Laura Zukaite is an independent knitwear designer with an impossible-to-miss style and yen for luxury fibers and sophisticated looks. Her patterns are often thoughtful and well designed, with feminine details and a touch of the unexpected. Take a look at the Magnolia Swirl Cowl, a free pattern published in our weekly Web Letter. It is a tapered cabled strip that is joined in a coil of sorts, not with regular seams, but with a spiralling silk ribbon, integrating the finishing into the design.
Laura is already familiar with Magnolia, having used it in her Golden Girl Cardigan, another clever, feminine piece from her independently published collection at LauraZukaite.com.
She is the author of two books, Luxe Knits and Luxe Accessories, both featuring sophisticated designs in luxury yarns, and is also a frequent contributor to various online and print magazines, like Knitting, Vogue Knitting, and Knitty. She was kind enough to do an interview with us here at the blog.
How long have you been designing?
I have been knitting since I was five. All of my knits and later sweaters came out of just my imagination. Back then I never thought of what I was doing as "designing". But now when I think about it- I was designing all along.
How did you get started?
Actually, I do not remember. As far as my memory goes, I have always been knitting. My mother is an excellent knitter, so I assume that she taught me somewhere along the way. But I do not have a recollection of my first project or yarn that I used.
What's the first piece you ever designed (not necessarily for CEY)?
I think that the first piece that I have intentionally designed was when I was about 14 or 15. My mom bought me a cone of a beautiful Gray Heather Alpaca yarn and I knit myself an Aran Turtleneck. I still have it and wear it to this day: it became my favorite skiing sweater.
What pieces did you design in the Fall Collection?
For CEY Fall Collection I have designed two pieces in Kumara: Afternoon Light (off-shoulder top) and Landscape (ribbed hat), a piece in Ariosa: Glacier (ribbed cardigan), and an accessories set in Giselle: Merry and Bright (Hat and Cowl).
What is the timeline for one of your designs, from swatch to pattern to sample?
Depending on a complexity of a design- it could take anywhere from one to three weeks to turn around a sweater piece.
Approximately how many patterns do you publish a year?
Do you use test knitters?
What is your "design process"?
I usually start with the yarn and swatch. After I have the fabric created- then I move into sketching. I usually sketch-up a few ideas for one swatch and then pick my favorites. After that, I select colors and start the knitting process. I like to take notes as I knit and write the pattern afterwards.
Where do you do your design work? What does your "creative space" look like?
I usually design at home and execute “on-the-go”. But sometimes I would come up with ideas while just walking around and then only put it on paper when I get back to my studio. I knit pretty much anywhere (subway, train, waiting for doctor’s appointment…etc) but rarely at home.
What is your favorite piece you designed for the Fall Collection? What was your inspiration? My favorite piece is Afternoon Light (off-shoulder top) in Kumara. I remember at that time I was obsessed with subtle little ways of exposing the skin- and the piece just came to life naturally.