As part of our Week of Knitting, we’ve found a wonderful independent knitting designer that we think you should meet! Jo Storie has been designing knitwear for the fashion industry for years, and also has a beautiful line of hand knitting patterns.
From Jo's Craftsy profile:
"I've been involved in knitting for many years, having graduated with a first class degree in knitted textiles from the Scottish College of Textiles. My early career saw me working as a knitwear designer, firstly in London for well-known cashmere brands Tse Cashmere and Ballantyne Cashmere, and then moving to New York and working as senior designer and design director for high profile labels such as J. Crew, The Limited, and Ann Taylor. When I returned to Scotland in 2004, I launched my own knitwear label 'Jo Storie Hand Knits' and in 2011, launched the first set of patterns from my knitwear collections. These patterns are for garments and accessories that I've designed with a Modern Heritage feel, using traditional stitches updated in contemporary silhouettes. My own website has downloadable versions of patterns to buy, it’s also home to my blog, and it’s where you can sign up for my newsletter. Find it all at www.jostorie.com, as well as my Flickr page.
And here are some of Jo’s amazing designs (click to see more and buy the patterns:)
Birch Beret (Middle Left): Master your stitches and create a striking, must-have beret for the upcoming season where the air will feel crisp, and you’ll most certainly look cool.
Chloe Cardigan (Right): This cardigan is super-stylish, but you might just forget you’re wearing it, considering how feather-light it is.
Jo discloses her top three pieces of advice for any and every aspiring designer:
"The best advice I could give, is to design with yourself in mind. If you can’t imagine yourself owning or wearing it, you’ll find it difficult to keep coming up with fresh ideas. I’d also advise taking risks with your designs: don’t play it safe or you’ll never stand out from the crowd. Thirdly, keep a sketchbook, it’s a great way to test and record your designs.
One of the hardest things for any musician, artist, or designer to do is describe their own work. But we think Jo has a pretty good handle on it:
I think my aesthetic is “Casual Luxury,” and I think everyone wants a bit of Luxury in their lives. I’m a working mother and I love fashion. I design knitwear that suits my lifestyle. As a knitwear designer, it’s important to stay abreast of the trends, whether in silhouette, yarn, texture, or pattern. I attend trend shows and keep my eye on the catwalks to make sure I have my finger on the pulse. In addition to designing my own handknits, I work on a freelance basis for the fashion industry and have to be able to predict trends in knitwear.
When to keep a design for yourself versus letting it out to the world can be a tough decision for a lot of designers. Jo tells us how she came to decide when it was time for the world to see her patterns:
I’ve been a knitwear designer for many years, working predominantly on knitwear collections for mass market retailers, and nearly always for machine-knitted products. I’ve always been a keen hand-knitter, though rarely needed to use this skill in my job. When I returned to the UK from a stint in the US around 2004, I decided to set up on my own and put together a capsule collection of cashmere designs, predominantly machine made but with some eye catching handknits, too. My handknit designs received a great deal of interest and I decided to develop that side of my business more. Creating the pattern initially was a means to an end, to having my designs produced; and the clearer the pattern, the easier it was for my knitters to understand. It was my husband who suggested that I should start selling the patterns themselves. I’ve managed to reach a wider audience by going online, and by working for myself, I feel I can be much more creative and am able to work with many of the most beautiful yarns on the market. Interestingly, I’ve almost come full circle because I’ve started to sell the finished products, too."
Are you interested in turning YOUR designs into a career? Check out this great class from Edie Eckman, How to Say it: Pattern Writing For Knitters