Posted on Saturday, June 30 2012 at 8am
He learnt to knit when he was a child, and has gone on to take the knitting world by storm - producing over 100 designs a year for Rowan, knitting magazines & books. We're lucky enough to feature some of his knitting patterns over on The Making Spot, - they're always bursting with texture, colour & detail, making them much-loved around the world. So we couldn't resist the chance to ply him with questions about his designs....
You were taught to knit by an Infant teacher. Did you knit as a child/teenager? After leaving junior school my knitting lapsed until around the age of 20, when I picked up the needles again to knit a much-coveted Patricia Roberts, grapes & cherries design. I took the completed garment along with me to my interview for a place on the local art foundation course and the design so impressed the tutors that on the strength of that particular piece of knitting, they granted me a place.
What did you enjoy most about your first job in knitwear?
My first job in knitwear was as design assistant to Artwork - aninnovative handknitting company in the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was there that I learnt all my pattern writing skills. I particularly enjoyed working on the themes and research for the seasonal collections. We spent many a happy Friday morning, trawling through the vintage stalls along Portobello Road, looking for inspirational textiles and knits.
How many patterns do you design a year?
Mostly I produce between 100 and 200 handknit designs per year – mainly designs for Rowan brochures, magazines & their website, plus knitting Magazines and books in conjunction with Berry & Bridges.
Where do you start when you work on a new knitting pattern?
I always start my design process with lots of research. I look at all the current catwalk trends, trawl through hundred’s of fashion and interior magazines, buy vintage clothing and pieces of textiles, charity shop finds, vintage patterns and books... I then put that information together with the yarns in to stories or themes and refine everything until I have a group of designs that I am happy with. We always work to a theme or story for our Rowan brochures and magazines, which is perfect for me as that is exactly as I work.
What design trends are you seeing as big news in knitting this season?
Colourwork (intarsia and fairisle) is still a big trend in knitting and aran cabling and texture is making a strong comeback. We have had a lot of lace knitting over the past few seasons, and I feel that those lace knitters are now looking for ‘new’ knitting challenges. My new book ‘Aran Knitting’ [published by St Martins Press] has been very well received.
Do you have favourite styles or techniques that you're enjoying working with?
I have always loved designing and making charts for intarsia and fairisle designs – though I do get a bit carried away and sometimes end up with something that is far too complicated to knit! I also have a bit of a reputation for my cable designs. I do enjoy coming up with unusual twists on traditional cables and arans.
Do you have a favourite patterns of yours that's currently on The Making Spot?
I would say that Suvittak and Nasak hooded cable designs [picctured below - from The Knitter issue 14] stick in my memory. Not only was I really pleased with the result, but also my very-hard-to-please niece and nephew liked them so much, they had to have them knitted up! They think the designs are ‘cool’ and wear them constantly – always a seal of approval.