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Beyond the Bale : Apr - May 08
18 FASHION BEYONDTHE BALE Generation Y gets crotchety The recent resurgence of knitting as a popular pastime has led to a book of very groovy patterns by Deniliquin-based designer Jo Nathan By Kellie Penfold L eading Australian knitwear designer Jo Nathan is helping hand-knitting get a whole lot 'funkier'. Based in Deniliquin, in southern NS"W; Jo has worked with Australian knitting-yarn label Cleckheaton to develop a new knitting book of designs for a new generation of knitters - 'She Knits' (book number 963). "Knitting is suddenly fashionable;' Jo says. "There are knitting clubs, knitting nights at the pub, and you only have to do a search on the internet and there are blogs and websites devoted to knitting and pattern swapping." To return hand-knitting to the fashion spotlight, the new book was launched at the recent L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. A member of the Cleckheaton design team in the late 1990s, in recent years Jo has concentrated on her knitwear label, woolliwoolli, which creates modern pieces - including swimwear - from Merino wool to be sold in boutiques around the country. Taught to knit by her grandmother and mother when she was a young girl,Jo later combined these skills with garment making and sewing, which led to a career in fashion. Designs from woolliwoolli have been exhibited in Hong Kong, Paris, London, Milan, Shanghai, Delhi and around Australia. For the past three years, AWl has partnered withJo to help take her designs to the global fashion world. Conversations with Cleckheaton led to its parent company, Australian Country Spinners, commissioningJo to develop 12 designs, from accessories to garments, which would appeal to the young knitter. The patterns range from socks, belts and scarves to coats and dresses, and all are offered in two yarns - Country Silk (an 85 per cent Merino wool, 15 per cent silk blend) and mohair. "It had to offer something for someone who had never knitted before - hence the simple belt, which they could have the satisfaction of finishing - right through to more experienced knitters who want to challenge themselves;' Jo says. ''All garments are shown in both yarns to give knitters the different effects they can achieve with different yarns ." The process began withJo developing the designs, which then went to the pattern writers, who establish how many and what stiches would be needed to construct the piece. The patterns were then tested by a team of knitters, who provided feedback for further adaptation. "It was quite an exciting process because you are working with a whole team of people passionate about yarns and knitting. All they think is knitting, so you could really bounce your ideas off them and come up with an end result. It was a pleasant change from working on my own." While she feels there may have been a generation who missed out on learning to knit, Jo suggests today's young knitter enjoys the craft for a multitude of reasons. Mainly it gives them a sense of creating individual fashions. "There are also the environmental trends where consumers want to know where the clothing they are buying came from and how it was made. Knitting makes them feel comfortable about some of those concerns. It is also a nice relaxing thing to do in your spare time." Jo is now working on a pattern book for sister brand, Patons, aimed at knitters in the 25 to 40-year-old age bracket who are after stylish, but timeless, knits. This time she is using a yarn she describes as one of the nicest she has ever worked with - Merino Deluxe, a 100 per cent Merino yarn. "It gives the garment a lot of texture and knitwear trends at the moment are about bulk and texture." 'She Knits' is available now through yarn stockists and the Patons pattern book should be available mid-2008. 0 More information: www.cleckheaton.biz; www.woolliwoolli.com One of Jo Nathan's designs for the Cleckheaton knitting pattern book'She Knits' (above).
Feb - Mar 08
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement