A stunning new collection of shawl patterns from designer Melanie Berg arrived at Loop this week which have us reaching for our needles! We are also playing host to many of her samples, so as well as adorning our hooks and hangers we’ve been enjoying trying on these modern and wearable shawls. As her patterns say – ‘Be Inspired. Knit’ and we couldn’t agree more! For those of you who can’t pop in and see them too, we have the next best thing – a chat with the designer herself and the chance to win the pattern of your choice (be sure to read to the end of the post to find out how to enter!)
Melanie calls herself a secret knitwear designer (she is an IT specialist in her ‘real’ life) who spends her time, ‘Combining colors, shapes and textures into freewheeling designs that are uniquely my own’. She loves to collaborate and thinks that, ‘It is wonderful to interact with knitters all over the world, and to let your creativity flow’. We caught up with Melanie to find out more.
Hi Melanie! What drew you to knitting and when did you start designing?
My mother taught me how to knit when I was a young teenager, but after I made a monstrous, curling stockinette scarf, I put it down. It was only when my first daughter was born that I picked knitting up again and ever since then it has become my passion.
I soon started to tweak instructions and finally came up with my own ideas. It felt very natural to me to write down the patterns and offer them to the knitting world. As time went by, I published more and more designs, submitted to magazines and started cooperating with yarn companies and indie dyers. I love my job and find it very inspiring and fulfilling!
I can’t break that down to just one answer. Really, I draw inspiration from everywhere! When I’m out, I pay a lot of attention to all the different styles of clothing I see. I try to remember stylish accessories, wonderful garments or interesting details and I sketch down a lot of that. I also find a lot of inspiration on the internet – Pinterest for example is a great place to get new ideas. I often put my sketches down for some weeks, and when I browse them again I suddenly know what to do.
What role does colour play in your designs and how do you choose the selection of shades for a item?
Colour plays a huge role in my work! Browsing my published designs, you can see that most of them are using more than just one colour. I love playing with different shades, and I find it fascinating how a different set of colours can change the entire appearance of a piece. Also – working with colours is so much fun!
I usually start out with the yarn. It might not surprise you but, I have a lot of yarn at home! It’s stashed everywhere in the house – in boxes, in chests, on tables and shelves and in all other kinds of places.
If I have a skein or two I want to turn into something, I usually have it laying around for a couple of days so that I can touch it every time I walk by. I take it into my hands, feel how soft or sturdy it is, how heavy or thin and its is like I am trying to listen to it. If you have enough patience, the yarn will eventually tell you what it wants to become!
What is currently on your needles? And what knitty plans do you have for the future?
I’m currently working on “Tau”, an asymmetrical cardigan, designed in Tosh Sock. I’ll finish that within the next days and aim for a release in early fall 2014 – a layering piece just in time for the transitional season. Next up, I’m looking forward to getting started on a couple of projects together with indie dyers (sssh, I’ll be doing a shawl in the highly anticipated Kismet yarn as a design for Loop!) Kismet is a gorgeous 4ply of 50% Camel and 50% silk
In winter I’ll do some travelling to teach workshops – a couple of them at Loop. Shawl Construction, will teach you how to knit different shapes and how to calculate sizes giving you the foundation to design your own shawl pattern. Colourwork Shawls will focus on how to add colour to your knitting and Losing Fear of Short Rows will allow you to conquer this technique! So stay tuned!
Thank you Melanie for taking the time to answer our questions. If you are interested in any of Melanies’ classes please call the shop on 020 7288 1160 and one of our Loopettes will book you a place.
And it’s giveaway time again! We’re giving away the Melanie Berg pattern of your choice (you can browse the full range here), so please leave a comment letting us know which one you can’t wait to knit and we will select a winner next week. This competition will close at midnight on Wednesday 30th July. Good Luck and Happy Knitting!