Renaissance, meaning ‘rebirth’ symbolized an aesthetic revolution in the cultural development of Art and Literature during the 14th – 17th Centuries in Europe. The story of the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy and where my inspiration for this seasons yarn and pattern collections began to unravel.
I view this season as a small Renaissance of the Louisa Harding collection. The yarn range has been refined, with extremely exciting developments in the addition of new yarns, the pattern collections more focused, inspired visually by images from the ‘Renaissance’ and also by the ethics of a clear perspective.
This season I am introducing three new yarns, Nerissa, an opulent cotton chenille, Simonetta, an antiqued Kid Mohair with a metallic haze randomly entwined throughout and Grace Hand Beaded. Also included in the yarn collection are updated shades in Millais, Thistle, and Willow Tweed, which are showcased in LHB113 – Absinthe, a publication of fifteen projects for accessories and garments.
The story behind the introduction of my three new yarns is unraveled below:
Nerissa – Cotton Chenille
I have always loved working with textured yarns and since introducing my yarn collection I have looked to source a yarn that when knitted would produce a beautiful velvety texture. Woven in Northern Italy, velvet fabrics became very popular during the Renaissance, worn by rich Merchants and their wives in Florence, Venice and Genoa. Named after a character from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596), Nerissa was a formidable young women and Portia (the heroine’s) closest companion. When I studied the paintings of Renaissance women and Shakespearian costumes I was drawn to the beautiful garments of woven velvet damask.
Going back to the roots of velvet and chenille production I have worked closely with an Italian manufacturer to produce my beautiful cotton chenille yarn. Chenille yarn like velvet is unique in its manufacture, short lengths of yarn, called the “pile”, are placed between two “core yarns” and then twisted tightly together. The edges of these piles then stand at right angles from the yarn’s core, giving chenille both its softness and its characteristic look. 15 projects using Nerissa are contained in a dedicated Louisa Harding publication, LHB115 – Nerissa.
Simonetta – Glitter Mohair
The cover portrait I used to present my yarn collection this season is of Simonetta Vespucci, painted around 1490, by Piero di Cosimo. To me, Simonetta personifies an antiqued elegance, but at the same time looks like a very modern woman with balletic grace, hers is the name I have given to the second of my new yarns, again, unique in its construction, look and feel. The yarn is constructed by entwining light Kid Mohair with a metallic haze, when knitted the light as air fabric gives the appearance of a metal covered in an antiqued patina.
I have designed 14 sophisticated garment and accessories projects using this distinctive yarn, LHB116 – Simonetta.
Grace Hand Beaded
Beading was also a very important embellishment used in the creation of Renaissance garments, adornments for hair and jewelry as seen in Simonetta’s portrait. Over my career as a knitwear designer I have enjoyed combining knitting with beading and have often thought about creating a beaded yarn. This season I have collaborated with skilled manufacturers to produce ‘Grace Hand Beaded’, the third of this season’s new yarns.
Using the base of ‘Grace’, 50% silk, 50% Merino, manufactured in Italy, I have worked with a specialist yarn embellishment producer in Turkey. Beads are hand threaded onto a fine yarn and then spun together with Grace to create this exclusive beaded yarn, with each hank being hand crafted and unique.
Taking my inspiration from Ruben’s painting of the ‘Three Graces’ (1500 -1505) I have used the three Louisa Harding Grace yarns, Grace, Grace Hand Dyed and Grace Hand Beaded combined in one design publication, the yarns working beautifully knitted in garments and accessories to enhance each other, LHB114 – Three Graces.