I’m often asked where I get the inspiration for my designs.

I’ve been a people-watcher my entire life, and probably pick up ideas seeing what other people wear, am also prone to “flashes” of inspiration where whole outfits pop into my head as I’m hurtling along the road in a car … but actually, my biggest inspiration is yarn.

Yarn talks. Did you know? Yep, it really does.

However, not all yarn talks at the same volume, or in the same way.

Skeins whisper, they sing, and sometimes they almost knock you sideways with their yelling about what they want to be.

When a skein shouts its intentions to you – you better listen. Take it from me, things may go very badly if you decide you know best, and ignore what it wants.

On the other hand, the teeny murmurings of gentler skeins, perhaps a little uncertain of themselves, often need us to lean in closer, ask a few questions, make a few suggestions and wait for the answer. Don’t ignore those whispered answers either, but be mindful that they might take a little longer to respond clearly.

Whatever the case, if you’re holding a bold shouty skein, or a shy, timid one, remember to listen for its message. And, don’t panic if you don’t hear it immediately, because that kind of listening often takes practice.

I hear knitters talk about all sorts of things they try to work out what their skeins want to be and if their decisions will work for them. Maybe they’ll work for you too:

  • Sometimes, a skein will sing out from the jumble of skeins in your stash … if that happens, grab it and get started.
  • Often, it helps to hold your skein in your hands. Squish it, hold it to the natural light, smoosh it in your face. Do you hear anything yet? Is it whispering “shawl”, “cardigan”, “cables”, “stripes”, or “make me centre stage!”? If you hear a whisper, picture your skein knitted into the thing it’s asking for … how does that feel? Good? Great, cast on.
  • Maybe really taking a good look at your skein will help you learn what it wants from you. Try popping your skein into a lovely bowl and put it somewhere you pass often. Every time you walk by, ask it what it wants to become. Is it telling you yet? Give it time, it will.
  • If you’re thinking your skein might like to be a new garment in your wardrobe and, if you’re feeling in the mood, unwind your skein and fling it around your neck. Wear it for a while (probably at home!) and catch sight of it in the mirror as often as possible. Are you speaking the same language as your skein? Is telling you that it’s happy? What kind of sweater is it describing? Write it down, draw a picture … find a pattern!

Mostly, have fun. Let your skeins know that you’re listening – enjoy them, squish them, and wait for their whispers.

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