Things have been busy around here with the Spring City of Craft, the COStyle event, sales and renovations in the studio.
I feel really grateful for all of the interest in my work. I thought I would talk a bit about how I fell into knitwear. Its a meandering personal story, so I'll post it in two parts. I hope you enjoy it.
We lived in England until I was nine. I vividly remember picking out plastic purple barrettes in Tesco’s to go with my purple pinafore. They came in a rainbow of colours fixed to a small branded card and were PERFECT FOR MY ENTIRE WARDROBE. The importance of coming out of Tesco’s with the barrettes was totally disproportionate with their actual usefulness. Throughout my childhood and teenage years I had a lot of emotional responses to colours, shapes and forms when it came to fashion. Our house was in the Cotswolds, a particularly picturesque part of rural England in which we were living the early 80’s dream of British hippie family life. Dad was a clockmaker and mum was a weaver. And EVERYTHING WAS HOMEMADE.
Mum used to sew the majority of our clothes. She would sew what pleased her or sew in sets to save time so my sisters and I would end up with a wardrobe born of whimsy, frugality and colour experimentation. Depending on my age this was either fabulous or really terrible. There was a lot of lovely pinwale corduroy with paisleys and printed folklorish patterns. As well as classic liberty florals sewn into pinafores, frocks and matching accessories. Granny would round out this utterly British look with Fairisle cardigans and matching knitted accessories. In fact both grannies knitted us all manner of warm cozy sweaters. The house was full of floral and checked dresses, hand knit cardigans, and freshly pressed linens.
As I grew older, I felt the siren call of mass produced clothing. The sort of which everyone in Canada, my new home, had. Everyone wore matching tracksuits with Thundercats and He-man on the front. The girls wore miniskirts and scrunchies. All that fabulous custom made clothing my mother made was suddenly jarringly uncool and my new vocabulary was miniskirts, leggings, printed sweatshirts and jeans. 100% of this ready to wear clothing fit my broad shoulders and tiny hips terribly.
I got my first sewing machine at a fairly early age. Whether it was because I was actually interested in sewing or I just wanted to imitate my mum, I cant remember but I did have one by age ten. It was a Singer hand crank sewing machine. At first I made outlandish costumes and home organizers. But later I began to sew myself summer clothes as well as refitting my ready to wear garments. By the time I was in grade 10 I was sewing all the time and making clothes for one day, which were refashioned the next and so on.
One year my granny gifted me a bunch of her custom clothing from the late 1950’s. It fitted me so well, in all the right spots. Wearing it transformed my idea of ‘vintage’ and ‘fashion,’ as well, my curiosity grew about how fashion could evolve structurally alongside cultural change. Grannies dresses from the 1950’s were both like and very unlike the dresses I wore as a child and I wondered why that was.
At this point, I went to university for fashion design. It was permission for everyday to be like Halloween, even more so than high school. I enjoyed showing off my design and tailoring prowess while at the same time hating all of the classes. The schools teaching structure managed to strip away all of the positive feelings about sewn fashion in favour of a rigid type of industry standard. My intuitive, sewn pieces seemed at odds with the teachers marking processes. It was around this time that I took up knitting and crochet.
Anna is a Hamilton based knitwear and textile practitioner blogging about her collection development as well as pre-1950's knitwear technology.
amy lawrence designs