In a month celebrating Women as Makers, I was delighted to see a new pattern collection released that showcases an all female team. The Boardwalk Collection has been produced by Linda of Kettle Yarn Co to showcase her new base, Islington DK, and includes 5 female knitwear designers in a collection that includes 6 designs that will work well from Summer right though to Autumn. The fact the collection was shot by Juju Vail (who you might know as the talented photographer at Loop and Pom Pom Quarterly) and has been strongly supported by Allison Thistlewood (professional multiple hat wearer) shows what magical things can happen when women support one another to put out a great product.
Linda kindly took some time to answer some questions I had about the collection as part of her blog tour celebrating the collection. Tomorrow, you can see one of the designer's, Isabell Kraemer, discuss her pattern contribution, Arcade (see below).
Can you explain how you chose these female designers to collaborate with?
"The choice was an easy one as the designers are people whose designs I admire and with a similar aesthetic to my own! I admit that several of the designers are friends, so I knew the high quality of the work I'd be getting from them and that I'd love whatever they created!"
What does the word collaborate mean to you?
"Collaborating is something I've always enjoyed when creating and feel it brings a richness to projects you'd never expect. There is something so joyful and rewarding in working with others - bringing something beautiful into the world together that is made better by working together!
In a way I feel that way about seeing what people make with my yarns as well...that it is a collaboration. I always get chills of delight when people bring their Kettle Yarn Co. projects to the booth at festivals to show me what wonders they've made in my blends! Fantastic!"
How did you go about commissioning the pieces, communicating aesthetic to each designer and tying separate design ideas together?
"It all started with Isabell Kraemer's beautiful Arcade design, which was designed as a stand alone project. When I received it I was so blown away by the gorgeousness of it that I decided to go ahead with the idea for a full collection that I've been kicking around for some time!
I decided to showcase the new bright colours I'd just created in my new weight of Islington, which is a lovely rounded DK."
"The brief for the designs centred around the historic Hastings pier, which I've been fascinated with since we moved here. The light and views under the pier are amazing, so I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate the feeling I get when I am down there into the collection."
"I sent the designers a rather specific design brief about linear lines, lace and a link to the The Drifters 'Under the Boardwalk' so they could get a sense of the fun, breezy, seablown feel I was after!"
What did you learn from each other during this process?
"During this process I was reminded how important it is to be explicit in what I was after to make things easier for the designers. I knew this from teaching but it was so clear in this group how everyone approaches creating differently and how vital it is to let that bloom in its own way! "
"Pattern designing can be such a pressure-cooker as time constraints made it difficult for discoveries to grow organically and I am always astounded at how designers create beauty under such pressure. The designers in this collection really outdid themselves with talent!"
The mood is free, seasonal and feminine. How did that help you style and present your collection?
"I had a style and mood in mind from the conception of the collection and new exactly what I wanted from the designs and final photos, so it was really quite simple in the end! Especially as all the designers did such a brilliant job interpreting the brief!"
I spy real life friends as models! This struck me as a piece made stronger by friendship with fellow female makers. Would you say that's true?
"Absolutely! I am SO lucky to have such talented friends and it is always a pleasure working together. None of us are that comfortable in front of the camera but we had the amazing Juju Vail take the photos for the collection and the women knows how to make you laugh...what a talented photographer!"
"Another huge thank you to Renee Callahan and Michelle Zimmer for agreeing to model for the collection."
If you want to get your hands on a skein of Islington DK Padparadscha, (as shown above in Rachel Coopey's Seaward design) all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me which pattern you would most like to knit from this collection. Be sure to leave your answer by 20th July 2015 as I will be announcing the winner on the blog on the 21st July. Good luck!