I often get blank stares when I tell people what I do. I don’t think many people understand what being a knitwear designer means (or that there is such a thing!), and I’d wager that most people definitely don’t understand the skill set that is required in order to be a successful one. Let’s remedy this! Over the next few weeks, I will present mini interviews with a few fellow knitwear designers in order to shed some light on this odd occupation 🙂
- Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a 29 year old Maths teacher living and working in Glasgow in Scotland. I love living in the city but I’m a country kid at heart and love nature. Every inch of my balcony is used for growing vegetables! I love the outdoors and spend a lot of my time climbing mountains in the Scottish Highlands, and have a particular interest in Alpine plants. I’m a qualified Mountain Leader and take kids out camping and hiking as part of our school’s Duke of Edinburgh scheme- this absolutely has to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I have a real difficulty with sitting still and not being busy so knitting is the perfect hobby for my spare time. I need something to keep me occupied!
- How and why did you become a knitting designer?
I started knitting when I was doing my PhD as a bit of stress relief, research in Maths can be a pretty frantic and it was good to have something calming and meditative in my life. I’m very fussy and don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a pattern exactly as it was written, I like to tweak little details. This soon lead to me making up my own designs. I think my background in geometry really helped, as I could easily picture how shapes could come together to make a garment, and there’s a lot of Maths in pattern design. It was a very natural path for me to follow!
- Can you describe your design style?
I like simple, unfussy garments with a bit of a twist to them. I love classic, fitted sweaters with a little detailing to make them special, like a little bit of lace or texture. Nothing over the top though, I’m not into super-girly things really. I try to make understated knits that are a bit luxurious, I love knitting with exotic fibres like baby camel or cashmere. I do a lot of spinning as well, so a lot of my patterns are designed with handspun yarn in mind.
- What is the most rewarding thing about being a knitting designer? What is the most frustrating part? What have you discovered along the way?
Having a vision in your head of a garment you’d love to wear and making it a reality. And being really, really warm in the Winter! The most frustrating thing for me is having so many ideas and not enough time to knit them all. I must literally have dozens of unfinished objects in my flat. Coming from a Maths background and having done a bit of programming in my time, I think I initially wrote knitting patterns more like computer programmes. I think one of the main things I’ve learned is that people aren’t knitting machines! I’d like to think that my patterns are much more “user friendly” now.
- Which one of your designs are you the most proud of and why?
I really love my Asphodel Shawl as a design. I love the way that the different bands of lace fit together.
I think the knitted item that I’ve worn most though is my Moseley Cardigan, it goes with absolutely everything and is super flattering.
- What is on your needles now?
So many things! I have two sweaters with lace detailing on the go, one in dk and one in fingering weight yarn; multiple lace shawls and scarves that may or may not ever get finished; and of course some Christmas presents! I have a few quick fair isle items that will be under the tree in a month or so.
- Who’s your favorite designer?
I think we’re really lucky as knitwear designers to live in an age where we can access so many other patterns for inspiration, Ravelry is just an amazing resource for anyone interested in pattern design. I think as a community we learn a lot from each other and everyone benefits from that. If I had to pick one absolute favourite though, it would be Isabell Kraemer. Her sweaters are so stylish and pretty without being too girly.
- What can we expect to see from you design-wise in 2015?
The two sweaters that are currently on the needles should hopefully turn into patterns early in 2015.I have a pattern for a little cropped cardigan and for a cabled mens sweater that will be getting test knitted in the near future too. I’m going through a big fair-isle kick at the moment so there will most likely be a few colourwork pieces appearing before too long as well. Busy busy!
Thank you so very much for these thoughtful answers Dot! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Best of luck to you!