One of the fun things about working at a knitting magazine is getting to preview all the latest pattern books. Many wonderful books come across our desks, and it’s often difficult to choose which ones to review in our magazine, but when we saw Knitting Everyday Finery, we instantly fell in love. The designs are truly exquisite.
We wanted to know more about the designer who came up with these lovely, unique patterns. Luckily, Mel Clark had time to answer a few of our questions. We’re sharing her insights in today’s blog post, and we’re giving away a copy of one of her books. Just leave a comment below this interview for a chance to win!
Tell us about your background as a knitwear designer.
I think of myself as a maker of things. As a child I would design and make doll’s clothes and it became an obsession. My idea of fun is to come up with a new idea and see it through to completion. At a certain point I started experimenting with my own design ideas, which led to creating a line of ready-made hand knits. I took samples to a trade show in New York and returned home with a folder full of orders. I was thrilled!
My garments were made by knitters in my native country, New Zealand. Once my work started getting noticed, I was approached to design for several companies who wanted a similar look. I started providing them with designs, which ultimately competed with my own label because they were made in South America and China and could be produced for one tenth of the cost. After a few years of designing for these companies, I took up an opportunity to open a knitting shop!
What inspired you to create the book Knitting Everyday Finery?
I think of hand knits as the ultimate in luxury, both for the beautiful materials and the hours of work that go into making them. I’ve never been one for buying “luxury” clothing. My idea of a fabulous something to wear is a beautiful hand knit that makes you feel special every time you put it on. It can be something small like a pair of gloves that makes your outfit eye-catching. For this book I wanted to create accessories (and a couple of garments) that would make the wearer feel special and yet they are really everyday items.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I am a modernist with a love of tradition and history. I like clean designs, nothing fussy, with small details that create extra interest.
Do you have any favorite knitting projects you find yourself turning to again and again over the years?
I love knitting slippers and bags. The Shiraz Slippers in this book are one of my favorite patterns. I’ve made several pairs for myself and to give as gifts. They lend themselves to extra touches like different colored soles, linings, and embroidery, so I customize each pair I make.
Why do you think knitting is such a popular hobby these days?
Knitters these days are spoiled for choice with incredible knitting supplies, which makes knitting more fun than ever: yarns, tools, accessories, patterns. It’s also part of what I call the “handmade revolution” that started a few years ago as a reaction to consumerism.
About the author: Mel Clark currently lives in Santa Monica, California, and writes about knitting on her popular blog www.slipslipknit.com. Her designs have been featured in magazines around the world. You can also find her on Ravelry.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Knitting Everyday Finery! To learn more about this book and other new exciting titles like it, check out our reviews in the Summer Issue of Love of Knitting (on pages 60-61).