Why 'Baroque Purls'?

I just made the switch from my old Instagram handle @amyvdlaar (an abbreviation of my name) to @baroquepurls, which I’ve been using on Ravelry for years. Now that I’m using Instagram as much as Ravelry, I decided it was high time my names on my two favourite sites matched, so that people can find and recognise me more easily. And I realised that while I’m at it, I should probably explain why I originally chose the name!

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A new look!

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different than it used to - and you'd be right! I've been working on refreshing the 'look' of my knitting design business, to match my current taste and design style a bit better. I do hope you like it. :)

I went through quite a lengthy process of collecting images to use as inspiration, and reading up on typography + logo design + branding in general. Yes, it would all have been much faster if I'd hired a pro to sort it out for me, but I was curious to learn about these areas, and I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to design, especially for an important project like this.

My 'inspiration board'

I wanted a light, bright, beautiful feel, with a handmade, playful side to it. I also really wanted to keep yellow in the mix, since that colour means happiness to me. My 'inspiration board' features swirling shapes, yellows and golds, details from Klimt paintings, music in the form of a violin scroll, and nature in the form of trees, flowers, and bees.

I love any excuse to get out our art supplies, and I had a lot of fun drawing and tweaking my new logo. Because I'm a massive nerd, the starting point for my hand-lettering style was an 18th-century title page for a book of keyboard music by J.S. Bach:

Here's the the finished lettering for my logo, together with a circle of purl stitches in light, warm yellows:

Did you know the Baroque period in music (when my faves Bach and Handel and Monteverdi were composing) gets its name from 'baroque' shaped pearls? This type of pearl is irregular and bumpy, and the analogy to music was originally meant as an insult, much like 'Impressionism' in painting. My yellow circle of purls is my attempt at a pun - it's a baroque pearl made of purls.

I also sketched a loose, flowy texture based on the structure of plain stockinette or garter stitch, which I'll use as a background or wherever it's needed. I made a little stop-motion video of myself inking over the pencil sketch, just for fun...

(Click to play gif!)

I'm hoping these elements, along with my new colour palette and selection of fonts, will be versatile enough for all of my blog, social media, newsletter, and pattern layout needs. I'll be updating all of these over the next while! And most exciting of all, I'm going to be working on a new website to house a pattern gallery, with tutorials and everything else all in one place.


In case you're curious, this book is one of the main resources I used for this whole process. It's been fun, but I admit I'm impatient to get back to focusing on designing!

It's Makealong time!

I've teamed up with nine other knit and crochet designers and five indie dyers to produce a collection of summer accessory patterns, the Progress, Hope, and Happiness collection. My contribution is the Budburst shawl, a profusion of leafy lace in a pretty speckled yarn which was dyed specially for the occasion (you can find out all about it in my previous post).

One of the designers, Denise Voie de Vie, created a beautiful look book for the collection. You can read about the inspiration behind the event and our journey in putting it all together on Denise's blog here and here. The designs are individually published by each designer, but you can see the whole collection here on Ravelry: Progress, Hope, and Happiness Designs.

I'm co-hosting a Makealong for these designs from June 1st to July 16th, complete with prizes and even some surprises. I hope you'll join us!

These are a few of my favourites from the collection:

Breeze of Happiness by Tanja Osswald

Dusk On TheMoor Shawl by Solène Le Roux

Chiguroo by Lana Jois

From Dusk To Dawn by Christelle Nihoul

This has been so cool to be a part of, and the Makealong is just beginning! Hope to see you over in the Ravelry group. :)

Simple lace: a love letter

I have a confession to make. Relatively simple lace made up of basic stitches is one of my favourite kinds of knitting! I love to look at complex lace as much as the next knitting-obsessed person, but I really enjoy the process of knitting simpler lace. It just flows off my needles! And you can do a lot with simple lace stitches, with a little inspiration.

I've designed a few scarves and shawls that fall into this category of deceptively-simple lace, most recently my Hextile Wrap:

Its basic elements are garter stitch with some areas of yarn-overs and k2togs, and once you get the gist of the pattern you really don't need to check the chart/instructions very often. The speediness of simple lace means you can see the shapes emerging quickly, which is really satisfying. I find it keeps me wanting to knit "just one more repeat"...

Two of my lace shawls which I think also hit this sweet spot of simple-but-satisfying are Folia Crescent, which has a nice small easily-memorised lace repeat, and Silverwing, which has a closely-related lace pattern elongated into feathers.

Keeping to the bird theme, I have two more examples in my Tailfeather scarf and Kea shawl. Once again, one of these stitch patterns is a variation on the other. Simple stitches; endless possibilities!

These two designs aren't quite as straightforward, since their vertical ribs mean no 'rest' rows on the wrong side, and they also require the occasional double decrease stitch in addition to knit/purl/yo/k2tog/ssk. But they do share my favourite characteristic of simple geometric lace in that you can always tell what comes next, just by looking at your knitting.

I'll be casting on a new simple lace shawl tomorrow. :)

Insulate 1,000!

My INSULATE! Hat has reached 1,000 projects on Ravelry - that's a huge milestone for me, and I'm thrilled that so many people liked my hat enough to knit their own! You can see a few of these fabulous projects (in an amazing array of colour combos) on the pattern's Ravelry page.

The INSULATE! Hat was one of my early-ish knit designs from mid-2012, and I offered it as a free pattern to other knitters who share my geeky love of Daleks. Its stranded colourwork design is nice and simple, and every now and then I receive a lovely comment from someone who used this hat as their gateway to knitting colourwork, which really warms my designer heart!

If you'd like to make one of your own, you can download the free pattern here.