Indie Design Gift A-Long 2019 Interview with Sophie McKane
Today we’re chatting to knitwear designer Sophie McKane, here is Sophie’s Bio.
Sophie is a knitting designer based in London, UK. Sophie began publishing patterns in 2016 and was Knit Now Magazine’s 2017 New Designer of the year. Sophie’s work has appeared in many publications including Knit Now, Knitting Magazine, The Knitter and Simply Knitting.
Sophie spent nine years living in Brooklyn, New York, which is where she learned to knit. Sophie’s emphasis is on striking graphic designs with a contemporary vibe. She loves seamless construction, quick results and combining colour in unique ways. Sophie has three energetic kids who are the inspiration behind many of her baby and child knitting patterns.
How did you get into knitting/crochet and who taught you Sophie?
I got into knitting in a big way when I moved to New York back in 2005. The knitting scene was really taking off in a big way there, and it was so exciting to be a part of it. For many years, Brooklyn General was my LYS. The store’s owner, Catherine Clark, also works as a midwife and delivered all three of my babies!
I took a mamas and babies knitting class at Brooklyn General after my first son was born. Our group of sleep-deprived first-time mums bonded over babies and yarn, and I remain close to many of those women now, even though we’re on different continents.
One of the things I’m most proud of is my patter for the Marie Curie Socks: I’m donating the full £5 sale price of the pattern to Marie Curie, to support people living with terminal illnesses. I’ve raised £420 so far, and hopefully there will be lots more to come.
What made you want to start designing?
I moved back to London in 2014 and started designing a couple of years later, when my youngest child started nursery. I’ve always begun by looking at the yarns themselves, holding them and figuring out what they should become. I love finding just the right stitch pattern to suit a yarn’s particular characteristics, or a colourwork motif that lets two or more contrasting colours really shine.
What’s you favourite part of the design process?
I’m so fortunate to live close to some world-famous yarn stores – I pass by Loop every day and am also within easy distance of both Knit With Attitude and Wild and Woolly. I really enjoy understanding where yarns have come from, and I seek out sustainable, ethical and small-scale producers wherever. My favourite part of the designing process is working with small yarn brands and dyers to come up with collaborations that help both of us.
Designing can be quite a solitary business, so working with magazine editors, test knitters and yarn companies gives me some day-to-day personal contact that I really enjoy.
Are you a full-time or part-time designer and how does that fit into your life?
I’m very much a part-time designer, I try it fit in in around my kid’s school schedule and my other commitments. I manage to get a couple of hours in front of the computer most weekdays, and I tend to knit my samples in the evening while I’m watching TV with my husband. Sometimes I have to lay down the law about what we can watch – no complicated detective shows while I’m distracted by a complicated design. And anything with subtitles….forget it!!
Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?
My favourite thing to design is baby clothes. They’re just endlessly adorable and I’m fortunate to have a steady stream of new babies amongst my family and friends to knit for.
All my adult garments are graded to 9 sizes and I’m very committed to inclusive sizing. I love the geeky challenge of grading patterns to multiple sizes – I studied maths at university and am pretty handy with a spreadsheet (!) so it’s quite fun for me. I’m an avid fan of cryptic crosswords and I think these two activities have quite a lot in common
Do you have much time to make things for yourself or for gifting?
I make some things for myself, but my real joy comes from knitting for my kids. My daughter in particular loves handknits and gets involved right from the early stage, telling me how she wants things to look, and what colours they should be. I do also knit for some family members, my mum and dad in particular are always very appreciative of handknits.
If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?
A swap partner once made me some hand knit socks and that was truly the most special gift.
Do you have a favourite yarn and why?
I can’t play favourites with yarn brands as there are so many to love. But I do have a real thing for hand dyed British BFL. And silk/merino blends…yes please!!
What’s your favourite of your own designs and what do you love about it?
As for favourites of my own designs…I think I might have to go with the Quince Blossom cowl, which will be coming out as a single pattern quite soon. It’s just so different and unlike anything I’d ever designed or knit before. The stitch pattern is satisfying and has that real “wow” factor.
Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?
My most popular patterns are my Sheep Shuffle Mitts and Socks
and the nice thing is that the motif is from Andrea Rangel’s Alterknit book. She’s also a PD in the GAL so it’s sort of a virtuous circle!
What’s your favourite colour?
My favourite colour is green…I live such an urban life in central London and I wish there was more green in my daily life. At least I can look to the yarn in my lap! I tend to stick to very neutral colours in my own wardrobe, so knitting for others is the perfect excuse to get the rainbow palette out.
Have you been a participating designer in the Indie Gift Along before and what do you love most about it?
This is my 4th year as a GAL PD and I’ve loved every time. It’s great to see so many people getting excited about the beautiful patterns on offer, and I love discovering designers that are new to me. The atmosphere of fun and mutual support is just amazing.
How do people get in touch with you or see more of your work?
I have a couple more tests to add soon, but they will all show on this page so please visit.
Quick links to our shop
Austermann Yarns, Baby Yarns, Debbie Bliss Yarns, Lanas Stop Yarns, Araucania Yarns, Schoeller & Stahl Yarns, Felting Yarns, Noro Yarns, DK Yarns, 4ply Yarns, Aran Yarns, Fur Yarns, James C Brett Yarns, Lion Brand Yarns