Design notes from Niela
Where was home then, and where is home now?
Looking through old childhood photographs brought a design idea: bringing the past into the present, in knitwear.
This photo shows a wee me, growing up in Canada as the daughter of two immigrants—a Scottish mother and an Indian father.
A photograph is made up of dots, in this case the dots are black and white.
In Fair Isle knitting (one of the styles of knitting for which Shetland is world-famous) each row of the distinctive patterning is made up of dots (stitches) in two colours.
And so a childhood in Canada has been brought into a different, later life as a knitwear designer in the Shetland Islands—by using sections of photographs broken up into knit stitches.
The Shetland Islands are steeped in textile heritage, and it was this that first brought me here—to study. The Rani collection is a personal reflection on the place and its special culture of knitting, knitted together with memories of my earlier life.
Two colours make up the Rani pattern of knit to form a contemporary, deconstructed Fair Isle pattern.
You don't need to be up on your knitting terminology to see echoes of familiar Fair Isle pattern in details of the Rani collection. Here the peerie (small) patterns, which sit between the larger motifs used in Fair Isle, have been disrupted to make something new—a different kind of Fair Isle all-over pattern.
There is typically Niela-ish unusual construction, with some asymmetry and deceptively simple, relaxed shapes. The Rani pieces are double-faced jacquard (a double-sided fabric), and knitted in premium quality, extra-fine merino by skilled Shetland craftspeople.
If you're wondering about the name, Rani—it's the Hindi word for queen, and was also the name of our first dog.