Tell us a little about yourself. What other things do you do apart from design?
I don’t have much time for anything else! The last year has been manic!
I have a 17 and 20 year old at home so I try to make sure that any spare time I have involves them – family meals, trips out etc. I have a dog too, so at least I have to get out and walk her most days.
I have to admit that I think there is probably nothing better than sitting down with my husband and a group of friends and having a chat over a glass of wine! That is probably my most favourite thing!
What attracts you to knitting/crochet as distinct from any other craft(s)?
I am not a crafter who turned my hobby into my profession. I did a degree in textile design at Winchester School of Art, so for me it wasn’t a matter of being attracted to the craft in terms of a hobby, but rather choosing a career path.
I have always loved textiles and my Great Grandmother was an avid crocheter so I guess this is where the attraction originally came from.
How do you get started on a design? Where does the inspiration come from?
Sometimes I have very clear ideas and can see a whole design before I start swatching, other times I simply play with yarn and stitches to see what happens.
I look through home magazines, wallpaper samples and postcards, but more recently my designs have been inspired by my travels.
Do you ever start with a yarn and design something with it in mind?
Yes – I used to always use one brand for my work, but there is such a wealth of yarn out there now that I often choose a yarn then work to find a suitable design.
I try my best to support UK based yarn companies and there are so many more independent companies cropping up that I never have to look too far for beautiful yarns!
Who knits up the patterns?
I have a small team of knitters and crocheters who complete projects for me, although I often make the original copy of the majority of my projects. Sometimes I work half a project and then pass it on for someone else to complete.
When you look back at the items you’ve designed, how has your work evolved? Which is your favourite of your designs?
I trained as a machine knitwear designer, so the 2 obvious deviations from that is that I now work in hand knit and crochet design within the craft industry rather than the fashion industry.
I work with crochet design most of the time now and tend to focus on designing things for the home – blankets, throws, cushions etc instead of fashion knitwear. I find designing blankets and such like so much more rewarding as I can add loads of colour, beads and stitch combinations without having to imagine anyone wearing it!
My favourite design is probably my Lily Pond Blanket from this year’s Stylecraft CAL project. It was a joy to design and came easy to me and I never imagined that so many thousands of crocheters world wide would love it too!
If you could only design one type of garment/accessory, what would it be?
Which yarn fibres do you most like to work in?
I’m not fussy about the fibre content – I used to favour cotton because of the stitch definition, but my hands are no longer up to crocheting large items in cotton because of the weight.
I tend to stick to yarns that are not too hairy and perhaps I avoid tweeds a little!
I’m not a great fan of fashion yarns and tend to stick to core weights – 4ply and DK
What design plans do you have for the next year?
I am currently designing another Crochet Along (CAL) project for Stylecraft Yarns, which will launch in the spring. Alongside that I have 2 new blanket designs and am hoping to resurrect my crochet club in some way.
What does KCG mean to you?
I feel it is important that there is a central organisation to document and curate our Knit & Crochet Heritage
How might KCG use its Collection to gain new members?
I think it is really important to continue to bring the image of knit and crochet up to date. By revisiting the Collection and giving things a modern day spin this is possible.
There is currently a massive demand for crochet design, but also a large swing towards traditional Fairisle designs. Look to designers like Marie Wallin, Kate Davies and Susan Crawford in relation to Fairisle design.
I think you could do with a ‘crochet’ tab on the Collection page – not just Irish Crochet if this is possible. Are you able to show me what you have in terms of crochet? Perhaps we could look at me doing a design that uses the Collection as inspiration.
As KCG approaches its 40th anniversary in 2018, what would you like to see it achieve in the next 10 years?
Tough one! Think I’ve kind of said it above – try to shake off the ‘Granny’ image?
Go to Jane's website to find out more!