Ginger Twist Studio: Thanks again Anna for taking part in the Designer of the Month programme at Ginger Twist Studio. Now for a few questions. How did you start knitting? Who taught you and what was your first project?
Anna Wilkinson: I don’t remember the exact age that I first picked up a pair of knitting needles and started to try, but I think the age I felt comfortable knitting was around 6 or 7. My mother taught me and always encouraged me with balls of fun yarn and patterns. I remember making a lot of scarves and mittens for friends and I have a distant memory of a foul brown/beige shapeless jumper in a thicky furry yarn….
GTS: And going from that, how did you turn into a designer? Would you consider this something you do for fun, or is it part of your career? Does it link up to your ‘day job?’
AW: I always really liked making things and I’m very fortunate that my brothers and I were always encouraged to be creative by our parents so it was never a huge decision to study knitwear or to try and make it my career, it just happened really. I went to college to study fashion, leaving quite an academic school, and then went on to Winchester School of Art to study textiles and I then specialised in knitwear after my first year. I do consider knitwear a huge part of my career now. I work freelance in a few different areas but am lucky that knitting has become central to my working life but it is also something that I do for fun. I feel very fortunate to be able to work every day doing something that I really love.
GTS: It seems to me, particularly with you book Learn to Knit, Love to Knit, you take inspiration from vintage styles. Do you have a favourite time period with respect to fashion? And how would you classify your personal style?
AW: I love looking to vintage garments for inspiration as they often feature really lovely unique details that are so hard to find in modern fashion. Vintage hand made knitwear in particular often seems much more considered and carefully made. It’s hard to be too specific about a particular time frame….I think anything from the 30’s to the 60’s/70’s is likely to have me as a fan…I’m quite enjoying 70’s collars at the moment and big Pucci style paisleys…but I will always love 40’s/50’s silhouettes and neat shapes.
GTS: I know it is probably like choosing between children, but do you have a piece or 2 that you are super proud of designing and/or knitting?
AW: It is quite difficult to say…From my book I would say that the college-style cardi and the slip stitch cape were possibly my favourites…though ask me next month and my answer could be different! I think these two stand out as two garments in my book that took a while to write the patterns for and then actually construct so they were labours of love.
GTS: Any skills/techniques left to learn on your knitting or crafting bucket list?
AW: Yes! Hundreds! I would love to be a much more technical knitter. I often start making up my designs one way and a fellow knitter will point out a much simpler way with a technique I’ve never tried before! But for this year I think I’d really like to get better at knitting socks!
GTS: I notice you have a penchant for bright and fun colours. Do you have any other desiger trademarks?
AW: I’m not sure…I think I’m definitely attracted to neat and simple garment shapes but like to make the actual fabric interesting with colours or textures…And I do like to have fun when designing and making. A pattern has to be exciting enough to compel someone to really want to buy yarn and make it. I love to feel excited by something that I’m designing.
GTS: Would you like to publish more pattern books? What is your next step in the crafting world?
AW: Well I’m extremely excited to say that I have just begun work on my second book… It’s in very early stages at the moment so I shan’t divulge too much now! I’ve also been working on some other knitting patterns that will be available online shortly.
GTS: Any random tips for all the knitters and budding designers out there?
AW: Always write down/sketch ideas and have fun. You can knit anything you have in your head (within reason…). The possibilities are endless!