Meet Kandy Diamond aka Knit and Destroy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Amelia Holmwood interviews Kandy Diamond about her work, her brand new book and some unusual commissions.


Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Kandy Diamond, and I am a knit-a-holic. I am the founder, owner, designer and maker at Knit and Destroy which I started in 2006.

Your style is quite definitive, what do you think your brand says about you as a designer?

I like to think that my brand says that I, as a designer, am having some fun… that is what I am doing after all!  

What first inspired you to start your own business, and how did you go about it?

The thing that really inspired me to start my own business was the lack of well designed, accessible, affordable handcrafted products available. I had just learned to use a domestic knitting machine in my final year at University; here, I had also taken a business module which had equipped me with the base knowledge and confidence to start up my own small business.
I found a cheap second hand 'passap duomatic 80' knitting machine on e-bay and used my birthday money to buy in the summer of 2006. I started designing and making scarves which I sold at Manchester student market on a friend's stall. The next step was selling online, I used e-bay for this to start with but soon moved on to using Big Cartel which I still use now.      

How old were you when you learnt to knit? and who taught you?

Although we did a lot of crafts growing up, we never knitted, so I was a late bloomer and was 21 when I learnt. I learnt to machine knit as part of my Textile Design degree, and in the final year, I wanted to knit with ribbon, I couldn't put this through the machine, so my Mum then taught me to hand knit. I have kept picking my hand knitting back up over the years and really enjoy how different it is to machine knitting, I love the feeling of control and flexibility that comes with hand knitting.   

Why do you think it's important to pass on your skills to the next generation?

Passing craft skills such as knitting, (both hand and machine) is super-important. If we don't pass these skills on then there is the danger of them dying out which would be an incredible loss on so many levels and in many areas from arts and crafts, to families and communities.

All your wool is 100% lambswool, where do you source it from?

For my machine knitted work, I use Hinchcliffe's 2ply 100% lambswool yarn, spun in Denby Dale and purchased from Uppingham yarns. For the hand-knit patterns I wanted to stick to using wool but wanted the projects to be affordable for people to knit and needed a wide range of vibrant colours. I chose to use King Cole Merino blend DK yarns and was fortunate to have all the yarn I needed to develop and knit the patterns donated by King Cole.  

Which do you prefer, hand knitting or knitting on a machine?

The two are very different, I like aspects of both of them and find it difficult to choose. I like the precision, speed and patterning capabilities of machine knitting. With hand knitting, I enjoy the simplicity of the actions and that all you need is your hands combined with needles and yarn to create fabrics.   

Do you get a lot of requests, which commission has been your favourite?

I welcome commissions, as I love the challenge of designing and creating something for the first time. My favourite customer commission so far has been a crocodile scarf that I made a few years ago. I have also recently started working as part of an Artist collective with two friends of mine called 'Yiiikes! Collective' which has given me the opportunity to knit things that I wouldn't make for Knit and Destroy such as an anatomical heart, giant mushrooms and a life-size tree.

Tell us something about your new book, Knit and Destroy... Gets Handy! - each of your designs is so unique, where do you get your ideas from?

All the projects in my new book have been developed from existing Knit and Destroy products. I take inspiration from things I like; popular culture, storytelling, novelty and knitting related objects and ephemera. My work also often involves a play on scale, and I like to have fun with the products I make.

Who is your book aimed at? Would a complete novice be able to knit one of your patterns?

My book has patterns that are suitable for all skill levels. There are a few patterns that would be suitable for a complete novice, I like to think that someone could start with the simpler patterns and progress  onto more difficult ones as they become more familiar with knitting techniques and more comfortable with the process of knitting and following patterns. I have tried to make the book as user-friendly as possible with handy hints and tips to accompany the patterns as well as videos of certain techniques on my you tube channel.

And finally, when you aren't knitting or designing - what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy lots of things…but mainly, crafting, dancing, charity shopping, adventuring and roller skating. I play Roller Derby for Sheffield Steel Rollergirls, and I love it. I skate two sessions a week and play regular bouts so this takes up quite a lot of my time. I also co-author craft 'zine 'Sugar Paper 20 things to make and do' which is a great excuse to explore other crafts. Also, when I get a chance, I love going adventuring; to me, this can be anything from a walk in the woods, a rummage in the charity shop to a day trip to the nearest seaside or ancient tourist attraction…discovering old things, natural things, colourful things and interesting things.

 

Knit and Destroy... Gets Handy! by Kandy Diamond is published by Cabin Creative, £12.99.
For more Knit and Destroy visit www.knitanddestroy.co.uk

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