A chat with Tori Seierstad about her passion for colourwork

Tori Seierstad is a knitwear designer based in Lillehammer, Norway who can’t get enough of colourwork knitting. Her patterns feature bold motifs with lots of colour changes — perfect for practising this month’s featured technique, joining in new yarns. The Marangoni Hat, Tori’s contribution to Boost Your Knitting, features both stripes and bubble-like circles, making it ideal for learning multiple joining techniques. Tori was kind enough to have a chat with me a few weeks ago about her fab hat design, her lifelong love of knitting, and even share some of her colour inspiration!

Tori Seierstad’s Marangoni Hat. Photo © Jesse Wild.

Tori Seierstad’s Marangoni Hat. Photo © Jesse Wild.

KR: Your pattern for this month’s Boost Your Knitting project, the Marangoni Hat, is really stunning – I love the bold, single colour circular motif with the shifting background colours! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the design?

 TS: When Jen invited me to join the project, and we decided on the technique, changing shades / joining in new yarns in a colourwork project, I knew it had to be a project with several colours. At the same time I didn’t want to make it too complicated. So I decided on one contrasting colour on a background of stripes. The different bluish shades make a good use for the splicing technique. The motifs started out as flowers. I love flowers, and if you look at my other designs, you will see that I have many flowery designs, but this time I eventually came to think of the motifs on this hat as soap bubbles, which also was what led me to come up with the name Marangoni: In a soap bubble, the soap film is stabilised due to the Marangoni effect.

KR: Looking at your many designs on Ravelry, your love of stranded colourwork is really clear! Can you remember your first colourwork project? And what prompted you to start designing your own patterns?

Stjarna , one of Tori’s most recent designs. Photo © Tori Seierstad.

Stjarna, one of Tori’s most recent designs. Photo © Tori Seierstad.

TS: To be honest, I cannot remember my first colourwork project. I learned to knit when I was five, later I learned to crochet, and as a child I loved all kinds of fibery activities. When I was around 14, some of my friends and I started to knit a lot, and I remember I made a colourwork vest, with lots of motifs that I charted myself, including a dolphin (lots of long floats there!).

On my Ravelry profile I have indicated that “I have always made my own patterns, but only after I joined Ravelry, I started to write some of them down.” I realised a while ago that this is not entirely true, when I found old notes about a cardigan I made for my sister many years ago, and also notes for other patterns. But I had no plans to try and publish anything before Ravelry. With Ravelry, sharing your knitting and your designs became easy, and I was curious to see if anybody would be interested in my designs. In 2012 I went to Shetland Wool Week for the first time where I took a design and grading class with Jen Arnall-Culliford and Kate Davies. This gave me the confidence to design garments and not only hats and mittens as I’d previously done.

The  Blomekrans Vest  features large circular flowers and many colour changes and would be great if you’re looking for a larger project to practice this month’s technique. Photo © Tori Seierstad.

The Blomekrans Vest features large circular flowers and many colour changes and would be great if you’re looking for a larger project to practice this month’s technique. Photo © Tori Seierstad.

KR: I love that this month we’re learning different ways to join in yarns. It seems like such a small thing, but I think knitters can get really overwhelmed with the amount of ends they, well, end up with in colourwork projects, and both of the methods in this month’s tutorial take away the need to weave in later. Do you prefer one method over the other, or use them both? And do you have any extra tips for knitters worried about managing multiple colours in a colourwork project?

TS: I use both methods depending on the colours. With similar colours, I prefer to splice the yarns, I love how this method gives you no ends at all. With contrasting colours I will weave in the ends as I go. Sometimes I’m not in the mood, and just want to knit, and then I leave the ends to be woven in later. When working small circumferences (like mittens) I actually find it easier to weave in the ends afterwards.

If you ask me for advice for knitters who are worried about managing multiple colours in a colourwork project, I would say firstly that it’s about changing your mindset. Look at the ends as part of the knitting, not a hard chore after the knitting. Maybe weave in some ends before all the knitting is done. A totally different approach would be to outsource it: I have a good friend that is more of a monogamous knitter than I am. When she is between projects and finds herself itching to do something when I am knitting, I have more than once been happy to provide her with some ends to weave in.

KR: I want a friend like that! One of the things that really jumps out to me looking at your design catalogue is that you have a really distinctive way with colour. August’s Boost Your Knitting technique was all about gaining confidence picking colours for stranded knitting.  Where do you draw your colour inspiration from?

Tori in her popular Next Year in Lerwick design! Photo © Tori Seierstad.

Tori in her popular Next Year in Lerwick design! Photo © Tori Seierstad.

 TS: I love colour, and I draw inspiration from anywhere. Often it’s just the yarn itself, other times I use photos, like Knitsonik showed us in August. I have a board on Pinterest where I save colourful photos that I like. In my most popular design, the Next year in Lerwick sweater, I was inspired by the colours in this mosaic.

KR: Using Pinterest to save colour inspiration is such a great idea — thank you for sharing your board! So, inspired by the radio programme Desert Island Discs and some fun chat we were having in the Ravelry group earlier this year, I’ve been asking each Boost Your Knitting designer for their Sleeve Island pics – if you were stuck and could only have one yarn, one knitting book, and one piece of music for company, what would your choices be?

 TS: It's ok to have only one yarn if you have many colours – I would bring all the 225 colours of Jamieson of Shetland’s Spindrift. One book is harder to choose, but I think I would go for the book Selbuvotter by Anne Bårdsgård, where an impressive number of charts from the Selbu mitten tradition is collected. When it comes to music, I listen to a lot of different music. But If I were stuck alone on an Island, I would probably miss home, and so I choose to bring a CD by the Norwegian band deLillos.

 KR: Finally, what’s on your needles at the moment? 

TS: On my needles at the moment is a colourwork hat, the Roadside beanie, this year’s Shetland Wool Week hat.

Photo © Jesse Wild.

Photo © Jesse Wild.

Thanks very much Tori for taking the time to chat with our readers! You can find Tori’s designs over on Ravelry and catch up with her over on Instagram! We’re running a Joining in Yarns KAL over in the Ravelry group all this month — do come join us! And if you’d like to knit your own Marangoni Hat, you can purchase Boost Your Knitting, either as a print book (with eBook download) or an eBook only, in the online shop, as well as find a huge range of Jamieson and Smith 2ply Jumper Weight colours to choose from!