In our first Meet The Maker post we chat with knitting designer and blogger Lily Kate France!
At the age of seventeen, Lily already is an accomplished knitter with her designs featured in publications such as Vogue Knitting.
Living in the north-west, Lily also writes a wonderful lifestyle and fashion blog called Joli House.
We asked her what it was like to be such a young crafter and about her life in lovely Lancashire…
*All photos are copyright of Amanda France
Tell us a little about you. Where are you from from?
Hey! My name’s Lily Kate France and I’m 17 years old. I’m from Lancashire in the North of England and have lived here all my life, so I’m a northerner through and through!
How long have you been running your blog and what do you like about it?
I’ve been running my blog since September 2013 when I took over it from my mum, who had previously ran Joli House as a craft/family blog. That puts it at 16 months now that I’ve been the author, which sounds like a pretty short time but I can’t imagine not blogging!
How and when did you learn how to knit?
I was first taught the basics by my Mum and Nan when I was 8 or so, after my mum had gotten back into it herself. I do remember that I was taught with proper needles and yarn, not a kids kit or anything. My mum never dumbed down anything crafty for me as a kid, and I’m really glad she didn’t. Straight in at the deep end!
What was the first thing you ever knitted?
Not counting the practice rows of garter stitch that formed a holey bookmark, my first ‘proper’ project was a wedding dress for my doll, complete with matching dresses for the bridal party of course. Oh and I think I made some dodgy looking rabbits too.
Take a picture of your favourite knitting needles. What do you like about them?
Total knitterly geekery haha. Addi circular needles are my favourites. I never ever use traditional straight needles anymore; I much prefer the compactness (is that a word?) of having it all contained on one circular. Plus these one aren’t too stabby so your finger isn’t sore after using them.
How would you respond to people who think it is unusual for a seventeen year old to be knitting, never mind designing her own patterns?
I’ve been answering this question for years, since it seemed unusual for a ten year old to be knitting and designing her own patterns! Over the last few years I think knitting has become slightly more mainstream though, so isn’t met with quite so much bewilderment. I also usually show people exactly what I’m making/what the finished project will look like, just to demonstrate how not all knitting projects are what they might’ve seen their grandma making before. Like when I made a bodycon lace pencil skirt for my GCSE textiles project for example; it’s a little more risque than some might often associate knitwear with!
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I find catwalk fashion designers who use knitwear in clever (and tasteful) ways really inspiring, Stella McCartney for example.
Your Mum takes the photos of you for your blog. Describe your relationship with her. Is she into crafts?
She is into crafts, yes! It’s a shared hobby that we basically started together. We’re like best friends in a lot of ways, and I’m very grateful that she helps me out with photos for my blog! Like me, she doesn’t have as much time for crafting these days as she used to, but the day when neither of us have a project on the needles won’t be anytime soon.
What do you like about the North? Where is your favourite place in the North and why?
Us north western folk are a friendly bunch! And I’d have to say the Lake District! We went on countless caravan holidays and day trips since I was a kid and it’s just one of those places where everything is lovely.
What fellow designers and crafters from the North do you admire?
Kate Davies springs to mind; her designs have been amongst my favourites for years. As evidenced by the fact that I still wear sweaters my mum knitted from her patterns when I was 9! Also for her blog and online magazine though – that woman is seriously knowledgable and it really shows.
What would your advice be to anyone wanting to take up knitting?
Go for it! Don’t be disheartened if it seems to take you a while to get the hang of it; it’s the kind of skill that just ‘clicks’ after a while and becomes second nature. Also, books and Youtube can be your best source of learning! Apart from the very very basics which my Mum and Nan taught me, I’m almost entirely self taught. Definitely so with designing, anyway. Everyone has their own different ways of holding needles and suchlike, so what your friend or family might demonstrate might not necessarily work best for you. Hence why diagrams were so helpful to me – you can interpret them in the way that works best for you rather than imitating someone else precisely.
What is the most recent thing you’ve made?
A purple turtleneck cropped top, that was intended to be finished in November but only made it off the needles by New Years Day. I love how it turned out though! The yarn was lovely to work with (Rowan RYC Soft Lux) and I used a pattern from Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits collection as the basis, with modifications (blogged about here.)
What do you plan to make in the future?
Knitting wise, I haven’t any fixed ideas yet! Summer garments tend to work best for me as there’s so much less fabric to make, and you can be more inventive with the shaping and details. I taught myself to crochet though last year and made a couple of items last summer, and I’m hoping to expand my skills with crochet. I’ve wanted a handmade lace dress for ages and knitting one would take me 6 years, but crochet is slightly more time efficient so might only take me 3! Ha, who am I kidding. I just know that at some point in my life, I want to make a stunning ballgown somehow or other. Might be a while before I get round to it, but the idea’s there. Last year was also my first venture into dressmaking, which I’d like to continue too.
Do you have any New Year resolutions?
A few, yes! I blogged about them here. They’re all fairly vague though, as I have so much on my plate this year that I don’t want to set myself up for feeling unfulfilled. I wish that my list could include ‘finish 30 projects and learn 10 new skills’, but unfortunately I don’t think time would allow it! Blogging has essentially replaced knitting as a hobby, so whilst I still make time for knitting, it isn’t anywhere near as much as I used to. Plus, I’m at college in my AS year, so college itself and homework takes up plenty of my time. Hence most of my resolutions are time related in some way!
Keep up with Lily Kate and her knitting projects on her blog – www.jolihouse.com
Our Favourite Knitting Patterns by Lily Kate…
Cabled Mittens in Vogue Knitting
We love these snugly mittens. Designed by Lily Kate when she was just 14(!) the pattern was featured in Vogue Knitting back in 2012. The mittens are made using 10 ply aran wool with 4mm needles. The featured image uses a merino and silk teal yarn called “Scumptious Aran” by Fyberspates.
Click here to buy in the pattern.
This lovely Hamlin jumper is one Lily Kate’s more recent designs. Made with Worsted 10 ply wool is it a relatively chunky, quick knit. The jumper is flatteringly tailored for a feminine figure.
Click here to buy the pattern.
Check out more of Lily Kate’s knitting patterns at her online shop.