Interview with knitwear designer Laura Irwin

Laura Irwin

I distinctively remember the very first time I saw Laura Irwin. I had just moved to Portland and was knitting at the yarn shop CloseKnit on Alberta Street when a young lady with a very beautiful knitted/felted bag walked by me. As that bag caught my eye, I stopped knitting and asked the young lady were she got that beautiful bag.

bag-by-Laura-Irwin

I was beside myself when she replied that she designed and knitted her bag, but I was even more impressed by the humble and friendly way she carried herself. Little did I know that this humble young woman was a published knit wear designer and that her bag would shine on the front cover of the book BagStyle by Interweave Knits.

Now, a year later, Laura Irwin’s first book “Boutique Knits, 20+ must-have accesories” is about to hit the shelves at yarn stores nationwide. I approached Laura Irwin and last Wednesday we sipped some wine at a French Bakery somewhere in Portland and chatted away about knitting, designing and how it feels to have your very first book published.

Boutique Knits, 20+ must-have accessories

boutique+knits+book+cover-1

Laura Irwin started her knitting career about 8 years ago in SE Portland. Every day she would walk by a yarn shop called “the Yarn Garden”, and when she saw a young woman knitting at a Stumptown coffee shop, her interest was piqued.

“It was for the very first time that I saw somebody knitting”, Laura recalls, “She was young, stylish and just a cool girl knitting at a coffee shop. I instantly knew that what was she was doing, was something special.”

Soon after her very first “knitting sighting”, Laura went into the Yarn Garden, got herself some yarn, needles and a pamphlet. Determined to figure out herself how to knit, she produced these garter stitch rectangles. “I did not even know how to seam pieces together”, Laura laughs, “So I would just cram my knitted rectangles together with my sewing machine!”

Working at yarn shop Lint and encountering mentors

Although Laura worked as a line cook in restaurants, she made the choice to make a major career switch. Barely knitting for less than a year, she got a job at a downtown Portland yarn shop called Lint.

Laura: “I decided to embrace this whole new path. Compared to working at restaurants, working in a yarn shop felt like vacation.”

It is in this yarnshop Lint where Laura meets her mentors: the yarn shop owner Melissa, the costumers who with their endless curiosity and questions pushed Laura to learn everything there is to know about knitting, but hands down her most important mentor would be a woman called Leigh Radford.

Laura: “Leigh was the very first one who really acknowledged my work as a knitting designer. She guided me in how to make it in the industry of designing knitwear. I highly respect Leigh as a designer and I highly respect her integrity. Leigh found me…”

Yes, yes! I am your girl!

After being published in several knitting magazines, Laura is approached by Interweave Knits to publish a book. She grabbed this wonderful opportunity with both hands and said to the Interweave Knits acquisition editor who called her: “Yes, yes! I am your girl!”

And thus Laura commences to design her projects for her very first book. The results are stunningly beautiful. There are many pieces which I find very unique and fresh!

sideways+grand

hoodie+devoted

fingerless

Is it hard parting from your patterns?

Having designed and written patterns myself, I know how much work that entails. There are many hours spent on knitting, re-knitting and even a lot ripping. A LOT OF RIPPING.

Once you put your patterns out there for the world to know, it is really out there. All your little secrets and tricks are now for everybody to see. When I ask Laura whether it is hard for her to part from her patterns, she replies that she does not have any problems with that.

Laura:” I decided to be a pattern writer. I am very happy when knitters are inspired by my patterns. We all inspire each other with our work.”

Being extremely grateful

At the end of the evening, Laura expresses how extremely thankful she is to have been guided by several amazing teachers. She mentions Leigh Radford (knit wear designer), Dayna Pinkham (designer and milliner) and Holly Stalder (fashion designer). “All talented designers who are comfortable in their skin”, says Laura.

She feels truly lucky to have been surrounded by such amazing women and knows that one day she will have the opportunity to guide somebody else, and give back what was so generously given to her.

Book signing at CloseKnit on Alberta Street in Portland OR

It was a pleasure to meet up and talk with Laura Irwin. Her fresh and sparkly yet very down to earth energy made me smile. I am so happy for this talented young woman and I want everybody to buy her book!!!

There will be a book signing event at CloseKnit on Alberta Street on Saturday November 15th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Come get your copy and meet the wonderful Laura Irwin herself.

Laura Irwin booksigning

Visit Laura Irwin’s blog at: Preciousknits.blogspot.com.

Laura Irwin’s designs are sold at Seaplane in NW Portland: e-seaplane.com.

Thank you for reading and until the next entry!

2 Responses to Interview with knitwear designer Laura Irwin

  1. jennifer turnipseed says:

    can i purchase the hoodie devoted from anywhere or anybody???

    • gettingpurlywithit says:

      Hello there, Jennifer,

      To my knowledge, the hoodie devoted by Laura Irwin is only available in her book “Boutique Knits”. I don’t think you can by this pattern as an individual pattern.

      If somebody out there would like to differ, please let us know.

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