Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A ghostly collection

Just in time for the season, indie designer Teresa Gregorio - aka Canary Knits - has release and e-book full of spook-tastic knits, as well as essays on the ghosts that haunt them, called Ghosts: historiographies, cultural manifestations, and the knits they've inspired.  As part of the blog tour, I interviewed Teresa about the e-book, her design process, and some general thoughts as a knitter. Please enjoy.

You say these knits were inspired by your research - what inspired you to research this topic in the first place?
I was on holiday in Munich. My mom and I decided "what better way to spend a Saturday night in this city than to go on a guided ghost walk?" It ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. It was a tiny group (consisting of just us and the tour guide!) but with that it was very personalized and interesting. The guide was fantastic: it was a when he shared that ghosts weren't always written about as transparent, light-coloured, floating figures that I began to wonder just how differently ghosts were described throughout history.
With the exception of a couple of designs, you've used a very ghostly palette (whites, greys, and blacks) - was that intentional, or something that seeped into the designs from the subject matter?
It was absolutely intentional. The red of the Calavera Catrina bonnet inspired that pattern specifically (being one of the two colourful exceptions). I was hoping the restricted colour palette would help to create a unified look to the entire collection.
How long did it take you to design these garments and put the book together?
All told, it was about six months. I spent about three months researching, with most of the design time overlapping that. You'll see most of the patterns are accessories, things that are only one size, and fairly small knits. That's one of the reasons it didn't take me longer than six months to put together. There was also plenty of overlap time in those months with testing and tech editing, photographing and layout.

Do you have a favourite garment from this collection, and why?
I do! It's the Calavera Catrina bonnet. I think it's mostly the little shaping bits included in it that make it my favourite: I have a thing for turned hems (there's more than one provisionally-cast on design in the collection!) and the shaping for the hood, petals, and the little tabs on the ends of the ties.

Your book covers a wide range of garment types (pullovers, hats, scarves, shawls, skirts, socks, etc.) Do you have a favourite type of garment to design? If so, why?
I really like to design pullovers. There's so much room to play with different elements on a pullover! I would have included more than one in Ghosts had I not created such a tight design schedule for it. I'm planning on a number of new patterns/collection for 2013, which will give me the opportunity to design more sweaters.

As a designer, do you have a favourite yarn or fibre type, and why?
I love wool, a nice soft, sproingy wool. First it was all about Malabrigo. Then I had a yarn crush for quite a while on Dream in Color. It's still fab, but my newest loves are madtosh (surprise!) and Zen Yarn Gardens.

What is your process when you start a design? Do you sketch, swatch, calculate, etc? Or do you just dive in with yarn, needles and the bare minimum of calculations?        
It depends on the garment type: for fitted items like sweaters, cardigans, shrugs, I have numbers worked out. I like to have a range of about 6 or 7 sizes for those sorts of knits, so it's really best in the end to have those numbers worked out before I start testing and knitting up a sample.
Everything gets sketched first. (Mostly because I just love drawing!) I have this "collection" of notebooks, which I make great use of for my idea sketchbooks. When I started out designing I'd just have piles of random scraps of paper, with varying degrees of pattern ideas scribbled on them. That quickly became a messy headache, so now I force myself to keep it all in one current notebook.

How did you get in to knitting?           
I wish I could recall some magic moment, but I've always liked making things in general. I do remember the hideous thing I first made with the ugly ugly yarn I chose. From Walmart. Just some varigaetd red heart. I picked up just one hank and, in my ignorance thought: this is enough for a blanket! Lesson quickly learned that 1) 100% garter stitch blankets are just not my thing. 2) My powers of yarn estimation are very poor indeed. 3) I need to get me to an LYS!
To see more of Teresa's ethereal designs, check out the e-book - Ghosts: historiographies, cultural manifestations, and the knits they've inspired.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very interesting. I really like her designs. I agree that Malabrigo is wonderful to work with and to wear.