Interview with Jimenez Joseph - Knitwear Designer
1) The first question seems like an obvious one but I love hearing how and why people start to knit.....when did you learn and did someone teach you?JJ: For all these years, I had always wanted to learn how to knit, but never got around to it. Then, after a sporting accident which dislocated my knee, it had left me laid up for months with nothing to do, so I started learning how to knit when I was 40! 😁 Much of what I’d learned was from YouTube and magazines. My next door neighbour also helped me with some of the basics too. She was lovely!
2) What inspired you to start designing knitwear? What was your first design?JJ: I used to make my own clothes as a teenager, but wasn’t very good at sewing - plus, I was not knitting back then. I had always been inspired by general high street fashion and would look at expensive clothes and try to figure out how I could make that for myself. Sadly, I would end up shooting down that idea due to my lack of sewing experience. Today, I am still inspired by general ‘fabric’ fashion and sometimes think…”I bet this would look great as a knitted garment!”My first design was for an open cardigan which I didn’t have enough yarn for, but still went ahead and fooled around with the gauge until it looked (ahem) ok! You can see it here on Ravelry (if you fancy a laugh!): https://www.ravelry.com/projects/JimiKnits/wexford-wrap-cardigan
3) Where do you take your inspiration from? Does your graphic design background play a large part in the process?
JJ: This is hard to pinpoint because design ideas come thick and fast! My head is flooded with designs, some of which get quickly sketched out and pondered over for a number of months, sometimes years! General fashion inspiration does play a part in the practical design process, but I believe that my graphic design background looks more at shape, line and texture.
4) I absolutely love that your patterns are colour coded - it’s genius! Sometimes patterns can assume the person knitting the garment will have the knowledge already - is is difficult to cover all the bases within a pattern?JJ: Thank you so much for pointing that out! When I started knitting, I just could not fathom any of the instructions from patterns in books and magazines. It put me off knitting from them, so I would end up just making it up as went along. When I finally came to design my own size-graded patterns, I wanted the instructions to be as clear as possible. I felt that it was important for the different sizes to be instantly recognisable, and if I had to write it in long-hand instead of abbreviations, then so be it! My aim has always been to make a pattern that you can just ‘dive into’ after making a tension swatch.
5) Could you tell us a bit about Maxine the Mini? It’s been fascinating watching the design process on IG.JJ: I took part in Felicity (Felix) Ford’s "Knitsonik System” online class. I was always fascinated by fair isle and stranded knitting, but had little experience in that field. Felix takes stranded knitting to a whole new level and I love that! As participants in the course, we were asked to find something to study and I used my car, a Mini Cooper called “Maxine”. From this we explored shapes and colours, then turned those into stranded knitting. I really enjoyed the process - and being more of a project knitter, this is totally unlike me!I would highly recommend this course. https://knitsonik.teachable.com/p/the-knitsonik-system16) Have you enjoyed working with Methera? Did you have an idea in mind before you tried the yarn out? Or did she speak to you of colour work cardigans!JJ: Methera is a dream to knit with! For a ‘rustic’ character yarn, it has enough of the ‘rough stuff’ to give structure to the knitting without the itch factor. It’s not hard on the hands either like some nordic yarns. It also has enough ‘fluff’ to give the right amount of warmth and filling. After a good blocking, stitches look nice and even with a slight bloom to it - you don’t want your knitting to look too perfect, otherwise people wouldn’t believe you knitted it! 🤣Methera came to me in a limited range of colours - and I love a challenge! So it was fortunate that having completed the Knitsonik course, Methera helped me to further develop Maxine from an idea of colour work patterns, into a unique cardigan design. It was a perfect marriage! I loved this yarn so much that I have knitted three Maxine The Mini cardigans! I’m not obsessed, am I?!7) It's an obsession that we can totally get behind Jimenez! We share your passion for her too! I love learning and passing on knitting tips - often that someone has shown me at a knit night or watching a tutorial. A favourite of mine is using removable stitch markers for sleeve decreases - not only is it easy to count and match the other sleeve - you can also see your progress when stuck out on sleeve island! Do you have a tip or favourite technique you could share?JJ: Crochet hooks are really handy for making stretchy bind offs when you don’t want the edging to flare out. For example: if you’re using 4mm knitting needle, use a size (or two) smaller crochet hook, like 3mm. When you come to bind off, insert the crochet hook into the first stitch and use it like a knitting needle. Knit into the next stitch and draw up a loop. You will have 2 stitches on the hook, yarn over the hook and draw a loop through both stitches, leaving you with 1 stitch. Repeat that across the rest of the row.This is my go-to method for stretchy edgings. The same technique can also be done with any kind of ribbing. Just work the purl stitches with your crochet hook.8) What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?JJ: I don’t get a lot of spare time, but I do enjoy my sport. I play tennis most weekends and I’ve been playing for about 14 years. I took up skipping 2 years ago after seeing someone on Instagram do these amazing twirls and jumps! I was like, “Wow! You mean to tell me the whole time we were in lockdown this summer, instead of spending time making sourdough bread, I could have been skipping in my back garden!!??” I absolutely love skipping. It’s a fabulous sport/exercise/pastime with a huge global community - a bit like knitting. We meet up occasionally and Jump Rope in parks and streets. It’s a lot of fun and very addictive - again, a bit like knitting! 😅My last international jump rope meet up was in Denmark. See this video: https://fb.watch/iXGQUF9Z1W/You make that look easy Jimenez but I know for a fact it isn't!Thank you SO much for your time, it's been insightful, fun and I'm definitely going to look at the KNITSONIK course. We're looking forward to seeing Maxine The Mini Cardigans popping up and of course casting our own on - but which colour?!We've put yarn bundles together - click through here to see.Click through here to jump onto JimiKnits website to check out all the beautiful patterns! Enjoy the beginnings of spring (and the snow!) and keep warm.Kate xxx