Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest Post: Knitwear Designer and Author Fiona Ellis

Who taught you to knit?  I learned to knit at about 5 years old, being taught by my grandmother. I loved to experiment, consequently my dolls were the best dressed in the neighborhood, even if some of them were doomed to be fashion victims or ridiculed for their daring outfits.

What knitting method do you use? Continental? English? Or...? I grew up in England and I was in my 20's before I even knew there was another way to knit . I still knit English style.

What is your favourite stitch pattern? My favorite type of patterning is cables.

Why do you enjoy working Fair Isle knits? Yes I LOVE working with colour and dreaming up different colour stories.

What is your favourite yarn? I love good classic smooth wool yarns or a blend that is predominately wool. At the moment I'm loving working with tone on tone hand painted yarns - I have just just worked with both Sweet Georgia Yarns and Tanis Fiber Arts Yarns and I love them!

Is there a needle size that you prefer? Bamboo, plastic or steel needles? I like the 4- 4.5 mm range best and I still use my original Aero needles from the set I was given for my 14th birthday. But I am rather partial to my Signature needles too.

What is your favourite item to knit? I make mostly sweaters for women so I guess that's my favourite.

Where is your favourite place to knit? I knit just about anywhere so I don't really have a favourite.

What are you currently working on? I'm working on some new cable designs and swatches for my Craftsy classes.

Why did you become a knitwear designer? I have always loved fashion and so that is what I chose to study at University I went as a "mature" student at age 28. I graduated from DeMontfort University with a degree in Fashion Knitwear design. It is one of the few school that offer an intensive teaching solely in fashion knitwear at a degree level.

Tell me about your first pattern.
Where did it appear--on your website, in a magazine or ezine? When I was first designing I sold my original designs concepts to the major fashion houses in New York, London & Paris who would put them into mass-market production. I sold my first design for the hand-knit market to Vogue Knitting for the Winter 1999 issue.
Do you attend fibre festivals? Why? Why not? Which ones? I don't really go to fiber festivals unless I'm teaching there.

Have you taught knitting classes? Where? When? Oh gosh yes I have been teaching all over North America since 1998. I have developed a unique program of lively and interactive workshops for knitters and textile artists, where I approach my teaching from a personal development and creativity standpoint, rather than being simply technique based.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer? I love seeing what knitters do with my patterns, when they make it their own, use my idea as a springboard for their own creativity.

Challenging? Finding enough hours in the day to work on all the ideas that I have.

'Contains 20 patterns for contemporary cable sweaters & accessories'

'Borrowing from tradition Fiona delivers a superb collection of gorgeous, wearable garments divided'