An interview with...Kathleen Lawton-Trask

Kathleen Lawton-Trask recently published a book inspired by stars of classic movies, aptly named Silver Screen Knits. A collection of knits by Kathleen and other contributing designers such as Veera Välimäki, Danielle Romanetti, Karida Collins + Ann Weaver, the book is filled with lovely vintage-inspired patterns, images, and interesting anecdotes about the movies we all know and love. 

Two of the designs in the book, the Meryl Streep Chevron Lace Cardigan by Ann Weaver the Faye Dunaway Traveling Top by Danielle Romanetti and a bonus one featured in Knitty, Sophia Loren by Kathleen, feature Fibre Company yarns. In honor of the book's release, we thought it would be lovely to interview Kathleen about the book and her design inspiration!

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 KW: What do you love  most about the styling in classic movies, and what made you want to recreate some of the best silver screen sweater moments?

KL-T: The original inspiration for this book was a photo I saw of Bette Davis and her stand-in for Now, Voyager, wearing identical tailored suits and hats and lacey tops, sitting side by side on the set of the film. Davis is knitting and Sally Sage, the body double, is crocheting. They both look very chic and very serious. I found other photos of celebrities knitting, including great shots of both Hepburns and an amazing one of Ingrid Bergman knitting with great concentration while a man fixes her makeup. To judge by the photos, Bergman knit a whole lot, often clothes for her children. What struck me was that these were great actresses, really serious women, a lot of them, and yet they were knitting in public while also giving stellar performances in some important movies. Anyway, that was the beginning. Then I started looking for knitting in movies, and found some fun examples, like Marilyn Monroe in "Let's Make Love." But of course any knitting pattern book ultimately has to be about the patterns, the garments people who buy the book are going to make. And what I think is great about the clothes in classic movies is that they're both chic and adaptable. Clothing in movies is part of the way we get to know a character, and the people in these movies were generally nuanced, complicated characters, who would be doing a lot more than just looking good in their clothes. Audrey Hepburn is chased by killers in her sweater; Marilyn Monroe sings and dances in hers; and Humphrey Bogart escapes from a POW camp in his. Whether it's on purpose or not, the clothes they wore in these movies are still stylish today, and I think that has to do with the versatility of the characters and their experiences.

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KW: How did you get started knitting and designing?

KL-T: I started knitting as a teenager, and it took a few tries - I have three different stories about people who taught me to knit! The third person who did was making colorwork socks, so she showed me how to do that, and I got excited about doing stripes and other patterns and changing the sock patterns in other ways. So in that sense I've been designing a long time, but the first real design I did was for Karida Collins' and Libby Bruce's book Pints and Purls: Portable Designs for the Social Knitter. It's a book of patterns for people who knit in bars, and I did two sock patterns - one stranded colorwork pattern for the designated driver, and one called Weaving Way for the knitter who might have been, well, overserved.

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KW: What do you love most about the act of knitting?

KL-T: It's become a cliche these days, but I find knitting really meditative. There's a serenity that comes to me when I knit, even if I'm doing it in a crowded subway car or in the middle of a large gathering. I wonder whether it has to do with that idea of sense-memory - I have knit at very peaceful times, so bringing out the knitting when things are less quiet reminds me of the quiet moments? Besides that, when I knit I feel that I am connected to a tradition that goes back a very long way, as well as connected to all the different versions of myself that have knit in the past 20 years. Plus, it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something when I'm at the movies or watching television. 

KW: Tell us something funny or unexpected about yourself!

KL-T: Bill Murray once gave me $100 to pay my library fines.

Thanks so much, Kathleen! For more information about the book, you can also check out Kathleen's post about the book here!

 {Images, top to bottom: Faye Dunaway Top featuring Road to China Worsted, Meryl Streep Cardigan featuring Organik + Sophia Loren featuring Canopy Worsted. Images by + © Brandy Crist-Travers}