What attracts you to knitting/crochet as distinct from any other craft(s)?
Although I am interested in many different crafts, I have always been an enthusiastic knitter since I was first taught to knit by my Mum. She very patiently helped me pick up dropped stitches and sort out tangled yarn! My first project was a simple garter stitch teddy bear that my Primary 4 teacher used to get the whole class knitting. After that my friends and I moved on to knit fingerless gloves in all sorts of different patterns and colours. You can see that I was brought up knitting at home and in school!
A few years ago a friend introduced me to Loraine McLean of Knit Design Online and after enrolling on Loraine's excellent course, I completed the City and Guilds level 3 Certificate in Hand Knitting and Design. I enjoyed the course so much that I then went on to complete the Diploma too! These courses helped me to develop my own design style and to gain the practical knowledge to write my own patterns.
How do you get started on a design? Where does the inspiration come from?
My designs are inspired by many diverse sources such as the natural world, architecture and armour. I particularly love looking for inspiration in museums such as the Victoria and Albert museum and the British museum in London. A small item in a gallery can spark off a whole new line of design development.
I am interested in many different aspects of art and design and I visit exhibitions and events on a regular basis. As well as finding inspiration for my knit designs I review and write up these events for my blog. Recent blog posts include the Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally, In The Loop Conference in Glasgow and the London Design Festival.
Which is your favourite of your designs?
My Rosebud Trellis cardigan design from The Knitter Magazine, Issue 84 is definitely one of my favourite designs as it includes my favourite knitting techniques, cables and twisted stitches. I love the way that you can draw lines with cables in a knitted surface to create interesting and flattering designs.
Another favourite is my Galena cardigan for Yarn Stories. This is an asymmetric design that also uses twisted stitches in the border and cuffs. This simple garment shape works really well with the feature border to create an elegant cardigan.
Which yarn fibres do you most like to work in?
I am very lucky to have worked with many really gorgeous yarns. The most important feature for me is to have a yarn that not only gives great stitch definition, but also feels good to knit with and then to wear.
I am always on the lookout for new yarns and colour shades and love swatching the same stitch pattern in different weights and fibres. Seeing how a pattern can emerge or disappear with a yarn is fascinating.
What design plans do you have for the next year?
My most recent designs for Yarn Stories are in the process of being released for the Autumn/ Winter 2015 season. I am also currently working on commissions for The Knitter Magazine and have just cast off swatches for several new designs that I’ll be knitting up shortly.
I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration everywhere I go and this means there are always at least one or two new swatches being tested on my needles.
What does KCG mean to you?
I love being part of the creative community that is the Knitting & Crochet Guild. The Guild has an amazing membership with incredible knit knowledge and I love learning new techniques at our branch meetings.
Over the last year or so I have been volunteering with the Guild at events such as I-Knit and the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. I am proud to support the Guild and I really enjoy meeting the visitors who stop to talk to us.
How might KCG use its Collection to gain new members?
A great way to showcase the collection is through the trunk shows and presentations. I have seen items from the collection at our London branch meeting, the Knitting History Forum and at the In The Loop Conference in Glasgow. The items are brought to life by the wonderful accompanying presentations by Barbara Smith and Angharad Thomas. I particularly enjoy hearing the social history that the items represent. Our Guild collection is unique as it is all about what people actually knitted. A chance to look at any of these items close up is not to be missed!
The recent Guild collaboration with Yarn Stories has resulted in a beautiful blanket full of designs inspired by items from the collection. This was a great way to raise the Guild’s profile and will also raise funds through pattern sales. I am very proud to have my mitred cable square design included in the blanket. My design was inspired by a gorgeous cable sweater from the Collection.
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Emma has just won the Birlinn Yarn Company knitting pattern competition 2017 and you can read more about Emma's inspiration and design processes by following this link.