faces and places: helen gray designs

Over the past seven weeks since we left Australia, we’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful places and meet some very beautiful people… We’ve been welcomed into homes, fed, driven around, engaged in conversations, hugged and supported in a whole number of other ways. I know how blessed we are in that and, in the hope of giving something back to the community that we find ourselves part of, I’d like to introduce some of those faces and places here. Some you may already know but, more often than not, they will be new to you. I hope you enjoy and treasure them as I do…

You may well have seen Brenda’s work but, chances are, you won’t have met her. This textile designer is so understated that she doesn’t use her own name for her work; instead, she operates as Helen Gray Designs, a name she likes for its plain but dignified feel. Based in the beautiful Scottish borders in the south of the country, Brenda lives in what feels just like a dolls house, not so much because of its size but for its soft pastel walls, timbers and sweet furnishings. And it suits her perfectly. This is a woman who spends her time quietly exploring colour, knitting and reknitting her colourwork swatches until she is perfectly happy to incorporate the colour palette into a pair of her beautiful colourwork fingerless mitts or one of her long, enveloping scarves. Her work is what she presents to the world.

Swatches

Swatches

Swatches

Swatches

Swatches

Swatches

A professional in another life, Brenda now revels in the life she’s built for herself in her house by the river. Like many creative people, this gentle soul identifies as an introvert and says that she needs the quiet activity of her solitary work. She uses soft, often neutral or earthy bases on which to lay rich, saturated patterned colourwork. Unexpected highlights pop but the overall feel is of a soft palette. She knows how to balance restraint and exuberance.

Fingerless mitts

Fingerless mitts

Earthy

Earthy

Rich and surprising

Rich and surprising

Fingerless mitts

Sombre

Fingerless

Playful

Sweet combination of colour and texture

Sweet combination of colour and texture

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Thistle scarf

We sat and had tea and talked knitting for hours. Brenda doesn’t spend time with many other knitters but, I tell you, this woman knows yarn. She’s explored every British colourwork yarn out there and could tell me the stats on each and every one of them (a boon for a newly-arrived knitter!) and has seen colour ranges, yarns and entire brands come and go over the years. Together we mourned the demise of our favourite Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply and celebrated the glorious shade cards of Jamieson and Smith and Jamiesons of Shetland…

Lots and lots of yarn

Lots and lots of yarn

More yarn

More yarn!

Brenda mentioned that she never formally trained in art and design but she is a true colourist. Combined with her skills in both hand-and-machine knitting, she is a very gifted textile designer. You can buy her beautiful work on Etsy and be inspired by it on Ravelry.

Thank you, Brenda, for the gifts of tea, endless yarn love and knitting machines to get me started on my own colourwork journey here in Scotland. Such incredibly precious gifts that I won’t forget!

7 thoughts on “faces and places: helen gray designs

  1. george

    Wow talk about falling on your feet. Appears you are really settling in well ! What eye candy you have presented here, with all these beautiful swatches, colors of the yarn and the combinations of colors -and patterns… Cant wait to see what you turn out!
    Happy Weekend!

    Reply
  2. Lydia

    I loved reading about this lady and it sounds as though you had a great time with her. Very pleased to hear you are settling in so well Over There. Over Here in Perth autumn has arrived and it actually rained last week!!!

    Reply
  3. di

    So glad you have landed so gently on your feet there, finding like minded souls to connect with! Her work is stunning and inspiring. Makes me want to get over my colourwork fear!

    Reply

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