Yarn Loop is proud to present this Designer Spotlight on Fogbound Knits and the impressive designer behind the brand, Laura Aylor. Laura Aylor is a seasoned pattern maker from Virginia with over 180 designs in her portfolio. This design brand has a concentration in ladies' sweaters, shawls & cowls as well as other feminine accessories but there are unisex items available as well such as vests, scarves & hats. Fogbound Knits is marked by modern, stylish details featuring elegant design. Laura Aylor has an educational background in math, chemistry, biology & computer programming. These skills are demonstrated in her blog article "Estimating Shawl Yardage Requirements in Excel" published in March 2017, which is a comprehensive and intuitive article to help consumers buy the right amount of yarn. But don't let this practical approach fool you; Aylor is not a run of the mill designer. She relies heavily on intuition and the world around her to inspire and drive her work in unexpected directions. While her early work focuses more on bold, blocky color-work as seen in All the Shades of Truth (pictured below), more recent designs include perfect form with bold texture and striping as well as a dabble in formal motifs.
The brand, Fogbound Knits, brings to mind chilly and cloudy days which necessitate extra layers of warmth. Laura Aylor was born in a snowstorm in January in North Dakota which may have forged her love of snow and cold weather. With the cold comes the advantgage of knitwear. Aylor's designs grew out of necessity. "It start(ed) with making changes to other patterns and before you know it you're doing it from scratch!"
Laura's first pattern was influenced by her daughter, Emma, who is now a Borish award winning literary writer. Laura shows so much pride in her daughter's accomplishments and encourages Emma to add exherpts, small poems or artistic descriptions for many of Fogbound Knits patterns. Emma can be seen in many of the sample photos for Fogbound Knits with gorgeous porcelain skin, dark hair & glowing eyes.
Lizard Ridge (Above) was created specifically for Emma as a high school graduation present. It is influenced by Barbara G. Walker's short row techniques and the bold and shifting gradients of Noro Kureyon yarn. The undulating waves of Kureyon sharply contrast to the linear edges of the color blocks within the blanket, creating tension and energy with a frenetic color palette. Lizard Ridge is now available as a free pattern from Fogbound Knits. Please feel free to download the pattern here.
Aylor has designed an extensive collection of shawls & cowls that follow all sorts of design influences. Aylor describes her design process as "rather chaotic and hard to explain. Sometimes, it's a particular yarn; sometimes it's something I've seen that i like; sometimes I "need" something that I can't find a pattern for, or sometimes it's just a random brainstorm." Laura gives us clues with certain patterns in the descriptions and names of her pieces.
The newly released pattern Winter Cardinal (above) was inspired by the idea of a "big, cozy red shawl in rustic but soft yarn. This has been on my wish list for ages, just waiting for inspiration and the right yarn." The name evokes the images of the bright red bird flitting through the flora, and the shawl displays a delicate arabesque that is beautifully worked into the bias of the shawl. By using worsted weight wool, Fogbound Knits manages to evoke the downy warmth of the crested bird "for maximum coziness." The remainder of the shawl is created in garter stitch, which is always perfect for shawls because purl stitches are not required; just flip and knit each row. I always recommend garter stitch shawls for a new knitter who is ready to try a bigger project.
Another influence found in her work is the inspirational and infamous Fabergé eggs for the Fabergé pattern seen above (Coming Soon!). This wildly successful pattern was released in 2012. Fabergé showcases a braided stitch, slipped stitches, ruffles & beading which is reminiscent of its decorative namesake. All of these feminine elements are precisely combined to create a very beautiful and wearable kerchief or larger shawl that is elegant enough to wear to an opera but can be played down for everyday use.
Laura insists that the knitter should make a swatch with this pattern. She says, "Instructions are included for a small swatch that uses all the stitch patterns so that you can familiarize yourself with the techniques and try out your color choices...Please swatch!!!" Laura even gave us a glimpse of how different each color combination reacts with its counterpart by showing us many swatches, too. The Fabergé pattern pops even more when bold, bright colors are paired with neutrals. By matching the beads to the secondary color, the center points of the X's shine and add a bit of extra glamour.
So many designers have tried to impress upon our impatient minds the importance of swatching so that our colors and gauges are determined and we don't end up hating (and hiding) our finished pieces. No one wants a sweater that would fit an elephant, and no one would choose to wear a vomit inducing colored shawl. Please take the time (only an hour!!) to swatch, block (steam blocking can be rather quick and painless; just check the care instructions first), and decide that your time will be well spent on that next project.
Fogbound Knits has many, many modern patterns for shawls & cowls. Dozens feature bold color-work stripes or sections of contrast. All are proportionate to the frame of the human body, and most are available in several sizes so that a petite 5 foot tall woman isn't swallowed in a knit while a tall woman can be covered appropriately with a shawl instead of a bandana. Yarn Loop is now offering kits of Therapy, a brilliantly colored, striped shawl (seen below under the color-work section),
Summer Camp, a two-toned extended kerchief modeled by Emma
Greyfel, a lacey patterned cowl on bulky alpaca or merino wool yarn that is wonderful for a fast project
There are many, more pattern kits to come at Yarn Loop like Color Effect, All the Shades of Truth, & Exit 0 (shown below). There are 115 neckwear designs available now, and Laura is still designing more!
Generally, Aylor prefers shawls with a bit of drape and specifies blended yarns made of superwash wool, silk & alpaca, generally in sport weight. Silk and alpaca are well-known for their slinky nature as well as their warmth and are the knitter's choice for shawls. Due to their expense, these fibers are usually blended with more common fibers such as wool, cotton or nylon to alleviate some of the cost and provide a little more longevity to the piece. If you can, splurge on some Fibre Co Road to China Light or Blue Sky Fibers Alpaca Silk one of these days; you might just fall in love while you pet (I mean knit) these fabulous yarns.
Most designers favor a specific brand or type of yarn in their work. Due to the climate in Virginia, Laura generally prefers sport weight yarns, and almost always uses hand-dyes. The variegated colors compliment her patterns by adding a bit of whimsy and texture to each piece. One such pattern comes to the front of my mind, Sea Salt (shown below; back photo is directly above), a relaxed pullover with a randomly speckled yarn. The blotches of color really stand out in the garter stitch yoke which pulls the focus upwards to the face. It is a wonderful pattern for women who may wish to minimize their tummies; the slightly relaxed fit does not skim right against the belly but has a little play in the mid-section.
Stonehaven (below) has beautiful garter stitch saddles along the tops of the shoulders which stand out in pseudo-military fashion making an excellent accent for narrow shoulders. This minimalistic sweater has a bit of whimsy with elbow reinforcement & the faux pocket patch which can be placed at the hip or the chest. Stonehave has instructions for male and female construction.
Laura specifically designs patterns for Fogbound Knits so that there is very little seaming. She is very fond of top-down sweaters (almost all of her patterns start this way), which she has divided into two categories. The first uses the TD4S construction (spelled out as "Top-Down, Seamless, Simultaneous Set-in Sleeve construction) and follows Barbara G. Walker's construction method which was originally published in 1972.
"It is a better-looking and better-fitting sleeve than the traditional seamedone, having a very smooth cap free from irregularities. The method of working it relieves the knitter of any doubt concerning the position of the sleeve in the armhole, so that it cannot be spoiled by careless sewing or by miscalculations of the cap shaping." - Barbara G. Walker in Knitting from the Top.
Rhinecliff - twisted cable sweater with ribbing on TD4S form (Coming Soon!)
It is very atypical to find a designer that references another's work, and I find it absolutely wonderful when great designers borrow brilliant techniques from others instead of re-inventing the wheel. In simple terms, this construction starts at the shoulders with short-row shaping (See Rhinecliff above which is coming soon to Yarn Loop!). Stitches are picked up along the cap of the sleeves, & then sleeves are knit at the same time as the bodice. It may look like a separate sleeve has been seamed to the sweater, but in fact, it is not! The TD4S sweaters are great for intermediate knitters who are familiar with shaping and short rows. Other patterns constructed on Walker's technique:
Silver Girl -beautiful textured herringbone edgings on TD4S Cardigan
Grayson - Simple and unassuming TD4S cardigan with massive pockets!
Sleepy Hollow- Cable front TD4S Sweater with bold cuffs & hems
Aylor also has a dozen sweaters which she calls "Sad Rags" which made me laugh until I realized that this does not meaning the sad, saggy, worn-out sweaters that you just can't give up due to their extreme comfort. Aylor calls them Sad Rags as an abbreviation for "Saddle-Shoulder Raglan Sleeve Sweater" which is actually a sweater that has wonderful fit through the shoulders due to this modified construction. The Sad Rag construction is also easy to create, and like my initial concept, you won't stop wearing these sweaters...ever!). Specifically "These sweaters use different raglan increase rates to make a bit of a saddle and to give a fit more like a set-in sleeve than a raglan." This construction is a little easier than the TD4S so Advanced Beginners may enjoy these patterns while ramping up their skills. Ingonish & Wheats Valley (Shown below) both use this construction method.
Teaberry (Coming Soon!)
I truly love the textured knits created by Fogbound Knits. With a huge repertoire of stitches and patterning, each piece is unique, with a sensitivity towards form and design. One of my favorite blankets is the playful argyle stamped Teaberry blanket with contrasting hem. So many options are available on this blanket from the size, colors, and the optional rufffled hem. Make one for a baby shower gift or make a throw for the couch in bulky yarn.
I also have a huge affinity for the Woods in Winter (above and at top of page), a garter stitch shawl with embossed leaves in which Emma writes, "When I had seen her outside the spare trees, she wore a shawl the burnished gold of beech leaves in winter, those leaves that cling like dry crepe paper shaking staccato against pale limbs. She and those leaves were sated with a color the rest of the cold world lacked." Doesn't this description just touch your soul, creating a sigh from the depths of your being?
While the name Fogbound Knits may bring muted tones to mind, Laura also plays with color regularly. Brilliant reds & golden hues highlight many of her patterns, creating eye-catching, sophisticated pieces that will draw attention to the model. It is more common for samples to be knit in neutral colors, but I find the bold colors very pleasing due to the delicate balance of form, texture & hue of Fogbound Knits.
Laura is equally comfortable making beautiful textured items as well as color-work, and sometimes combines the two in a stunning finished piece. Olio, a new release shawl shown above has gorgeous striations of muted colors separated with neutral blocks of different textures. This is a great sampler for those wishing to try new stitches and work on basic color-work principles.
Therapy is a stunning color-work shawl in bold swaths of color, separated by equally bold texture. This pattern was released in 2015 and has been a favorite pattern and top seller at Fogbound Knits. While most color-work pieces are gradients at this time, Therapy is decidedly not. It features bold stripes in 3 colors, eyelets and a picot edging. It is both minimal and feminine, creating enough interest to keep the mind engaged but simple enough to make the perfect vacation knit.
With many, many more patterns to come (Laura has 6 in the queue right now!), I know that Yarn Loop will be adding pattern kits for years to come!
An important part of every Designer Spotlight is the charity section. While other designers have mentioned programs for hand knitted or crocheted items, Fogbound Knits is highly influenced by a wonderful group called Gleaning for the World.
Laura is a steady contributor to the Gleaning for the World WINGS program, which empowers women to get an education and work in developing nations. The WINGS program "Provides women in developing nations with the means to keep their monthly cycle form preventing their education." I was shocked when I learned that up to 62 million girls around the world are not allowed to work due to inadequate schooling, and one of the main obstacles is the inability to locate and pay for menstruation supplies. The fund provides these females supplies for their monthly cycle so that they can continue each day without interuption. Please go to https://gftw.org/helpingwomen to learn more.
This group also provides many other benefits to alleviate suffering around the world. There are 4 programs dedicated to helping our fellow Americans, whether it be disaster relief, feeding the underprivileged, or helping our Veterans. Another program, called the Teddy Bear Brigade, donates toys to children. Gleaning for the World has so many humanitarian programs, so please take a few minutes to poke around their website and become involved.
It has been a long time since Yarn Loop has hosted a Knit Along (KAL), and I would like to invite you to join us through February and March for the Spiced Cocoa KAL. These beautiful mitts feature a twisted stitch detail to create amazing fit and have a garter stitch cuff to prevent pesky drafts from flowing up the sleeves. I personally fell in love with these mitts while finishing up the BeauB from La Maison Rililie (please view our Instagram for photos of this project). I think these mitts will look amazing under the sheer sleeves of the BeauB Cardigan and can't wait to get started! The start date is February 21st, so order your kit and get your skeins wound and washed ASAP! Yarn Loop will wind skeins for just a $1.00, so don't forget to add on this time saving service to your order.
All customers who order the Spiced Cocoa kit during the month of February 2018 will also receive a $5 Gift Card good towards your next purchase! Join us for the start date on February 21st for a bit of fun on this small knit. Pointers will be added to our Instagram feed, so make sure to follow Yarn Loop today.
Yarn Loop is hosting another giveaway! Fogbound Knits has so many beautiful patterns, and it has been impossible to choose a pattern, so at Laura's suggestion, Yarn Loop will be giving away the Winter Cardinal Pattern and Kit!
This beautiful knit will include the color Red Roof in Woolstok by Blue Sky Fibers ($60 value!). If you haven't had a chance to use Woolstok, try a bit today because they colors are quite amazing and the yarn is lovely, thick and soft.
The Giveaway Starts NOW! Simply click the Rafflecopter link below and do as many as 5 entries per person. This drawing will close on February 18th at Midnight Central Time with the winner announced at 10am on Monday, February 19, 2018 on our Instagram, Facebook & Twitter feeds. Please remember to read all Rules and Instructions because this drawing is open to International customers, too! Make sure that you understand the shipping section especially. All customers who sign up will be privy to a special coupon code at the closure of the giveaway, too.
Use this link for mobile entries
I hope that you have really enjoyed learning about another wonderful maker with our Designer Spotlight series. Laura Aylor of Fogbound Knits has all the skills and the creativity to inspire us for many years to come, and I can't wait for her next release, a Fair-Isle sweater with a color-work diamond motif that has yet to be named.
Please have a wonderful Valentine's Day, and I hope that you have gained some inspiration and a warm & fuzzy feeling in your tummy to propel you through your day. Make sure to share this article with your friends as well so that they can enjoy a great pick-me-up, too!
In honor of this special day, please use code VALENTINES10 for $10 off any order of $40 or more. Remember that all orders of $75 or more are always shipped for free to USA residents as well.
Images by Fogbound Knits & Yarn Loop
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