Photo by Daniel Maciejewska
I was so lucky to meet the fantastic designer Hanna Maciejewska, aka hada131 on Ravelry, at the Wollness Weekend in the beautiful hills of the Pielach Valley, 1.5 hour outside of Vienna in Austria. Even before we met we exchanged experiences and became good friends. Hanna is taking part in the GAL 2015 and not for the first time, hence I had to ask her more about it. Then she asked to interview me, and I was delighted that she agreed to be interviewed by me too. The following questions are the brilliant ones I first received by designer Janelle Martin, and you can read my responses on her blog. Here is the interview with Hanna:
Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit? It was my grandmother who taught me how to knit. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but probably when I was 10 or so. In High School, I knit sweaters all the time and most of them were my own creations, but only a few years ago I realized that designing knitwear is truly my biggest passion!
GAL 2015 – photos by Daniel Maciejewska
How did you get started designing?
I have loved knitting since I was a child! And, I have always been knitting – mostly from my own imagination because I always wanted to have something unique and… I didn’t have too many knitting books 🙂 So I guess, it has always been a little bit of designing…
When I joined Ravelry a few years ago, at first, I posted projects just for fun. After a dear friend, who is a talented hand dyer, created a special yarn for me, I designed “Colors of Kauai” and felt encouraged to publish it. It was so well received that I decided to write down more of my designs – this is how it all started. I was hooked on designing from that point on!
What inspires your designs?
Everything! Most people who create things say this, don’t they? It is all true! The world is full of colors and shapes.
The place I live in influences me a lot, though it is not that obvious when you look at my designs. The serene place in the countryside near Toruń, where I live, my big garden (I am a huge fan of gardening, and whenever the weather permits, I love to sit on the porch and knit) and the forest nearby are quiet places to think about new designs and life in general and to look for sources of inspiration and get new ideas. I also like to walk around the Old Town of Toruń, feeling history and watching people.
The yarn stimulates me a lot, too. Its texture, colour, the possibilities it can bring etc. always amaze me. If a yarn doesn’t “talk” to me, I tend not to work with it.
A huge part of my inspiration originates from online sources. I can spend hours browsing Pinterest, Tumblr and similar sites, checking out current fashion trends and allowing myself to get inspired. It’s easy to get carried away when there is such a multitude of inspirational sources to explore, but there’s a downside to this too! I’m not alone watching these sites; everybody is seeing the same pictures, and however beautiful and inspiring they are, truth is if several people see the same pictures, then those several people might end up getting the same ideas!
A Floral Affair – photo by Daniel Maciejewska
Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It could be either. I’ve had it work both ways but most of the time it is the design idea that comes to me first. Then, I try to figure out what yarn would be the best for it and almost always discover that I don’t have it in my stash! LOL
On the other hand, several of my designs – such as Maisie, Aiolos or Fino – have been strictly inspired by the yarn that captured my attention.
What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I always try to make them interesting to knit! And of course seamless 🙂
Since I am not the biggest enthusiast of seaming, I prefer to construct my garments and accessories as seamlessly as possible and move on to the next idea.
Also, the fit is very important to me. We all have uniquely shaped bodies, don’t we? Not all women have model-like measurements; therefore, we may want to custom tailor different areas of our knitwear to assure the best possible fit.
I have been quite generously equipped by the bust fairy and as you know, this can be both a blessing and a curse because it requires extra shaping in that section.
I keep this in mind and try to design garments that slim out the top of women’s bodies and balance them with the bottom half. I love open cardigans, deep neck openings and intriguing waist shaping – in short, everything that flatters!
What is your favourite type of item to design?
I am definitely a sweater designer. I like knitting and designing accessories (mostly hats and shawls) but sweaters I love the most.
There are so many different constructions you can play with! So many ways to do the shaping! Possibilities are endless.
Wien – photo by Daniel Maciejewska
Tell me about designs like “A Floral Affair” and ”Wien”.
Both garments have been designed for a special purpose (if I may say that) and knit with Malabrigo Yarn.
“A Floral Affair” was originally published by “Knit Now” Magazine, while “Wien” was created especially for the Wollness Weekend we had a pleasure to attend in September.
“A Floral Affair” is an elegant, fitted vest (or a top tank, if you wish) with a center flower motif and very deep, flattering neckline. This is something you would wear to work but also on a date.
“Wien”, on the other hand, is the traditional, classic winter sweater, with lots of texture, cables, garter stitch and extra cushy half-cardigan stitch sections. For a modern spin, waist shaping is achieved by the way the pattern on the back is arranged.
What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
As most of the knitters, I always have a few projects on the needles at the same time.
At the moment, I am all about knitting hats and other winter accessories 🙂
However, I am also working on a collection for one of the great yarn companies and hope to have it ready in January. More exciting collaborations are coming next year! In the meantime, I hope to publish a few designs under my own name, too!
Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
This is such a tough question. I don’t think I can pick one yarn. I love them all! I want them all!!! 🙂
Wink – photo by Daniel Maciejewska
Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Oh, there are a few of them actually. However, I’m very self-critical, and I always find something that I could have done better.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Keep knitting! Have fun! Look out for opportunities, and never ever let others put you down!
Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Stick to my design schedule as much as possible. Be more organized and focused.
Pomponious Hat – photo by Daniel Maciejewska
Thank you so much, Hanna! You can read more about Hanna here: hadaknits.com/blog and find all her lovely patterns here: ravelry.com/designers/hanna-maciejewska.