Indie Designer of the Week: Kari-Helene from Purl Alpaca Designs
In the latest in our independent designer series, Purl Alpaca Designs’ Kari-Helene talked to us about the importance of designing beautiful garments that are both interesting to knit and flattering to wear.
The team from Purl Alpaca Designs are also exclusively offering LoveKnitting customers the chance to download one of their bestsellers – the elegant Florence Cowl – absolutely free until Friday 12th December 2015. To find out more about how you can get your hands on your free knitting pattern click here.
Hi Kari-Helene, welcome to LoveKnitting! Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hello and thank you! We at Purl Alpaca Designs are very excited to be included in the LoveKnitting family!
I am a 34 year old Norwegian living and working in Brighton. I lived in London for nearly 12 years but having grown up by the sea I found I longed for the fresh ocean breeze and recently relocated. I prefer knitting to crochet, I’d rather drink coffee than tea, I have a knack for finding random furniture on the street and I love chocolate. A random fact about me: I play Ultimate frisbee.
When and why did you start knitting?
My mother and grandmother taught me to knit when I was about 6 years old and I made little things for my dolls. In Norway both boys and girls have to do knitting in school, and I made a purple headband for my dad at the age of 10. Over the years I started many projects but finished few. Amongst the finished ones was a turquoise jumper for my newborn nephew in chenille yarn. My sister has a photo of him wearing it to use as blackmail in the future.
Tell us the story of Purl Alpaca Designs’ first knitting pattern…
The very first collection I did was called the Flowerfields collection. It consisted of six patterns and launched at Alexandra Palace in 2008. It was a very lightweight collection and showcased how alpaca can be worn all year round. Some of the patterns from this collection are still best sellers today!
What is the inspiration behind the collection?
Each of our collections has a different source of inspiration. I find inspiration in many things, but a common thread (no pun intended) is stitches. I love to experiment with different stitches and with manipulating shapes using yarn and needles alone. I think it is very important that a garment is interesting for the knitter to make and to wear. I enjoy thinking about a garment in three dimensions to make sure it is flattering and interesting from all angles.
What is your most popular pattern?
The Icon dress is certainly the pattern that has drawn the most attention. When we launched the Waterways Collection in 2012 there were not many knitted dresses on the market and certainly not many that were flattering! I also think the dress got a lot of attention due to the fact the model looked like she was levitating on the pattern cover photo! At the photoshoot she was wearing blue tights and we happened to walk past a bright blue fountain. We thought this would be a great backdrop for the picture not realising that her legs would become practically invisible in the final photo! But hey, all PR is good PR, right?
What are your knitting essentials when sitting down to write a pattern?
When I studied fashion design I never thought I would end up doing so much maths on a daily basis. My calculator is my best friend. I also need a pen and paper, graph paper, ruler and my knitting samples. Other essentials include coffee/red wine, chocolate, my favourite chair and a good movie!
Your photographs are lovely – how do you photograph your work?
I don’t. I was very clear from the first day of working with our handknit collections that I wanted to do professional photo shoots. This includes hiring a professional photographer, hair and makeup artist and model. It is not cheap, but I strongly believe it is a price worth paying. We have used the photographer Tiffany Mumford for all our shoots, bar the very first, and really enjoy working with her! I do the styling and direction on the day myself.
What would be your top tip for someone looking to start to sell his/ her own patterns?
Do your research! I spent a year preparing before we launched our first collection. Learn about fit. Research how other people write patterns. Talk to other people who have done it before you. There is so much to learn about knitting and although it is an ancient craft there are constantly new developments. I am learning something new with every collection!
Thanks for joining us Kari-Helene! Click here to shop all patterns from Purl Alpaca Designs.
Want to sell your patterns on LoveKnitting? Click here to find out more.
Last updated: December 8th, 2014.