it so stressful it was counterproductive. Not for me the calming effect it has on most knitters. The hypnotic smooth repetition of rows, the colours, textures and stitches combining as if by magic to form an unfolding work of art before one's eyes. Strange as it may sound to those who knit for pleasure, I associate knitting with deadlines for books and magazines. It was even worse when I did production and two collections a year for both myself and other large design houses. Deadlines were ever-looming, forcing me to push myself to the limit to create my signature knits, featuring both technical interest and classic, timeless style. In the past I've tied myself in knots over the years making sure the patterns were as near to perfect as could be, sometimes bringing on excruciating bouts of sciatica.

So.. all this stopped couple of years ago when I was diagnosed with myeloma. Everything was thrown into flux as I fought for my life. By the time I came out of hospital four months later,  I was as weak as a kitten. However, one of the things that sustained me through it all, was the mountain of good wishes and gifts I received from other knitters. I would receive such heartening messages daily, and these contributed so much to keeping my spirits up and making me determined to recover.

Many of you were already good friends from our knitters' tours, some of you I'd never met except on Facebook, and there were others whom I'd had no contact with, who had enjoyed my designs in books and magazines. Every kind message I received played its part in galvanising my resolve.  It was like being wrapped in a cuddly, warm comfort blanket. In fact one super kind knitter in the States made me a patchwork quilt, with a lovely dedication sewn into it - you know who you are and I can't ever thank you enough! I was so overwhelmed, I burst into tears when I saw it, and it's been on my bed ever since.
I immediately fell in love with this one

Two years on I happened to be browsing the Fall 2017 collections. I've always loved Missoni and their amazing 70s inspired knits caught my eye immediately. Their geometric, zigzags and innovative combinations of vertical and horizontal stripes reminded me of the smock dresses I'd made in the late seventies, they were the ones that kickstarted my career as a sweater designer. Seeing the gorgeous Missoni designs made me itch to get my hands on a pair of needles again, despite the pain and stress I still feared.  I had a definite design for a hat in my head and was determined to give it a go. Also a hat was just about the size of project I thought I might be able to handle.
This reminded me of the smock dresses
 I made in the seventies
So I gingerly grabbed a few balls of colourful yarn from my stash, then started to dig deep into my design reserves. After they'd been dormant for so long, I was unsure as to whether I'd still be able to find a way of interpreting the inspiration. I knew I wanted to create something that would be wearable, beautiful and knitable. What I didn't want was to spend all my time working things out beforehand as I used to do, so I just picked up my needles and took the plunge.
These two tops show how different the basic pattern can look, depending on the spacing of the horizontal stripes... 

...and this cropped top and longline vest are SO reminiscent of my stripey dresses  (below, with yours truly modelling in the late 70s)
Photographed by Philip in Finsbury Park
Once the knitting started, I was immediately transported into my own knitting universe, where nothing matters other than the pursuit of the perfect piece of fabric. P finds this state of mind totally alarming, as I seem to him to be completely incommunicado, and he knows well the damage that can incur.

However, on this occasion the project was a small one, so I found it utterly charming and rewarding as it unfolded in front of my eyes. I was totally absorbed and in tune with the Missoni aesthetic and in no time it was ready to sew up. I quickly found my Clover pompom maker and tada... finished!

I was so pleased with it I put a photo on Facebook and lots of you lovely knitters left some amazing comments. It then occurred to me that if I could still write a pattern - as I took no notes whilst knitting it - I could then make it a free pattern. This gift would be my small thank-you to all the knitters who took the time to send thoughts, messages, cards, gifts, hugs and love my way when I most needed it. 

So here it is... the Oriel Hat, named as several people said it looked like a stained glass window. If it brings to you a fraction of the pleasure your kindnesses have brought to me, I'll be well chuffed.
Enjoy! xo
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Comments

  1. Hi Jean, wonderful to hear that you've got your designing mojo back and thank you so much for the lovely pattern. I love Missoni too and am always drawn to their colourful designs. Susie xxx

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