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IMG_5209Earlier this month Isabelle and I received a delightful surprise when Madeleine Windsor of Kingfisher Knits sent us a note!

As Madeleine explains in her charming interview she is new to the world of knitwear design. For some time she played with the patterns she worked altering and adjusting the original design to suit her taste, however, that soon progressed into designing her own creations from scratch. She recently decided to take the next step and begin publishing the patterns she enjoys imagining and creating. This fit in well with her interest in editing patterns, so she also began offering her pattern tech editing services professionally.IMG_5210

For most of the time Madeleine has been knitting she used her talent to make gifts. As a result the majority of her original creations passed out of her hands. Not long ago she realized how unfortunate it was that she hadn’t taken photographs of her early work. Since there isn’t a photographic record of Madeleine’s early designs, and her first professionally designed patterns will soon be published in knitting magazines (pictures of which cannot yet be shared with us), Madeleine has sent photos of some of her other hobbies, and some of the projects she made before beginning to design for herself.IMG_4260

We are looking forward to collaborating with her on some lacy garments, and a line of infant’s and children’s clothing patterns. Naturally we will keep you up to date as the gorgeous new patterns become available!

You can find Madeleine the tech editor as well as the knitwear designer at her new website:

http://madeleinewindsor.wix.com/kingfisherknits

You can keep up with her knitterly doings on Instagram at:

https://www.instagram.com/kingfisherknits/

Or visit her on Ravelry at:

http://www.ravelry.com/people/madeleinewindsor

What first drew you to knitting and when did you learn to knit?

I originally learnt to knit with my (English) granny, and I have happy memories of the little scarves I made for dolly or teddy where the number of stitches changed almost every row(!). She was a proficient, if slow, and meticulous knitter, in fact those adjectives apply well to her character in general. She was also infinitely patient. I still have some of the jumpers she knit for me when I was a toddler/little girl and recently I have been using them for my daughter. While I had occasionally picked up the needles since I was a girl (normally just for a bit of relaxation therapy) I only really restarted when on maternity leave almost 5 years ago…and I haven’t stopped since!IMG_4274

How did you progress to designing your own patterns?

To be honest I am still in that “progression”, but I realised that while I still have a lot to learn, I also do know a decent amount, I have a lot of ideas and also given that I have IMG_2719not been knitting seriously for very long, I feel I am still well connected to that whole process of learning about knitting and creating with yarn. Therefore I thought that I could produce patterns with my design ideas and inspirations AND write my patterns in a clear way where the knitter needs to follow the instructions but doesn’t need to figure the whole pattern out before casting on without risking to have to rip half of it out when they find they misunderstood something. I don’t want “my” knitters to have to worry about misunderstanding the pattern, I want to convey my designs clearly, concisely and consistently.IMG_2672
I am also fascinated by patterns in general, and the whole process of creating a garment/object by knitting. It is infinitely expansive and thrilling.

Which fibers do you prefer to work with and why?

I generally like animal fibre yarn and considering I have a soft spot for luxury I also love yarns with some silk, cashmere, or mohair….or all three! I personally am a bit sensitive to wool (not allergic, I just am aware when I’m wearing it) and I find alpaca itchy, therefore I tend to focus on Merino or Blue-faced Leicester. I also prefer the “spring” of wool fibres for many items.IMG_2724

Are there specific types of garments and/or stitches you enjoy working more?

I like simple lace patterns and cables (even better together), and I love stranded colourwork and colour in general! So far I enjoy making most types of knitted items, with a slight preference for seamless (where possible). I guess I haven’t been knitting long enough to get bored of anything in particular.IMG_2730

What inspires your pattern designs?

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I am inspired by a variety of things. I would say my own style is classic, flattering, with a modern twist and a touch of luxury. As far as motifs go I am inspired a lot by nature (leaves, flowers, water), and then I also enjoy playing with colour and the myriad of possibilities that can give.IMG_4357

 

Is there a particular part of the process that appeals to you or do you enjoy it all from project conception to lifting the blocked item up and trying it on (when possible)?

IMG_4677I think I am a process knitter and I do enjoy the whole process, but I do love picking the idea/pattern and the colour and the yarn. My least favourite part is probably casting-on, and then once the first row is done…. everything after that is very enjoyable! Of course the thrill of first using the made the item is hard to beat!

I am also a tech editor, and I enjoy very much helping a designer to get their pattern to the standard they are happy with and the feeling of pride knowing that the knitter who buys the pattern is not going to find mistakes, nor have a headache trying to understand what to do!

Do you have favorite tools (a specific knitting needle brand for example) that you prefer to work with)?

IMG_5212I love my interchangeable circulars (Knitters Pride – called Knit Pro in Europe), but I have never tried another brand of interchangeables so I cannot really compare…I love the endless possibilities you have with them and I cannot imagine myself ever using straight needles again!IMG_5211

Any amusing anecdotes associated with you learning to knit or design that you would like to share?

The first actual garment I ever made looked beautiful but fitted terribly and, it being my first garment, assumed I had not followed the pattern correctly. Being a scientist I sat down with the pattern, a pen and paper and did all the maths necessary to calculate the stitch counts and rows worked etc (this was before I ever knew of such a thing as a IMG_4795“tech editor”)…. and in the end I discovered that the pattern instructions resulted in an item whose measurements did not match those given in the item description and the schematic. I was utterly shocked. This was a published pattern in a book, a hardback book come to boot….ever since then I realised how important pattern writing actually was and as I understood more and more techniques and this swiftly lead me down the path of becoming interested in design, construction, and also technical editing.

Do you make other crafts?

IMG_4578I do crochet, but I’m not sure I would ever be able to design with crochet. I think it is a great skill to have, and it complements knitting….but I think I would have to invest a lot more time in it to feel confident enough to design in crochet. I also have a soft spot for cross-stitch (which I also learnt with Granny), but its place in life has been utterly surpassed by knitting!

What do you do when you aren’t designing gorgeous patterns?


Asides from cooking (I love to bake! Especially sourdough bread) and caring for my IMG_3726children I am still involved in scientific research, and I am a tech editor so I get to “play” with my love of numbers and spreadsheets as much as possible! I live in Switzerland (though I am from the UK) and so in the winter months I can also indulge my passion for skiing!IMG_3416

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