Indie designer of the week: Thea Colman
This week, we dove into the designs of Thea Colman. She designs sweet, chic garments and accessories with a vintage twist that are sure to please and delight anyone who knits or receives them.
Above: Bailey’s Irish Cream
Hello Thea – what’s your story?
Hmmm, this is always the hardest question, because what to tell? The basics: I’m married, live right outside of Boston and have two girls. One is 11, the other 15. I spent my early years in the corporate world – in advertising and left that when my first daughter was born. I’d met my husband at the office, so we both had the same unpredictable schedules and one of us had to go. I made less money, so the decision was easy. After that, I tried a few other careers, but this one seems to be the one that’s going to stick!
When and why did you first start knitting?
I started knitting as a teenager – there was a very traditional clothing and fabric shop in my town that sold things like pants with whales embroidered on them and madras shorts. It was called Clayton’s, and downstairs the most wonderful bunch of older women taught classes. In that class, I knit a terrible peach and white striped nubby cotton sweater and wore it all the time. Both my Grandmothers had knit and I’d always wanted to learn, but neither of them lived close enough to teach me themselves. Whenever I saw them it would be a big family event and not the time.
From a peach and white striped sweater to a leading knitwear designer – talk us through a day in the life of Thea Colman, knitwear designer extrordinaire!
On writing days, I take over the dining room table with measuring tape and notes and graph paper and pencils, and on knitting days I take over the sofa with mugs of coffee, yarn and a notebook.
On days when I am figuring out a new design I take over the whole house with stitch dictionaries and sticky notes. And in nice weather, I move the whole operation out to the patio. I keep my stash of yarn and books in a back office, but you can find stray skeins lying around and stitch markers or darning needles live between all the cushions in the upholstery in this house.
Well, we all know the perils of stray knitting accessories! So, Thea, how would you describe your design style?
I try to design things that I will enjoy both knitting and wearing. My goal is to hit that spot between unique and classic where it does not look like everything else out there, but it’s not so different that it won’t fit into your wardrobe. I love vintage details, and I don’t like things to be either too fitted or very big. And I don’t have one type of construction or sweater that I stay with. I love to keep trying new things.
Are there specific techniques, like lace, cabling, or colorwork, that you like to incorporate in your designs?
I love a good cable. And a lace panel. I try to keep my details out of the shaping so that people can make modifications to their garments. And I want to do more colorwork, but I don’t love it (all those bits!) so I often end up with little motifs instead of bigger ones.
What are your most popular patterns?
Which of your patterns would you recommend for a beginner, and which for someone looking for a real challenge?
I think that Vodka Lemonade is very straightforward — as well as Bombay Sapphire, and Vodka Gimlet. I’m not sure that any of them are a REAL challenge, but more complex would be Bailey’s Irish Cream or Chocolate Stout.
What I really WANT to knit for myself and I plan on taking on the road this summer are shawls. I wear the few I’ve designed all the time, and I want to work on more construction methods. I want to knit OTHER DESIGNERS patterns, and I never have the time.
If you were a yarn, what would you be and why?
A tweed. I love the hidden flecks of color and the texture of tweed. It’s down to earth and not fussy and there aren’t hidden surprises in how it’s going to behave when blocked or worn. It can take a few year’s wear. I think I’m that way – what you see is pretty much what you get – I’m not high maintenance or fussy, and I can do whatever’s asked of me usually. I’m dependable, pragmatic.
My daughter is here and she agrees. Tweed. She also said something nice though – the hidden colors are like me because there’s all kinds of things I say and do that you may not have thought I’d say or do if you just saw me on the street. She thinks I’m interesting (Surprising comment from a pre-teen about her old mom!).
That’s all, folks! Check back next week for our next installment of indie designer of the week. In the meantime, check out all of Thea Colman’s fabulous patterns by clicking here.
Last updated: March 20th, 2015.