Posted on 5-10-2020 by Elianne van Steenis
The fourth edition of our 'Yarnplaza & ...' series is a special one. After three wonderful crocheters, this time we've managed to hook ourselves a talented knitter from across the border! Join us as we head to southern Germany to meet up with Kristin Joél, the knitting designer behind the brand Joél Joél - handmade 4 friends, and find out about her special design for Yarnplaza.
1. Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Kristin, I’m 43 years old and born and bred in Munich, Germany. I’m the passionate knitting designer behind the brand, Joél Joél - handmade 4 friends. In the last few years, in addition to designs and books I’ve published myself, I’ve collaborated with well-known magazines, publishers, yarn manufacturers, yarn stores and hand-dyers, creating exclusive designs for them. Since 2011, Joél Joél - handmade 4 friends has also been producing unique sewn and hand-knitted items at our studio in Munich. We take on knitting commissions for selected customers and have designed our own ‘Joél Bags’ collection. Guaranteed to send all knitters’ hearts racing! We’ve got knitting project bags in all different sizes and designs. Real priorities for us are high-quality, exclusive materials and extremely clean workmanship.
2. Knitting or crochet?
That’s quick and easy to answer. Knitting, all the way!
3. How often do you handcraft?
Every day! For me, knitting is an integral part of daily life. It doesn’t matter whether I’m working on a project, have something that needs to be finished urgently or I just need half an hour to switch off. Knitting grounds me, gives me a break from everyday life and calms me. It’s like a daily exercise in mindfulness.
4. Where do you enjoy knitting best?
I don’t have any particular favorite place to knit… I love to knit anywhere. Of course, it’s particularly fun to knit in company with fellow knitting addicts.
5. Coffee or tea, audiobook or series, what do you have with you when you’re knitting?
Definitely coffee… my day is only complete once I’ve had at least one latte macchiato or cappuccino in my hand, blocking out the rest of daily life and simply enjoying the moment. Add in knitting needles and that’s pure bliss right there. As for audiobook or series? Series! Preferably with a huge number of seasons that’ll hold my attention for a long time and offer many knitting hours. But I must admit, I’ve only recently become a series junkie. A typical audiobook rarely gets a look in, but I do love to listen to podcasts while knitting. Preferably ones about knitting and being creative, of course! But sometimes I don’t need anything on in the background. Just my knitting needles, a quiet place and time. That’s the best way for me to switch off, think, come up with new ideas, dream. Peace and time; that’s the real luxury. And if you manage to create something with your hands at the same time, then that’s all the more precious.
6. Row counter, stitch markers, notebook – what are your handcrafting essentials?
I always have a notebook to hand. Yes, a notebook might sound old-fashioned, but I love being able to note down my ideas, thoughts, sketches and notes about designs in a book. I also find myself doodling in it too and, looking back through it later, it feels like a diary. Row counters, stitch markers and things like that can all be improvised, and I just use whatever I find lying around. But what I really do have a lot of are project bags. That’s partly because I always have several projects on the go at the same time, but also because I design my own line of Joél Joél project bags for knitters. I like to keep one of each series, just because I think they’re beautiful. That does mean I end up with more bags than I actually need.
7. Do you still remember what your first project was and who introduced you to knitting?
My mother taught me to knit when I was a little girl. There was a lot of handcrafting going on and everything was handmade, so of course I wanted to join in. I don’t actually remember what my first knitting project was. I do remember that at the end of each row, I couldn’t quite manage to ‘turn around’, so my mom always had to do that bit. Then I would knit the next row. Teamwork! In a way, knitting has always been a part of my life. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on other things taking priority. But never not knitting. I love the fact that knitting and handcrafting have accompanied me for a lifetime.
8. What yarn do you use the most and what are your current trend colors?
I honestly don’t have a favorite yarn. Nowadays there are so many wonderful yarns out there and new ones are produced all the time. I find it fascinating to try out all different kinds of yarn because each one is beautiful in its own way. Like a lot of people, I tend to fall back on my favorite colors. There’s something magical about them that draws me in. Otherwise I let myself be guided—and sometimes persuaded—by my mood. I’m sometimes surprised by how I end up loving a color I’d never normally chose or how some colors worked particular well with certain designs.
9. Do you prefer to design or follow patterns?
Well, as a knitting designer, I love creating my own designs. But even so, I do also enjoy knitting other designers’ patterns.
10. What do you always have with you when out and about?
You’ve guessed it, my knitting! ??
11. Which project are you particularly proud of?
I’m proud of all my projects, in some way or other. Every project and design tell a story that’s personal to me. And I think every knitter should be proud of whatever they create with their own hands. It’s a real artform and everyone should be proud of that.
12. What are your future handcrafting plans?
I’m looking forward to bringing many more beautiful designs to life, to wonderful collaborations, to many happy hours spent knitting alongside fellow knitting lovers, to lots of beautiful and valuable encounters, and to respectful and supportive cooperation in the creative sphere.
13. Could you tell us about the special Joél Joél design you've created for Yarnplaza?
My design for Yarnplaza is the 'Sweet Seventies' shawl. This shawl design features a simple pattern that is transformed into a real eye-catcher by the play with color. The design is ideal for beginners and very easy to follow. You can go for the complete knitting kit which comes in a lovely retro colorway. Or go for the separate downloadable pattern and be creative; choose your favorite colors and create your own unique version. Have fun with it!
We hope you enjoy knitting this fabulous shawl by Joél Joél - handmade 4 friends. We'd love to see your work! Share a photo with us on Facebook or via Instagram with #yarnplaza #sweetseventiesshawl.