Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Interview with Martin Storey

Martin Storey is one of the most famous international names in hand knit design so it was a real thrill to catch up with him recently and find out more about what he is up to including learning to crochet and up and coming designs.

How did you become a hand knit designer?
Via a very circuitous route!  Having dropped art at school - my best subject - I very unwisely followed a career in agriculture. However, after two or three years I realised what a big mistake I'd made and started to look into the possibility of studying fashion with textiles - my big passion in life.  To cut a long story short, I ended up being accepted on a fashion degree course based in London and were I 'honed' by hand knitting and design skills.  I then went on to work for a very well-known and established handknit design studio based in London, Artwork, and eventually was taken on by Rowan/Jaeger.  I've been working with Rowan now for almost 25 years.

How would you describe your design style?
I would say a bit of fashion mixed with Martin-style quirky texture and colour-work!  I like to follow my own path in hand knitting.  Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't!  However I like to try and come up with a design that has my distinctive handwriting.  I think that it is true of all the Rowan designers.

What is your favourite technique?
Cables!  Am fascinated by this technique and all the wonderful, three dimensional textures it creates.  I love mixing together new cable pattern ideas and experimenting with cable & aran stitches.

Your Knit Along has been very successful.  What else are you working on?
I'm currently working on ideas and stories for our Rowan spring/summer 2017 season, including Magazine 62.  I've also just shot two new books 'Afghan Knits' and 'Scandinavian Knits' - a follow up to Nordic Knits - both will be released this autumn 2017

We hear that you are brushing up on your crochet skills – tell us more?
Ha!  For years I've struggled with crochet and only recently mastered the technique.  I'm still at the granny square stage, but making steady progress!  However I'm not quite at the designing a crochet book stage - unlike my fellow Rowan designers, Sarah, Lisa & Marie!

What or who inspires you?
Pretty much everything!  Fashion & Interior magazines; Vintage textiles and reference books; Favourite fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs and Missoni; People on the street!

Which is your favourite range of KnitPro needles?

I'm a huge fan of the Knitpro Symphonie Wood, Single Pointed Needles.  Nowadays, I don't really knit with anything else.  The 25 cm length needles are perfect for knitting up swatch ideas and are very transportable.  I've just indulged in a black jacquard, case set of needles.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Join in!

Have you noticed how many Crochet and Knit Alongs there are around at the moment?  It’s quite a delicious selection to choose from.  KALs/CALs have become popular for many reasons.  They can be a very social event with Facebook pages and Ravelry groups dedicated to them.  There is always someone to help if you get stuck and it is wonderful to see all the projects emerging.  Our craft can sometimes be quite solitary and this is a great way to spend time with like-minded people.
They are also a very good way to learn new techniques.  Many KALs/CALs are structured so that you start by practising basic skills and go on to learn more complicated methods as you progress. The best ones will also have photo or video tutorials to guide you.
Sometimes a large project, such as a blanket, can be a bit daunting but when it is broken down in to manageable chunks it is achievable and can be huge fun.

Here are a few of our favourites
Winwick Mum’s Sockalong is perfect for you if you have always wanted to knit socks but have never been sure how to get started with the basic techniques.  Christine is very good at demystifying the process.

Last year Jane Crowfoot’s Crochet Along with Stylecraft was a huge success and it is back.  This year’s offering is called Frida’s flowers – a truly delicious blanket.  It has just started so you can join in here.

Martin Storey has created a special blanket for Rowan which launched in January but it is still available here.  This is quite a large project but is something you can take your time over.

We love Debbie Abrahams designs and the really exciting thing about her latest Mystery Cushion Knit Along is that the design is a closely guarded secret.  Debbie sends you out the yarn and the patterns you need so you can make the cushion but you don’t know what it will look like until the end of the project and places are strictly limited.  You can sign up for here.

The Sophie’s Universe CAL was a huge success last year.  Even though it was launched in 2015, you can still find all the resources you need to make this beautiful blanket.

You can join us for our latest KAL/CAL over on our Ravelry group.