knitting and travel

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Textures and Textiles

Textures and Textiles

Happy Sunday, dear friends! As you probably know from my World Crafters series, I believe that our surroundings influence our creativity in so many ways. This weekend I was sorting through the photos of San Miguel de Allende and so many of them reminded me of my knits in some way. Today I would like to take you on this visual journey and hopefully inspire in some way to look around you and find inspiration in simple little things that surround you…

Reindeer cables

Textures and Textiles

Deep hues of silky bamboo sweater

Textures and Textiles

Crisp texture of Sand sweater

Textures and Textiles

Textured “nubs” of La Flor

Textures and Textiles

Intricate pattern of Journey made in perfectly imperfect Moeke

Textures and Textiles

Juicy color of Ocean

Textures and Textiles

Squishy cable against a simple textured background of The Choice

Textures and Textiles

Simple crochet stitches that form a beautiful harmonious pattern of Wildflower dress made in lovely cotton

Textures and Textiles

Lush mix of alpaca, merino and silk in Gallery sweater

Textures and Textiles

It is so nice to come back to my old knit pieces and just enjoy the diversity of colors, textures, fibers and textiles.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration in this post and will pick up your yarn today…

Have a beautiful day!


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By | 2017-04-07T07:00:11+00:00 December 4th, 2016|Crochet, Knitting, Simple little things|22 Comments

World Crafter. Alicia. Barcelona, Spain

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

ODD ONE OUT knitwear brand was created by young and talented knitwear designer, Alicia Gonzalez. The brand specializes in artisanal knitwear made with high quality materials carefully handpicked by the designer. The brand’s main focus is to create timeless pieces that will last for many years to come. From the computer engineer to the owner of knitwear brand, Alicia’s fiber journey is truly inspiring! 

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Cable Sweater. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

What is your first fiber-craft related memory? Do you remember your first stitch? 

That’s a good question…I have never thought about it, but I suppose it was a dress for one of my dolls. I cannot remember my first stitch, but I’m sure it was when I was a child with my grandma. She took care of me during the day as my parents worked and she was an expert knitter and crocheter. I have inherited such a nice crocheted quilt. It’s amazing! The truth is I have always loved textile crafts. When I was a child, I remember being at Christmas holidays learning to knit, embroider and cross stitch with my Mum. My first project related to fibers and fabrics was a doll dress. I loved to design and sew dresses for Barbie 🙂

Before becoming a full time knitwear designer, you were a computer engineer. These two professions are quite different from each other! How did this transition happen? Was it scary for you to make this step or you didn’t have any doubts?

I wanted to become a fashion designer since I was 8 years old. I have lots of folders full of “sketches” from that age. When I was a child, I used to spend most of my time drawing and painting dolls. The thing is though I loved all the activities related to art, I also loved Maths and technical subjects. I have always been a real good student.

So, when I got to High School, despite my interest in fashion, art and design, I decided to study a technological baccalaureate. The truth is I felt really divided between two opposite things that I liked. The main reason for that choice was that, as you probably know, in Spain there have always been high unemployment rates, so many people in my surrounding (teachers, friends, family) made me feel that with such studies (“serious studies” as my teachers used to told me), I could have a job/economic security that I could not get through fashion or other artistic activities. Once I entered the university I decided to study Computer Science Engineering because I felt really interested in computers and information society. In my second university year, I decided that I should also go ahead with my “other” me (the artistic one), so I started with Fashion Design studies.  In the mornings I was an engineer student and in the evenings I was a fashion design student. Those were hard years of lots of work!!! And many weekends at home instead of going out!!

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Aurorae, AW 15. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Vanessa Poderoso.

When I graduated, I started working as an engineer because it’s quite easy to find that kind of job. Furthermore, I have always had in my mind to create my own label, because I would like to transmit not only a look or a garment, I wanted to transmit my way of understanding the world and specially the fashion industry.

My initial idea was to combine my two professional careers; but as an engineer, I wasn’t able to do that, as it took most of my time. On the weekends, I was always working in my atelier with my knitting machines. As the time passed, I felt that I was much more committed to the idea of starting my own knitwear brand. At this time the project I was working on finished and the company asked me to move to another country. That was the moment I decided to change something. It was really scary to make such an important change in my life. It took me a lot of years to change my mind and realize that what I was dedicating most of my time to wasn’t what really made me happy. In my case, as a Computer Science Engineer I got a good job, with stability… but finally, I happily decided I should give a chance to my dream… So here I am!

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Olha Tsybina.

“…much to my regret, I’m more than 30” – this phrase on your blog really got me! Let me know if I am wrong, but I have a feeling that what you mean by this is that you regret a little bit of not starting your handmade business earlier. If that’s the case, do you mind sharing what was stopping you before and what “pushed” you to make this final decision and create your own knitwear label?

Yes and no 🙂 What I really want to say is that I don’t like getting older, I love life and I want to do so many thing in life, that I feel that I would need more lives to do everything I would like to. But in some way, you are also right in your perception. Sometimes I regret not having started earlier because 32 are not like 22. When I was 22, I was not so scary about stability, my economical situation, because you feel it’s the time to take risks and start your “own life”… I feel that 20’s are the perfect age to start a business, because you are young, full of energy and not worried about many things that worry you when you get 30 or 40. Nevertheless, I also feel that now, I’m in a more mature place, that helps me to deal better with many situations that I wouldn’t be able to manage as well as nowadays when I was 20.

You are a hand knitter, machine knitter and a crocheter! Do you have a preference or you are equally fascinated by all of these crafts?

I prefer knitting to crochet. If I have to choose between hand knitting and machine knitting… that would be a difficult choice. Hand knitting is so relaxing, bu at the same time I’m quite an impatient person, so I cannot wait a couple of days or more to see the finished garment, I want to see them right now! On the other hand, machine knitting can be a bit stressful and it’s not so relaxed, but I can see the final garment in just some hours!! I cannot choose, it depends on the moment and the piece.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Cable Poncho and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

Before founding “ODD ONE OUT”, you did the internship with MANGO Knitwear Quality Assurance. I can only imagine how fascinating it was! You mention that because of this experience, you discovered your true passion – knitting. Do you mind sharing a little bit about this experience – what were your responsibilities there and what did you learn during this time? How does the process of big, mass product knitwear production as MANGO differ from a small handmade knitwear company?

I have always loved knitwear and I specialized in it in my fashion studies, but it was when I was at MANGO that I really realized it was my passion. I came to the conclusion that I love knitwear design because I can combine design with an important technological background. And, at the same time, that’s why not many fashion students are interested in knitwear design. Designing knitwear can be the most creative experience, but at the same time, it needs a high technical background from the designer as you have to know how knitting machines work to get what you have designed.

In the Knitwear Quality Assurance Department, we had to control and ensure the quality of the garments in terms of garment finishes, yarn quality, measurements… As you may know, MANGO produces all their garments outside their offices, so our work was to validate prototypes. In general, in a fashion industry, a Quality Assurance Department is provided with technical sheet from the design team. That sheet gives all the information about the garment:  a sketch, description, measurements… Once the prototype arrived from the producer, we had to check and confirm that what the producer knitted was what the designers asked for in terms of measurements, quality, colour, yarn…

I learnt so much during this stage!! Specially about knitwear technical aspects related to production and machines. It differs a lot from a small handmade knitwear brand because in my brand, I’m the designer, the knitter, the pattern maker, the quality assurance department, the sales department… I play all the roles, whereas in such a huge company like MANGO, you are a gear’s part and not the whole part. It was after my internship, that I bought my first domestic knitting machines, I soon needed to know more and more about them.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Sweater and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

You are creating your beautiful knitwear pieces with gorgeous fiber! One of the most important things for you, as I understand, is not only the quality of materials, but also where it comes from. Do you mind telling us about the process of choosing the fiber for your collections? You mention that you also use “dead stock” yarns. I think it is absolutely amazing! Could you, please, tell my readers what “dead stock” means and why it is important to put it in use?

Yes, I like to work with high quality materials. I’m especially in love with mohair and alpaca. I try to work with providers who take special care of environment, worker’s conditions… Most of my yarns are produced in Italy and the companies are under #DETOX Greenpeace project, working in a textile industry free of so many pollutant chemical products.

Choosing yarns and fibers for my collections is a hard process, because I like all. I receive lots of mohair shade cards with hundreds of colours, I cannot choose just one!! I fall in love with all of them. I choose colours depending on the collection’s concept. Yes, many times I try to work with dead stock yarns although it is not always possible.

Dead stock yarns are yarns which are no longer used by the fashion industry because they think they are no longer trendy or desirable. For example, imagine Pantone forecasts that next AW17/18 pink is going to be the most trendy colour. That means that most yarns providers will produce lots of yarns in many pink variations and you will see many pink garments on shops. So the following year, Pantone forecasts that in AW18/19, pink is no longer a trendy colours.  All that would result in levels of pink yarns stock.

Using dead yarn stock would mean using that pink yarns, which are no longer desirable for the rest of the fashion industry because they consider pink is no longer fashionable and people would not buy pink garments. It’s like giving a second life to a product which is in perfect condition but humanity deliberately decides it’s useless.

As I understand you love the fiber/yarn diversity! In your upcoming SS17 collection you are using different plant fibers. And you are also raising a very interesting question – why knitwear should be associated only with cold season and wool? Do you mind telling us about the fibers you are going to use for SS17 and what advantages/disadvantages do plant fibers have compared to wool?

In my next SS17 I work with cotton. You have to consider that Spain is a really hot country in summer, so knitwear is not a real preference for summer 🙂 In general, people associate knitwear with wool, and it’s not always like that. Using linen or cotton is the only way Spanish people can wear a knitwear piece in the middle of August! The main difference between cotton and wool is perspiration. Plant fibers help us with perspiration, that’s why they are especially good for summer clothing. On the other hand, wool protects us from cold, that’s why is a common winter fiber.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Dress. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Olha Tsybina.

You are from beautiful Barcelona. From what I can say, knitting/crochet is definitely making a come back in Spain. Am I right? Do you feel like people became more interested in fiber work over the last years? Tell us a little bit, please, about your city. Is it a creative city? Are you inspired by it? Do you have your favorite yarn spots?

Well… it’s true that it is coming back a little, but it cannot be compared to other countries. There’s a lot of ignorance about knitting and knitwear. I think the main reason for that is weather. I think knitting is mostly a winter hobby. When you think about winter in Sweden it’s not like when you think about winter in Spain. What I mean is that in Spain, winter it’s like spring in other countries 🙂 You can go out or do many other outdoor activities because we are not at -10ºC and with 50cm snow. I think all that affects in 2 ways:

  • Knitting is mostly associated with wool, and in Spain most of people don’t really need huge wool sweaters.
  • Our weather conditions allow us to do more outdoor activities, so we don’t have as many indoor hobbies as in other countries.

I think that in general happens in all the Mediterranean countries.

Yes, I think Barcelona is a really creative city because of its connection with the Mediterranean and its proximity to France and the rest of Europe. I’m not usually inspired by Barcelona for my collections, but I think I’m much more open-minded thanks to Barcelona. Barcelona is a very touristic city so we have so many different cultures that it’s impossible that not to connect with them. My favourite yarn spot in the city is my atelier, full with the yarns I love.

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Aurorae, AW 15. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Vanessa Poderoso.

Your AW1617 collection (which looks so cozy!!) is inspired and hugely influenced by Icelandic folklore. How did you become interested in Iceland and its history and people? What attracts you in this culture which is pretty different from Spanish one?

As I mention in my blog post, I’m in love with Nordic countries and culture. I have always dreamed about moving to them. I like them so much because of their landscapes and nature. Their lakes, huge trees, snow and their winter! I feel like I would be knitting all the time there, their landscapes are so inspiring… In Barcelona there’s no snow, and almost no winter, so I miss it. I hate summer, hot weather and I don’t like the beach, so I guess that helps to be so in love with them 🙂 I love their simplicity (less is more) and how much they value their crafts and traditions. I think they’ve managed to find a perfect balance between modernity and tradition. I would like a future like theirs for my country. I’ve been to Sweden, Norway and last year in Iceland. It amazed and inspired me so much, that I had to dedicate a whole collection to it.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Sweater and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

What “gifts” did you get from your craft?

In my case, the most important gift I could have: happiness.


Dear Alicia, thank you so much for sharing your fascinating and inspiring story and beautiful knitwear pieces! You can find ODD ONE OUT knitwear at www.theoddoneoutdesign.com and on Instagram @the_odd_one_out_design.

Shop ODD ONE OUT knitwear at www.theoddoneoutdesign.tictail.com and OddOneOutDesign Etsy shop.


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By | 2017-01-01T15:56:49+00:00 November 30th, 2016|World Crafters|10 Comments

Fall Is In The Town

 

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

These last days I distinctively felt how the seasons clicked… Warm sunny days changed to gloomy, misty and chilly mornings, windy afternoons with cloudy and grey sky and rainy nights. Though I love sunshine more than anything, this weather still has a certain appeal for me, putting me in a cozy mood and keeping me inside as much as possible. But this weekend, I put all the to-do lists aside, put on La Flor sweater under a jacket and my beaten up, but the most comfortable boots on and went for a long walk.

Textured Sweater

The town changes dramatically with the weather – there are less people on the streets, the colors seem more sharpened after the rain and it seems like all textures stand out more. People get into small cafes to get a big cup of hot coffee, read newspaper and hide from the drizzling rain. I love watching them from outside – reading, sitting in their computers, talking and laughing with their friends… For some reason it reminds me of my favorite book, “A Moveable Feast” and Hemingway’s Paris… I suggest you grab a nice big cup of cocoa, wrap yourself into something woolly and walk with me 🙂

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

The Gift Of Knitting Blog

I hope I put you in a cozy and knitwear making mood 🙂 Enjoy your Sunday!


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By | 2017-04-07T07:00:08+00:00 November 13th, 2016|Simple little things, Travel|22 Comments

March. Adiós.

Happy Sunday, dear friends!

Adiós is the monthly series of crafty notes and captures of this beautiful world.

March is over and spring break frenzy is gone – you can actually walk on the streets! I couldn’t believe how many people visited San Miguel these two weeks! It was literally impossible to get through the town – its narrow streets were packed with people from all over the world! Though I absolutely love living in the international community, it feels so much better now. My favorite little streets are empty and I can finally “take” you on the walk in downtown.

Knitting and Travel

The spring is here! It was my coldest winter in 3 years and I can definitely say – I am NOT a winter person! I guess I had enough of -40 C winters as a child, I am done! 🙂 I love sunshine, warmth on my face and I love knitting when I can feel my fingers 🙂 One of my favorite places is Jardin – a garden right in the center of the town. It surrounded by gorgeous architecture and it is the perfect place to spend a weekend morning – reading on the bench, watching people running, playing basketball, walking with dogs. I don’t knit there though, I tried it once and it attracted SO much attention. People were staring at me like I was some kind of an exotic animal.

Knitting and Travel

The town is in full bloom! I can’t express how grateful I am when I walk along my favorite neighborhoods, I can stare at the houses covered in flowers forever.

Knitting and Travel

Knitting and Travel

Can you believe this door? In my imagination it leads to a secret garden or to Alice’s Wonderland…

Knitting and Travel

February Crafty Notes

March – 1 FO, 4 WIPs and lots of new yarn!

Ocean Dress, Green Snowflakes Cowl, Kram Crochet Cardigan, Bamboo sweater, Moeke, yarn addition.

Ocean Dress was my only FO in this month, but it was really enough! I love this project so much!

My long playing WIPs – crochet cardigan and a fair isle cowl – are still in progress. I have a feeling I will be definitely done with both of them in April.

I am so excited to keep experimenting on my knitting machine. This is the first time I will work with 100% bamboo and I have a feeling it will be a long-lasting fiber relationships.

My trip to Mexico City wasn’t planned at all, but I am so happy it happened. Cotton/linen/silk blend is in my stash now and I can’t wait to get to it soon!

The most amazing thing that happened this month is our collaboration with Ioana, the founder of Moeke yarns. This is my most favorite WIP, it will take awhile before our plans take shape, but working on them is such a blessing…

Technique of the Month

In case you missed it, here is the tutorial I’ve put together this month – The Perfect Neckline Trim. This technique can be used for any project (knitting or crochet) and with any pattern!

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

Instagram in March

Instagram is the only social platform that I was active on this month. I love this endless fountain of inspiration so much! I take so many photos of my projects that the blog is not enough anymore :), so all the extra goes to my Instagram feed. Here are my March favorites.

march-ins

I hope you had a wonderful month. Off to April!!


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By | 2016-04-03T10:40:14+00:00 April 3rd, 2016|Adiós|32 Comments

February. Adiós.

Adiós is the monthly series of crafty notes and captures of this beautiful world.

I know that February is the shortest month, but for me it felt more like a short week… It’s been such a busy month that I barely had time for walking and taking pictures. But as I promised each month I will give you at least a sneak peek of San Miguel. Spring is definitely here and we are heading into raining season with sunny days and cloudy overcast skies in the evenings. It feels nice… I really love this place – a little bridge in the downtown. It is right next to the magnificent church surrounded by garden with fruit trees and it has the best view of the sunset. It is nice to come here after a long day with my green juice (yes, it is my favorite drink in the world! I know I am boring 🙂 ) and stare at town and say goodbye to the sun…

Knitting Blog

February Crafty Notes

February brought 3 WIPs, 1 FO, and 2 pattern releases.

Ocean Dress, Kram Crochet Cardigan, Green Snowflakes Cowl, Gallery Sweater, Chunky Seed Stitch Cowl, La Flor Sweater 

Ocean is so close to FO – I started seaming it yesterday evening. It’s a very long dress, so the seaming seems endless., but I am sure I will finish it in March. I loved how lace part opened up after blocking. So excited about wearing it!

Crochet cardigan was finally started. It’s been awhile since my last big crochet project and it such a nice feeling to hold crochet hook again after a long time.

Green Snowflakes are resting on my night table – I love knitting a couple of rows before going to sleep. The pattern is very beautiful and relaxing to knit.

Machine Knitting Challenge 2016 (my goal – at least 12 projects in 2016) was opened with the first machine knitting FO this year – Gallery Sweater. I decided to do this challenge just for myself in December, but then I actually found a feed in Machine Knitting group on Ravelry – 12 projects in 2016! Of course, I had to join it and now I am inspired by other machine knitters every month! The sweater is now one of my favorite knitwear pieces in my wardrobe – I wear it almost every day. It is super light and soft, so I don’t see the reason why I should take it off 🙂

Little on-the-go project – Chunky Seed Stitch Cowl – turned into a great stash busting knit! And I wrote a free pattern for you to try it out. It is a great mindless knit, very easy and versatile – knit it with any yarn, any gauge and any size!

La Flor. Pattern that I have been writing for almost 5 months went live this Sunday. And again I am so grateful for all your support and sweet comments. Every time I push the “publish” button, I am so nervous, so each of your comments is so important and encouraging!

February World Crafter

Each interview is so special to me. Nikki Gabriel has been my inspiration for a very long time and I was thrilled when she agreed to tell more about her work on my blog. Nikki creates stunning handmade knitwear, writes books for handknitters, develops sustainable yarn and designs absolutely unique Construction Knitting Patterns that even beginners can master. What not to love? If you missed the interview, you can find it here – World Crafter. Nikki, Napier, New Zealand.

Technique of the Month

I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect finishing for the Gallery sweater’s neckline and attached i-cord just saved me! I highly recommend this video for the technique – Applied I-Cord Border Basics. Very clear and helpful.

February Knitwear Looks

As you know I have a slight obsession with knitwear. I created a board on my Pinterest (I’ve been using it for a month already and I am getting addicted) with inspiring knitwear style and would love to share with you my absolute favorite this month.

Can you believe this dress?! Such an intricate craftsmanship!

This is all for my monthly roundup. How was your February?

Let’s have a great March!

Joining Yarn Along to see what others crafters are up to.


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By | 2016-03-02T09:57:47+00:00 March 2nd, 2016|Adiós|30 Comments

World Crafter. Nikki. Napier, New Zealand.

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

Some very long time ago, I saw knitwear pieces by Nikki Gabriel and I knew immediately that the professional story of this knitwear designer just has to be told. Nikki Gabriel, a fashion designer, books and patterns writer, creator of sustainable yarn, is taking us today into her world of textile in the “Land of the Long White Cloud”which is fascinating, admirable and oh-so-inspiring!

Handmade Knitwear | Knitting Blog

Designer Nikki Gabriel at her studio Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

How did you become interested in fiber arts? Do you remember your very first fiber experience?

I’ve always loved clothes, which led to my interest in making fabrics and textiles later in life.  I realized I was actually good at making things because I have the temperament to sit for hours on my own to work – one of the prerequisites of fiber experience.

Did you always know that you want to make a career in fiber arts? When did this realization first come?

In 2001, after I graduated I was selling my knitwear ranges to stores, producing up to 600 items per season, employing makers to work in the studio. But I think I always thought it was an unrealistic occupation until I was invited to be in the Endless Garment exhibition in 2010.  This show of knitted fashion included designers Issey Miyake, Sandra Backlund, Walter Van Bierendonck, and a whole list of international designers who I had considered as my heros – and now that I was showing my work alongside them I had to pinch myself.  I think I realized it only then that I had a real career in textile design.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade sweater Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

Could you please share your experience at RMIT? 

I had enrolled in the Diploma of Studio Textiles at RMIT which gave me the option of learning different textile techniques of printing, weaving, knitting and hand-making techniques such as felting, dyeing, shibori, etc., which gave me great skills to follow on with.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

You created knitwear lines for many fashion designers and for your own knitwear label . What is the main difference between working for your own label and for other brands?

I have a brief to follow when working on commissions, but in reality I have to set a brief and time-line for my own label also; things like season, yarn, price point, productivity, etc.  But the exposure of the work is far wider when creating product for high-end professional designers and costume houses. And the excitement of working for large production can be wonderfully delirious. Contemporary Dance, Theatre, Ballet, or big Ready-to-wear shows are filled with glamour, wonder and fantasy!

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade ballet knit costumes for Universal Ballet, Korea. Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

I remember my first experience of the atelier at the Australian Ballet Dance Company in Melbourne, when I was using their dye lab.  To get to the lab I had to walk past the costume archive, and the work-stations of shoe makers and milliners, the space filled with fabrics, ribbons, feathers, and all sorts of artisan tools.  It was fiber heaven.

Handmade Knitwear | Knitting Blog

Handmade ballet knit costumes for the Australian Ballet. Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

In 2009 you’ve developed a sustainable yarn WOOLI. I know that one of the main criteria for you was its sustainability. Could you share a little bit about the process of creating a yarn? 

When I looked into yarn production the choice was either small hobby farm spinning mills or large factories, neither of which suited the production quantities I wanted to commit to. I discovered a natural fiber spinning mill in New Zealand that ran smaller production runs but the product they made looked too similar to what already existed on the market.  To get a point of difference I asked if I could use up their waste yarn which comprised of a rainbow of different fibers; all types of wools, alpacas, silks, cashmeres, possum into the same yarn. I suppose sustainability is a by-product of the way I think around things; I’m always searching for the best possible experience with what is at hand to create a design solution, and that integrity translates into what’s considered good.

You can buy WOOLI yarn online at www.estaustralia.com

Two years later you published a book “Handknitter’s Yarn Guide”. Could you tell us about it, please? Who would find this book useful?

Knitting is generally associated with wool.  As the book shows, there are 80 other fibers that can be knitted with. I was offered the author commission from Rotovision in the UK to work on this book.  It took many months to research the facts of all the types of knitting fibers.  The book therefore has only a little of my narrative voice, but it is an extremely practical and factual guide to knitting yarns that every knitter would find useful.  I did learn a lot in the process as I swatch tested every fiber that I wrote about, and there were many I hadn’t used before.  The book is published by St Martins Press in the USA, Search Press in the UK and Harper Collins in Australia/New Zealand.

You are a hand knitter and machine knitter. Machine knitting is often misunderstood and even underestimated among hand knitters. Some people don’t consider knitwear made on the knitting machine as “handmade”.  As an experienced hand knitter and machine knitter, could you tell us please what is similar and what is different between these two crafts? 

 As a designer, for me knitting constitutes the whole range of ways it can be produced.  Hobby knitters can and do create on knitting machines, but I know them to be mostly designer’s tools.  From what I have learnt, there are different types of knitting machines, some of which are less automated than others.  Small knitting machines were made for the domestic market from the 1950’s and mine is from the 1970’s.  They still use these machines at textile schools for students to learn on, and to understand the basic mechanics of larger industrial machines. But the knitting machine is like a potter’s wheel. To use it well it takes a certain skill, nuance, practice, and is directed by the maker’s hands. I use my machine in ways that requires manual operation as machines don’t design my patterns, I design my own patterns for the machine to make; manually manipulating stitches by moving them around (cabling), omitting or reintroducing (distressing), taking up or down (tucking), etc, and all is finished by hand; i.e. joining seams, casting off, securing threads… its extremely labour intensive. That’s what I mean by “handmade on the knitting machine”.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

I absolutely love your idea of Construction Knitting Patterns! I think it is such a fresh look at the conventional knitting pattern. Could you, please, tell us more about it? How is it different from the traditional knitting pattern? 

The Construction Knitting Patterns developed out of an idea to create another type of product that was more accessible than the high price point knitwear I was producing.  When I looked into this market there was very little that aligned knitting with it being a design process, as it just seemed to be surrounded by the stigma that it was an old-fashioned craft.  Being a knitter and a designer, I was determined to portray it differently.   And rather than creating another type of knit-by-following-the-pattern project I wanted to engage the user in a knit-by-designing-the-pattern project.  To do this, I needed to look at the fundamentals of knitting, and the fundamentals of design, and merge them.  This translated to knitting basic geometric shapes in basic stitch structures, with a visual guide to assembling the knitted shapes to make garments.  The shapes can become parts that the knitter can adapt, omit and re-assemble in as many ways they see fit to play with.  Although the patterns are written for the yarn that I produce, the patterns can be adapted to any type of yarn.  As part of the idea of making knitting more accessible, the patterns are suitable for beginners.

Construction Pattern

Construction Knitting Pattern NO.3 on Etsy (currently not available)

Nikki is offering a special promotion on free worldwide shipping on all Construction Knitting Patterns until the end of February in her Etsy shop! It’s a great chance to try innovative and exclusive designs!

I know that you don’t offer the construction patterns as downloads, because it’s important for you to preserve “the enterprise of the graphic designer, the printer and the postie”. I really admire that. Do you think it gives a different feeling to the pattern when it’s printed and physically sent to the knitter?

Well downloads don’t suit the patterns as it is divided into sequences of knitting which just doesn’t translate well on screen.  But – Oh my, there is so much that goes into the design considerations of printing a product; choosing the right printing press to work with in the first place, then the paper stock with the right feel that saturates the ink just enough to reflect the bespoke experience of the knitting patterns.  Then there’s the consideration of the folds in the paper and the cover to enhance that experience.  All that attention to detail is what makes a product special in my opinion.  And yes, isn’t it great to get a parcel hand delivered by a postie!

Could you, please, tell us about your corner of the world? Is it a creative and inspiring place?

New Zealand is beautiful and I’m surrounded by dramatic landscapes. The native name of the country is Aetoroa, meaning “Land of the Long White Cloud”. This nature inspires me, but also gives me the space to isolate myself, and work alone.  But having said this, I’m inspired by big cities and I also found isolation and space to work in the bustling and creative inner city of Melbourne as well.  I think the corner of my world is in my imagination (and my laptop).

Knitting Blog

New Zealand through the eyes of Nikki Gabriel

You manage to combine a career of both a fashion designer and a DIY designer (developing yarn, writing books and patterns for hobby knitters). How does the process of creating a fashion line and the process of designing for hobby knitters differ? Do you have the preference or you enjoy both equally?

The fashion knitwear and DIY markets operate on different spheres, but the fashion writer Sandy Black states that, the knitting pattern is a “trickle-down of high fashion”.  I also believe that because of the resurgence of craft, there is an emergence of new indie-commerce models of production that are closing the gap between the industrial and the domestic product. So too, the boundaries between the manufacturer, the designer and the consumer is becoming blurred. I don’t have a preference of which type of design I prefer, I just see the role of the designer changing as a reflection of these things.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade Sweater Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

Dear Nikki, thank you so much, for sharing your story with us!  

You can find Nikki at her blog nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz and website www.nikkigabriel.com. Make sure to follow Nikki on Instagram to see the latest updates.

Nikki’s exclusive Construction Knitting Patterns are available in her Etsy shop. Nikki’s book is available on Amazon – “The Handknitter’s Yarn Guide”.

You can find handmade knitwear by Nikki Gabriel at www.taylorboutique.co.nzwww.arohaandfriends.co.nzwww.theshelter.co.nz


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By | 2017-02-13T19:06:07+00:00 February 26th, 2016|World Crafters|10 Comments
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