We asked her a few questions about what sparked her love of knitting, what keeps her interested, and what tips she has for you to get started with your Big Knit for Vet Kit animals!
Q. What or who inspired you to get into knitting?
A. My Dad taught me to knit when I was about five years-old, I was sitting watching my mum knitting a pink hot water bottle cover that looked like a rabbit and I remember saying I wanted to knit like her. Dad sat me on the rug between his knees and using some of mums pink leftover yarn and bright green plastic needles he held my hands and taught me how to knit.
Q. Do you have a favourite item to knit?
A. My favourite projects are usually toys and baby garments. Toys are such fun to create since I love to give them expressions and characters. Baby garments are cute and pretty to design and they grow quite quickly too.
Q. Can you estimate how many things you’ve knitted over the years?
A. As I do all my own projects for books and commissions, I should think the things I have made must total many thousands by now. It would be lovely to be able to see them all lined up, I am sure I would be amazed at the variety of things I have designed over the years. They range from evening dresses, to tiny bootees and just about everything in between.
Q. What’s your favourite thing about knitting?
A. Knitting is very therapeutic, once I decide on a project I spend hours with sketches and colour swatches until I get the right combination. I think it is such a lovely craft and can be enjoyed by young or old and men can join in too! Surprisingly enough, men used to do a lot of knitting in years gone by and women were not so keen.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start knitting but feels a bit overwhelmed?
A. Start with something very simple, a square is a good idea. Get a good book that will show you step by step instructions, (I have written a book called Love Knitting that shows in photographs every step for learning to knit) or look on YouTube and watch one of the many tutorials. You could also join a knitting group, of which here are many. Be patient, it takes time and perseverance to knit, you will make mistakes and get frustrated when things go wrong but don’t give up, everyone had to start in the same way.
Q. Do you have a favourite memory connected to knitting?
A. Probably one of the memories that often comes to mind was how I used to knit at every opportunity given, even when I was at school there was always some knitting in my bag that I could work on in a spare moment. I can remember sitting at the back of the room in a domestic science lecture knitting a baby jacket. Unfortunately, the teacher spotted me and although she was quite stern, she had to smile when she asked me who the project was for, as she was expecting her first baby, I was in fact knitting for her!
Q. You created all of our Big Knit for Vet Kit animals – did you prefer making one in particular? And which was the hardest to create?
A. I have loved making all the animals but probably the donkey was the one that caused a few headaches since I had to create the water carriers for his back. Emma the elephant was the one I enjoyed making most to date because she had such a sweet face.
Q. For those who’ve never created one of our Big Knit animals before, is there one that you’d recommend starting with, that’s a bit easier to make?
A. I think that the latest animal Emma the Elephant is the one most easy to create, she has less added bits and pieces and is knitted all in one colour. Her head does have a little bit of shaping but if you follow the pattern carefully row by row then it should be fairly straightforward.
Q. Lastly, do you have any tips you can share with your fellow knitters?
When making animals or toys try to be as careful as you would when knitting a garment. Count the rows on legs since this ensures they all measure the same length and your animal with stand up properly when sewn up. When stuffing animals it is all too easy to spoil them, tease out little pieces of stuffing at a time and stuff and shape the piece as you go along. Don’t over stuff, this can spoil the look also. Features are very difficult to add, it take much practice to get eyes in the right place so don’t be afraid to re embroider if they don’t look right the first time round.