Designer Chat with Jenny Watson

Striking a smooth balance between contemporary style and technical aptitude, British knitwear designer, Jenny Watson casts a keen eye on both sides of the pond.  With easy confidence, and down to earth sensibilities, Jenny injects youthful energy and an organic vibe into her designs for companies such as- Noro, Araucania, Mirasol, and Ester Bitran.  

Her design statement is simple- let the yarn speak volumes!

Jenny Watson

When the pressure is on- Jenny skips to the beat, always up for the next challenge.  Today we find her in the middle of a chaotic workday, yet completely unruffled as she takes time to chat with us about her intrinsic approach to design and the creative process.

MM:  Your name is featured on many of the newest pattern books this season.  Is it something you envisioned, working as a designer for Noro, Araucania, Mirasol, and Ester Bitran (I hope I didn’t miss any) and being able to surround yourself with some of the most highly coveted yarns?   

 

Noro Flowers Two by Jenny Watson

JW:  No, not really….one always wonders how it might feel to be able to work with quality brands and be free to explore my vision on both design and book layout.  Fortunately, I have this opportunity to show my abilities, for which I am very grateful.  I also do other work for both the U.S. and UK markets.

MM:  What sort of deadlines do you have when working on a new collection?

JW:  I normally work on a three to four month deadline depending on how complex the project might be.  Occasionally, I can achieve it in less time, but that brings lots of added pressure to an already highly pressurised job.  But I do love it more than ever when it all comes together.

MM:  Would you say you are super organized when designing or work best under this kind of pressure?

JW:  You really have no choice but to be well organized, especially when producing the amount that I do- although sometimes when the pressing is on, it feels like an extra challenge that I enjoy rising to.

MM:  Your ‘Mini Knits’ series of books are great incentives for knitters, particularly those with limited time on their hands.  How did this book idea come about?

JW:  ‘Mini Knits’ was an idea that Designer Yarns came up with and I followed it through thinking of designs that could be easily knit or use as little as one hank of yarn.  The concept was one that any yarn retailer or consumer could use with any odd balls they may have left over, as well as encouraging the novice knitter to give it a go.

Mirasol Designer Mini Knits by Jenny Watson

MM:  For you, what is that special quality that makes a yarn really stand out and make you say ‘wow’………you know, the ones that keep us knitting feverishly into the middle of the night?

JW:  Quality or unusual yarns, as I’m sure you can see from most of my collections.  I like things to look clean and edgy.  I suppose this has become my style signature, but I do love working with natural yarns- merino wool, cottons, etc, as they show great stitch definition and good garment shapes, equally as well as the yarns that are a little different.

MM:  Can you tell us, ‘what’s on your needles’ at the moment?   

JW:  That’s easy………. baby garments.  I am super busy and have run short of knitters, so its all hands on deck at the moment.  I am knitting a baby garment which is due to be photographed in a couple of weeks.  Other than knitting samples, I very rarely knit as I just do not have the time.  Either I am designing, compiling, doing photography, or looking at book layouts, so I can art direct.  I find the whole project from start to finish really fun- although hard work.

MM:  Knitted shawls, cowls, capes, all those cosy cover ups have been very popular over here this past season.  Are there any hot knitting trends that you currently spy around England?

JW:  Very much the same as yourselves.  It is great to see the ready-made market and couture designers really pushing knitwear, which in turn encourages hand knitting.  The larger cosy knits with lots of stitch detail to tiny knitted basques, leggings and skirts, some of which will be featured in my forthcoming book for Noro titled, ‘Fashion’, due out this summer.

Noro Flowers Two- Taiyo Vest by Jenny Watson

MM:  With your ultra busy work schedule, are there any plans to visit Canada in the future for lectures or workshops?

JW:  Funny you should mention a visit to Canada……..when I first met Ted and Peter at Diamond nearly three years ago, this was something we touched upon, but at that time I was so new to Canada and America and therefore didn’t know what kind of response I would have.  Fortunately, it has been a very good one and I have since spoken with Dino, and hope to visit Canada sometime in October.

MM:  That’s great news!  Canada in Autumn with the leaves at their peak, thats the best time to visit.  Your many fans will be delighted, and speaking of seasons, which one is your favorite?

JW:  Oh! that’s an easy one…. Autumn/Winter- because I love the chunky knits, very rich in colour and the garment shapes.  Although, everything is front to back, as we speak I am just starting work on my Autumn/Winter Collection.  The odd thing is that when it comes to photography it will actually be our summer and the models will be feeling the heat in the heavy knits.  The same thing will be happening with my Spring/Summer Collection, it will be photographed in the winter- its all a little front to back, I know, but I like a challenge.

  • Amanda

    how lucky to be able to work with noro yarns and knit for a living.

  • Vanny1976

    thanks for sharing this interview.

    love the noro designs by jenny watson.

  • kap knits

    Hope you can help. I have the book Catwalk 2 and have started knitting design No. 4 but I think there is an error in the pattern in that there is no cast off for the armhole shaping only direction to cast off one stitch at the end of every row for 8 rows. Surely this will only give a dropped shoulder not shaping for a set in sleeve.

  • Anonymous

    will give you a shaped armhole, its just a gentler curve than you may be used to in other patterns.

  • Angel

    Yes, Hope you can help I am knitting pattern 5 from Catwalk Two and there are a number of errors in there too. No errata as yet. At the moment I am nervous about knitting another design out of this book. Any suggestions?