|I'm wearing a Debbie Bliss cape here. Bliss|
is in the background, to the left.
“Indian Trail . . . what a lovely name. I’d like to visit there.” A lilting voice with a British accent speaks these words as the person it belongs to reads the name tag hanging from the lanyard around my neck. I look up from my seat to see a bespectacled woman dressed in black standing over me. I grasp that this person is Debbie Bliss, the instructor of the class in which I am about to take part at Vogue Knitting Live. I have to laugh at her words, though, as Indian Trail, the town where I live outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, isn’t exactly a popular travel destination.
Bliss’s positive comment immediately raised her in my estimation, even though I already was a huge fan of her yarns and designs. Also, the fact that this knitting celebrity had such an approachable and upbeat style made for a comfortable, stress-free learning experience. “It’s all about definition,” Bliss aptly said, at the onset of class, which focused on using cables to shape garments. She then proceeded to have her daughter model samples of garments with flattering shaping, before the students did some hands on work, knitting cables. Bliss also allowed participants to try on samples, patiently answered our questions, chatted with us individually, and circulated throughout the room offering her assistance.
|I made this with Bliss's yarn for class |
at Vogue Knitting Live.
|I'm working on the capelet shown on the cover|
of this booklet.
This experience of meeting Bliss only added to my admiration of her products and patterns, both of which appeal to me in a myriad of ways. As an avid reader and Anglophile, many of her romantic designs and the locales in which she shoots her models wearing them are right out of my fantasies drawn from literature and film of British county life. Bliss’s gorgeous tweed yarns with their exquisite textures, in particular, and the garments made with them, evoke images of country house weekends (such as the shooting parties depicted in Downton Abbey). While as a public school teacher, I don’t exactly have opportunities to take leisurely walks across heather-filled fields before having cocktails in the drawing room, I can imagine doing so when I look at Bliss’s yarns and garments. In fact, a cabled vest made with Bliss’s Donegal Tweed in a rust color that evokes nature in the fall is one of the first garments I ever knit.
|Here I am at the Southeastern Animal Fiber|
Arts Festival in 2010 wearing a vest made with
Bliss's Donegal Tweed.
Equally enticing to my romantic nature is the Debbie Bliss Angel yarn, along with the wonderful patterns published to accompany it. While the patterns in Bliss’s books and magazines using Angel are complex, they are not, like some mohair designs, too absurdly difficult for the moderately experienced knitter. I made a beautiful oversized lace shawl from this yarn, when I had only been knitting for two years. Bliss’s website includes copy that describes the yarn as “gossamer” and “sublime.” I concur. A shrug made with this fiber would be just the thing for a heroine in a Gothic romance to wear over her taffeta gown at a ball given in a manor house on a moonlit moor, a ball where she meets the brooding man of her dreams. Aah. . . Well, I can knit the shrug anyway. Maybe I can wear it when I chaperone the prom for the high school where I teach.
|Detail from shawl I made with Angel.|
Some of Bliss’s designs are less romantic, but are still aesthetically pleasing in their simplicity of form. I purchased Debbie Bliss’s Essential Baby Knits and made a crossover baby sweater using Baby Cashmerino. There are no frills and furbelows on this garment, but it is beautiful in its minimalism. The Cashmerino yarn, too, is so consistently spun and has the perfect amount of give and softness.
|This Crossover Sweater uses Bliss yarn and one of her designs.|
Ultimately, while I wasn’t able to uncover the personal details of Bliss’s life (through much Googling of “Debbie Bliss biography”), I am a great admirer of her products, which must—I idealistically suspect—reflect something if not of her character, at least of superb her artistic sensibility and vision. Like my favorite British authors such as Jane Austen, Bliss creates a fantasy world for humble mortals such as me, one we can visit from time to time, basking in its beauty and replenishing our spirits, before we foray back into the grittiness of our harried modern lives. Finally, as an English teacher I also have to add that I love the designer’s name. When discussing any other individual would a blogger be able to use the ambiguous and symbolic phrase, “meeting Bliss”?