Monday, 26 April 2010
Today is day one of Knitting & Crochet Blog Week! Hurray!
Theme of the day is all about how you started. Suffice to say I have never been much of a crochet type person, though I have tried. I think the main reason for not getting on terribly well with it is because of an irrational fear that it would take away some of my precious knitting time, ha ha!
I have always been interested in texture and textiles, for as long as I can remember. This led to doing a degree in Textile Design and trying different disciplines to see which I liked best/could actually do... put it this way, I was never meant to be a weaver! I did enjoy playing around with unusual yarns in a completely different way, but I found the whole setting up of the loom rather tedious. As for printing, well, I did my best, made a few BIG mistakes and yet I have some prints I designed that I'm still proud of, but I couldn't see myself sustaining a career in print design somehow.
This led me to the natural choice of knitting. At university, it was entirely machine knitting we were taught. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to use some wonderful and diverse machinery: my favourites were the Dubied v-bed machines (love!), the Shima and the single-bed domestic knitting machines, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me - particularly once I got one of my own, purchased for the princely sum of £5 from a local charity shop (score!). It was at this time I also discovered felting for the first time, something which still drives my work today.
Learning to hand knit was only a natural progression from that point. Many years before, my mother had tried to teach me to knit. I never picked it up, partly because I just didn't get on with the circular needles and I think maybe also because I am left-handed and she right-handed. This may explain why I had much more success in the summer of 2004 when my friend Clare taught me - she is also left-handed and it all seemed to make much more sense to me from that perspective! It was a skill passed on by her grandmother and it was around the time Rowan yarns produced their R2 range of patterns and yarns.
After learning to hand knit, I really felt that I had the best of both worlds at my disposal because I had a field day when designing pieces for my Honours year final collection. I even had a go at making my own yarns from fabric, lace and other trimmings.
The whole thing has since come full circle, because believe it or not, I ended up working for, yes, Rowan yarns as a Design Consultant! It was great to be able to be in a position where my job involved passing on my love and enthusiasm for such a timeless craft.
These days I am lucky enough to be a self-employed Textile Designer, producing hand and machine knitted pieces, using gorgeous fibres and beautiful colours to make accessories for my WildCat Designs label, which has been going since 2005. Last year I also started WildKittens, a part of WildCat Designs, which encompasses accessories for babies and children.
Image above courtesy of Clare Dakin Photography