An interview with Justyna Lorkowska

Hello! As promised, today we have an interview with Justyna Lorkowska aka Lete’s Knits for you.

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Justyna is a well-known and prolific designer, and we love her timeless style and classic knitwear which will never date. I feel we work well together, as I love wispy, floral tones in particular, and Justyna’s style works really well with that. I’m sure many of you will know of Aisling, which was our collaboration in celebration of last year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival. This shawl perfectly demonstrates Justyna’s gorgeous, classic and whimsical style.

Anyway, I’ll just remind you that you can meet her on our stand at Edinburgh at 12 noon today (Saturday). Come and say hi – she’ll be delighted to talk to you!

And now here’s the interview I promised.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to become a designer?

Actually, everything started by accident. In my “previous life” I taught English at a public school, mostly to kids and sometimes adults. After having my own children, like many new moms I took up knitting. My son Wojtek re-inspired in me the passion for making beautiful things and being crafty. I began making a lot of knitwear for children and eagerly learning new techniques. Then I started knitting up my own ideas and writing them down. To my surprise and delight people liked my creations and wanted more. After a while I submitted my first small design to Petite Purls (the former webzine with knitwear for kids) and IT clicked… that was four years ago. Gradually, I knit more and more – ideas started pouring out of my head as yarn started pouring out of every shelf and cupboard in my flat (I bet many knitters can relate), and my hobby became my profession. I now teach knitting instead of English, and since knitting is now my job I’ve taken on new hobbies, venturing into spinning, weaving and sewing.

What’s your favourite garment or accessory to design and why?

At the moment that would be a shawl. I love all the possibilities of shawl design: from the many colourful yarn combinations to the various shapes they may have. I also love that shawls give you opportunity to use those treasured single skeins of fingering weight jewels in your stash.

Where do you go to for inspiration? How does this influence what you decide to create within a design?

Very often the inspiration comes from the skein I’m holding in my hand. Just like many knitters out there I love expanding my stash and I’m always on the lookout for beautiful yarns. Sometimes they sit in my stash quite a while before I recognize their intended destinies. Then I see a stitch pattern which captures me, and I dive into the stash to find its yarn mate. Sometimes this happens immediately, sometimes it takes months.

Who are your favourite designers that you admire most?

I have a few designer friends whom I admire a lot. I’m absolutely impressed with Woolly Wormhead’s hats (that woman is a genius!).  I love Suvi Simola’s aesthetics and Stephen West’s color play.  And if I had more time for personal knitting, I’d definitely cast on an Isabell Kraemer or a Heidi Kirrmaier sweater or a Melanie Berg shawl.

What’s your knitting nemesis? Is there any technique that gives you the shivers?

Oh, that is easy. Sleeves! And lots and lots of one-color Stockinette. If you wanted to punish me, knitting these two would be the best option. Ha ha.

What were your favourite properties of the yarns you’ve used for these two Holyrood shawls?

The samples are made with two completely different yarns. The first one was knit using Harewood 4-ply, which is a wonderful high twist BFL. I love how nicely woolly it feels, so light and warm at the same time. Bedale, however, enchanted me with its fabulous sheen (that would be the silk content) and softness (baby yak). It’s just exquisite!

How did these influence what you decided to design and why?

If you look at the design closely you will notice the shawl is really just a big sampler. It has Garter, lace, slipped stitches, chevrons.  The moment I cast on, I knew I wanted the shawl to be a lot of fun with various textures and eyelets that would keep the knitter interested and show how versatile those yarns are. I hope I’ve managed to do that.

If you had to pick just one ECY yarn and colourway, what would it be and why?

I can tell you which colour is my favourite – that’s easy – Lichen.  But please do not ask me to pick just one base!  I’m in love with Whitfell Chunky (actually that’s the first ECY yarn I ever  touched!), I’ve been wearing Titus 4-ply for over a year now and it looks perfect, I’ve become smitten with Hayton. Whichever ECY yarn touches my needles I feel extremely inspired to make something beautiful to make the yarn glow.

Thankyou to Justyna for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you all found this really interesting; we certainly did. 

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