Knitting is cool and young designers are picking up the stitches, transforming this old craft with new technology.
Working with basic traditional knitting stitches - plain, purl, cable and more - they are creating sophisticated new patterns for cushions, throws, fabrics, furniture... even ceramics and wallpaper.
A “knitted room” captivated visitors at London’s 100% Design show last month. This was the trend at its most extreme. Young Korean designer, London-based Chae Young Kim, made knit-style murals that wrapped a whole room in a jumper. She used an entire pattern book of stitches, from simple rib and garter to Fair Isle, diamonds and twisted threads. Colours ranged from soft neutrals to startling monotones (07515 346 041; chaeyoungkim.com).
Surface View (surfaceview.co.uk) has its own take on knitting with digitally printed wallpapers. They are not, however, photos of actual knitting, but patterns more complex than any needlecraft, created with advanced new software. This designer is actually knitting on the computer.
“Knitting is big at the moment,” confirms Mariel Brown, head of trends at industrial design company Seymour Powell. She’s spotted it at design fairs across the world. There’s the Jumper Chair by Bertjan Pot (a young Dutch designer) encased completely in a seamless knitted cover.
And the Granny pendant lamp by Pudelskern is hand-knitted by a collective in the Netherlands from Tyrolean wool (from Aria, Barnsbury Hall, N1; 020 7704 6222; ariashop.co.uk) “Knitting is cosy and intimate, and taps into the past,” says Brown.
Here in the UK, Scot Donna Wilson is queen of the knits. Working from her east London studio she creates kooky knitted “creatures” and brightly patterned rugs, stools and cushions (from SCP, with shops in Shoreditch and Notting Hill; 020 7749 7399; scp.co.uk ), and now a must-have kitty cushion at Heal’s (heals.co.uk, 020 7749 0768; donnawilson.com).
Melanie Porter makes knitted furniture, flitting between her flat/studio in Notting Hill and upholstery workshop in Buckingham, revamping old chairs with pieced-together knitted coverings. “Knitted furniture is as comforting as an old jumper,” she says. Her granny taught her to knit when she was six - they made clothes for Barbie dolls and jumpers for teddies.
Her biggest order so far has come from Lane Crawford, the Hong Kong store, which demanded 20 matching dining chairs. Porter successfully bid for a Chippendale-style batch at Lots Road auction house, then added chic stripy seats (melanieporter.com; 07770 941305).
Naomi Paul, with a Dalston studio, is also adding “luxury designer knits” to chairs (07951 800953; naomipaul.co.uk), while Claire Gage combines a passion for textiles and ceramics with her delicate “knitted” cups. She builds each design in clay by hand, makes a mould then a casting. An Arts Council grant funds professional moulds at Stoke (claregage.com; 07921 770036). Annette Bugansky also makes jugs and bowls with fine knit-like textures. (07940 375401).
National Knitting Week
until Sunday October 17, 2010
* Watch out for promotions on the website: nationalknittingweek.co.uk.
* Download (for free) Rowan’s knitting patterns for homewares from knitrowan.com.
Contacts: for supplies, advice, demos and classes try:
* John Lewis W1, 08456 049049, johnlewis.com.
* Liberty Sewing School, Great Marlborough Street W1, 020 7734 1234 liberty.co.uk.
* Fabrications, 7 Broadway Market E8, 020 7275 8043, fabrications1.co.uk (full programme, including sociable club nights).
* Loop Yarn Shop, 15 Camden Passage, Islington N1, 020 7288 1160, loopknitting.com, loopknitlounge.com (classes for beginners, improvers, socks, finishing and Fair Isle).
* Aneeta Patel of KnittingSOS.co.uk runs classes at various venues.
* Establishment, 11 Porchester Place W2, 020 7402 8892.
* Tea & Crafting, Portland Place W1, 07734 660 565, teaandcrafting.co.uk.
* The Work Shop, 10 Middle Lane, Crouch End N8, 020 8340 8883, sallybourneinteriors.co.uk.
* Knitshop.co.uk, 326 Lee High Road, Lee Green SE13, 020 8144 4523, knitshop.co.uk.
* I Knit London, 106 Lower Marsh, Waterloo SE1, 020 7261 1338, iknit.org.uk.
Local authority and other colleges with knitting classes include:
* Morley College in SE1; Westminster Kingsway, with classes in NW1;
City Lit in WC2, and many more. Visit london.floodlight.co.uk.
Wool and haberdashery is at raystitch.co.uk, 020 8533 0512, Saturday (October 16) stall in School Yard is at Broadway Market E8.