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Designer Interview: Jill Wright

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Click here for larger image.

Jill Wright is an amazing designer with concepts that are uniquely constructed, beautifully arranged and wonderful to wear. Her work has been seen in too many places for me to list here. Jill's design, Selene, graces the cover of the outstanding special issue of Creative Knitting that came out last month, Easy, Everyday Openwork & Lace.

I think you'll enjoy getting to know one of my favorite designers!

When did you learn to knit? "My mum taught me to knit when I was 6 years old. By the time I was 8 years old and in Brownies, I was knitting baby garments and accessories, and following patterns working toward my 'knitters' badge."

How long have you been designing, and what got you started? "You could say I officially started designing in 2007 when I had my first design accepted to a magazine, but I had been dabbling with designing knitwear since my teens. I was flipping through magazines one day and wondered if I could get something published in a magazine. I just LOVE a challenge! As it happens, I entered a contest for new designers in Crochet! magazine, as I thought somehow it might be easier to get into crochet design. I RUSHED through my entry and mailed it overnight (which I'd never done before) and happened to win first place.

"Around the same time, I submitted a design to Interweave Crochet and had that accepted too. Funnily enough, they were both felted crochet bags, but very different in style. I also entered an afghan contest at Mary Maxim and came in second place. (They're STILL selling my afghan design as a kit.) I've been knitting longer than crocheting, but thought I'd take a shot at crochet design first. Once I was bitten by the bug, I began to submit knit designs too."

What was the first piece you ever designed? "My VERY first design was when I was a teen on my first visit to the United States. I designed myself an off-the-shoulder top in white cotton with a big splash of deep turquoise and 'FLORIDA' knit in yellow across the whole thing. I was 15, in the early 1980s, and it was in intarsia. My first published design was the prizewinning felted crochet bag design in Crochet! magazine -- the In-Jean-Jus Tote."

Can you tell me a little bit about your design process? "Inspiration comes first. Sometimes I look for inspiration in ready-to-wear styles in magazines, or if a company has a mood board or some kind of suggestions, I go from there. I list words which describe the design I want to achieve, and then I sketch as much as comes to me. It can be anything from a couple of ideas to pages of ideas, with six to eight on each page. I study the sketches and decide which I prefer whilst flipping through stitch dictionaries. Sometimes I use stitch dictionaries, sometimes I devise stitch patterns to go with the sketches I like best. Then comes swatching -- that's always fun, as that's where you realize whether your ideas will work as is, or if something needs tweaking. And you can see if your yarn choices will work or get ideas for other suggestions."

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The sketch and finished design for Jill Wright's Selene, featured in the Creative Knitting Spring 2013 issue.

What is your favorite piece that you've designed for Creative Knitting? What was your inspiration? "Wow -- well, that IS a question! I've designed quite a lot for Creative Knitting in the last few months, and I have to say that I think some of the newer ones yet to come in the summer 2013 issue would probably be my favorites. There's a two-piece set in the summer 2013 issue that was actually kind of inspired by the biker style, though it's much more feminine."