Chatting with Knitwear Designer La Maison Rililie
I first discovered knitwear designer La Maison Rililie on Ravelry when I was searching for a sweater knitting pattern for Supersoft and came across Moroccan Nights. I love Rililie's use of textured stitches and interesting construction techniques; as well as her ability to put colours together that really work like in Dessine-Moi Un Mouton and Green Memories.
Dessine-Moi Un Mouton
I was very lucky to catch up will Rililie a few weeks back and had the chance to ask her a few questions about her designs and how she got started, here's what she had to say:
How did you come up with the name La Maison Rililie Design?
That’s quite a funny story actually: My niece named me Rililie when she just started talking and everybody found it cute so it kind of stuck. Today she doesn’t even remember that it was her that gave me my nickname, but all my family and friends still call me Rililie.
When I started designing I thought that I would need a more serious “designer-name” of some status… so I kind of thought self-sarcastically, why not go extra big and call it “La Maison…” like the French haute couture houses do. I didn’t think that it would become my full time job one day and that the crazy name that started as a private joke would become an important part of my work, well…
(By the way, the pronunciation is quite hard for English speaking folks, so here you have the phonetic transcription: [rililiː]).
Do you have a formal background in design or did you find your way into knitting via a different route?
I have a Master in Fine Arts which has helped me a lot in everything design related like construction, structure and colour. I started to research knitting and crocheting when I wanted to work with traditional “female” material for a gender related project and for some reason I just couldn’t stop knitting after that!
What inspires and influences your designs?
This is quite hard to answer… there is nothing specific that inspires me. I mostly design things that I personally would like to wear and that I find flattering. It also needs to be a project that keeps my interest and curiosity going, so my main focus is always the construction of each piece and how to achieve things with techniques that I sometimes have to make up myself so that they work out the way I imagined. This is actually the most exciting part of every design and the final look more or less comes together while experimenting on the construction.
When you’re designing a new project say Orza Pullover how does it evolve from an idea to the actual knitted garment? Could you talk us through the process.
I always start with a general outline of an idea (like the different raglan slope for the back in the case of Orza) and then I start exploring and playing with it while working on the project. It’s while knitting the garment that I refine all the different aspects.
It’s more of a Fine Art approach I am afraid: I never know what I will end up and the finished product has little to do with the first sketch I have had in my head. The big drawback with this kind of procedure is that it takes much more time for each pattern, but the freedom it gives me to be able to decide on what works and what doesn't in every given moment during production is very vital for me. Besides, I find that it’s much more fun to work creatively and to completely change tracks, than to just materialise an idea.
You’ve an amazing eye for colour, how do you decide on the colours you want to use in a design?
Oh.. thank you! I don’t know really, it often seems quite haphazardly - but as I said, I had a very intense formal training in painting and after so many years of working with colour it comes quite naturally I guess. I like playing around with colours and often I just add a new one to the project while working because it “feels right”. I rarely think about rules but I am sure that they lurk around somewhere in my brain and that it’s not as an impulsive choice as I feel it is at the moment.
Do you have a favourite yarn?
I am very fickle in my loyalty to yarn - I can be all excited about one, while the next moment when I see another that catches my eye I will adore that yarn until the third one comes along!
But it’s true that I am often coming back to Holst - the choice of colour, the quality and the competitive prices are hard to beat.
You started your blog Knitting Therapy in 2012 and have developed a particular style especially with your photography. Can you offer any advice on how to take great photographs of finished projects?
I really love photography and everything related to images and the atmosphere one can create, depending on each specific frame… So in a nutshell it’s just simply that: to get involved with all the aspects of photography and to have fun with it. I have even done a blog post about my preferred methods and tools, after I had gotten some emails about specifics. It can be found here: http://www.lamaisonrililie.com/knittingtherapy/snap
Did you ever think that when you started your blog and released your first pattern Inbetween Bolero on Ravelry that you would have reached to popularity that you now have?
God, no! Never!
It is actually thanks to this wonderful community on Ravelry that I am able to do what I am doing today and to earn a living from it. If I hadn’t had this wonderful response to my knitting on that site, I would never have started designing at all. The encouraging messages I get and wonderful personal contact I enjoy is giving me the incentive to carry on and to try my best to please the lovely knitting community out there!
You’ve had an amazing year with lots of new designs, so do you have any upcoming news or anything they want to share that coming in up 2015?
Oh… well, of course there are big plans for next year: I was very lucky to have been asked to participate in the spring issue of a magazine that I admire. Then there are many ideas (too many sometimes) for new self published designs and maybe even a workshop in one of Europe’s capitals…
I am always busy and I can’t complain at all about it - it has been a wonderful journey!
A huge thank you to Rililie for taking the time to talk with me. If you like La Maison Rililie's designs you can find many of her patterns on our website here as well as more on Ravelry. I've just added her latest design Orza Pullover which is already making a stir among knitters on Ravelry.
Keep an eye out next week for our newsletter as we are planning a La Maison Rililie KAL.