Last Christmas we had the pleasure to collaborate with Florence Spurling for our 2023 Qing Fibre Advent where Florence designed the work of art that is the Gwen Mini Shawl pattern! The shawl is inspired by traditional welsh tapestry patterns and the landscape that they would have been created in. Working with Florence our talented dyers created an icy pastel colour palette to reflect the snowscape of the welsh hills and winter sunsets.
Each colour was named after flowers that bloom in Spring once the winter frost has passed, I think 'Gentian' is my favourite - a gentle but powerful royal blue hue.
If you are not familiar with Florences work already then do check our her instragram @florencespurlingstudio. Florence is the master at creating beautifully romantic mosaic motif knits that incorporate gentle geometric patterns.
Until now Florence's 'Gwen Mini Shawl' pattern and our Qing Fibre yarn kits have only been available to those who bought our 2023 advents but as of today we are so excited to release these to everyone today at 7pm GMT (30th January) so if you missed out now is the time to knit your very own 'Gwen Mini Shawl'. This shawl has endless colours and possibilities so we hope our kit makes the decision easier, the kit has all the yarn you need and the pattern is also made up of slip stitches so you are only ever knitting with one colour at a time.
After the advents launched and we all settled into the cosy Christmas break I had the pleasure to sit down with Florence to catch up about her Knitting Journey and ask a couple questions from our lovely followers.
What was your first knitting project?
I dabbled in various knitting projects when I was younger, but the first project that I completed from start to finish was the Bécot Hat by Julie Hoover. I purchased a kit for the hat which included two skeins of extremely luxurious mink cashmere yarn, making this a dream to knit and wear! I still look forward to puting it on every Winter.
Tell me about the pattern/project you are most proud of and why?
The Jardin Pullover is a design that took a lot of development which I think paid off in the end. It was a collaboration with Kokon Yarn and we had an idea of creating an abstract floral pullover using a mix of different yarn weights. The development of the patterns themselves took the longest and I drew out numerous options and played with scale before settling on the final idea. The final floral pattern is large in scale but actually repeats seamlessly, meaning that as the grade increases, more pattern is revealed. The grading process was also quite challenging, but luckily my wonderful technical editor helped me throughout.
'Jardin Pullover' Pattern by Florence Spurling
Any advice to someone starting out knitting and any patterns you would recommend ?
I think it can be quite daunting if you are just starting out with knitting, but luckily there are so many techniques and patterns that can suit any skill range. I would recommend you begin with something simple and work your way up from there. There's no reason why you can't begin with a simple garment pattern rather than just sticking to an accessory and it is important to remember that anything is possible - if you are interested to learn something then you absolutely can! My Winslow Tee is a simple striped drop-sleeve tee that would be perfect for beginners, and I often recommend my Elvan Shawl as a great first intarsia project.
What would you like to see more of in the knitting community?
I love collaboration and global connectivity within the knitting community, so I hope to continue to work with a broad range of yarn companies and continue to connect with members all over the globe. It's also really inspiring to see knitters build their confidence by trying out new skills and ending up with beautiful outcomes.
What has been your favourite part of taking part in the QF 2023 advent?
The QF 2023 advent has been such a collaborative process which is always so much fun. I loved seeing the colour palette that Qing Fibre created based on our joint inspiration mood board and I really enjoyed knitting with these colours in the final design. I had a rough idea of how I was going to use the colours in the design, but I made a lot of decisions as I was knitting and I'm so pleased with how the palette is reflected in the final fabric.
Where do you like to find your inspiration for your patterns and projects?
Because my background is in Textile Design, I find textiles in general endlessly inspiring. I love looking at patterns, motifs, colours and textures used in textiles from all over the world and I can spend hours looking at vintage fabrics, books and archives. I have always been drawn to florals and botanical patterns, as well as detail and decoration. Often one design will inspire another, for example a floral motif within my Farah Shawl led me to design my Liko Sweater pattern. I only wish I had another set of hands to put all my ideas into practice!
Aside from knitting what is your other favourite creative outlet?
I really enjoy cooking and baking and find it a great way to relax at the end of a busy day.
If you could create your dream yarn colour and base combo what would it be?
I am loving the idea of a rich chocolate brown yarn at the moment, combined with something fluffy to create a soft and sophisticated fabric.
I hope you loved hearing these answers as much as we did and find some inspiration to get your (one or many!) WIPs finished!