This morning’s interview is with designer Kristina Vilimaite from Hungary.
Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
My grandmother tried when I was six, but my first memory of knitting is about being in fury – I was knitting so tight I was not able to work the next row. Then, at 10, I was totally bored when we learnt knitting at school. My mother finished up the cowl I was so bored about so I did not get bad marks. And at 15 I remember meditation like feeling when knitting a sweater – since then I could knit.
How did you get started designing?
I made that first sweater without a pattern, though I didn’t think it was a design then, I was just making a sweater. Then, just before my daughter got born, I found out about Ravelry and started knitting again. LYS owner in Budapest issued a call for designs from their yarns. I gave it a try, and just got hooked.
What inspires your designs?
Nature and stitch patterns. I worked in environmental protection for years, so nature is always on my mind, and I just adore Estonian lace and Japanese stitch patterns. I also like watching the world around for interesting shapes and colours – be it a building, an interestingly cut coat of a passer by, or a ceramic bowl in a museum.
Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I often start with an idea and only when I like how it looks in white single ply wool (I also like to swatch with cotton), I search for a suitable yarn. Then yarn influences the final details of the design. Of course I have a lot of yarn that I’ve got because it was simply beautiful. Most of it is still in my stash.
What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I like when it is possible to make differently looking knits from the same patten. So my shawls are in many sizes, customizable and they can be worked from different weight yarns. Currently I like complex looking stitches, which I adjust so they are easier to work but still intricate. I also love beads – even for mittens. I get little sparkling moments of happiness when I wear something with beads, such knits make me feel extraordinary.
What is your favourite type of item to design?
Shawls. Right now I am hooked on a simple triangular shape that is worked sideways. This shape is like a painting canvas and it gives me so much freedom to for my knitted flowers to grow.
Tell me about “Recowled”, your new collection, what is the story behind it?
When I design I have to make finite choices: about shape, stitches used, all other details. Sometimes I see so many options that I can’t choose. I was drafting Tulippa shawl (not published yet), and this thought was always around – “maybe this should be a cowl, this would be a great cowl”. So I decided to let them both be. All three patterns in “Recowled” will be based on shawl patterns that look equally well as cowls. I also experiment with shapes, so two of the cowls will be scowls, kind of hybrids of shawls and cowls worked top down stating with just a few stitches. One will be of a traditional shape worked sideways.
Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I have lots of ideas for cardigans. Well, I never wore the sweater I knit when I was 15. The size was OK, but I didn’t like how I looked in it. I acquired a better body image since then, but I am still not sure that a sweater I dream up and invest a lot of time into making would fit me and others well. At some point I will probably gather my courage to make one.
What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I just started another collection called Lace Mittens for Snow Battle and I am almost ready with the second design from it. That knit is really addictive, so it pushed other half finished things down the queue. But probably I will release Tulippa shawl earlier.
Your desert island yarn? (If you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. I like most of single ply yarns, but this one is dyed in such a way that it looks like as if it was shining from inside.
Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Icy Rivulet. For three years it was my favourite shawl to wear, both indoors and outdoors. It is actually my first design, but I made a very unlucky decision to publish it through a magazine. Only when I got the rights back, I could release it in the quality I am satisfied with, but the momentum was gone by then.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
I am not sure anybody wants my advice – but I can tell what worked for me when mastering knitting and designing. I reverse engineered a couple of hats and some stitch patterns. For me it brought a real breakthrough in understanding how to read my knitting, and helped me to understand the principles behind some techniques.
Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I prefer to go with the flow, I mean my individual flow. I do what I like when I think the moment is right for that. I probably never in my life had a New Year’s resolution… and if I had, I do not remember, probably I didn’t keep it anyway.
If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Could I have a party instead? Ten different people every week? If I have to choose just one today, that would be Kate Davies. I really love her designs and she writes interesting stuff.
View all of Kristina’s patterns here. All photos copyright Kristina Vilimaite. All images used by permission.
You can find Kristina on the following social media sites:
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