October 31, 2018

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This week's Field Notes throws the spotlight on a Yorkshire designer who, like us, is committed to promoting Yorkshire's unique wool heritage far and wide. Ann Kingstone's signature colourwork patterns are hugely popular all over the world, and earlier this year she ran her Yorkshire Knitting Tour which was so successful she's running it again next year. We caught up with Ann to find out more about the tour and how her surroundings play a key part in shaping her designs.

Yorkshire has given us so much inspiration for our yarns and shades here at baa ram ewe, how has it influenced you?
My Yorkshire heritage is a huge part of my identity as a designer, strongly influencing the style and presentation of my designs. There are Yorkshire references in many of my designs, and the photography for each of my books has a particular Yorkshire theme, evoking an aspect of the Yorkshire story, eg Born & Bred at Masham Sheep Fair, Stranded Knits on the Yorkshire coast, Lace Knits around Yorkshire’s textile heritage, and Cabled Knits about Yorkshire’s monastic tradition.
Why do you feel it's important to share Yorkshire's wool heritage with other knitters around the world?
We have a very strong and varied wool heritage in Yorkshire, from its medieval roots in the vast sheep farms of Yorkshire’s abbeys; the rural hand knitting industry of the Yorkshire Dales which began in the 16th century; the industrial yarn production of the mill towns that sprung up in the 19th century; the writing of early Victorian knitting authors; to the development of inland river and coastal ganseys from mid Victorian times. This rich heritage has been somewhat overshadowed in today”s global knitting community by the strong colour-work and lace traditions of the Shetland Isles. I want to bring this worthy heritage in which I am rooted out from the shadows into the field of knitters” awareness. What was your favourite stop on this year's knitting tour? 
Well we did visit baa bam ewe! That was, of course, wonderful! My personal favourite stop was the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes. By that stage our tour classes had already covered the history of Dales gloves, the hand knitting industry, and the distinct characteristics of knitting sheaths according to which part of the county they originated in. Because of this my guests were able to appreciate the artefacts at the museum, and chat knowledgeably with the curators and living history hosts about what they were seeing.
You're known for your wonderful stranded colourwork designs. How do you decide on shades and blending them together?
I use two sets of principles when planning a colour scheme for stranded colourwork. These are general colour theory and shade contrast rules. I use a colour wheel as explained in the tutorials section at my website to determine colour combinations. Then if there is any doubt over the level of contrast between the shades chosen, I take a photo and reduce it to a monochrome image to check that the shades are distinct enough.
How complex are your patterns? Where should someone new to your designs start?
Many of my patterns are challenging as I want knitters to feel a strong sense of accomplishment from knitting one of my designs. I do though also have plenty of learner projects for each style of knitting I work with: stranded, lace, and cables. Each of these knitting genres is strongly featured in my Yorkshire Knitting Tour. What have you got in the pipeline over the next few months?
In modern times Yorkshire is a very ethnically diverse region of the UK. I have always worked to reflect this through the way my designs are modelled. I am now planning a range of designs that specifically focuses on the participation of immigrants from South Asia in Yorkshire’s wool story....Oh and keep an eye out in the New Year for a brand new collaboration with baa ram ewe and their wonderful Pip Colourwork yarn!
*Get 25% off Ann's Yorkshire-inspired Born & Bred book and patterns in our online shop AND on her Ravelry page. Click here to browse.*