Funchal Moebius

Here is my Funchal-inspired design! Like the ‘dragons-tooth’ pavements I saw in Madeira (thanks for the info, knitlass), the Funchal Moebius uses a high-contrast OXO motif with strong diagonals. One side is dark-on-light:

and the other is light-on-dark.

The design begins life as a provisionally cast-on tube . . .

. . . which is knit continuously until it reaches the circumference of your shoulders. It is then blocked flat, twisted in the middle and grafted to form a continuous moebius strip. The result is a dramatic wrap that can be worn in several different ways, but which is surprisingly simple to knit.

The yarn is Renaissance Dyeing’s wonderful organic Poll Dorset 4 ply in shades ‘midi’ and ‘ecru’. This is one of my all-time favourite yarns in which to knit colourwork. Because it is slightly lustrous and worsted spun, it is very different from working with a Shetland – the yarn is very smooth, creating a fabric that is incredibly even (to the point of appearing woven) with a slight sheen and very little halo. The Poll Dorset that Andie dyes is grown, and spun close to where she lives in the Pyrennees. I love that every stage of its processing is totally visible. (You can see the sheep that grew it, together with their shepherd, and the spinner that spun the yarn over here on Andie’s blog.) Andie dyes naturally, and her colours are – naturally – amazing.

I am incredibly pleased with the way this design has turned out. It is simple, versatile, really fun to knit, and sure to be useful in the colder weather.

Want to see how you might wear it?

And yes — everything else I’m wearing is WOOL as well.

The pattern for the Funchal Moebius is now available here.

Madeiran inspiration

One of the many things I admire about Portuguese culture is the way that pattern and design are part of everyday life.

There are beautiful tiles everywhere. Most interiors are tiled, and almost every public space is enriched by a particular experience of the decorative.

Even Brutalism approaches the ornamental.

Wandering around Funchal – Madeira’s ‘capital’ – is a peculiarly graphic experience. By simply walking one is taking a sort of masterclass in pattern.

The narrative of one’s footsteps, of one’s movement through the street, is told out in tiles.

These distinctive mosaic pavements are everywhere in Funchal, from the town’s alleys . . .

. . . to its squares.

The patterned pavements seem to invite the pedestrian to the act of leisurely promenading, strolling, window-shopping.

The aesthetic is all pervasive – here is the entrance to a supermarket . . .

. . .and here is the exterior of a parking garage.

These pavement mosaics are made up of alternating pieces of basalt and limestone. Over the years, Funchal’s designers have clearly enjoyed playing with the high-contrast potential of these materials.

For someone pattern-obsessed like me, the streets of Funchal are exciting and inspiring spaces. For example, I love the way that these right angles . .

become diagonals

The particular design repeat used on this mosaic also appears in one of my Latvian weaving books, and another book I have about Estonian mitten patterns. Such cross-cultural aesthetic connections really intrigue me, and are one of the reasons that I am so looking forward to Rosa Pomar’s forthcoming book. Just pottering about the streets of Funchal made me reflect on the fundamental nature of the repeat and on how the same basic principles tend to govern the surface decoration of very different media (textiles, pavements etc). The OXO, for example is a ubiquitous feature of Spanish and Portuguese tiling, Baltic weaving, as well as Fair-Isle knitting patterns. I particularly liked this playful example.

Anyway, as you might imagine, the streets of Funchal have inspired me to produce a design of my own. I began work on it while we were in Madeira and finished knitting it last night. Here is a wee taster.

No, it is not a hat, but something altogether different. More photographs and a pattern this weekend!


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