Meet the Designers for Laine Issue 11
In Laine Magazine 11, we present designs from 10 outstanding designers from around the world. Meet Stella Ackroyd, Christelle Bagea, George Cullen, Jonna Hietala, Gudrun Johnston, Marianne Munier, Paula Pereira, Eri Shimizu, Nataliya Sinelshchikova and Stephen West.
Stella Ackroyd’s designs are elegant and timeless classics that are achievable for knitters of every level. She concentrates on making the pattern instructions easy to follow. “I know how frustrating it can be to have a mid-project crisis, so I try to make my designs enjoyable right up to the final cast-off.” Stella lives with her husband in rural Northumberland in North East England. To her, knitting means challenge, creativity and achievement – being able to create a beautiful piece of contemporary knitwear using traditional techniques and materials. For Laine 11, Stella designed Visiting, which comes in two different versions: a cardigan and a sweater.
Christelle Bagea lives in France, near Paris. For her, knitting started as a hobby and evolved into a passion and a full-time job. She is especially skilled at lace knitting, enjoying long charts with lots of different stitches and patterns. Christelle describes her design style as “process- as well as product-oriented”. As she gets easily bored, her patterns usually have different sections and different rhythms to keep them interesting. “I rarely knit for a long stretch of time because, you know, life. So ten minutes here with my morning coffee, fifteen minutes there before I leave the house to fetch the kids… that kind of knitting!” For issue 11, Christelle designed the Litha socks.
George Cullen is intrigued by the combination of different materials or different types of yarn. He likes simple textures applied to simple shapes that allow the characteristics of a yarn to shine out. Using leftovers is his forte – George can find creative ways to use even the smallest scrap. George lives in London and works at Knit With Attitude, a knitting shop selling ethical and eco-friendly yarns. He knits everywhere: on the train to work and on the sofa when he gets home. For him, knitting turns even the dullest of days into a productive one. For Laine 11, George designed Sea Mist, an asymmetrical triangle shawl.
Jonna Hietala is the editor-in-chief of Laine and lives in Tampere, Finland with her husband, two children, two cats and two dogs. Jonna doesn’t actually consider herself a knitwear designer: usually she just knits and makes up the pattern as she goes. That also makes Jonna’s garments approachable and easy to knit. “It always starts with the yarn: something in it, be it colour or texture, that evokes an idea in my mind that I shape into a knitting pattern – most often a sweater.” Jonna loves different stitch patterns and might browse through knitting books for hours to find just the right combination of texture and yarn. For Laine 11, Jonna designed Lento, a simple and timeless sweater.
Gudrun Johnston lives in Reno, Nevada. She is inspired by her Shetland roots and often includes aspects of this in her designs. Haps (traditional Shetland shawls) and Fair Isle knitting traditions have been a big influence on her work. As a knitter, Gudrun is always excited to learn new things. She likes to expose herself to new techniques by knitting at least a small project from someone else’s pattern. For this issue, Gudrun designed Blåsippa: a boxy cropped sweater with three-quarter sleeves.
Marianne Munier lives in France, close to Paris. She works in IT and became a knitwear designer by chance, wanting to prove herself she could do it. Marianne is a pragmatic person who was always told that she didn’t have much imagination. For a long time she believed it – but then she started knitting. “It was a revelation. I was able to invent myself on my needles.” Knitting has taught Marianne patience and perseverance, but above all, the sense of detail. She likes to put time and effort into the little finishes that are not necessarily visible but make all the difference. For Laine 11, Marianne designed Yöllä: a beautiful night-blue cardigan.
Paula Pereira is a Brazilian knitwear designer living in São Paulo. She first left a career in marketing and retail to become a yoga teacher, but little by little got hooked on knitting. Paula is inspired by all forms of art, her daily interactions with people and the environment. She believes that creativity is something we all have – it is just a matter of being in touch with it. Her strong side as a knitter is to always have a plan B, C and D. If her idea doesn’t turn out as she envisioned, she moves on to the next one. Paula likes to create pieces that have an exciting, sometimes intricate look, but are made with basic stitches and are accessible to all. For Laine 11, she designed Trelissa: a seamless sweater worked from the top down.
Eri Shimizu likes to add small details to her designs. Top-down sweaters are her favourite pieces to knit because with them it is easy to try it on while knitting and adjust the length of the sleeves and body. Eri knits whenever she has the time: at home, in the car when her husband is driving, while waiting at the bank. For Eri, who lives in the Japanese countryside, knitting is also a way of connecting to a wider world and sharing what she loves with other enthusiasts. For issue 11, Eri designed Keseran Pasaran: a raglan yoke sweater worked from the top down.
Nataliya Sinelshchikova likes to create garments that fit the modern wardrobe. Her designs are wearable but always with a twist. Like many of us, Nataliya first learned to knit from her grandmother. “Or, better to say, my grandmother tried to teach me. I loved to cast on stitches but never went further.” After moving to the Netherlands in 2015, her husband presented her with a pile of chunky yarn and 20 mm needles for her birthday. She finished her first hat in an hour and started her journey into the fibre world. For Nataliya, inspiration can come from anything – a pine branch, a picture from a magazine, a specific stitch pattern, an emotion… For Laine 11, Nataliya designed Theia: an oversized top knit bottom-up.
Amsterdam-based Stephen West published his first pattern in 2009 and is now one of the superstars in knitting. He is inspired by bold architectural forms that add structure to his splashy colour palette. For Stephen, knitting is all about experimentation. It is just as relaxing as it is invigorating. “I feel brave with colour and shapes because I was never taught a ‘correct’ way to design or knit. I really like improvising and making choices in the moment as opposed to pre-planning every step.” Shawls are Stephen’s favorite pieces to design because to him they feel the most free: they can be any shape or size and allow knitters to try new techniques without worrying too much about the fit. For Laine 11, Stephen designed the Suriously Holey brioche wrap.