In the Knit & Stitch Creative Summer Party Special, you’ll have received the yarn to make a gorgeous, light-as-air, lacy shawl – plus the beads and sequins to decorate it. We’ve asked the designer of the shawl (and the beautiful corsages) – Mel Porter – about how she goes about creating her patterns.

When you’ve been commissioned to come up with a design, how do you get started?

My favourite part of working on a new design is the research. I love Pinterest for seeing stitch and pattern ideas, but I also have a large library of vintage knitting patterns and books which I repeatedly thumb through looking for ideas for trims and finishing touches.  

Was there any particular inspiration behind the design for the Summer Party shawl?

I lived in a small central Italian village for a few years whilst I was in knitwear fashion design. Every evening, the ritual for the whole village was to go for a walk, la passeggiata, around the the village square and have a gossip. The women were typically stylish without trying too hard and most would wear a light shawl for the cool summer evenings. I chose the earthy colours to reflect the arid yet enticing landscape. 

You’ve used a panel of lace in the centre of the shawl; do you enjoy knitting lace patterns?

I don’t usually do a lot of lace knitting. I think as a knitter you can become very comfortable with one technique and get stuck repeating the same thing again and again. That said, I really enjoyed knitting the lace shawl and will be working on far more lace patterns now! 

What, if any, challenges does lace knitting hold?

For me the biggest challenge is keeping count of stitches. I love knitting in the evening in front of the TV and so I’m constantly losing track of where I am in a pattern. I had to retrain myself to concentrate on every stitch so I found the advice on using stitch markers (in the Summer Party Special Know-How) very handy! 

Have you any useful tips to pass on to the creacraft community when it comes to knitting lace?

I find metal needles much easier for lace knitting than plastic or bamboo.  

You also made us a lovely set of three flower corsages; what was your inspiration there?

Many of my favourite memories of recent years are of friends’ weddings. I always try to make something special for the bride, often little knitted floral corsages, which can be used as an emergency pin or decoration.

The shawl and corsages feature some beads and sequins; what made you decide to add these?

I decided that adding beads and sequins would allow for an element of personalisation to the shawl. By choosing where and how much embellishment is added gives every maker an opportunity to make their shawl individual.