inspiration | hanging rock designs vol.2
And so here I am, six months later and launching my second set of Hanging Rock Designs.
I’m so happy about working in this kind of format, launching a set of patterns twice a year. I find it much easier to pace myself throughout the six months I have to think about, design and make these patterns and whilst there always seems to be some sort of drama along the way (this time I was wiped out by flu for four weeks), everything does seem to somehow end up finished and I get there in the end.
I go through this bizarre thought process every single time I design though. First I love the idea, do lots of sketches, start the project and am head over heels, giddy even. Then as I get closer to finishing I absolutely hate it, think its terrible and decide that I’m really a very crappy creative and probably shouldn’t be designed anything at all. Nevertheless, I persist (grumpily) and when I’m finished and the item is blocked, sewn in and looking pretty, I fall in love with the darn thing again!
It is quite unfathomable and thoroughly exhausting.
For these summer designs I took the inspiration from my Dad’s early life. He was born in Ambala in India and moved to the newly created Pakistan shortly thereafter during Partition.
Photographs from that time have a faded sepia elegance that I love and my favourite photograph is of my grandma sitting in a white sari surrounded by five of her six children. I like the photograph so much because it has my only aunty, Ayesha, in it looking just like me (big nostrils, heavy brows) with my Dad standing right behind her looking exactly like my brother - history is so freaky though, right?
I get emotional looking at these faces because Nanny and Ayesha are no longer here, and yet I can still hear their voices, their laughter and their spirit. My Nanny was a bit wild, perhaps even a touch eccentric, she had a booming voice and a huge, overwhelming personality that filled all the rooms of all the houses, I hope she can see me now, I hope I make her proud.
It is truly a good, if scary, thing to draw upon these feelings and put them into your creative work and I wanted all my summer designs to be evocative of that time. I’ve tried to translate those feelings into colours, texture and pattern; drawing on the vintage and making it work in the modern.
I think the design that captures the essence I was looking for the most is the Ambala Shawl, I just love how the mix of vintage and modern chevrons work together to create a story about how our lives are so shaped by the past but inevitably we are responsible for the now and so we get to complete the story whatever way we want to. The classic pineapple chevron has long been a favourite of mine and I’m so happy that I finally got to use it in a design.
I feel that the design is so classic that Nanny could have worn it back in 1940s India and I could wear it now in 2019 England and it wouldn’t look out of place in either. For me, this is a total win.
For a more frivolous nod to the past, I named my ruffled clutch bag, Shimla. Shimla (or Simla) is the next big town along from Ambala and is perhaps most famous for it’s mountain railway and the British Raj summer headquarters. A few years ago there was an amazing Channel 4 tv series called Indian Summers that completely captured the chaotic mood in India at the end of British rule, honestly you must watch this show if you get the chance. I totally devoured it knowing that this was where my family lived at that exact time, in that exact place. It was an incredibly moving experience.
I wanted to capture the muted colours from the family photo album whilst at the same time making something striking, summery and joyful, something that my Nanny would be happy to use.
The final pattern is Mayura, a pair of lacy knitted socks using a traditional old shale knitting pattern. I’ve always wanted a pair of old shale socks but I thought that the pattern might be a bit too busy for all the way round so the Mayura socks just have old shale on the front and the back has a simple stripe of open twisted rib in the centre. I like them. They have a split personality and the name Mayura means Peacock in Sanskrit and I think that is a fitting name for a sock so fancy as this.
Hanging Rock Designs vol.2 has been a labour of love, I have poured my heart and soul into these designs and I hope that this post goes some way towards explaining what it is I do, where my inspiration comes from and how I bring my designs to life. Sometimes it is a struggle explaining the how, where, why and sometimes what it is that I spend six months of the year doing, I find explaining what’s in my heart quite difficult and so I hope that the patterns do that for me.