Colour & Pattern Ideas

Beyond the initial costume idea, the development of any design always begins with the translation of the inspiration and research into a form that can be worked as a fabric. For both myself and Jade this happens by looking at the research imagery and putting pencil to paper. The overarching elements for the Queen of the Waves are the sea, the stacs, and the thousands of gannets which are masters of the air, rock and ocean. These birds are breathtaking in their form and multiplicity; the other-worldly beauty of their sea-stac home is forbidding and compelling in equal measure. Below you can see the start of how we translated our vision of this “other-world” into the medium of textiles.


The first visual impression was one of strong, clean, fresh colour. The high contrast of the pale gannets with the cliffs – cut through with dark fissures and splashed with yellow lichens and the blues of sea and sky – cried out to be captured in yarn. The gannets themselves echo their surroundings in both colour and form; their golden heads, bright blue eye-liner and dark wing-tips contrast with their pure white bodies; they cut shapes in the air and the sea that are as sharp as the angles of the stacs and pinnacled cliffs.

When deciding on colour palettes there is no need for colour wheels or charts; we work directly with our skeins of yarn at all times. Our Hebridean yarn is a paintbox where the colours are influenced by their proximity to each other. The colours change depending on the other shades in the palette and on how we juxtapose them within the patterns we create. For this breezy and sea-influenced study it was tempting to use the full range of our blues. However, paring it down to just three blues created a sharply-defined and intense contrast with Solan Goose, Spindrift and Whin. This colour choice encapsulates the bold and dynamic view of the gannets wheeling around the stacs and the ocean waves beneath.

Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knittwear Yarns and Designs
Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knittwear Yarns and Designs
Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knittwear Yarns and Designs

The birds themselves then had to be shaped into charted stitches ready for the first experimental swatches. Both myself and Jade work in the same way, by sketching from observation. Then we translate our sketches lightly over graph paper turning the barest lines into dots representing knitted stitches. These dots are then refined and changed, taking elements out, repeating, condensing, expanding and sketching-in stitches until patterns resolve themselves to our satisfaction.

At this point a further colour combination suggested itself – a warmer and more subtle tonal range inspired by the nesting gannets sitting on their heaps of weathered seaweeds.

This process of sketching and re-sketching, selecting yarn colours and working with skeins and ideas on paper, is an essential part of the process. This then leads in to the first experimental stitches and swatches where technique and the juxtaposition of design elements is explored.

Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knittwear Yarns and Designs