photo courtesy Jeni Reid
Tell us a little about yourself. What other things do you do apart from design?
Quite a lot of volunteering – at Shetland Textile Museum, the village Co-Op, local recycling centre, Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. Some childminding too. I also enjoy carpet bowls and playing 500 (a card game which one of my former teachers describes as ‘poor man’s bridge’).
What attracts you to knitting/crochet as distinct from any other craft(s)?
The magic of creating something useful and beautiful from some strands of yarn, needles and/or a hook. Something to do when the TV is on as I can rarely sit without keeping my hands busy.
How do you get started on a design? Where does the inspiration come from?
I like to knit useful things and try to take notes as I knit so I can write the pattern more easily – but often forget some vital information which leads me to poring over the finished piece to figure it out. Fair Isle is my first love and there are so many colours and patterns to choose from that I will never run out of ideas.
Do you ever start with a yarn and design something with it in mind?
I use Shetland wool for most projects. I know that I will always be pleased with the result.
Who knits up the patterns?
I knit all my patterns myself. Once I have written a pattern I leave it for weeks/months then knit it again from my written instructions, without looking at the original piece. This highlights any errors in instructions. It’s also the reason it takes me so long to get patterns to the market place. I pay a technical editor but I don’t make enough pattern sales to be able to pay test knitters.
When you look back at the items you’ve designed, how has your work evolved? Which is your favourite of your designs?
My favourite designs are bigger pieces such as jumpers and cardigans. It’s much easier to write patterns for hats, scarves, cushion covers, gloves and mittens but the satisfaction of writing a pattern for a jumper in different sizes is hard to match, especially when knitters share their photos. As far as possible I try to give knitters a choice of colour combinations.
If you could only design one type of garment/accessory, what would it be?
Jumpers, cardigans and sleeveless tops.
Which yarn fibres do you most like to work in?
Shetland wool, preferably jumper weight.
What design plans do you have for the next year?
Probably some more jumpers/cardigans/tops. Perhaps another DVD/download.
What does KCG mean to you?
Meeting people who share my passion for knitting and crochet.
How might KCG use its Collection to gain new members?
Continue having open days at HQ, and attend as many shows as possible to raise awareness of the Guild’s existence.
As KCG approaches its 40th anniversary in 2018, what would you like to see it achieve in the next 10 years?
10 years from now it would be great if there was a paid employee to look after the collection, and premises which are more accessible by public transport.
You can see more of Hazel's work on her website