I have always loved storytelling. My early work as an artist was almost always narrative. I love creating characters through costume and writing fun back-stories to go along with them.
Ever since leaving college and going off to do my own work, I have been struggling with my identity as an artist. I turned to creating more functional knitwear as a means of supporting myself. For three or four years, I created garments such as sweaters and scarves that were elegant and practical. While I received a very positive response to this work, I found myself constantly frustrated. People seemed to like my knitwear, and I could hardly keep up with the demand, but I was in a rut. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything creative, and I wasn’t having fun just making the same things over and over.
During a nice, long (four year) maternity leave, I had a chance to think about what I really wanted as an artist. I thought about what was successful about my old work, and what I thought was missing. Yes, it made money, and obviously whatever I came up with would have to do the same. The garments that I made were nice, but there was nothing really tying them together. The main thing that I felt was missing was an element of fun. I thought back to my early work of costumes and characters. These were always fun to make, but they didn’t quite go with the practical theme that I needed. When I looked closer at the costumes, I noticed that many of them could be broken down into layers that were practical. For example, a crazy collar could become a scarf, or an elaborate dress could be broken down into a couple of tops or tunics that could be layered or worn separately.
For each new collection, I will create a character. The pieces for the collection, which are interesting and practical on their own, come together to create the character’s costume. The pieces can be worn individually to be practical and casual or layered together to make more of a statement. This new concept allows the wearer to appreciate my work on whatever level they want. They can see it as individual pieces of clothing to wear alone with jeans or leggings, they can see it as a bunch of layers to mix, match and play with, or they can read about the character and see the drawings and inspiration behind the collection and view it as a whole.
All of my work is done on a manual knitting machine. The machine works very similarly to the way traditional knitting works, but instead of knitting with many loops on two needles, you are using many needles with one loop on each. Each piece is individually knit and shaped on the machine and then sewn together to make the final garment.
I use undyed 100% tencel yarn (which is made from tree pulp) for everything. I chose tencel for many reasons. It has a beautiful drape, a lovely sheen, and is washable, and best of all, it is also sustainable. I use natural dyes, which although they are less predictable and vibrant than the chemical dyes, they are much less toxic to work with and much more environmentally friendly.