And now for a closer look at the lovely lady behind Inspiration Knits, Louise Zass-Bangham. Read on for some juicy morsels on April’s Designer of the Month.
GINGER TWIST STUDIO: What was the first item you designed, and was there something/someone in particular that prompted you into the world of knitwear design?
INSPIRATION KNITS: I think the first item I designed from scratch was a lacey green hat for me. I started designing handknits because I was knitting a lot and it fit really well around my little kids. I needed to start designing again post-kids, or I was going to go crazy! I have a degree in textile design lurking in my background, so it all fit together.
GTS: One of the patterns I really stand by, and cannot recommend enough is Knit Night. Is there any one of your patterns that stands out to you, either because you are proud or just really like it?
INSPIRATION KNITS: I love Knit Night too! It’s hard to choose because the pattern I love most is usually the one I’ve just finished. I am working on a whole group of patterns at the moment, and my current favourite is a cabled wrap so I recommend looking out for that in the Autumn. I’m really proud of Song of the Sea and Foolproof, because of how popular they’ve been with knitters. I want happy knitters!
GTS: As design is your job, what do you do on your downtime? And when you are not knitting for work, what do you like to knit? Are there any particular other knitwear designers who really inspire you?
INSPIRATION KNITS: I don’t have a lot of downtime because my other job is being mummy to two small kids! I run a bit and sometimes go to the park to shoot hoops – I used to play basketball competitively. This Spring has seen me get more interested in making our garden more inviting. I do knit in my downtime too, usually in front of a detective show or comedy on the TV. I always have a fiendish lace shawl on the go, for when I want a challenge. I sometimes knit for my kids, rarely make sweaters for me and do occasional charity knits. There’s a long list of other designers whose work I admire, but I tend to be more inspired by yarn. Oh, and I learned to spin with a drop spindle last year, so I’m building up a fibre stash too.
GTS: Let’s talk stash. Is your stash very big or quite modest?
INSPIRATION KNITS: Um. My stash is pretty big, though that probably goes with the job. It’s mostly hand-dyed 4ply, but there’s plenty of other things in there. I have a lot of yarn from dyers like Shilasdair, Fyberspates, Countess Ablaze, Juno Fibre Arts and Whimzy. And I’ve just been given a beautiful skein of Ginger’s Hand Dyed Splendor 4ply in Hocus Pocus and I’m itching to cast that on!
GTS: Straights or circulars?
INSPIRATION KNITS: I love my vintage, candy-coloured, aluminium straights for swatching, if I have the right needle size. My favourite needles at the moment are ChiaoGoo circulars in metal – they’re super-speedy with sharp points and a lovely brushed finish.
GTS: How is your crochet? Is that a skill you possess?
INSPIRATION KNITS: My crochet is limited to being able to make a chain. I keep thinking I’ll learn more. I really want to make those easy crocheted mittens that were in PomPom earlier this year, so they might tip me over the edge. I have the yarn!
GTS: Favourite colour?
INSPIRATION KNITS: Favourite colour is tricky. I usually say a rich purple. But I also love greys, mossy greens and teals.
GTS: Cats or dogs?
INSPIRATION KNITS: Dogs. My grandparents had a black labrador and he was a total softie. I’m not so keen on cats’ claws when they’re nesting on my lap!
GTS: Countryside or seaside?
INSPIRATION KNITS: Countryside. I prefer looking at the variety of trees and leaves and wildlife to staring out at the sea and horizon, beautiful though it can be.
GTS: Do you see yourself continuing to design beautiful accessories? Or are you tempted by garment design?
INSPIRATION KNITS: I rarely knit garments, so I think that’s why it puts me off. I’m actually an experienced pattern cutter (pattern maker) so I know I could do sweaters if I wished, but I think the commitment in time and yarn is a high hurdle. I think I find accessories more fun.
GTS: Any special plans you can reveal for the rest of 2015 or beyond…or anything else you would like the readers of the GTS blog to know?
INSPIRATION KNITS: Well…I can reveal that I’m writing a book of designs, which is scheduled to be out in September. It’ll be a collection of shawls, scarves and cowls. The patterns will be flexible, so you can stash dive or buy that special yarn and find something to make in the book. There will be help and advice after each pattern on how it could be easily adapted for different yarns, sizes etc. We’re test knitting at the moment and the patterns are going down really well with the testers, which is great! I want to encourage people to play with colour and yarn.