Just a couple of weeks ago we announce the start of our latest knitalong Under the Same Sky. I thought it might be quite nice to find out a little more about the designer behind this wonderful shawl design, Nadia Crétin-Léchenne. I was very fortunate to catch up with Nadia last week....
Tell us about yourself?
I'm Nadia, 39 years old and I live in a very small village in Switzerland. I have 6 kids. I had the three oldest in a first marriage, and the three younger ones with my actual husband. He also had 2 boys from a previous union. So together we have a large recomposed family!
I became a mother really soon, at the age of 20. I wasn't really prepared for that, but I learned on the job. Things took shape quite naturally, as being at home was something that I really enjoyed. I had no plans for a big career with my diploma of trade employee, so it was a joy to become a mother and take care of my kids. And for a long time, it was enough for my happiness. Knitting came into my life at the exact moment when I was looking for something more for myself, the timing couldn’t have been better!
Have you always been a creative person?
Yes, I guess so. Before becoming a knitting addict, I did a lot of cross-stitch over the years. I always had a taste of having a work in progress to return to.
How did you get into design?
A friend of mine, who I met through my blog, had links with a French editor who was looking for a knitter to design a book about baby clothes. I have to say that I had knitted A LOT of baby clothes when I was pregnant with my youngest child (no kidding, I think that I knitted like 40 pieces of baby linen) so this was the perfect subject to inspire me.
So my first steps as a designer were for the book Layette (only available in French) and that was a turning point in my life.
What is your most popular design?
I think it's the Lady Marple cardigan. One of the first design I published, and still a winner 4 years after its release. I'm really amazed by the success of this pattern. People are enjoying knitting it still and I'm so thrilled every time I come across a new project on Ravelry of this cardigan.
Lady Marple by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne
Knitting shawls are hugely popular right now, why do you think that is?
It makes sense for me, as shawls are rather quick projects to knit (compared to something like a sweater or a cardigan). there's less risk that the result didn't fit, and the cost of the finished project isn't as important as for a bigger piece. Most of the time, you'll only need one or two skeins, so that's also the opportunity to treat yourself to a more expensive luxury yarn.
Tell us a bit more about your recent pattern collection, Shawl Junkies?
I love this idea of publishing patterns in small collections. And as those 5 patterns were designed straight one after the other, it made sense to keep them together for the release. And I really love shawls! I have lots of them. My husband is always joking about how rich we would be if we were to sell them! That's how the name of the collection came: I'm truly a shawls junkie!
Free Spirit from Shawl Junkies
In this collection, I tried to please all sorts of knitters. Some of them are garter stitch shawls; some of them include lace... The patterns reflect the endless possibilities when it comes to shawl design. And I can tell you a secret: if everything goes as planned, there will be a Shawl Junkie vol 2 before the end of the year!
Summer Rising from Shawl Junkies
You used Siidegarte Siide-Fideel in your design Under the Same Sky, what did you think of it?
This really is a precious yarn, don’t you think? The first time I got my hands on a skein I was so impressed by the beauty of the yarn and fibres. So gorgeous and incredibly soft too! To tell you the truth, I’ve never been a huge fan of silk yarns; I had this idea that the result would be quite slack, without a great stitch definition. But Siide-Fideel proved me wrong! It was so great to work with this yarn for Under the Same Sky, plus the colour palette is absolutely stunning!
Under the Same Sky is the Swiss Wulle Festival's official shawl pattern for 2015
What is your favourite knitting technique?
Instead of a favourite technique, I would say that I always try to keep things simple. That's a sort of personal mantra. When I design a garment or a shawl, it's the thing that I try to always have in my mind "keep it simple", although sometimes it's not that easy.
What is coming up for you in 2016?
So far, 2016 has been an exciting year for me. I had a design published in Amirisu, and - even more exciting - another design published in BT Wool People. I'm feeling so deeply proud and honoured to have my work featured in those two excellent publications. It's immensely rewarding and encouraging for the future.
Sumire from issue 10 of Amirisu
This year, I'll also take part to the second Swiss Wulle Festival. It will take place in Zug in October and it's possible that I'll take another step by teaching my first classes. I'm still not completely decided, but there's a good chance that I throw myself in at the deep end!
Fides from Siidegarte asked me to design the official shawl of this year's festival. It will soon be revealed, and I really like this one. Once again, it was a pleasure to collaborate with Siidegarte.
If you'd like to discover more of Nadia's patterns you can find her on Ravelry, plus check out her website www.nclknits.com.