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May 12, 2021
BY ANKE MCKERNAN
People always ask me how I come up with new ideas, as if ideas are like sparkling bubbles that appear out of nowhere. The reality is that new designs are born by keeping an open mind, trying out lots of different things, a combination of trial and error, the ability to judge if any part of the trial is worth pursuing and absolute focus.
When I pick the new colour combinations for our Cosmo scarves, I look at the world with my colour mind. I look at the outfit a newsreader is wearing or colour combinations in paintings, just anything and everything. A few years ago, a beautiful Cosmo colour was inspired by someone wearing brown corduroys and a turquoise jumper. As the Cosmo design comprises of one colour slowly fading to another, I must come up with colours that connect the two sides. So brown and turquoise can be connected by olive, dark green and light green, or alternatively orange, red, lilac and blue. To find the ideal colour fade, I usually cut out all the coloured yarn samples and play around with them until I find a graded combination of seven colours that works.
For the knitted scarves we can also work with “pictures”, which means that we can put leaves or fish or bicycles on a scarf. Every stich is a pixel, so the size of the image must be right.
The process begins by me scouring, books, museums and the internet for images that will suit that year’s collection. For the chunkier scarves I only have 120 pixels in width to work with so the designs cannot be too intricate. A difficulty is that having spent a lot of time drawing patterns, I often find myself too close to the results. Sometimes I wish that I could see them for the first time, then it would be much easier to know what I like. That is why it’s important to have other people around to help with choosing the best patterns.
My favourite job is to design bespoke scarves for museum exhibitions or the like. I love to be given a task and come up with something that ticks all the boxes. An extra bonus is that these collaborations often stretch us a bit, leading us to finding new yarns or using new techniques, which in turn give us new possibilities for our own collection.
Designing is a very intense time of the year and because we have so little space, I usually work on finalising the collection over the Christmas holidays when no one is around. My big wish is my very own designing space with good light, where I can keep all the shade cards and samples and make a mess that does not annoy the rest of the gang. Luckily, we are working on that.
May 12, 2021