Claire Garland joins us on Close-Up Culture to chat about her heart-warming knitted creations.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into knitting?
I’ve always been into illustration, design and craft as far back as I can remember. Always making things – space outfits from Quality Street sweet wrappers for my Pippa Dolls is a very clear, very early memory.
Knitting-wise: knitting at school was my first introduction to the craft. But a more recent (25 years ago!) interest was re-kindled after my first child was born and I simply asked my mum to show me/re-teach me the basics. I knitted a baby bootie (singular) and then using the newly learnt skills in decreasing and increasing skills (learnt from said ‘bootie’), designed my first simple doll – my first ‘Knitted Babe’. I have a published book of the same name.
You create adorable knitted animals. How did you develop your style?
Aww thank you!
My first animal, after spending a few years knitting dolls, was a rabbit.
We have them in our garden, wild ones, and when I watched them I was intrigued by their shape and wondered how easy it would be to recreate those certain animal forms – head shape, thigh shapes, etc. So through trial and error – knitting with another new skill I’d read about – ‘Wrap and Turn’, I went about playing with shapes and forms with just a pair of needles and some yarn writing down the techniques and ‘finds’ as I went along. The Wrap and Turn technique I’d say was a game changer for me.
Not only are your knitted animals adorable, but you have a wonderful way of presenting them through photos. Can you tell us about that and your approach to social media?
Somebody from my Facebook page #imadethisrabbit said recently that one of the best parts about knitting my patterns is the playing and inventing and creating scenes for them afterwards – this I totally agree with and pre-Instagram I was doing that with my knitted dolls – bit like my making sweet-wrapper-space-suits for Pippa and friends all those years ago! Today, sharing the play is the icing on the cake thanks to social media.
My Instagram account is all about the invented worlds of these knitted creatures – not only mine but others too.
What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Definitely challenging myself to get even closer to that real animal look given that the only materials I have to play with are the yarn and the needles.
Every new design I try and get a step closer.
And the most rewarding?
The comments “I thought that was real” – to which I answer “thank you, always the best compliment for me!”
Is there a knitted creation that holds a special place in your heart?
I think the first Rabbit – called ‘Rabbit’, is somewhere near the top – simply because I remember how I felt when I’d knitted it, released the pattern and received such a lot of love from it.
I’m also loving my new ‘dolls’ animal-dolls purely because they take me back to my Knitted Babes – I love the dressing-up aspect.
And another – if I may – are the puppies, not mine but the ones others have knitted – I’ve a Domestika Course which teaches how to not only knit a puppy but also how to adapt the ‘Basic Puppy Pattern’ to suit the puppy breed of your choice, I’m overwhelmed by what’s been achieved!
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
I’m thinking maybe another course? I really enjoyed the one I did with Domestika – way out of my comfort zone but totally rewarding.
And – well there are lots and lots of animals out there to recreate! I’ve a list or requests a mile long.