Introduction by Brandon Mably
Who's Brandon, you may wonder. I'm a guy brought up in a small seaside town on the coast of South Wales who is crazy about colour & design, and enthusiastic to share my pleasures with others.
Fine appearance had been bred into me from an early age, starting with my Irish grandparents who were always immaculately dressed. My own mother made fine clothes when we were children, some of which she still has. I have always been attracted to personalities with individual flair. One of my fond memories is seeing a neighbour doing her grocery shopping in a blue striped caftan that her husband had bought her from the Far East and how proud she looked.
Why knitting, you may wonder. My first impressions as a child was of having the local candy shop serve as the wool shop! Next to all the glass jars containing delicious, lurid coloured candies were floor to ceiling, dark wooden shelves, wire racks, and old glass cabinets bulging with vividly coloured balls, spools, and hanks of knitting yarn, all housed in their colour families. A great way to get children into a yarn shop at an early age, wouldn't you say?
I have distant memories of knitting lessons being taught to the boys as well as the girls as part of the school curriculum. The only recollection of the lessons are the deep, smoky pink-coloured plastic needles I used. It was in my early 20's that I discovered knitting was a delightfully simple, unexpected way of playing with colours.
I'm fairly new to the knitting world and quite basic in my approach to technique. In the process of learning to knit I realised that the cables, fancy stitches, and unusual shapes would distract from the impact I wanted to create. So I concentrated on using good old stocking stitch and a fabulous technique to be able to control the colour changes, and to knit your ends in as you go along, while keeping the shape of the garment simple and classic to allow for any sizing.
How did I start out? Back in the '80's I turned from professional cooking to designing. This funny career change came about through an accidental meeting with the man who put knitting on the map - Kaffe Fassett.
The moment I walked into his studio I was struck by the walls braced with shelves floor to ceiling, housing spools of yarns divided into colour groupings. The floorboards covered in Turkish and Islamic carpets. Piles of needlepoint cushions smothered in images of vegetables, animals, and flowers. Waist-high Chinese urns, and collections of decorative ceramics filled every corner. A bank of huge, wide open wicker baskets stuffed with balls of wool, cotton, silk and chenille yarns; all in smouldering tones of colour and textures. Cupboards and drawers bursting with neatly stacked, highly patterned, knitted garments. It was like entering a candy shop for the first time.
This was my first brush with the labyrinth of a creative mind and with something I knew I wanted to be a part of.
My apprenticeship took place as I attended to the organising and running of the studio, whilst watching Kaffe and his team design and execute commissions, and create the books he is now famous for. Kaffe would often ask for my input on the designs he was creating and liking my intuitive answers, encouraged me to try designing myself.
I took over the teaching of the Kaffe Fassett knitting workshops after teaching them for some time, as Kaffe's schedule filled up with more demanding tasks. These teaching posts connected me to the exotic worlds of Iceland, Africa, Japan, North and South America, and Canada, where everything about the cultures have been such a stimulant to my designer's eye.
I entered Kaffe Fassett's world with no experience, but discovered a natural instinct for colour & design. This has grown as I have had the opportunity of teaching and encouraging others. And there is nothing more rewarding to me than encouraging others to have a go themselves! It has taught me one thing beyond all others - most people have buried within them a sense of colour and design.
Here I am throwing out some ideas for you to knit up, but like any good recipe, feel free to change the ingredients to suite your own palette and shape. All the garments are knitted in the wonderful colour ranges of Rowan and Jaegar yarns using basic stocking stitch. Take advantage of all of the yarns we have available to us, and if they are not on your doorstep, look a little further, remembering that there is always the internet and mail order.
When styling a garment it is important to me to keep in mind that a colour scheme can be enriched or diminished by the colours accompanying it, for instance, buttons and other accessories.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have enjoyed putting it together!