The design process is my happy place
Known for his textural designs using cables and Aran stitches, Martin is very bad at maths, always carries a notebook, and would have loved to have been a ballet dancer.
classic with a whimsical twist
I came to hand knitting from a fashion background
so I always work to create wearable, modern-classic silhouettes. I like playing with colour and imagery, but I guess I’m known best for using cables & Arans to create surface texture, which has definitely become my signature handknit look.
fashion, interior design, architecture,
vintage and decorative fabrics
...the list goes on! Inspiration can come in all forms, so when I’m out and about I make sure to have my trusty notebook with me at all times.
print, and colour mixed with basic wardrobe staples and a bold, wrapping scarf. I would love to dress more outrageously but being an introvert by nature, I stop short of anything too loud.
The discontinued Rowan yarn I wish I could bring back is Magpie Aran
At the time it was my go-to Aran-weight yarn, as it knitted up beautifully and its jewel-like colour palette was fabulous too.
My favourite Rowan yarn from the current collection is Patina,
a glorious blend of soft mohair & alpaca with a fine, delicate metallic thread running through. It is a joy to both knit and design with and looks stunning when knitted up in textured and lace stitches.
I was completely won over by her fun, quirky and clever designs
I spent the whole summer of 1979 knitting her Fruit Machine design slipover, a garment I’ve kept all these years, but sadly rather moth eaten now! In fact, it’s the piece of knitting which secured my place at art school. Had I not taken it along to the interview, then my career could have been a very different story.
research, research, research
This was drilled into me at fashion school...
...and has served me well throughout my design career. Be it current fashion, interior, yarn & colour trends, stitch books, print and embroidery samples I’ve picked up along the way, it all gets thrown into the mix. Then, when I’m happy with the story or look I’ve put together from all my researching, the design & swatch process can begin.
Is when all the elements
shape, detail, colour and texture
all come together in one harmonious whole. The knitter sees and responds to this too and more often than not, a winning design is one that everyone loves to knit and wear. It’s such a satisfying feeling.
a basic back- or front-crossing, four-stitch or six-stitch cable
they always look great
on their own or combined with more complicated cable stitches, providing the framework for all great cable design.
I am very bad at maths!
You would think that being a knitwear designer the maths would come easily, but this is absolutely not the case for me. I work visually and can see the stitches as they are knitted along the needles in my head. Give me a sketch to work out the pattern from and I’m absolutely fine with all the calculations. On the other hand, give me a sheet of numbers and I’m at a complete loss!
If I wasn’t a knitwear designer, my childhood dream was to be a dancer.
A ballet dancer. However, the dream never came to fruition as I was too timid to attend the classes, which is something I now regret. I am grateful and always consider myself very lucky to have made a successful career from my other great childhood passion—hand knitting.
Sitting on one of the beautiful beaches local to me in Devon
contemplating life, the world, the universe
It really helps me to focus and work through any design solutions too. Some of my best eureka moments have come whilst conjugating on the beach, or basking under the Devonshire sun. I can often be found walking along the stunning Exmoor coastline or swimming in the chilly Atlantic. I find the process of cooking very relaxing and therapeutic too.
a cable swatch idea
for a new book of modern Arans
I love creating a new twist on a classic cable or Aran. My go-to knitting resource would have to be The Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches, Volumes One & Two. I can’t believe that I am still finding inspiration in their wonderful pages almost thirty years later. My copies are both literally in tatters.
The best fibre is a super-fine merino or British wool blended with alpaca. For example, Rowan’s sumptuous Moordale or Alpaca Soft DK. Not only do they look and feel wonderful, but work perfectly for my cable, Aran and colourwork designs.