Karie Westermann on Knowth from Echoes of Heather and Stone

Joining us on the blog today is the talented Karie Westermann as she shares her design Knowth for Echoes of Heather and Stone. Knowth is a bi-colour semi-circular shawl with slipstitches flowing into an elegant lace and cable border in a striking contrast colour. I hope you enjoy getting to know Karie and her design inspiration below:
Welcome Karie
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background? 
 
I was taught to knit by my Danish great-grandmother when I was very young, but it wasn’t until I moved to Scotland that I really discovered knitting. I began knitting as a hobby, then within a year got a part-time job with a yarn company. I began doing a bit of designing as part of my job and I realised I had a knack for it. I am very much inspired by history, art, books, and the beauty that exists in our everyday world. I like to tell myself stories about the things I see and translate them into knitting patterns. I’ve designed patterns inspired by medieval manuscripts, stone age archaeology, and the landscapes I travel through.
Who or what inspired you to pick up the needles?
I was taught to knit by my great-grandmother when I was very young.
I grew up in rural Denmark – mine was the local arty family. Everybody was creative in one way or
another. We never had much money, but there was a steady supply of handmade garments, knitted
jumpers and interesting paintings. Of course my family still obsessed over football results and pop
music, but there was a definite and pervasive sense of self-expression and creative exploration. I
learned to knit, crochet and sew as a very young girl and I have never really stopped wanting to make
stuff.
By the mid-2000s I found myself living in Glasgow. It had been 15 years since I’d last knitted but, after a
sudden upheaval in my life, I picked up my needles and found to my amazement that my fingers knew
instinctively what to do. I haven’t looked back!
 
Can you tell us how your design process started for Knowth?
 
Having previously designed pieces inspired by archaeology, I was quite keen on avoiding the same design vocabulary. I began looking at photos and drawings of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial chambers and was really taken by the megalithic art I found. I began noting the shapes of the various stone and how the carvings worked with the shapes. From that point on, I knew I wanted to make a shawl and I also knew that I wanted to explore the process of making elaborate art using simple tools.
 
Within Echoes of Heather & Stone can you tell us about your inspiration for the design and then how it translates to your finished piece? (I know this is very like your essay so you can be as brief as you like and point to the essay within your answer if you prefer) 
 
The design was inspired by a specific stone (the sundial stone of Knowth). It is quite unusual for me to be inspired by a specific piece or source, but this stone really grabbed my imagination. It depicts a semi-circle with lines that probably meant it worked as a sun-dial. I wanted to explore the notions of time, making time and marking time in my design, so I began to think about how long it takes to knit something. Then I thought about how long it would have taken to create the sundial of Knowth, and the design began to flow through my hands. The semi-circular shape was a given, and then I recreated the lines of the dial with slipped stitches before reinforcing the idea of time by including hour-glass shaped cables at the border.
 
What level of knitting experience would you need to knit this shawl? Is it one that you would recommend to adventurous beginners? 
 
The main body of the shawl is very straightforward: it requires you to knit, work knitted increases, and slip stitches. However, the cable is slightly more complicated than I usually design and the construction is a bit unusual too. I’d say an adventurous intermediate knitter would enjoy this knit. Most of it is quite straightforward and then there is a bit where you need to focus.
 
When knitting Knowth, do you have any tips for knitters to take care or watch out for? 
 
The cable pattern! It uses some slightly unusual cable stitch combinations. It takes a few repeats to understand the flow of stitches, but the hard work is worth it. When you’ve worked the applied border, you need to pick up stitches to complete the border and it is important that your pick-up work is smooth and even.
 
The shawl is knitted using Nua yarn, what did you love most about working with it? 
I absolutely loved how it blocked! It is an unusual fibre combination, but it drapes like nothing else. Once it was blocked it retained its fluidity, but the stitch patterns really popped. Glorious stuff and I look forward to designing with it again in the future. I bet a cute summer cardigan would look amazing.
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Thank you so much, Karie, for taking the time to answer some questions on your Knowth design for Echoes of Heather & Stone. If you would like to hear more from Karie you can find her website here and her social side over on Instagram and Twitter. You can find more of her beautiful designs on Ravelry here.
There will be more upcoming releases from Echoes of Heather and Stone coming soon and if you want to be one of the first to hear about the books release dates and launch party then sign up to the Stolen Stitches newsletter here. You can read previous posts about Echoes of Heather & Stone here and the book is now available for presale here! 

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