He wanted to go to art school but says his parents “weren’t having it” and so he studied hotel catering instead. But a chance meeting with Kaffe Fassett at a London bus stop changed everything. Kaffe invited Brandon to visit his design studio, and, intrigued, Brandon went along for a look. “As soon as I walked in I knew it felt right. I loved the colour and the creativity”, he explains.
“As I wasn’t aware of Kaffe’s reputation, I instantly saw his environment as an Aladdin’s cave full of pattern and colour; very little furniture but a multitude of various patterned rugs on the floors, piles of stitched cushions, walls covered in shelves of books, ceramic pots, spools of yarns. My instinct was to tidy up, make some order.” Soon Brandon was spending all his free time in the studio.
“I think Kaffe might have said, ‘If you’re going to hang around you have to learn to knit!” he laughs. “He cast on. And I went ham fisted from there. The first row was 30 stitches, the third row 80-odd stitches. But trial and error got me there. Once Kaffe showed me the intarsia technique - this was how to get the colours on the needles – then I was intrigued and kept my interest flowing.”
Eventually Brandon began working at the studio full time. “I had a feeling for colour, so could appreciate where he was coming from. As I wasn’t intimidated by him or the work I’d speak out and give my suggestions, which fortunately he welcomed. When I started designing myself I had my own style with his full support.”
Brandon discovered he had a natural flair for knitwear design and a great instinct for working with colour. “My first design for Rowan was a design called Great Plains in Magazine 11. I was glancing through Kaffe’s sketch books and spotted a simple water colour of an Indian basket hand-painted in monochrome colours. After studying the design I could see it could translate as a two-colour-a-row knit. So, I took six lighter shades and six dustier shades and created this simple-to-knit men’s crew neck.”
Many more designs for Rowan and leading knitting magazines followed and Brandon’s first solo knitting book Brilliant Knits was published in 2001, followed by Knitting Colour (2006). Brandon still regularly contributes to Rowan magazines and has many dedicated followers, who love his bold use of pattern and colour.
Whether working alongside Kaffe, or sole, he is an inspirational and enthusiastic workshop tutor, travelling all over the world to teach for five months a year, with a passion for the craft of knitting and combining colours that is wonderfully infectious.
“I love showing how colours harmonise,” he enthuses, “how much you need to tickle a shade to bring the picture to life. But, above all, how to look, look really well at something. I knit to put colours together, that’s what keeps me intrigued. I’m painting with yarn.”
patterns by yarn
Knit this ladies longer length cardigan, a design by Brandon Mably that has been re-styled and re-photographed
This coat was designed by Brandon Mably using Felted Tweed, Valley Tweed and Kidsilk Haze.
This comfy intarsia sweater is knitted in Cocoon and was designed by Brandon Mably.
This set of cushions was designed by Brandon Mably and knitted in Handknit Cotton.
Knit the perfect beach blanket, worked in cosy Big Wool and featuring zigzag colourwork.
This colourful family sweater in Softyak DK features quirky stripes and a round neck trim.
Knit Fingle, a ladies round neck sweater from Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine 58, designed by Brandon Mably using the soft spun yarn Kid Classic.
Designed by Brandon Mably, knit this striped unisex piece using Kid Classic.
This round neck sweater was designed by Brandon Mably using the popular Kidsilk Haze yarn.
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