Åsa Söderman, more commonly known in the knitosphere as Åsa Tricosa (Instagram: @asatricosa), is a Swedish knitwear designer based in Denmark.
Her signature knitting technique is the Ziggurat Sweater construction.
The Ziggurat construction is an exceptionally clever bit of engineering, which allows the knitter to knit seamless, top-down sweater with simultaneous set-in sleeves. The first Ziggurat came out in 2011 and many interesting variations have followed since then, including these adorable minis.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself: how did you get into knitting and designing knitwear?
AS: It was the perfect excuse to avoid writing my PhD dissertation and, at some point, the knitting simply took over. It allowed me to become all nerdy about nontraditional solutions and techniques that basically all aimed at knitting without ever (or almost never) having to cut the yarn.
This year she is celebrating a decade of Ziggurat designs in a new collection called Jubilæum, which will be released one eBook chapter at a time over the course of this celebratory year, 2021.
Åsa’s fourth chapter for the collection is a poncho design called Double Act, and we here at The Fibre Co. were pleased to provide some wonderful Cumbria Fingering yarn for the design, which came about as a collaboration with Yarn Culture in the USA.
We also took the opportunity to chat with Åsa about her work and the collection.
Tell us about Double Act; what inspired this design and what makes it special to you?
AS: Many years ago I made up a poncho for my mother, making do with some quite pedestrian yarn available in the only craft or fabric shop where we were staying at the time. My mother, whose hands have not been able to knit or do any crafts at all for decades, still wears this poncho all the time. Nevertheless, I have always wanted to knit another, a better and more beautiful version in some gorgeous yarn.
Cumbria Fingering is that yarn. In a previous collaboration with Patti at Yarn Culture, I worked with Cumbria Worsted, so when she suggested Cumbria Fingering for Chapter 4 of our current collaboration (The Jubilæum Collection), I already knew I’d love working with this yarn.
The poncho: I wanted to work out the finer details and finishes to create a truly good design from the one knitted on a hunch and the hoof. This project has also allowed me to get back into mosaic knitting. It is a technique I love but have rarely used in my designs, perhaps even avoided, as it seemed ubiquitous for a while.
My poncho has a mosaic part and a textured part, so the yarn gets to show off both its sheen in stocking stitch (which is a perennial favourite) and also how well it creates structure, texture, and stitch definition in a very simple mistake rib pattern. The mosaic knitting is simple, too, as you are always working two identical rows in a row, but requires a little more focus. I cast on both pieces at the same time, so that I can alternate between them according to knitting mood.
What inspires and influences your designs?
AS: I knit and design what is missing in my closet. That is, what I would love to wear but don’t have or don’t have in the right colour. Or maybe it exists only as a sewn piece in fabric and I think that the shape and look would be great for a knitted garment. Also the yarn inspires me – its texture, colours, how it feels, drapes, falls, behaves.
What is your favourite type of knitting project?
AS: A Ziggurat sweater, to see how it grows sculpturally from the cast on and how the yoke with its tailored caps seemingly magically appears.
Could you share your design process with us.
AS: It is not one thing or one identifiable process. Many projects grow out of current projects – I come upon a solution or a problem or a look while knitting something else, and think, oh this stitch pattern, shape, or garment, would be great if tweaked or worked like this instead or in this other type of garment. One thing is true of all my designs: I design as I go. I start with an overall idea or look or shape, but it is the knitting and the actual doing that creates the finished design. I always change my mind about some detail or invent little things along the way, or incorporate something or other unplanned before I reach the end.
How does the yarn you use influence your design?
AS: Sometimes a design grows from a yarn, but then it is often the case that the yarn has hung around for a good long while on my shelf or on my desk before I suddenly see its possibilities. Other times, I know that I will want specific qualities such as loftiness or drape, and go on a yarn hunt. Either in my shelves or online.
What is your desert island knitting project—what could you knit again and again and still enjoy?
A colour-work Ziggurat. Incidentally, my next book features colourwork and textured Ziggurats…
What’s your first knitting memory?
AS: A rather squeaky yellow yarn. On dented, mistreated, long stainless steel needles.