Damselfly in Detail
Damselflies and their larger dragonfly cousins have fascinated me since my earliest days. I spent all my childhood summers in close company with them on the moorland lochs and bogs which they inhabit in all their dazzling beauty. I was spellbound by their astonishing lives and spent many happy hours watching them emerging from dark pools to climb up a bogbean or moorgrass stem to begin their mesmerising metamorphosis. They burst out of their larval armour, all pale and fragile, and slowly pumped fluid into their wings and colour into their bodies to become one of the most spectacular creatures on earth. They sparked my interest in zoology and their design, colours and patterns are a source of continued wonder and inspiration.
So it was a special treat for me to create a damselfly costume for a child. My own memories are so vivid that I was able to imagine what I would loved to have worn myself at that age; wings and dazzling colours would have been high on my agenda. I chose to base my colours on the Emerald Damselfly and, as a nod to the many hours I spent watching them metamorphose, I made the sides of the body and the sleeves pale whilst I worked intense colours at the centre front and back. I echoed the insect’s sectioned tail in the horizontal bands on the centre back panel of the costume; the hairs around the insect’s thorax and head became ruffles around the neck and cuffs and the centre front panels echo the shape and patterns of veined wings.
With the creatures always in mind, I then interpreted the design elements for the cardigan so that a pattern could be written and produced in a number of sizes. The body and sleeves are composed of the same horizontal bands as the centre back of the costume: the empire line of the yoke is emphasised with a textured coloured band that overlaps the lightly shaped body, and I stylised the cellular wing patterns for the stranded yoke design.
I looked to the Northern Blue Damselfly and the Large Red Damselfly for more colourways. Their colours are so perfectly put together by nature and my memories and frequent studies of them made this process feel like it happened by itself – all I had to do was match them up with my yarns and let them sing.
Once I have created a costume and design such as this, it opens the way to many more interpretations. The stylised wing pattern I created for the cardigan yoke is very easy and a delight to knit. It allows for very pleasing variations and so I have designed an accessory set including a beret, cap, fingerless gloves and handwarmers. I have used multiple little horizontal bands of textured colour for the deep cuffs of the gloves and just one single band as an accent between the ribbed borders and the main pattern on the hats. The triangular thumb gusset called out for a little motif of a damsel as a final honour.
The designs look subtly different and equally beautiful when the background and pattern colours are reversed. Here you can see the Emerald beret and cap side by side, worked in reverse colours, while you can see the Northern Blue beret and fingerless gloves worked with the original background and pattern colours whilst the cap and handwarmers show the colours reversed.
Click here for the new Damselfly Hat Set patterncard kit, and here for the Damselfly Cardigan yarn pack, to be worked in conjunction with instructions from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore. You can also buy the full Damselfly cardigan and hat set bundle here.