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By Tricia

Our speaker in November was Alison Ellen, a hand knitting specialist and designer, who presented a slide show of her ideas and techniques along with a very interesting talk and a display of her garments.

Click on images below for a larger picture with a caption.

She uses wool from particular breeds, mainly Leicester blue face sheep, and has it dyed to her requirements (also experimenting with dyeing herself to get two-colour, tie-dyed or random dyeing effects.) She takes her inspiration from colours in her garden and the countryside, also from other things like classical mosaics and buildings, eg. lichen-covered brickwork. Alison prefers to work with minimal seams, such as guernsey-style sweaters knitted in the round, or using crochet, grafting and cast-off techniques to join seams. She showed how she uses modular knitting to produce square, diamond or shell shapes, knitting each shape on from the edges of the first shapes; short row techniques to make flares in garments and to create 3D sculptural objects; entrelac as we have never seen it before, with 2×2 rib instead of stocking stitch, making a stunning fabric; and increasing/decreasing within the rows, rather than at the edge of a piece of work to make flowing shapes and zigzag designs.

It was a pleasure to welcome several visitors particularly interested in hand knitting coming along with club members to enjoy the talk.

The following additional notes were contributed by April.

The Sussex Guild, to which Alison Ellen belongs,  has over 50 members, with a great variety of talent.   I thoroughly enjoyed her hour long talk, illustrated with more than a dozen garment samples and a splendid presentation. I loved her original use of colour blending and was delighted to hear her talk about her dyeing methods.   She has several different methods of dyeing her yarn which is uniquely spun for her.   These produce very different effects when knitted. The sheep’s wool is from Romney sheep and is superbly soft.  Many of her coloured techniques are specially designed for hand knitting but these could possibly be replicated on the machine by using  Fairisle.   She also showed us sculptured knitting which is produced by a variety of stitches and gave very interesting techniques. Her presentation was full of ideas, techniques and colour which I think will inspire me in the future.

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