A few months ago I received a really lovely e-mail to my inbox from a designer that I had been following and admiring for a while now. That designer is Justyna Lorkowska of Lete's Knit whose elegant yet fun designs are a pleasure to knit and wear. Justyna is an incredibly versatile designer and creates equally sophisticated shawl patterns as well as chunky cabled accessories. It is this range of designs that I particularly admire.
Justyna will be coming over from her home in Poland in a few weeks and teaching a couple of her very popular classes Eastern Uncrossed Knitting and The Beauty of Knitted on Borders. She'll also be in the shop for a Trunk Show on Saturday 11 June from 11-1pm to show of her beautiful samples and sign patterns. I asked Justyna if she would answer a few questions about her knitting journey for us and she happily obliged, so here is her yarn story:
Q: What is currently on your needles?
A: I’m a very polygamous knitter, which means that my needles are constantly busy. At the moment I’m working on several different projects. I’m finishing a new shawl design. I’m also knitting a simple striped sweater in my husband’s first hand-dyed yarn. I’m working on a couple of collaborations, as well as a very special project that's particularly close to my heart. As you can see, there’s no room for boredom.
Q: When did you start knitting? Who taught you?
A: Actually I began crocheting first when I was a young girl, but watched my mom with her knitting needles all the time, and my transition to knitting somehow happened on its own. I observed her and tried to copy what she was doing, and this is probably why I knit a little bit differently. She had been taught by her mother-in-law (my grandma) whose family came from the East. Thus I've knit Eastern Uncrossed style since childhood. 3. What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft? You want to know the truth? It is largely the pride I feel when I wear something I have made with my own hands. There is just something magical in every stitch you’ve created yourself. Knitting also gives me an outlet for my creativity. Actually, it’s not only knitting. I love spinning, weaving and sewing as well. All of them give me a sense of accomplishment and joy.
Q: Do you have a favorite thing to knit?
A: Recently I’ve been knitting lots of shawls. They are so much fun to make. Probably like most knitters I often fall in love with an irresistible yarn so I buy a single skein and then nothing happens. Shawls are perfect for using those lonely skeins. I also enjoy knitting for my kids, but mostly because their knits are cute and fast to make. My most dreaded knits are endless seas of Stockinette, sleeves, and simple scarfs.
Q: What is the last project you completed?
A: That’s a dress! I started it in January just for fun and because I saw a gorgeous lace motif in one on my stitchionaries. I was knitting it on and off for a couple of months (yes, the dreaded endless Stockinette!), but now it’s done and I can’t wait to wear it.
Q: Do you have a design philosophy that guides you?
A: I’m not sure if it’s a philosophy, but I always try to make something I would gladly wear myself. If I wouldn’t, I just don’t make it. I like simple knits with a twist, and I always try to achieve a balance in colors and patterning.
Q: You are very versatile in what you design, everything from shawls, garments and hats, to children's clothing: do you have a favorite item to design? Why is it your favorite?
A: Not really. I like everything, and the things I make come straight from my heart. If I stop loving it, I just rip it without hesitation. As I said, if I don’t want to wear it, I won’t make it.
Q: Where do you get inspiration from?
A: Mostly from my stash and knitting books. The ideas from both mix in my head and then are transferred onto the needles. Sometimes I do draw a sketch, but that’s mostly when I’m discussing the final ideas for collaborations. 9. If you could only knit with one yarn for the next year, what would it be? In other words what is your current yarn crush?
That’s a very hard question. I have a couple of yarn crushes which won’t go away - not that I’m trying to fight them ;-) I love everything dyed by Vikki of Eden Cottage Yarns. I’m fascinated by the colors from Triskelion. I’m closely observing Snail Yarn. And now I’m almost “swimming” in yarn as my own husband has begun dyeing.
Q: How has knitting affected your life? or What role does knitting play in your life?
A: Knitting has had a huge impact on my life, and at the moment it seems my whole family is “infected”. I knit every day, and it has become my profession (I used to teach in my previous life). My husband plays with yarn and acid dyes. My son is trying to talk me into buying a sheep, and my daughter is begging me to teach her crochet. One crafty family, huh?
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out as a designer?
A: Work hard. Talent is just 1%; the rest is just work.
If you'd like to join us for one of Justyna's classes you can sign-up here.