Travel, knitting, Lace making, becoming a Master Hand Knitter – Let’s meet Michael
My name is Michael Harrigan and I’m a knitwear accessory designer based in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2017 I was certified by The Knitting Guild Association (www.tkga.org) as a Master Hand Knitter, and later as a Knitting Technical Editor and a Knitting Judge.
Over the past few years I have designed lace patterns for accessories, such as scarves, shawls and other types of wraps. Many have been self-published on Ravelry (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/michael-harrigan). Several have been produced for Cascade Yarns, and others have featured in online magazines, including Cast On, the educational journal for knitters published by The Knitting Guild Association, and Knit Now. My main areas of interest are lace and stranded colorwork knitting.
During the last two years I participated in a Shetland Lace Project to help determine whether some written 19th-century patterns actually originated in the Shetland Islands. Along with a number of other volunteers, I worked swatches from the original written instructions. The work was later displayed at the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick.
This interest in knitting began when I was about 10 years old and my mother showed me the basics of knitting and crocheting. I read knitting and crochet magazines and learned how to knit some basic baby
items and scarves – and to crochet doilies – which was the beginning of my fascination with lace.
I grew up in the US, in a rural part of very northern New York State, near the Canadian border, 5 miles from a village of around a thousand people. Living on a farm, in that area and at that time, knitting was not one of the approved pastimes for a young boy, so the needles and crochet hooks were put aside.
In my mid-30s I picked up knitting again and made a few garments before putting the needles aside once more. I picked them up again about 4 years ago and I’m not sure now why I ever stopped.
My focus was soon on lace and eyelet knitting. Although this may have something to do with the hot and humid climate here in Thailand it does reflect a real love of lace.
I enjoy travelling and often pick up the work of local artisans on trips abroad. For example, I came up with a simple eyelet and texture design based on a painted
cloth I found in South Africa several years ago (my Tribal Traces African Sampler Shawl).
Soon afterward I began trying to recreate what I was seeing in nature using a variety of lace stitch patterns. Over the past few years I have continued interpreting elements of nature, landmarks, and textiles I encounter on my travels.
We travel extensively in Asia, make it to Europe at least once a year, and lately have been visiting South America annually as well. I tend to spend time in historic urban settings, visiting local artisan markets and bazaars, and admiring landscapes and natural features.
I find inspiration everywhere. I’m particularly drawn to geometric shapes and to color, and keep thinking about combining lace knitting and stranded colorwork.
In late 1998 I moved to Thailand for work and have stayed on into retirement, now splitting my time between Bangkok and our house by the sea. Thailand’s natural environment, iconic images, and architecture add inspiration for my designs.