One of the nice things about the Indie Design Gift-A-Long is the chance to get to know about other indie designers. I interviewed Kiri FitzGerald-Hillier, a designer from Brisbane, Australia. She’s the owner of Yay! for Yarn, an online yarn shop. We chatted via Ravelry message.
What made you decide to start designing your own knitwear? How long have you been designing?
I have a small online yarn shop, through this I was given the opportunity to design for a small Australian knitting magazine, I came up with a few small, simple items and enjoyed the processes of coming up with my own ideas and seeing them in print! My Lorna Shawl was one of these designs and after a request from a few people on Rav and with permission from the publisher, I self-published this design on Rav. It was exciting to see completed projects and to have people purchase the pattern. Another Australian Craft magazine requested that I do some designs for them and from there I’ve just grown. It was probably the beginning of last year, after having some designs selected for Yarn magazine, that I started considering myself a ‘designer’, though I would still say I’m at the beginning with a LOT to learn!
I love your Zaggin’ Shawl. The short row construction is very eye-catching! How did you come to design it?
Thank you, this is one of my favorites as well, I can’t wait until next winter when I can actually wear it!
I love using short rows and the effects and different fabrics which can be created simply by changing knitting direction in different places. I had some left-over yarn from a cardigan I designed and I just started playing with a zig-zag pattern, after a few different trials (and a bit of frogging and re-starting), this design was created. I still haven’t finished the first prototype in the left over yarn, I got to a point where I couldn’t bear frogging it again, so restarted in a new yarn when I had the final pattern worked out.
Who taught you to knit? Do you come from a family of knitters, or are you a solo knitter?
My Mum found a second hand learn to knit pack of cards when I was little (it was a teaching resource from the UK from the 70’s I think), I think I was in my early teens when I taught myself from these. My Mum can knit she probably helped me a bit (she made me an amazing cabled jumper from handspun when I was 14 which I wore to death! and another cardi which I’m ashamed to say I refused to wear but these are the only two things I remember her knitting). I made a couple of things in my teens. I picked the needles up again when I was in my mid twenties and studying for a Visual Arts degree at uni, we had an assignment in sculpture class where we had to combine craft and art, I covered and knitted a dinner setting in brown acrylic yarn. About a year after that I discover a knitting magazine in a local newsagency, it was that that got me completely hooked. I think this magazine made me realise that there was a world of knitting – if there was a magazine then it meant others were doing it!
Do you do any other fiber-related crafting? Crochet? Spinning?
Just knitting. I’ve tried to learn crochet but so far have only mastered the granny square.
I see that your Etsy store is Kiri Moana Designs. Where does the name come from? (Is Moana your middle name?)
Moana (pronounce mow-an-uh) is my middle name, it’s a Maori name from New Zealand and means the sea, Kiri is also a Maori name. I was born in Australia but my Dad is from NZ. When I was born my parents still hadn’t come to an agreement on a name for me, Dad announced “her name is Kiri Moana”, Mum said, “Fine….SOMEONE bring me a cup of tea!” In NZ they’re pretty common names but in Australia they are quite unusual so I get lots of comments when introduced to people.
What is your favorite item to design?
Cardigans and shawls/scarves. I love the completion of something like a cardigan pattern, so much work goes into them that it’s such a sense of achievement when the pattern is finally complete. I don’t have many yet available on Rav but I have a couple coming out in the next two issues of Yarn magazine and have a few more in the works. I’ve always like maths and love that I’ve found something where I can combine my creative side with my love on numbers!
I love playing with manipulating fabric in shawl designs, I find shawls are a great place to play with ‘what-if’. I have a chunky scarf design in testing at the moment, one of my regular testers made the comment “Great!! Another adventure coming up, I can tell!” which I love! I find with shawls I start out with a plan, get bored with the repetition of the plan and suddenly I’m going off in a different direction, pattern or colour. I have a few more designs still in the planning stages which I can’t wait to see where they end up. I’ve really only just started seriously designing so I feel my best work is still to come.
What is your favorite knitting technique? (Cables, lace, colorwork, other)
I’ve always loved cables but only have one pattern out the uses them – I think I’ve decided that my next design idea will have cables! Actually I love lace and colourwork as well ;) I really love the possibilities of short rows and they just keep showing up in my designs. Really anything that creates an interesting fabric, that said I’m happy knitting stocking and garter stitch as well…. Just give me some yarn and a pair of needles and I’m a happy little knitter! Hmm… I think the only thing I’ve come across that I’m not so keen on is picot edges – I love the look but get bored knitting them. And steeks are something I’ll probably never try, I don’t trust my sewing skills enough to believe that it will hold the fibres and stop them from fraying.
Do you have a favorite yarn/fiber?
I love love love anything from Dream in Color, the colours they create are beautiful! I do prefer natural fibres and prefer wool and wool blends and cottons.
Are you knitting anything in the Indie GAL?
Summer Girl – knitted headband by Monika Sirna accidentally fell into my cart earlier this week. We’re at the end of a very hot spring and the start of what promises to be a very very hot and humid summer in Brisbane, that said I still like to make something for my children’s birthdays. My son’s is next week and I’ve made him an orange hat – Paper Planes by Amy van de Larr (at his request), I saw this headband and decided it would be perfect for my daughter, her birthday is just before Christmas, she loves playing fairies and princesses so I thought this would be a great dress-up.
You can check out Kiri’s designs on Ravelry here, and her blog, Yay For Yarn, here.
The Indie Design Gift-A-Long pattern sale goes through midnight Eastern Standard Time, November 21. And the fun and games and knit and crochet alongs continue through the end of December. Check the Ravelry group for more information!