April’s Designer of the Month is Katya Frankel. This lovely lady has a wide variety of designs! To follow is a wee interview with Katya, so grab a cuppa and read on.
Ginger Twist Studio: When did you learn to knit?
Katya Frankel: Sometime in my teens, but I can’t remember to be honest. I think because knitting has always been in the background as I was growing up it feels like I always knew how to do it.
Ginger Twist Studio:How is it you came to start designing. Tell me the story of your first design.
Katya Frankel: Up until sometime in 2007 it never occurred to me that knitwear design could be a profession one can enter. I had done a considerable amount of knitting to order and knitting for the family while devising a garment from the very beginning, starting with measurements and swatches all the way to the woven in ends, but designing for magazines or yarn companies somehow was a sovereign world. It wasn’t until a friend planted a little seed of an idea in my head, and then repeatedly pestered me to pursue it, that I sent a couple of photos of already completed items to the now defunct MagKnits. The Chevron Lace beret, I think was the very first one to make an appearance on the interwebs as a published design. It was a knit and purl beret with eyelet columns running from its brim up to converge at the tip of the crown.
GTS: What is your favourite type of thing to design and why?
KF: Something that looks more complicated than it actually is. The truth is I am a lazy knitter. When I knit I like to be comfortable, preferably watching telly with my feet up, bonus points go to the pieces that doesn’t require looking down at my hands too often. It would be foolish to think that this affliction hasn’t affected the designs that pop off my needles. The best kind of design to me is the one that has plenty of mindless knitting, patterns that are easy to memorise, and design elements that would make it stand out.
GTS: You have designed a wide variety of cute kids wear, adult accessories, and very wearable ladies garments. Has this been carefully curated or just designed as inspiration strikes? How is it you decide what to design next?
KF: In a way, yes – each collection has been combed through over and over, quite rigorously, to make sure I’m happy with every garment or accessory in it. But I tend to just go for whatever strikes my fancy. If there’s a new to me yarn that caught my eye, I’ll sit and pursue with it for days, or weeks, until I’m happy with the designs. There’s a stitch pattern for every yarn base out there and a design for every stitch pattern, it just needs to be found and tried out. Next? I’m planning a few shawls at the moment and then there’s the next year’s Autumn Essentials of course.
GTS: Do you feel your patterns have any particular trademark or is there some element you incorporate into your patterns?
KF: I don’t know. Maybe, although even if there is something recognisable, I don’t think I’m consciously aware of it. The things I design are varied, as you’ve noticed, and I tend to over obsess with either stitch patterns or types of garments. A few years ago I found myself consumed by cabled patterns set atop of stocking stitch ground and didn’t stop until every possible stitch pattern got translated into a hat. Although, perhaps it’s wrong to say that there’s no trademark – there’s always a bit of ‘telly knitting’ in every piece!
GTS: What is on your needles now?
KF: I’m just starting a hat, coincidentally it’s in one of Ginger Twist hand dyes. I promise to show it to you first!
GTS: Are you a monogamous knitter, or do you believe in multiple projects? Tell me about your WIPs pile, if you have one.
KF: I used to be a monogamous knitter but changed my ways. Whatever you’re knitting, you just NEED at least another one small project on the go. Maybe socks or a hat, or a pair of mittens – something that’s easy to follow that can be knitted on the bus or while waiting for a children’s lesson to finish.
GTS: Do you have any other crafty/artistic interests? Or non-crafty even?
KF: I was always an artist wannabe; painting is something I enjoy but don’t do enough of. I love gardening and try to squeeze in a bit even on a busy week. My runner beans grow surrounded by lettuces – to build up a bit of base of greenery around them and radishes alternate with beets and baby turnips, because the tops have different height as they mature – something that’s easier on the eye visually instead of sawing them in blocks. Still, the harvest is the best thing about it.
GTS: Any design plans to reveal for the remainder for 2016?
KF:The year is still mostly ahead of us. There will be a good amount of designs published in British magazines as that’s what I’ve tried to develop and nurture in the last few months. A few self-published accessories in autumn and time permitting whatever strikes my needles in between.
GTS: I know it is like choosing between children, but what is the design you are most proud of? And what is your favourite to wear yourself?
KF: There’s a number of them that I love, there’s an even bigger number of details that I’m proud of in each design. I love wearing bright shawls and my Polka Dot gets a lot of wear in spring, although admittedly it is because its bright purple goes so well with my turquoise jacket. Cherrystone is another favourite, it’s quite a versatile raglan and I can pair it with jeans or a dress – an easy outfit that stands out because of the bold stitch pattern.
Thanks very much to Katya for taking time out of her day to answer these questions. I don’t know about you, but she has made me feel a bit better about my massive pile of WIPs! I’m working away on my very own Bracken (button down vest) in some very sheepy Jacobs wool. I cannot wait to get this off the needles!Make sure to come round the shop to check out her samples if you have the chance this month!