Monday 27 January 2014

Laos Colour Inspiration

I'm back now from a lovely trip to Laos - a beautiful, laid-back and extremely friendly country. Being Buddhist it has a rich heritage of Wats (temples) and art associated with them. The predominant colours in its Wat decorations are red, gold and green (a phrase that started me off singing Culture Club's Karma Chameleon).

These are colours I've never thought about putting together before in my knitting and I'll certainly think of including them in my next designs. I think that a fair isle design will look particularly good with them, although red, gold and green aren't traditional fair isle colours. The trick will be to use the gold sparingly so as to not look too 'bling'. Sirdar makes an attractive gold yarn in its snuggly DK range. In my mind I have plans for a dark blue jumper with a gold, red and green fair isle yoke. Now I need to find the time to plan and make it!

Laos itself doesn't have strong knitting tradition but what it does have is centuries of experience in cotton and silk making and weaving. A quick internet search brought me to some Lao silk knitting yarn, which I wish I'd come across on my travels. The many tribes that make up the Lao population have a heritage of making their own clothing to delineate their people. I visited the Laos Traditional Art & Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang and saw examples of the weaving frame used to make cloth.

Usually Laos is too hot or wet to contemplate knitted woolies. My visit, however, coincided with an unusually cold spell they put down to global warming and it was, let's say, rather nippy. My shorts and swimming costume stayed unpacked at the bottom of the suitcase. It was funny to see our guide Kamla, one morning, arriving at our hotel wearing a woolly scarf he'd bought at the local market.We had a 5.45am start to go and see the local monks' alms-giving ceremony. In the chilly yet fresh morning I rather wished I'd packed my own knitted scarf and hat too!

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