A few years ago I was the only frame knitter left, with 20 machines to use. It takes months and months of practice, slowly building up, to learn how to do one thing and gain control over the machine. I started building up a team of enthusiasts from scratch that’s now up to 7-8 people.
I made a polar bear rug for the first grandchild of a friend of mine at work. They’ve still got it and it’s the third baby using it now.
I remember knitting at University, knitting with my friends whilst we talked about the lads we knew or what cassettes we’d bought, Depeche mode and such like.
I like creating things; like baking, cooking, gardening and knitting all of which I learnt from family members. It keeps that link between the past and present. I don’t like to sit and do nothing.
Making my own patterns and working with unusual fibres is what excites me. I like textural design: being able to make a texture on the fabric as you’re knitting it, using things like tuck and slip; or it might be about hand manipulation or short row shaping to change the shape of the fabric.
There’s something about the Golden Hands patterns, reading them and thinking of the possibilities. The imagery was incredibly vibrant and it seemed exotic, with everyone having a lovely life.
I like to do things for a purpose, such as getting badges as a Brownie, so I asked to be shown how to knit and I made dishcloths. They’re not straightforward – it is more than knit and purl, you have to drop stitches to make the holes.
My daughter asked me to help her with a science project. I had to knit the digestive system for her. I did an oesophagus, stomach and small and large intestines. She wanted to be able to unravel it to show how long an intestine was.
I had a theme for my foundation show of ‘Miss Havisham’s shed’ as everything I’d dyed looked like old ladies underwear. They all looked frayed and tatty so I stopped knitting carefully and started knitting with abandon.
My first experience was with French knitting on bobbins with nails hammered into the top when I was about five. I used to use them as horses reins galloping around the playground