Jules Hogan describes herself as a ‘gatherer’, constantly picking up inspiration from the world around her – the colours in lichen-covered rocks, geometric repeats in architecture, palettes from interwar art, patterns from patchwork quilts and weaving. She works from her studio at the end of her garden, where she designs her patterns, knits them on a reconditioned knitting machine, and then washes them lightly to give a soft, slightly felted texture. We spoke to Jules about her influences, background and workspace…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a freelance knitwear designer and designer/maker based in Reading, Berkshire. I graduated from Winchester School of Art in 1995, and I’ve been working in the design industry for the past 19 years. My specialisation is knitted textiles, but I also have experience in print, embroidery, and colour prediction. In 2008 I started developing my own collection. This allows me to carry an idea through to the end product – quite often working for a client, you come up with the initial idea, knit the fabric and then wave it farewell as the company produces the final piece.
How would you describe your work?
My work is quite colourful and contemporary, yet has a feeling of nostalgia. My collection includes gifts, fashion and home accessories.
What influences your designs?
My influences are quite varied. I’m constantly gathering – it could be the colour of lichen on a stone, a painted building or the regular patterns of a woven fabric. I like to have an understanding of trends in colour and pattern, but a constant inspiration is the tradition of knitting, updating with colour and simplifying pattern. I am currently looking at the stunning patchwork quilts made by the women of Gees Bend, the weaving workshops of The Bauhaus and landscape paintings by Eric Ravilious.
Was there a particular inspiration behind the colour palette in your current collection?
I am naturally drawn to blues, greens and neutrals, so these are a constant. I updated that palette for this collection, adding mint green and teal, but there will also be more taupe and greys. My favourite colour is mustard yellow, an acquired taste, so I try to use it in small quantities.
What direction will your next collection take?
My next collection will be a development of current themes, but I’m hoping to add some new exciting products. Watch this space – all will be revealed in the coming months!
Is it important to you that most of your materials are sourced in the UK?
It is. The super soft lamb’s wool yarn that I use has been sourced from a family-run company that spins in Ayrshire Scotland. Highly fragrant lavender buds and wheat that generously fill lavender hearts has been grown and dried in the UK and even the cushion pads are British made.
Can you describe your workspace?
My studio is at the end of the garden and I love walking down to my creative haven. I have everything I need around me, reference books, magazines, colourful yarn and knitting machines.
What do you listen to while you work?
I mostly listen to the soothing tones of Radio 4, but if I need more of a lift I plug in my iPod and play Kate Bush, Macy Gray or Nitin Sawhney.
Can you describe your perfect day?
My perfect day is a Sunday, as this is my guaranteed day in the studio. After a walk in the woods with my husband Tim and our two crazy Cocker Spaniels we head home have a hearty breakfast and then the rest of the day is spent absorbed in yarn, knitting and making.
Finally, do you have a favourite piece?
My current favourite piece is a cushion inspired by a patchwork pattern called ‘flying geese’. I like the combination of colours and regular repeating pattern.
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Shop Jules Hogan on Folksy