An interview with A Day Out KAL designer, Sarah Hatton

We are getting very excited in anticipation for the release of the first A Day Out KAL pattern on 9th March 2021. In the mean time, while your colour packs are arriving on your doorstep or you are mulling over which colour combination of aran yarn, enjoy some more inspiration coming your way. If you are still deliberating shades, take a look at our shopping list to make sure you have all the right materials ready.

To celebrate the launch of our incredible new knit along - ‘A Day Out’ blanket we interviewed the designer, Sarah Hatton. Find out about the blanket design and the process a designer goes through when designing a project as fabulous as this. Let's take a look at some more blanket photos before we begin to get into the mood of A Day Out KAL.

A Day Out KAL
Culcheth - Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran

A Day Out Knit Along - Croft
Croft (SOLD OUT) - Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran

A Day Out Knit Along by Sarah Hatton - Winwick
Winwick - Stylecraft Special Aran

A Day Out KAL by Sarah Hatton - Culcheth
Culcheth - Stylecraft Special Aran 

Sarah has worked with many well known knitting brands throughout her career. With hundreds of designs to her name. Black Sheep Sara is a huge fan of Sarah's knitting designs, you will spot her regularly wearing one of them. Sarah Hatton designed the 'Gemma' jumper for Rowan. Sara has knitted this in Rowan Felted Tweed and in Rowan Kidsilk Haze. It's a cracking design that is so versatile to wear and has the option of being knitted in two different yarns. It's kind of like getting two patterns in one!
Sarah recently worked with West Yorkshire Spinners on a book for their The Croft 100% Shetland DK yarn - 'The Croft Double Knitting Collection One by Sarah Hatton and Rosee Woodland' and has more to come later this year. 

Enjoy reading what Sarah has to say about being a designer and creating our wonderful KAL design in our interview below -

Where did your journey as a knitting designer begin?  
I had always wanted to be involved in fashion in some way and did a degree at Bretton Hall College (now Yorkshire Sculpture Park) but I soon realised I found sewing really stressful and ended up including handknits as I always enjoyed knitting. I was sponsored by Sirdar and by the end of my degree I had been offered a job with them.

Over the years you have worked with so many different yarn companies and designed so many different things. What would you say has been a highlight so far?
This nicest part of my job is that it is always evolving. I love the part of my job that is designing but definitely miss doing photo shoots. I am currently doing pattern writing for an amazing project helping women in rural India through knitting.

The ‘A Day Out’ knit along has been a project we have been working with you under wraps for over a year now. When you are designing a project like this, how do you begin?
Normally with a huge wave of panic and anxiety that I can't do it to be honest!

How do you decide on stitch patterns? Do you swatch and sketch? What ability level of knitter could knit your blanket?
I was really keen when designing this project that it would be a good learning curve project to help someone with their knitting skills and confidence. So I was sure to include squares that showed exciting ways to use just knit and purl stitches, cables which can be daunting, better bobbles as well as working from charts and working in the round.

A Day Out KAL

When you create a blanket design that is made up of squares do you envisage the finished layout of the blanket as you are designing the squares or once some squares are knitted, do you think there will be x amount of this one etc?
Part of the challenge of designing this blanket was matching up the techniques I wanted to include as well as creating a pleasing pattern in the placement of the squares. I was also keen not to make it scary by being too large as well as making sure there was just the right amount of each square that someone would feel confident with the technique by the end of them but not be too bored making loads of the same square.

A Day Out Knit Along Blanket - Culcheth

There is such lovely texture in your blanket design. If you had to pick one, which would you say is your favourite square and why?
It’s hard to say as I would like to think they all play their part but I really like block 3 and 6 as I am always drawn to simple textures.

A Day Out KAL
A Day Out Knit Along - Block 3

A Day Out KAL - block 6
A Day Out Knit Along - Block 6

Do you have any top tips for knitting the blanket?
I would say just enjoy the process and don't get stressed keeping up with the weeks. Knitting is supposed to be a pleasure so if you find one week to hard change the stitch to a week you did enjoy or just make a cushion!

Do you have a favourite yarn or preferred yarn weight /fibre to use?
I definitely prefer finer weights to super chunkys but as long as I am knitting I am happy :)

What was the last thing that you knitted for yourself?
There are always socks on the go but other than that with work knitting it can sometimes be a challenge finding time. I have the Bonhomie shawl I designed for Arnall Culliford Knitwear on the needles and try and fit in a few rows where I can too.

Have you taken up any crafty hobbies over the past 12 months during lockdowns?  
I had a cross stitch cushion by Emily Peacock on the go for a VERY long time and finally managed to finish it in lockdown so I have just bought another one as I do find it relaxing.

Along the theme of the blanket name ‘A Day Out’. If you could go for a day out anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
There are SO many places I would love to go out and explore but just as the pandemic hit I was supposed to be on a road trip through the desert in America so I guess that's got to be high on the list or a day at the seaside.

What are your knitting plans for 2021? Are there any new designs in the pipeline that you can share?
I have just finished a family collection for West Yorkshire Spinners which will launch later this year and I am trying to plan a photo shoot of my own designs to launch online.

Don't forget you can join our Facebook make along group to share your KAL progress and get tips from fellow knitters. You could also share photos on Instagram and use the hashtag #adayoutkal. Another fun thing to do is follow the hashtag, like you would a page. Then when someone posts a pic on Instagram #adayoutkal it will pop up in your Instagram feed. 
There won't be a video tutorial for week one but Sara will be chatting with Sarah Hatton on an Instagram live, time to be confirmed. Keep an eye out for details coming up on Instagram soon.