We’re absolutely delighted to feature kits for the new Les Dunes Cardi by our good friend Faïza Mebazaa of HandSoOnKnits. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting and knowing Faïza, we are pleased to introduce you to her through this Designer Spotlight.
What was your source of inspiration for the Les Dunes Cardi?
It was mostly an idea: urban coziness was what I was after. I knew I wanted something generously oversized and comfy, with style and structure. I also envisioned a squishy texture, which led me to create this stitch pattern. (I was pretty smug about it until I found out very similar stitch patterns already existed!)
When did you first learn to knit and who taught you?
My beloved grandmother, who raised me in the South of France until the age of 9, taught me the knitting basics. She was a wonderful knitter who loved intricate projects, the more engaging the better! She chose her yarn in a thick Bergère de France catalogue with pages and pages of little sample fringes that I adored.
After that my father took me to Tunisia and I didn’t touch a needle for years.
As you were learning to knit, what was your biggest challenge?
My one and only challenge is speed: I am a sloooow knitter aspiring to knit all the knits!
How and when did you decide to design patterns?
When I got back to knitting as a very young adult, I picked patterns in French magazines. It was a bit frustrating as I often found them lacking in style and originality. I wasn’t totally content with the available yarns either. Years passed until one day, as I was searching the internet for the elusive bright yarn, a picture jumped at me: it was a stunning neon yellow. I had found Plucky Knitter and Ravelry! It was a game changer. My knitting skills skyrocketed. I felt like a kid in a candy store, swooning over indie yarns and modern patterns.
I’ve always loved to tweak patterns to make them my very own, and now my head was filling with ideas I couldn’t find out there. Why not give them life? It felt like such an intimidating step to make! Naturally my first design was totally inspired by the Plucky range of colors, and my love of intricate stitch patterns: Rumors of Snow, a luscious cabled stole in – guess what? – Snug Worsted, was born. Hats and shawls followed.
It took me some time to take the plunge and design my first garment, MonTee. Grading is such a brain-teaser! Each new design brings a new challenge, and that’s a beautiful thing.
What are your sources of creative inspiration?
I am not going to say that I find inspiration in nature, or the rough beauty of my city surroundings. My creative process is somehow mysterious and I cherish it. First comes a vague but powerful urge: to make a garment in a soft DK base / to work intricate cables / to combine texture and colorwork / to create a delicate lacy item... Then I draw a small sketch and the idea really comes to life... After that it evolves through test and trial, and the magic of knitting.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I think handknits should not mimic mass-produced garments. I favour slighly unusual proportions and interesting constructions, but not to the point of extravagance or fussiness. My heart goes to loose-fitting sweaters with polished finishing details. I will probably never design an all-stockinette piece, unless it involves colorwork! I try not to repeat myself and instead offer something entirely novel in each new design.
Do you have a “secret” knitting tip you’re willing to share?
When (if) I get around to posting videos, I’ll definitely share my grandmother’s magic long-tail cast on, at the end of which you are ready to work a right-side row!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not knitting and designing?
I do cook and bake a lot (I’ve published a number of cookbooks in French). I’m very aware of the central part nutrition plays in our health balance, and my cooking has dramatically evolved as a result of my research on the subject, without compromising on pleasure though!
My entire wardrobe is me-made, but I don’t sew as much as I used to, due to my obsession with knitting.
Working out at the gym is essential: it sustains my mental wellness and physical vitality. Not to mention that it allows a lot of chocolate in my life!
And of course, living in Paris I can enjoy cinemas, museums and all the good stuff...