Designer Q & A’s – Graeme Knowles-Miller

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 06-04-2018

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Earlier this year we were lucky enough to have knitwear designer and tutor Graeme Knowles-Miller in store teaching 2 mini workshops. He taught one crochet workshop and one knitting. Graeme was a huge hit with everyone, not only those he taught, but also the Black Sheep staff. It is always nice to meet someone new from the yarn industry and hear their story. We thought that it would be a good idea to interview Graeme, to share his yarn filled life with you too. Without realising it you may have already knitted one of Graeme’s incredible fair isle sweaters.
Graeme will be back at the Craft Barn on 14th July teaching two half day workshops – Learn to Crochet AM and Fair Isle Knitting PM.
Enjoy reading Graeme’s answers to our designer Q & A and taking a look at his fabulous designs below. Spot the man himself modelling for his MA collection.

Q&A with Graeme Knowles-Miller


When did you learn to knit?
During the 3rd year of my BA I wanted a set of jumpers in my final collection to compliment two tailored suits.

Graeme Knowles-Miller | Green Jumper

Can you remember the first ever item that you finished?
I can and looking back now the quality of work was terrible! It was a chunky raglan gansey in variegated yarn with a pattern designed to reflect Harrogate across the yoke. What was I thinking? Not very gansey at all.

What inspired you to choose knitting as a career? Where did your journey as a designer begin?
Knitting as an actual career is something I fell into, after my BA I went travelling for a bit and decided to do an MA centred on hand knitting when I got back. Bit of a snap decision but it worked out. As for my first proper design, that would be with Baa Ram Ewe who ran a limited edition set of their fantastic Titus that had been over-dyed by Joy The Knitting Goddess. It was a simple pair of fingerless mitts.

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Graeme Knowles-Miller

Where can we find your designs? Who have you worked with?
My designs are all over but mostly on my Ravelry page (GraemeKnowles). The page features many of the things I’ve done for BRE including the Yorkshire Shores book which you guys stock; also a lot of the free patterns for Debbie Bliss and Designer Yarns that were done when working for them. Luckily I’ve also been commissioned into quite a few magazines such as Knit Now and the American Knotions.

What would you say is your signature knitting design style?
Fair Isle definitely, it’s what I enjoy the most and always to have fresh ideas for.

What do you have on your needles at the moment?
That’s a good question; I have a set of Ecclefechan mitts by Kate Davies that really need finishing, a stash busting blanket and a Christmas present already. Other than that it’s just lots of sampling or future projects.

Do you have any new designs in the pipeline for 2018? Anything you can share?
I should be bringing out a set of mittens and a jumper from my MA collection that I’ve finally managed to get round to sorting. They’re delftware colours meets traditional Norway style which I’m really looking forward to seeing what people do with. There should also be a KAL but that’s still a bit secret.

Where do you begin when designing? With a sketch, yarn, colour etc?
For my own brief a motif will normally be my starting point, what is the story I want to tell and how can I get that across effectively? If it is for a client they will always have a starting point which can be very helpful. Then usually comes a bit of sketching on a random bit of paper (often an old envelope or newspaper on the train) before casting on a sample square. There are many things that work on paper that just don’t suit a knitted fabric, so often it is best to get sampling straight away.

Icelandic Yoke | Graeme Knowles-Miller

Fair Isle Idea | Graeme Knowles-Miller

What has been your highlight so far as a knitting designer?
Being a co-author along with Alison Moreton of the Yorkshire Shores book. We worked very closely with Baa Ram Ewe to create a set of modern Gansey/Guernsey inspired pieces which included a great day out in Staithes on the Yorkshire coast for the shoot.

Yorkshire Shores | Graeme Knowles-Miller

Do you manage to fit in time to make things to wear yourself?
I’m afraid not, most of my spare time is taken up on the allotment or with my bees in good weather, and designing or teaching when it’s bad.

Do you have a treasured handmade item that you cannot part with?
A Cashmerino Aran version of Donna Smith’s Baa-ble Hat as its super warm, fits me perfectly and I always get compliments on it.

You also crochet – have you been crocheting as long as you have knitting?
A little longer but there isn’t much in it, so 5 or 6 years now, I’ve been teaching it for longer than knitting though.

What sort of projects do you enjoy crocheting?
Little characters are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine; last Halloween I made a ghost pattern classed George and had a great time taking him on all sorts of adventures for social media. Other than that it’s mainly granny squares for charity blankets as they’re a mindless project and use up spare yarn.

Do you have a preferred style of crochet hook that you use?
Soft-grip handles are quite good as they don’t seem to push into your palm too much. Mostly I’ll use what’s to hand but I really don’t like the feel of plastic ones as there is too much resistance to the yarn.

We can’t wait to have you back at the Craft Barn teaching workshops in July. What do you have planned?
It’s going to be great to come over and see you guys again, I’ll be doing two lessons that day; Learn to Crochet and Fair Isle 101. The first is pretty obvious, for those who don’t know anything about crochet or did it years ago and want to get back into the craft, I also teach left-handers their way so it’s great for anyone really. The Fair Isle class is a technical workshop showing all the tips and tricks for perfect colour work from how to hold the wool, yarn dominance and hiding those pesky tails.

What is your favourite yarn?
Without doubt it has to be Jamieson & Smith’s 2ply Jumper Weight! Such a fantastic texture, great colour palette and the 25g balls allow you to experiment with a huge range of shades without it breaking the bank.

4ply or chunky?
4ply as it lends itself so well to Fair Isle especially the J&S I just mentioned or the new Baa Ram Ewe Pip both of which as so well suited.

Circular or straight needles?
Circular, I knit almost everything on them even flat projects. This is most helpful on the train when other passengers don’t want poking with knitting needles.

Muted shades or bright?
Definitely muted as you can’t really go wrong with palettes of traditional heather tones or classic combinations.

Do you have a favourite place where you knit or crochet?
My quiet office at home, away from everything I can concentrate fully on the project.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst knitting?
I actually really enjoy knitting in silence but more often than not it is on the train. People-watching and making go hand-in-hand because anything you see might be the inspiration for a whole collection. Being around strangers in public spaces definitely helps fuel this.

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