Meet the Designer - The Woolly Badger
Meet one of our amazing designers Jacki, aka. The Woolly Badger! Jacki lives in Bristol with her husband and two young sons. She’s recently adopted a cat called Loki, who likes to try and eat yarn, and to jump out upstairs windows and sit on the windowsills (thankfully not at the same time).
Jacki started knitting as a child when her babysitter Maureen showed her how to knit a very basic garter stitch scarf. She says, “I dabbled a bit over the years, but returned to it properly in 2011 when I was off work with anxiety and depression and looking for something that might help occupy my days – and my mind. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to remind me what to do, and then developed a belief that YouTube can teach you anything. Spoiler alert: it can’t. I discovered this when I tried to tile my own kitchen.”
Jacki likes to knit just about everywhere; planes, trains, many waiting rooms, the cinema, the pub, the playground…and she always has at least one project on her needles. She started designing patterns almost by accident. She’d been creating “Frankenprojects” for a while, by mashing together bits from multiple patterns to create something that she liked. This led to just completely making up her own designs when she couldn’t find the thing she wanted to knit, and after a while her friends talked her into publishing these designs.
Jacki’s design process isn’t in a very strict structure, but it always starts with the sample. Whatever she’s designing, she’ll knit the sample before she writes a word of the pattern. She says, “I often find that I’ll cast on a new design without a fully formed idea of where it’s going to go, so my the details of the designs emerge as I’m knitting them. I then go back and write up and grade the pattern – and inevitably get annoyed with my past self for utterly failing to take any decent notes.”
Jacki’s style is eclectic but approachable. “I like a bit of everything when it comes to knitting, so across my designs you’ll find colourwork, cables, lace, brioche, garments, and accessories. I work hard to make my patterns as clear as possible, so that whether it’s your first or 50th time working a technique, you can follow the pattern without brain ache.”
Her inspiration varies; sometimes it comes from a particular gap in her wardrobe and sometimes there’s a technique or a yarn that she want to use. “I have far more ideas than I have time to knit, so there are always planned designs hanging around in my brain.”
Jacki’s favourite technique is German short rows, which she says are very versatile and you’ll find them in a lot of her patterns. “But I’m one of those annoying people who really struggles to pick a favourite thing to knit, although generally speaking I’m a big fan of a top-down sweater.”
Her most challenging design project was trying to work out how to do a full bust adjustment on a circular yoke sweater without compromising the overall fit of the design. “It took a lot of work, a lot of maths, and 3 samples, but I got there in the end. The first design I did a full bust adjustment on was the Big Jimmy Jab jumper, and the feedback I get from people who’ve knitted it, about how well it fits them makes all the effort very much worthwhile.”
Jacki teaches a lot of beginners workshops, and the advice she gives is to let go of the idea of perfection, as you will make mistakes in your knitting. It’s inevitable, and it’s really not the end of the world. The second is that there’s no “right” way of knitting; if you’re happy with the fabric you’re making, and you’re not causing yourself any kind of injury with the way you’re doing it, then you’re golden!
You can find more from Jacki here!