London Craft Guide Project: Knitter's Tool Roll

To keep things on equal footing, our next project profile is the first of two sewing projects that you'll find in the London Craft Guide.

As most of the makers we know tend to dabble in more than one craft, we were delighted with the proposal we received for the Knitter's Tool Roll from Catherine Hopkins. The Knitter's Tool Roll is an ingenious merging of both sewing and knitting, perfect for the multi-craftual (or those aspiring to be!).

Photo credit: Juju Vail

Photo credit: Juju Vail

YITC: Tell us about the inspiration for your design. 
CH: My inspiration came from the knitting needle roll my father-in-law made for my mother-in-law. My FIL was a draftsman and whatever he was writing, a shopping list, a birthday card or marking out the needle sizes on the sections of his wife’s needle roll he always approached the task as though he was adding the lettering to a complicated diagram. He worked for a large British furniture company as a manager and I think he took the idea from the carpenters. It was quite usual for them to keep their wood carving tools in a canvas roll. I discovered the needle roll when I was sorting my in-law’s possessions after they died. I don’t really use long needles but I keep the roll, and when I see the handwriting I am reminded of two people I was very fond of. For my knitters tool roll I took the basic idea, and designed the roll around my knitters tools providing a pocket for each item.

YITC: Do you travel for your craft? How do travel and craft fit together in your world?
CH: So far only around the UK.  I have been to the wonderful Welsh knitting retreat created by Brenda Dayne of the Cast On podcasts, Gwlana, several times. I have also visited quite a few of the yarn festivals. I would love to got to Rhinebeck or SQUAM one day! But I certainly travel with my craft - deciding on what projects to take with me is part of my packing routine. I think about what I need for the journey (including what is permissible to take on an airplane) and what the weather will be like when I get there (e.g. small projects in cotton for a hot place but a large woolly afghan is great for a snowy car journey).

YITC: Do you buy souvenir yarn or fabric? What do you look for?
CH: Wherever I go on holiday I search out the local yarn shops. I always buy something and try to buy local.  Sometimes it is not possible to find locally produced or dyed yarn so I buy in colours that remind me of the country, such as the skeins of cotton and silk mix in vivid magenta and bright orange that reminded me of the pelargoniums in the window boxes that I bought in the tiny yarn department at the back of an underwear shop on Corfu.

Photo credit: Juju Vail

Photo credit: Juju Vail

YITC: Tell us about you and your personal design style. How does your project fit in?
CH: I like to have everything in its right place.  Sometimes this is just an aspiration, not a reality, just a look at my stash boxes will tell you that.  But my tool roll pleases me as I can not only neatly carry all my little tools with me but unroll it on my work table and have everything to hand

YITC: What is your crafty background?
CH: I grew up in a family that just about made everything for ourselves, my mother sewed and knitted our clothes, and stitched curtains and chair covers, my father grew most of our vegetables, did all the decorating and put up shelves. So I took up making things as a matter of course, dolls clothes, embroidery, anything really. But I can’t say I never stopped, for quite a long time when I was working full time with a husband and four teenagers at home it was easier to buy the dresses and sweaters and collapse on the sofa with a book after I got home. Then in an idle moment I discovered what sewing and knitting had become in my absence by reading some people’s blogs. In fact I think the light bulb moment was reading a review of Erika Knight’s book Simple Knitting and persuading the publisher to send me a copy to review for my ‘new blog’. In order to write a proper review I chose one of the projects to knit up first.

YITC: What project do you have ongoing right now?
CH: My big 2016 project is restoring a 18th century patchwork quilt, an heirloom passed on to my daughter by her godmother. It has been used and loved for so long, a lot of it is in tatters. I’m also aiming to knit and sew entirely from stash. But for the first two months of the year I am hoping to complete my WIPS.  The WIPs include my first sweater in my own hand spun yarn.

YITC: Where can people find more of your designs?
CH: I have very few formal designs out there - just a couple of knitting patterns on Ravelry, otherwise the designs are more ideas and can be found on my blog.

When she's not blogging or designing you can find Catherine spinning, knitting, sewing, reading or painting with watercolours. So much so sometimes that she has to force herself to cook meals and be sociable!

Social media info:
Twitter: chopkins_knits  
Ravelry: Chopkinsknits
Instagram: chopkinsknits