Designer Q & A's - Sue StratfordThis November we are very lucky to be having knitting designer, Sue Stratford visiting our Craft Barn in Warrington. You may recognise Sue Stratford's name from many toy knitting books, including Christmas themes, meerkats and cats. She can often be found at craft shows up and down the UK, having recently been at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace in London. She is one busy bee and enjoys keeping everyone up to date via social media and through her website.
Sue will be teaching two workshops and doing a book signing / toy knitting tips in store this November. On Thursday 9th November Sue will be in store for the afternoon from 2pm - 4pm sharing knitting tips and signing copies of all her fabulous character books including her latest book 'A Bird in the Hand'. Bring along your Sue Stratford makes to share or ask Sue's advice on knitting toys. Very handy if you have a project on the go at the moment eager to finish for Christmas.
On Friday 10th November Sue will be teaching Learn to Knit in the Round, a full day workshop which includes a delicious lunch and an exclusive cat doorstop pattern that you will begin to make on the day. Sue will guide you through the technique so that you will confidently be able to knit in the round on future projects. Other techniques covered include using circular needles and double pointed needles, magic loop technique, jogless join (for working stripes in the round), three needle cast off, short row shaping and the i-cord. There are still places available should you wish to book.
Sue Stratford's second workshop is on Saturday 11th November - Bird Toy Knitting workshop a full day once again that includes all of the usual yummy delights (lunch and a slice of scrumptious homemade cake in the afternoon) and knitting too. Choose from a selection of birds to knit on the day. Sue will have the packs made up ready for you to select. Making the bird you will cover a variety of helpful techniques that you will be able to use in many knitting projects - including short row shaping ,intarsia colourwork (and a tiny bit of fair-isle), interesting finishing techniques and lots of hints and tips. Find more info and book a place today.
With Sue's visit just around the corner we thought it would be nice to ask her a few questions about her crafty life. It is always nice to delve into the creative world of a designer. Sue has answered a selection of questions below and added in one or two pics along the way. We look forward to seeing you in store in November. Enjoy!
Who taught you to knit? What was the first thing you ever made?
My Mum taught me to knit as a child. One of the first things I knitted was at school, we had to make something that would be displayed at Parent’s Evening and so I started making a navy tie for my Dad. When my parents found my work it said ‘Susan - bookmark’. In those days, long term projects weren’t for me!
When designing something new, where do you begin? Is it a sketch, with a colour palette or sampling?
I find lots of things inspire me and spark an idea, it may be a ball of yarn that I just look at and can see what I could make it into. I always start with a sketch because I can see what I want to end up with in my head, but it really helps to get it down on paper. I always thought I wasn’t good at drawing but I have had to get better! I love flicking back to that original sketch and seeing that my finished design looks just like it.
We can’t wait to have you in store teaching workshops in November. How long have you been teaching workshops? What inspired you to teach?
I am really looking forward to coming to Black Sheep Wools to teach workshops. I have taught for over ten years, starting when I opened my shop in 2006. I really felt it was important I taught the classes as I believe that it gave my customers confidence in my abilities. It is very satisfying seeing people learn and achieving something they thought they couldn’t do or was difficult.
You are best-selling author of many knitting books. Which was your favourite to design for?
I have loved working on all the books I have written and have to say that usually whatever I am working on at that time is my favourite but there is a special place in my heart for ‘Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me’. The idea came after I made knitted bunnies wearing a sewn dress for my daughters and their cousins for Easter a few years ago, I loved coming up with the ideas for the clothes and enjoyed doing a bit of sewing too!
Do you have a favourite place to knit / design?
I just like to be at home, sat on the sofa when everyone is at school and enjoy the peace and quiet! I usually have a cat sat near me and our dogs Hetty and Spike. The time goes so quickly and I get completely caught up in what I am doing.
Do you enjoy doing any other crafts?
I have an addiction to craft, I like to embroider, I do dressmaking, tapestry and crochet too. Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day!
Is there a knitted project that you treasure? Made by yourself or a handmade gift from a loved one?
I think that knitters really appreciate a hand knitted gift as they know how much thought and work has gone into it. My knitty friend Pam gifts me gorgeous knitted socks which I love, Jill made me a fabulous shawl which obviously took her a lot of time to do and was such a thoughtful present. However, the things that I will treasure most are the baby cardigans that my Mum made for my children, I still have them all and they bring back lots of memories.
Do you have a favourite yarn to knit with?
I am a yarnaholic, I just love yarn! But I have to say that I much prefer knitting using natural yarns, the feel of the yarn just does it for me. I have really enjoyed using the Coopknits yarn in my designs and my next ‘Me’ project is a jumper using Baa Ram Ewe ‘Titus 4-ply’ which I have knitted with before and can’t wait to use again.
Do you enjoy knitting for yourself?
I do feel there is no one more grateful than yourself when it comes to knitting. I knit a lot for me. Although it may be more accurate to say I have a lot of knitting in progress for me... finishing things is a bit of an issue at the moment but I know eventually I will get round to it!
Do you have a top knitting tip that you could share?
My best knitting tip has to be swatch! If you are making a garment and feel you don’t want to work a tension square but just start, think twice. I did this when I was in my early twenties and ended up with a jumper which went past my knees and sleeves that also reached my knees. Ever since then I have ALWAYS swatched. To me it is part of the project and the ritual of buying yarn, choosing your pattern and getting ready to make it.