I've long admired the work of Polish knitwear designer Justyna Lorkowska. You may remember her Baileys mitts from a previous blog post, today I have the great fortune to interview her on the blog.
Mari: Although I'm sure most knitters have come across your designs, can you tell me how you got into knitting design?
Justyna: Probably like many designers, my knitting career happened sort of by accident. Although l've been knitting on and off since childhood, I never treated it seriously in my previous life as an English teacher, where I enjoyed explaining tenses and articles to kids and adults. I came back to knitting several years ago after having my first baby. At first it was just clothes for my kids, accessories and occasional garments for myself. Then started to let the needles inspire me. Finally, I began jotting down my own instructions, and as other knitters saw and liked what I created, little by little it became my life.
Justyna: Baileys are a part of a bigger project called “Tabula Rasa. Neutrals”. I’ve been playing with the idea of publishing a small printed collection for a while now and in Dec 2016 it finally happened. Arranmore fit perfectly in the collection as I got it in a wonderful neutral color called St. Claire. I love its subtle pastel nups on the cream white background. The yarn is also so soft and cozy – perfect for winter.
“TABULA RASA. Neutrals” is a creative adventure into the depths of my yarn stash, this time into the neutral abyss of whites and grays, with a few delicate speckles invited to play along. Each skein is a story waiting to be written, a tale to be told, a portrait to be sketched. And from such a blank slate arises this collection of accessories and wraps, each of which features a texture or a pattern stitch pleasing to the mind and to the eye, allowing the yarn to speak to the senses as it is transformed into its fulfilled destiny.
Mari: What a cool concept! Have you designed other patterns in Fibre Co. yarns?
Justyna: I haven’t. It’s my first design in a Fibre Co yarn, definitely not the last.
Mari: I think it's amazing that you're writing and publishing patterns in English, which is not your native language. Is it a challenge writing in another language? Do you write patterns in Polish first, and then translate? What's your design process like?
Justyna: I’ve loved English since childhood and I even studied it at university. Actually, it seems that at school I studied only English and Chemistry (my favorite subjects), the rest felt unnecessary. Being able to speak fluent English has helped me a lot, I can write my patterns easily, travel and teach in many countries. I write my patterns in English first and my dear friends translate them into Polish and French.
Mari: Wow, I can't imagine being so fluent in a language I could write patterns in it.
You have many beautiful designs, what advice do you give knitters who are looking to personalize one of your patterns for a more personalized fit, or aesthetic? Are there any modifications from knitters that you've particularly fallen in love with?
Justyna: I like to believe that my designs are for everyone and they are a good starting point for having fun knitting. I have quite a few accessory designs which are perfect for mixing colors and the majority of my garments are worked from top downwards which allows everyone to try the piece on and adjust the fit to their needs. To answer your last question… yes, there is one person I follow – a Polish knitter know on Ravelry as gosik. Gosia has made a few of my patterns and each one is just breathtaking.
Thanks so much to Justyna for taking the time for this interview. You can learn more about Justyna's beautiful work on her website.