Perpetua by Ruth Nguyen
Posted on October 23 2020
We are so excited to share the Perpetua Cowl, by Ruth Nguyen! This unique and challenging pattern uses our American Corriedale yarn. We love Ruth’s one of a kind design sense and creative stitch patterns, which she brought to this cowl. About Perpetua, Ruth writes:
In contemplating the issue theme of Urban Decay, I was fixated with the idea of the organic and the structured becoming intimately intertwined, so that it would be difficult to tell where one began and the other left off. I found part of the motif for Perpetua in a Japanese stitch dictionary and was captivated by the delicate stem-like lines and rustic bobbles; it was featured as an edging in the book but I knew immediately that it had to become an allover design, connecting the modified motifs with extra cables and twisted ribbing. Twisted rib is one of my great knitting loves—it satisfies my obsessive-compulsive desire for order and clarity, and in Perpetua it lends a powerful architectural quality to contrast with the natural elements. Ultimately all my design choices were informed by the yarn, Stone Wool Corriedale Aran; even though I'd never used it or even seen it in person, my gut told me that it wanted all the texture I could throw at it, and I'm deeply satisfied with the results.
Corriedale yarn has a medium soft hand, that is both comfortable and warm, making it perfect for accessories like a cowl. Its well defined crimp gives it elasticity, and our three ply structure lends it great definition for the snaking, vine-like cables and twisted stitches in Perpetua. Read more about Corriedale here.
Learn more about Ruth in the interview below, and download the Perpetua pattern here!
When and how did you learn to knit?
I grew up reading a lot of old-fashioned children's books and was fascinated by the descriptions of women knitting; I even remember pretending to knit with string and chopsticks as a toddler! Eventually, when I was about 7 years old, I saw a friend knitting during a Bible study and asked her to teach me.
The first usable project I remember was a baby blanket for my little brother; I knitted it in squares of garter stitch and single rib, and evidently didn't understand stitch or row gauge at all! He loved it anyway...
What keeps you inspired to pick up needles?
I'm the kind of person that will go to a sushi bar and want to try everything, from extra-spicy California rolls to barracuda; knitting is much the same for me. There's so much to explore and learn, and not enough time for it all!
What do you most like to work on these days?
I wouldn't say there's one particular technique or type of project; but more an overarching interest in finding fresh, unexpected, and ultimately beautiful approaches to traditional knitted pieces. This doesn't necessarily mean something revolutionary or complicated—but the goal is to create something thought-provoking and hopefully fun to knit.
Any mistakes you've learned from?
From a design standpoint, I've learned to not worry about what everyone else is doing and to just design what I like. Early on, I tried to answer every submission call I came across, even if I wasn't enthusiastic about the theme or the yarns; as a result I burned myself out swatching for pieces and concepts I didn't really believe in. Then I swung in the other direction, thinking I had to choose a pigeonhole, like lace or Celtic cables, and stay in it; as you can imagine, my imagination got cramped very quickly! Now, I will at least explore every rabbit trail that pops into my head. Few of them are allotted more than a few minutes of my time, and even fewer actually materialize, but I still manage to try all the sushi.
How does yarn inform your designs?
Though I typically work out my designs on graph paper long before actually swatching, I can never create something without having a yarn in mind. The fiber content and ply structure are first and foremost in determining the overall feel of the design—ie; rustic, structured, floaty, etc; even the color palette is important, as certain colors are often tightly associated with the design in my imagination.
What's the quirkiest thing you've ever knitted?
In my early teens I was hired to knit 20 Christmas stockings over the course of 18 months; it ended up being a fantastic project for many reasons, but I can tell you I've never knitted another Santa Claus again!
Perpetua features a Pull Three Below (Pl3Bu) stitch. We've made this handy tutorial to help you with this new technique.