Indie designer of the week: Katya Frankel
This week, we had a chance to catch up with Katya Frankel, designer of all things fabulous and fashionable. We love her knits for kids and adults alike! Check out all of Katya’s designs here. Patterns above: Petit Pois, Fraser, and the Lili tank top.
Hi Katya! Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
When and why did you start knitting?
Knitting kind of was always there for me, which is probably another way of saying that I don’t remember when I started knitting. As to why; I grew up with crafts, almost everyone in our family either sewed, knitted, crocheted or drew; some of it was to fill the spare time and some to make the life around more comfortable and pretty, crafts were more of a background to being self-sufficient. And if you wanted to learn how to make notches to make the seams lay flat, how to make pleats in your knitting, or even how to make a mail box out of wood there was always someone who could show you how to do it.
Tell us the story of your first knitting pattern…
My very first knitting design must’ve been done when I was a kid. I’m tempted to say it was a jumper, but with all honesty I don’t remember. The way I was taught to knit was to begin with figuring out the fit, stitch patterns and techniques you wanted to use and then make them all work together as a whole. My mum was ruthless when it came down to ripping if something didn’t quite sit right, so there was a lot of trial and error involved as you can imagine
You have a lovely range of designs for children and adults. Are there specific types of patterns you particularly enjoy designing?
Thank you! I love exploring techniques and incorporating shaping into stitch patterns. The first and foremost personal ambition for me when I begin on any design is to make it wearable. There’s a lot of perfecting pattern placement and fit going on, I often work with simpler stitch patterns or chunks of design that require attention followed by some relaxing stocking stitch, so that the knitter making it can perhaps enrich their technique bank yet the project as a whole doesn’t feel intense.
What is your most popular pattern?
The Bracken vest and Llani, which is a top with a gathered yoke, are both pretty popular. And out of accessories, Ritzy mitts with gathered cuffs, I love them myself and wear them whenever the weather allows.
Where do you find your inspiration when sitting down to design a pattern?
So many places to note. Pattern cutting and fashion illustration books are a great source of inspiration for me, I love studying form and shape of different blocks in detail. I love leafing through stitch dictionaries and general knitting reference books; they can often evoke whole new ideas of pattern placement in garments and shaping. Runway shows too. Yarn itself, of course, has a very big place in inspiration, especially if I am working with a particular yarn in mind I must try out different things to see which stitch patterns work best or don’t work at all.
But inspiration can honestly come from most unexpected places; you might have an inkling of a design somewhere in the back of your mind and then notice a particular dynamic in a painting, or a colour used in a different way that evokes some new element in your design.
Saying all that, there’s invariably one common component to all of my inspiration that’s not particularly romantic, and it is lots sitting down and studying various blocks, techniques, colour palettes, sketching, trying out various stitch patterns, you name it.
What do you love most about being a knitwear designer?
That I can channel my creativity through my work, this side of being a knitwear designer is incredibly gratifying.
What would be your three tips for someone looking to start designing his/ her own patterns?
Do it, make mistakes, learn from them and hire a tech editor when you are ready to publish.
What is your absolute must-have knitting accessory?
Do coffee and cake count? Gosh, I am pretty much down to the bare minimum when it comes to knitting accessories kind of a knitter. It would probably have to be a gauge ruler, the one that you use to check what size needle you just found sticking out from the side of the sofa.
If you were a yarn, what would you be and why?
Traditional worsted spun wool; it’s warm and soft, and has a great stitch definition.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Katya! We hope to see more of your patterns in the future!
Last updated: March 10th, 2015.