We've been so lucky to be able to interview the fabulous Holly of Holly Woodward Designs!

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Brie Jumper Alba Turtleneck Gigi Jumper
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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself - your background, general day to day life, hobbies (other than crafting).

I’m Holly, a 24 year old from Doncaster (South Yorkshire) and currently living in my hometown with
my partner and our house rabbit, Betty. I studied English Literature at the University of Sheffield and
I’ve worked predominantly in marketing for about 3-4 years during and after university. During school and university I was really into painting with watercolours and modern calligraphy for a while and started selling hand-painted cards and art out of my uni flat to keep me in baked beans! I even hand-painted a mobile gin bar in an industrial unit on a very cold day in Dronfield. I like to cook, bake and mostly just hang out with Betty on the sofa watching my latest series binge. Lockdown aside, I love getting together with friends and family, going out to local comedy gigs and enjoying a nice cold pint of Guinness!

   

2. Tell us a fun fact about you!

My first Saturday job (at 15 years old) was at a butcher’s stall on Doncaster Market. It involved basically everything: pot washing, prepping the stock for the stall and a lot of serving lovely regular customers. It was freezing cold, messy and very smelly but I stuck that job out for over 4 years! I remember specifically knitting myself a VERY long purple scarf that I could wrap up multiple times around my neck to keep warm. I’m now vegan so make of that what you will, haha!

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3. When and why did you start crafting?

I remember being gifted a ‘Knit Your Own Scarf’ kit from a family friend and being totally obsessed.
As a child, my favourite presents were crafty kits that I could just dive straight into, so when I
opened this one I soon realised it wasn’t going to be that easy! Unfortunately no one in my family
could knit so, as a very determined 11 year old, I set to teaching myself from very early Youtube
videos! It was pretty messy and I could only make scarves for a very long time until I attended a
crochet workshop at my LYS.

I was 14 when I learnt to crochet but it took me until 19 to really delve into the passion. I made my first big and successful project whilst at uni because I needed something to keep my hands busy when I was stressed or struggling to switch off. I used a lot of scraps (lovingly pilfered from my mum) to make the Happy Colours Blanket by Dorien Hollewijn so it turned out to be a great budget friendly
beginner make!

I’m quite the introvert and I was quite insular as a teenager, so I am incredibly grateful that I’ve always had my yarn to turn to! It’s been such a great help for my mental health, especially now more than ever.

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4. Do you have specific inspiration behind any of your projects?

Inspiration can hit anywhere for me. Sometimes I see a certain colour scheme and my brain is screaming to use it on a jumper, or even just looking through different sleeve types on Pinterest is enough for me to start sketching!

A lot of my early designs were simple shapes (to compensate for my fledgling design skills) but they were specific styles that I couldn’t find anywhere. I remember rooting through granny square jumper patterns and none caught my attention, so I just made it up as I went along and the Gigi Jumper was born! The Brie Jumper however was more of a personal challenge, I was curious to see if it was possible to make a granny stripe batwing more than anything. I remember holding off making it for months because I thought it was a bit too weird, but it’s now my most-loved pattern ever!

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5. What is your favourite piece you've done so far?

All my makes and designs have a very special place in my heart, but Gigi is my all-time favourite! I think it’s the balloon sleeves, they just make me SO happy. I am completely infatuated with granny squares and I find them so fun and relaxing to make. I think any design that encourages me to really play around with crazy colours or scrap bust is a total winner for me!

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6. What does your creative process look like?

My creative process is a mess! I start with a drawing, a fibre choice and some colours but it never ends up exactly as planned - which isn’t always a bad thing! Often times I find a smarter way of making something, or a design feature is completely changed for the better. I’m also incredibly indecisive so that is often a huge roadblock for the creative process, but I tend to end up with an okay design at the end. Some are just okay, some are great but the process is not a linear one.

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7. Does your home reflect your crafting passion?

We currently rent our home so it’s a bit on the bland side! However my dining room has my yarn neatly piled into shelving units so it looks a little bit like a shop at home, especially with my handmade blankets scattered around.

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8. What designers are you loving at the moment?   

Oh there’s not many designers I don’t love. I love how classic and timeless the designs of Knits N Knots and Two of Wands are, but I also love the more colourful and adventurous makes of The Missing Yarn and Katie Jones. Bonus points to designers if their sizing is inclusive! 

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                 Two of Wands                    Knits n Knots

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9. How would you describe your style?

My style changes every single day, but I know what I like and design around that.
I’ve always preferred wearing  clothes that are oversized with plenty of positive ease because I prize comfort above all. If you looked in my shop- bought wardrobe you wouldn’t see a lot of colour but my designs are pretty jazzy and colourful so it’s a great excuse for me to play around with different colours and styles to express myself.

 

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10. Do you have any tips for readers developing a passion for crafting?

I would advise you to find something that interests you and just go for it! There are so many incredible tutorials available and even help at your LYS, when lockdown restrictions are lifted. The yarny community is just amazing, so join the Facebook groups and follow the Instagram accounts - someone will always have the time to offer advice and help! Have a goal to work towards, such as a cardigan or blanket pattern, but just take it slow and you’ll get there.

Most designers (like myself) offer pattern support for paid patterns, so treat yourself to a paid-for beginner-friendly pattern and if you get REALLY stuck you can usually email the designer. This ensures that the pattern has been tested for any errors and should be great to go for even the most novice crocheter or knitter. Free patterns are great but you’ll find the paid versions are usually the easiest to follow and most-explained.

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11. We've asked all of our staff members this... if you were a yarn, what yarn would you be?

I would absolutely be a chunky, cotton and acrylic mix. I’m a fat vegan with a love of practical and reliable yarns in millions of colours. If I’m feeling particularly fancy I’d say 100% cotton, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a cheeky ball of acrylic yarn!

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To end our interview with Holly, we asked:

What are your future plans with Holly Woodward Designs?!

I am so happy in my little design bubble at the moment that I haven’t given much thought to the future! I’ve always had a little pipe dream of owning a small vegan yarn shop and social space, stocking the most gorgeous hand-dyed cotton, bamboo and other plant yarns. I’d love to have a go at dying my own yarn but I’m not sure I’d dare to in a rented property with a rabbit running around, so that is definitely one for the future.

For the immediate future, I think you’re likely to find me frantically crocheting in my house (or garden when the sun shines) cooking up some new and exciting patterns for 2021. I’ve just started to learn Tunisian crochet which is such a beautiful, versatile medium and I would love to explore some homeware and wearable designs. Who knows, 2021/22 might see the first HWD knitted garment too?

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Sylvia Jumper Lilith Cardigan Blaire Cardigan

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You can follow Holly's journey and see all of her projects on her Blog, Instagram,  Ravelry and Etsy.