With her knack for interpreting the sharp lines of modern architecture into shapely knits, we chat about challenges and influences with this hot new designer
Georgia Farrell is a breath of fresh air in the world of knitting. With an exciting new set of designs about to land with Rowan Yarns, we caught up with this amazing yarn architect from Essex to find out what inspirations have shaped her unique style, from her early attempts at brick-laying, all the way to the catwalk!
How would you say your passion for yarn sprouted?
I can’t remember ever not creating, really. When I was little I was always coming out with crazy ideas, particularly when I should have been paying attention to my art teacher.
My poor [and very patient!] parents were very supportive though, and encouraged me to make my ideas reality. Like once, when I wanted to paint a mural on a brick wall, they helped me build one! I don’t think they were very impressed, though…
When did knitting come into it?
My mum and my nan tried to teach me when I was very young, but back then I can honestly say that I didn’t have the patience for it. I went back to it when I was at college, and then it really took off when I did my BA in textile design.
Sadly, my course didn’t cover much hand-knitting but I didn’t let that stop me, and I proudly displayed some hand-knitted pieces in my final collection.
What’s the first thing that ever came off your needles?
It’s weird that you ask me that question, as I randomly came across it the other week! It was a super-chunky garter-stitch cowl, and at the time, I was so proud of myself!
I want to keep it forever and ever.
Now that you’re a dab hand, what do you like to make for yourself?
I love making small, simple things such as hats and scarves. I knit a lot on my commute and they’re fab for train knitting as well as being quick. It’s tough finding time to knit for myself though as I’ve nearly always got work on my needles!
Tough stuff – do you ever turn to knitting machines?
I worked with knitting machines a lot at uni, and I do own a couple. But machine knitted fabric is not as similar to handmade as you’d think. Deep down I’m a hand-knitter at heart. I like feeling the yarn pass through my hands as I knit, and the control you have over your work.
What’s your most frequently stashed yarn shade?
Grey might be boring to some, but it is without a doubt, my absolute favourite colour. I think it stems from my love of architecture, actually! I wear a lot of grey myself and am always using it in my knitwear designs – I particularly love it in tonal designs, with purple or blue tinges, or as a base on which to add a bright colour pop, such as neon yellow.
50 shades of grey, eh? (Sorry, couldn’t resist…) How about making your own yarn, is that something you’ve ever tried?
Strangely, the only material that I’ve ever tried spinning into yarn is newspaper. It was for a project at uni, themed around homelessness, but needless to say, it wasn’t much of a success!
Tricky theme indeed! where do you find your inspiration now?
I try to keep an eye on what mainstream designers are producing. It means a great deal to me that my work is distinctive and reflects my true inspirations – architecture, brutalist concrete buildings and the cold glass and steel skyscrapers of the City of London.
In my knitting these influences become strong lines, geometric tessellating patterns and simple, loose-fitting silhouettes.
Which other knitting designers do you admire, and why?
I’ve long been a fan of the lovely Sarah Hatton’s work, as she produces lots of textured patterns and classic, wearable pieces; her work is effortlessly beautiful, something which I strive towards. I’m also a big fan of my super-talented friend Emma Wright’s work.
Now you have your design house, Do you run it on your own?
Yes, and it can get quite stressful and certainly lonely at times, but I have great support from my family and friends. I’m lucky to have a network of knitters and designers to turn to as well.
Where do you like to work on your patterns?
Anywhere and everywhere, really! Sometimes in my studio; sitting at my desk or curled up on the chair in my knitting corner. When working alone gets too much for me I’ll whisk myself off to my local coffee shop.
And I get a surprising amount of knitting and sketching done on my train journeys.
How do you keep your workspace organised?
I’d describe my studio as ‘organised chaos’! Design notes are all neatly stored in folders, and I have zip-lock bags for different yarns and projects. The only things that I am obsessively organised with are my diary and my trusty to-do book, which are always on hand.
What advice would you give to any of our readers who are keen to become designers?
Don’t give up or undervalue yourself and your work. Also, try and create your own signature style and believe in it – and yourself!
What gadgets should every knitter have to hand?
A ball winder and swift. I actually find winding off skeins kind of therapeutic now I have the tools!
Follow Georgia’s Instagram feed @georgiafarrell design, or visit georgiafarell.co.uk for more.