I approached the bird inspiration exercise from a geometric point of view, looking at the regimentation within the patterns and gatherings that you find on the Hebridean shoreline. I decided to do a very light and airy swatch based around the Oystercatchers, which you can see on almost any shore walk. They often gather in groups and as you can see from this particular bunch they enjoy playing in the waves. I turned their shapes into a diamond group formation that rises up from zigzagging waves. Because of lockdown I am working with a small range of colours, but that is not an issue for these sharply delineated birds. I started the waves with Strabhann, Summer Tide and Mara, and used Selkie as a bridge to the final colour of Kelpie. The idea being that in a finished design the blues would only appear in the waves and lower birds at the bottom; from then on the only colours would be Kelpie on a Kittiwake background with a touch of Sea Anemone. I used intarsia to work two vertical stitches of Sea Anemone at the tip of each bird within my stranded swatch. This can also be achieved by knitting in background colour and duplicate stitching afterwards.
For my second swatch I chose the tiny Goldfinches that Alice photographed in the garden. I designed a very small repeat based on the tail pattern, and then filled it with the strong red and yellow of their heads and wings, brought together with the soft fawn of their bodies. Sea Anemone, Whin and Fulmar – with the wing pattern in Kelpie – worked well to represent these lovely birds. Using a very small repeat, a simple pattern and quick colour changes can be a very good way to set off strong contrasting colours.