Last year was very intense and creative for me. It was the year of shawls, festivals, meeting fabulous knitters and making pretty things. It was also the year when I published probably my favorite collection “Impulsive Knits“.
Dieuwke and I met each other for the first time in Brighton at a festival. It clicked immediately and the idea of the collaboration came up pretty fast. A number of emails and Skype chats later we created a small collection of knitwear we’d love to find in our closet – from mittens, through hats and shawls to sweaters.
Impulsiveness can sometimes have negative connotations, but there’s a lot to be said for running with an idea and letting it take you to new and often unexpected places. And as there’s safety in numbers and two heads are better than one, embarking on a spontaneous adventure with a good friend provides a certain sense of security while increasing the creative possibilities.
“Impulsive Knits” was conceived when Justyna and Dieuwke met at Unwind Brighton, hit it off, and impulsively decided, “Hey, why not put together a collection?” Since then they’ve gotten together whenever possible, meeting up at several European yarn festivals and in Justyna’s hometown of Torun, Poland. Their time together has been gleefully spent planning, designing, chatting, laughing, eating, sightseeing, and of course knitting. (OK – there was a little bit of whining, but everybody knows that knitters don’t waste much time on that.)
The patterns in this collection were inspired individually, not based on a certain theme, but rather on each designer’s personality, aesthetics and yes, impulse, and enhanced by their new-found friendship and shared experiences.
And dessert….don’t forget dessert.
The whole time we worked on the collection was really nice and brought so much inspiration, laughter and positiveness. We published it during summer and are still very grateful to everyone who helped us, commented, shared and gave it some love.
The moment we published the patterns, we both created a promo so that you could get the patterns from each of us at a discounted price. Simply add all patterns by one designer in your cart and the amount at check out will be $19 (save $10!). Sadly we couldn’t combine promos across the both of us – but buying both halves of the collection will save you $20 in total ;) The promotion will be valid indefinitely so don’t worry, you can use it any time.
Now I’m back to my needles with a new sweater and I’m thinking… maybe there should be a new collection this year too?
Today I’m really excited to introduce you to my dear friend and knitting buddy, Dieuwke van Mulligen. We’ve known each other for a while now and meet pretty often on various knitting events. Now you can learn about her a little too :-)
Hi Dieuwke. Can you tell us a little about how you began knitting? Is your educational background connected with knitting?
My grandmother has always knitted a lot, and I have been fascinated by it since I was little. She taught me to knit. In Denmark, knitting is a part of the school curriculum (around 3rd grade I think), so it’s not at all odd if you can knit. I knitted on and off during my teenage years, and when I started University I used it as a de-stress tool. So it’s always been a very personal thing for me, a hobby I pursued myself, and I didn’t even consider an education in textiles. Which I could have though, as my grandfather actually was a teacher at a school specialized in textiles. He died when I was young, so I never really got to know him and soak up knowledge, but my mother and grandmother tell great stories about him!
What inspired the name of your brand? And Rav Id?
My Rav ID was the one that came first. My name is kind of complicated (did you notice? ;)), and the friends of one of my ex boyfriends chose to shorten it to “dutte”, which (in Danish, at least) sounds remotely like it (“duke-uh” is a more accurate pronunciation). So I just picked that up and used it as a nickname.
My brand – well, I didn’t really establish Knitter’s Kitchen until I started trying out dyeing. As the dyeing happens in my (tiny!) kitchen, the name seemed appropriate.
How do you name your designs?
That’s a tough one! It varies a lot – sometimes I already know the name before I’ve even finalized the design idea, sometimes I have a design where I simply have no idea what to call it. And sometimes, like with my Ridges collection, the stitch pattern is the initial inspiration and then I go from there.
What would your ideal day consist of?
My IDEAL day would most likely be one filled with knitting and friends! Having time to watch a movie, knit on something fun, chat and have coffee/tea and cake. Weekends without any fixed plans work fine for that.
What is your favourite weight yarn to design for and knit with?
That’s a very good question! It depends on the result I want. Sweaters are great in DK weight – but fingering weight makes for lovely light fabric as well. I can’t really choose between the two!
Can you describe your own core style and do you design with that style in mind?
I always have problems describing my style. But I guess I’m trying to do things simple (I often need to remind myself of the KISS principle; Keep It Simple, Stupid), with funky details like advanced techniques, while also giving easier alternatives. I’m a sucker for asymmetry and alternative constructions, which I myself think is very obvious in my designs so far. I don’t always design with my style in mind, often it just comes by itself!
Do you knit other people’s designs and if so, can you tell us a few of your favourites
I do, sometimes! It’s hard to get time for it though, as there always seems to be a sample or second sample of a design that needs finishing. I usually go for things with fun constructions or lovely texture. Knitting other people’s designs is exploration and/or relaxation for me, so I tend to browse around. I’m a fan of Heidi Kirrmaier and Ankestrick, of whom I’ve knitted quite a few pieces in the past. And then there’s the ever popular Camomille shawl by Helga Isager – I made that one 6 times, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I “accidentally” cast on one more at some point. It’s one of the most versatile and relaxing knits I know! In my knitting group consisting of 7 people, we have a total of 22 projects from that pattern. Everyone made it at least once!
If you could only knit with one colour, what would it be?
This is one that changes with the seasons! But to be honest, I think it would be blue. I think I must admit that blue is my favourite colour these days, I just love all shades.
Do you share your needles /tools with anyone?
I guess I do. Everyone is welcome to borrow something I have when they need it (there is a lot of tool borrowing going on at knit nights!), but a few things I just keep to myself, like for instance my Signature needles.
Are there any crafts or hobbies you do (other than knitting of course ;-)?
I like to do ALL THE THINGS! I have a spinning wheel, a sewing machine, and I dye yarn once in a while. At the moment I’m very much into my motorcycle and my car (a vintage one which needs actual repairing, which I want to do myself), so that also takes up some time. And I love reading books and watching movies and shows, luckily that can often be combined with the knitting!
Do you dream about knitting at night?
Sometimes! I can have a hard time falling asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night, because I have an idea. So yeah, I guess I do ;)
What are the 3 most important knitting items you use?
I take it you mean finished pieces? I use sweaters/cardigans, socks, and shawls or cowls every day. Only if it’s really hot in summer you can catch me without something woolly on, else I always wear something knitted.
Do you have an anecdote to share? Something funny, nice, interesting?
I’m very stubborn at times. I have been known to frog and re-knit something several times, for instance I knitted the Aileron shawl 7 times over before I was happy with it. I’m currently working on a sweater for my brother, it’s the 6th time I cast that on… And I already finished it twice! This only happens with my own designs though. You can say it means they have been thought through thoroughly ;)
If I’m knitting someone else’s design, I have an unspoken rule about a maximum of 3 tries. That goes for the pattern as well as the yarn – if it doesn’t work the 3rd time, I consider it cursed!
Something nice: I have a bunch of very knit worthy people in my life. One of them being my 4-year-old niece, who is over the moon when I knit her something. Her smile and enthusiasm makes me want to knit her everything. She’s recently started “knitting” when I’m visiting (AKA wanting to play with my current WIP, just sticking the needles in here and there and potentially making a huge mess), perhaps I should bring her some needles and yarn of her own soon!
Thank you for talking to us.
Dieuwke has been knitting ever since she realised that the thing her grandma was doing was creating garments for her family. She lives in Denmark, a yarn paradise with its many LYS’s where she conveys her inspiration through designing knitwear.
It’s been a while since my last post so I thought an update on what’s happening might be a good thing to do. Today I’m actually resting after a visit at my daughter’s kindergarten. I was invited by her teachers to talk a little about knitting, spinning and that sweaters don’t necessarily have to come from a shop.
My visit wasn’t very long as obviously such kids get bored very fast so I showed them some things that can be knitted or crocheted (together with gorgeous toys made for my kids by Gosia), we spun a little bit of woolly yarn and wove a small blanket. The kids looked really interested and I bet it must have been pretty awesome for them to see a real spinning wheel (that most of them probably know just from Sleeping Beauty).
I wrote that on Thursday then life happened :-) Continued today…
Yes… I started spinning! I’ve wanted to have a spinning wheel for a while now but every time I said something to my husband he was like “not-enough-space-too-much-yarn-blah-blah-blah”. ;-) Until we went to Yarndale and he got to see lots of spinning wheels to realize that they are not actually that big and eventually he got me a gorgeous Ashford Traveller.
(Yarndale and Swiss Wulle Festival deserve a separate post soon!)
My wheel came in the post shortly after the festival, Marcin waxed it and put it together and I got down to work as fast as I could. Starting with pretty ugly and bulky “so-called-handspun”, I tried to practise very often (considering I need to knit too) and even attended spinning workshops with a very talented Polish yarnie/spinner – Justyna from YarnandArt. I learned how to control my feet and hands properly, how to use a blending board and came out filled with lots of passion.
My first proper handspun was a pomgranade blend of merino and Zwartbles purchased from John Arbon Textiles, which became a new Sand Bank for my son.
Then I made a crazy colorful yarn for my daughter. It’s so crazy mostly because I was still trying to learn how to make proper fractal and the result is… well, see it for yourself :-) I got it caked and need to make a new hat for Agnieszka, most likely a Wurm.
Then I finally spun something really pretty, I guess ;-) This time I divided the top properly to get a perfect fractal spin. The colors (dyed by Justyna again) blend so nicely in this one! The yarn itself is still not perfect (I sure hope I’m getting there soon), but I think it is good enough to go to a lovely home. This one will not stay in my stash but is destined as a prize in the upcoming mystery KAL.
I got about 280 meters (per 100g) of 100% Corriedale. Cozy, woolly and purple :-) Perfect for a pair of mittens or a hat.
The last time I held a mystery KAL was about 2 years ago. It was Fuego Hat and we had lots of fun while knitting it. At the beginning of this year some of my friends asked me if I’d have another mystery KAL, but I wasn’t really sure. I realized that some things just need to evolve on their own and not be pushed too much to become something nice and knitworthy, and that was the case here. Whenever I sat down to make a “mystery design” my mind went blank. I had some ideas but all of them seemed so… boring. Until Emily (from Rainbow Heirloom) and I decided to make a shawl. A colorful, wearable and really nice shawl. A perfect Mystery Shawl!
The KAL begins on Monday. I can’t wait!
We are planning to send out clues in three languages: English, Polish (thanks to lovely Hania) and French (thanks to fabulous Marion) so I hope you can make it! There will be some cool prizes too and among them you can find my purple handspun :-) Additionally, till 23rd the pattern is at a discounted price so if you feel like having fun check for more info here!
See you on Monday then.
(Next time I hope to write a recap of my journeys to the knitting world with a really nice giveaway too so stay tuned!)