For those of you who have read JoliHouse since it was my mum’s blog (thank you so much for sticking around!), this may come as old news, but I thought I ought to explain a bit of background behind the knitwear that I show here every now and then. I’m aware that new followers might wonder what on earth I’m talking about when I mention my designs and projects, so bear with me!
Since I was tiny I’ve had a creative streak, always had some form of artsy crafty ‘thing’ at my fingertips. A ‘mosaic dolphin’ kit springs to mind, but I was obsessed with watercolours, cross stitch, and all sorts really. Around age 8 my mum and Nannie taught me the basics of knitting, and from there I practiced making a whole host of bizarre items. Once I’d progressed through lumpy garter stitch scarves, to stuffed animals, to lace wedding dresses for dolls, I began making socks and accessories for myself and friends. There wasn’t (and still aren’t) a great deal of garment patterns suitable for a 5’6 eleven year old, so I leapt in at the deep end and wrote my own pattern for a seamless, fitted, yoked jumper.
Coniston, first blogged here.
From then on I was bitten by the designing bug and continued with my own creations, and published my first free downloadable pattern to Ravelry 2 months after starting secondary school. I remember the crown of Aira turning out so pretty as a happy accident, which definitely gave me encouragement to carry on! In 2010 my mum and I were at a little crafty gathering in the Lake District, when Juliet Bernard – editor of The Knitter magazine at the time – popped over to say she really loved the knitted laceweight cardigan I was wearing. (With denim shorts and cowboy boots btw. I wish I had photos of that outfit!). Excited, we started chatting and she asked to feature my design in her magazine. Of course I excitedly agreed, and around my 13th birthday my pattern was published as a supplement with The Knitter.
This is turning into a brief history, so I’ll skip the next few years and just say that I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had to design for myself, and publications like US Vogue Knitting and other UK brands! Almost everything I’ve made over the years can be seen on ravelry here, so feel free to have a look around/laugh at 10 year old Lily’s peculiar poses.
Anyway, back to the now!
As you can see from the first pictures in this post, I’m still very much a crafty one now. Currently on the needles – passing between my mum and I – are two summery designs of mine: a ribbed, poloneck cropped top and a laceweight camisole. Both in shades of pink, which is unusual for me. This year I’m determined not to fall into my usual trap of only starting summer projects in June, to only finish once the sun’s gone into hibernation.
Often when I’ve mentioned ‘designing’ and ‘selling patterns’ to my friends/peers they’ve been confused as to what it is I actually sell, so I thought I might clarify! I’ve written about my design process a few months ago here, and from that point I write up the pattern/instructions to be downloaded from Ravelry. The main confusion when I’ve told people is that I don’t actually sell physical ‘things’, just PDFs of instructions, diagrams and pictures. (Hope that doesn’t sound patronising, I just know people have been confused before!).
Whilst I’m more than happy to post pictures on the internet, until not long ago I was reluctant to let anybody at school know about this hobby of mine. Knitting has a certain ‘old granny’ stigma attached; it seemed pointless advertising the fact that I spent some of my free time knitting to people who weren’t going to be interested in my patterns anyway. Even last year, after I’d gained confidence about wearing my knits, I was slightly dubious about taking my GCSE project into school to work on. You know what some teenagers can be like! However my sitting knitting away at school was mostly met with curiosity; a few odd looks but no negative comments, luckily.
Something that’s always puzzled me is the assumption that hand crafted = frumpy and old-fashioned. Most teenagers would happily wear a Topshop jumper or cardi , but would flinch at the thought of wearing the handknit equivalent. A turnaround of sorts has definitely occured over the last few years, and to a certain extent, hand crafts have become ‘cool’ – ish. I’m thanking programmes like the Great British Sewing Bee for this! Love love love Tilly and the Buttons. Still, I had the feeling that people would be surpised to see that I was knitting a bodycon skirt with see-through panels, that I’d like to think is more Rihanna than Miss Marple. Personally I adore the ‘granny chic’ look, and styled in certain ways I think outdated knits can look fabulous. However, there’s still a way to go in raising the profile of ‘make your own’, particularly amongst teenagers. Lets hope the rise of crafty young bloggers and the like will do so!