Tell us a little about your knitting background?
I can’t recall a time when I didn’t knit, my mother, both grandmothers and great aunts all knitted and one of my grandfathers always had a pair of socks on the go. My father admitted he used to knit his own socks! There was always knitting on a practical level as, being one of 3 girls, we grew out of school jumpers and cardigans, lost gloves and hats. When I got older and started to choose what I wanted to wear some weird and wonderful things were created! My mother was very good at working with me on things, doing some of the bigger sections, so I had created something before I had grown out of it!! I haven’t made anything for me for years. I was the Wardrobe Supervisor at Pitlochry Festival Theatre for several years and most seasons we needed a jumper or cute period twin set which several of us shared making. One season I crocheted a bikini! I like making small things that I can complete quickly, I get rather bored working on large pieces. My mother used to knit and read a book or watch a film at the same time, a skill I have never mastered!
How did you choose the Brits who made it into the book?
We wanted characters who shaped and are associated with Britain through its history and today. We thought about people we liked and found amusing. Had a strong image that, even in wool, we hoped to make instantly recognizable. Gave us a variety of clothes and images to explore and hopefully make our readers smile.
Which is your favourite creation from Knit Your Own Britain?
I think I would have to choose the Marmite Jar. It is not very big, it’s not complicated knitting and I really don’t like Marmite, but I like the fact that it could sit on someone’s kitchen shelf for quite a while before it was discovered as being an imposter!!
What level knitter are the patterns best for?
As long as you have the basics of knitting and understand how to increase and decrease I would say have a go. Slightly more complicated, perhaps, is using 4 or 5 needles to work pieces in a circle but if you know someone who knits a lot ask for some help. I’d like to think something in this book encouraged a hitherto non-knitter to start!!
What’s your favourite part about coming up with ideas for your books?
It has to be sitting over coffee and giggling with Ruth!!
Where would you like “Knit Your Own..” to go next?
We have a few ideas we are kicking around at the moment and friends keeps coming up with “hey, you could knit…….” We are amazed and delighted that both Knit Your Own Britain and Knit Your Own Scotland have been received with such enthusiasm and whatever bit of silliness we come up with next knitters will want to have a go at.
What else do you like to knit except these toys?
It’s rather nice to knit other peoples patterns and now I appreciate every stitch and the agony that went into it.
Do you have any yarns or particular fibres you like to knit with?
I knit quite tightly and yarns that have a stretch in them suit me better. Having spent many years of my life working with fabric I keep trying finer wools and smaller needles in an effort to create more of a cloth. Also trying to get a better scale on our dolls. Maybe I should try a few large things for a change!!
Knit Your Own Britain by Ruth Bailey and Jackie Holt is published by Black and White Publishing price £ 9.99