My final GAL designer interview is with the talented Vikki Bird (VikkiBirdDesigns) – again, apologies must go to Vikki for my tardiness in posting this. So, without further ado, let us begin …
K: How did your first design come about?
V: My first published design (Christmas pudding hat) was designed in a bit of a whirlwind. For some reason I decided that my toddler son needed a Christmas pudding hat, but I didn’t like any of the patterns that were already available – I felt that the sauce on other designs just wasn’t drippy enough – so I designed my own, knitting the prototype in a couple of evenings. It took me a few days to get the pattern written up and iron out all the numbers (I knitted the sauce bit numerous times), and I was so excited and nervous when I posted it to Ravelry, what if no one liked it? I actually did a little dance when the first person actually bought the pattern!
K: Did you find that you had ‘overnight’ success, or did it take some time to begin to make a name for yourself?
V: I’m still not totally sure I am a success! My designs are very distinctive, but niche and any success I have had certainly didn’t come overnight. But I’ve persevered – if I wasn’t publishing my designs I’d still be designing and knitting them, so it seems a pity not to make them available for other knitters . I have started receiving emails from people who love specific designs and there are people that favourite all of my new patterns, so I guess I have a bit of a following now. I’m hugely thankful to the team at Knit Now magazine who’ve published a lot of my work and made it visible to a wider audience.
K: Where do you find your inspiration for new projects?
V: Most of my designs are intended as presents, whether for my two children, or for friend’s babies, so a lot of the inspiration is from people I know, their loves and characteristics. But I’m, inspired all the time by all sorts of things. My Nature’s Way blanket is a collection of all sorts of images that have been with me over many years: weather symbols from 1980s weather forecasts on TV; a smiley snail that I used to doodle on my folders at school; the characteristic cartoon daisy that appears in the Mr Men books, etc.
K: What are you working on at the moment?
V: I’m currently working on bringing up two small children, so design work has taken a bit of a break. I am knitting a stocking that I’ve designed for a friend’s daughter though, which I’m really enjoying. I haven’t yet decided whether the pattern will be published, but if it is I know it won’t be until next Autumn, so I’m enjoying the lack of deadlines!
I’ve also been working from other people’s patterns: I’m crocheting a blanket, knitting some mitts and a couple of baby cardigans. Sometimes it’s nice to step back and be inspired by other people’s designs – it’s also nice knowing that the maths will work before you cast on!
K: Which of your published patterns is your favourite?
V: My absolute favourite of my designs is my Fluffy White Clouds blanket. It was originally published in Knit Now magazine, but I’ve just added it to my Ravelry store, and it’s had a lot of positive feedback. I love that it’s so simple, yet so striking.
K: What’s your favourite type of pattern to design, and is there anything that you’ve not yet designed that you’d like to have a go at?
V: I love designing baby blankets. I like the freedom of having blank canvas and not having to worry too much about the maths. The make excellent presents too!
I’d love to have a go at designing a full sized adult garment, but it terrifies me! What if you get to the end and realise you’ve got the maths wrong and it doesn’t fit?!
K: Which other designers do you admire?
V: My current favourite designer is Lisa Chemery, her childrenswear designs are beautiful and so stylish. I’ve knitted Entrechat three times now and I’m sure I’ll make many more!
Zoe Mellor’s books were a huge inspiration to me when I was learning to knit. I wanted to be able to knit like her, her designs are so bright and colourful.
Vikki, thank you so much for answering my questions, it’s been a pleasure to interview you (and the other designers that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to speak to).
Please note, all images in this post are copyright Vikki Bird.