This weekend I published a new shawl pattern in collaboration with Jessica James-Thomson of Ginger’s Hand Dyed, to help celebrate seven years of Jess’s yarny business. Meet Bombshell! She’s knitted in 2 x 100g of Jess’s new yarn Sweet Flax and this is the new Seven Year Itch colourway.

MHD_Bombshell2Inspiration Notes

As soon as Jess told me the new colourway’s name, it made me think of the 1954 film of the same name: The Seven Year Itch. I’ve always thought that Jess’s shop Ginger Twist Studios and Jess herself, have a bit of a vintage style about them. I’m also partial to a good vintage charity shop find, so it seemed that this would be a good ‘inspiration starting point’ for the design.

The Sweet Flax yarn has a great fluid-feel to it, which sounds ridiculous for a yarn, but the combination of alpaca, linen and silk is beautifully soft and silky. I wanted to make sure that I made the most of the yarn’s drapey quality within the knitted fabric and also to effectively convey a feeling of movement in the shawl’s design, which would echo that iconic scene in The Seven Year Itch where Marilyn Monroe’s skirt billows up around her legs, as she stands over a subway grate*.

I also used another source of inspiration for this design, which was a photo I’d taken earlier this year, at the Museum of Scotland. The image is of a model wearing a silk blouse, designed by Jean Muir, which features a striking graphic print. Although the design was from the 1970s, it seemed to have a 1950s feel about it, with the polka dots and the undulating lines, reminiscent of Marilyn’s swirling hem line. I also felt that these geometric elements married-up well with my design aesthetic and my current knitting obsession with slip stitches and cables.

My Bombshell Shawl tries to incorporate both of these inspiration sources in its design: the fluidity of Marilyn’s swirling dress alongside the graphic element of Jean Muir’s print; and hopefully I’ve managed to convey both these ideas within Bombshell’s stitches.

You might like to have a read of the pattern’s entry on Ravelry (if you live in a climate similar to the one I experience here in Scotland, you’ll have to use your imagination for a moment!):

“Oh, do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?” The Girl, from The Seven Year Itch, played by Marilyn Monroe, 1954

It’s that time of year when it’s too warm: your skin is clammy, you can’t cool down, and walking just a few metres has you perspiring. Suddenly, a cool breeze catches your clothing, making it billow and swirl. At that moment, is there anything nicer?

You’re probably familiar with the iconic 1950s image of Marilyn Monroe in the film The Seven Year Itch, with her skirt blowing upwards, as she stands over a subway grate? That joyous feeling of flowing fabric against the skin is captured in the movement of the knitted stitches in the Bombshell Shawl.

Created in collaboration with Jessica James-Thomson from Ginger’s Hand Dyed, as a 7-year anniversary celebration of her yarn-business, the sample is knitted in a brand-new colourway on a brand-new base: The Seven Year Itch on Sweet Flax (50% alpaca, 25% linen and 25% silk).

The gorgeous drape of the Sweet Flax yarn, combined with the Marilyn Monroe-linked colourway name, led me to design a shawl with a bombshell aesthetic, inspired by swirling hem lines and polka dot prints.

If you’d like to knit your own Bombshell shawl, then remember that my mailing list subscribers receive an exclusive discount off all of my new designs, including new subscribers. You can sign up here.

To buy a copy of Bombshell from Ravelry, click here, or buy a copy from Folksy by clicking here.


*To read more about Marilyn Monroe and The Seven Year Itch, I’d recommend these articles, which all have a feminist take on the film and Marilyn’s role:

Making Marilyn: The Power of The Male Gaze in The Seven Year Itch (Screen Queens Blog)

Los Angeles Magazine book review of The Girl by Michelle Morgan

Marilyn Monroe: Proto Feminist? (The Guardian Newspaper)