In Simply Knitting issue 100 we found out about the knitting ups and downs, and some secrets, of our soon-to-be former editor. We didn't have room for all the gems in the mag, so here are some extra bits here!
Simply Knitting: When did you start knitting?
Debora Bradley I was about six when I first started, but didn’t really get the hang of it until I was eight.
My mother taught me (her grandmother taught her when she was small). I remember getting frustrated I couldn’t get it right at once.
My dad also does a mean garter stitch, and my aunt and grandmother on my dad’s side always knitted, so I used to get jumpers and cardigans for my birthday. I horrified them by insisting that my favourite colour was black from the age of seven or so – it was a lie but it got such a good reaction I couldn’t resist repeating myself until I was about 14. I should add that I never, ever, got a black jumper.
SK: What was the first item you knitted?
DB An emerald green square, followed by a pale yellow ‘gonk’ – a skinny chap with a felt hat and beard.
SK: What is your advice to knitters who are just beginning?
DB Don’t worry if you find it hard at first, or about doing it the ‘right’ way. Muscle memory accounts for a lot in knitting, so practice getting your fingers and hands into the shapes that work. Try not to hold the needles too tightly!
SK: Who is your knitting hero?
DB Too many to mention! I’m constantly amazed at the hugely impressive artistic creativity and the mathematical and spatial awareness and abilities of designers and technical editors. People outside the industry have no idea how complex even a ‘simple’ knitting pattern can be.
SK: Where is your favourite place to knit?
On the sofa, usually working around a rather large cat (pictured above) attempting to make herself comfortable on my lap and complaining loudly if the knitting gets anywhere near her
SK: Do you have any rituals surrounding your knitting?
DB Not really, though I do like to sit in the same place on the sofa.
SK: How would you describe your style?
DB Quite classic – I love the look of detailed lace patterns and simple great big cables. My favourite yarns tend to be whatever’s softest and least itchy.
SK: Where do you get your inspiration from?
DB Everything from high street fashion (such as this House of Fraser poncho) to vintage patterns, paint shade cards to the Sunday supplements.
SK: What is your greatest knitting triumph?
DB Any new skills – it’s so satisfying to achieve something you haven’t tried before, and there’s so much scope for that in knitting.
SK: What is your favourite knitting snack?
DB Got to be non-messy chocolate – mini eggs, Minstrels, white chocolate buttons, and Green & Blacks chocolate!
SK: Has knitting ever caused you to neglect your duties?
DB Yes. ‘I just have to finish my row’ means sleep, feeding the cat, making dinner and doing work all have to wait.
SK: What music do you like to listen to when you knit?
DB Somehow the radio is usually tuned to Radio 4, and I do love to knit to The Archers…
SK: Do you have any unfulfilled knitting aspirations?
DB Tons! There are so many patterns I’d love to knit, designers I’d like to meet, techniques I want to learn.
SK: What is your happiest or funniest knitting memory?
DB Knitting Alan Dart’s Paddington many years ago. I was still living at home then, and my mother helped me. We even bought him little red wellies from Mothercare.
SK: Where do you keep your knitting stash?
DB Everywhere I can possibly fit it, though the mohair hasn’t gone in the freezer and there isn’t any in the bathroom… yet.
SK: Where would you like to live, apart from where you live now?
Lots of places! But Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a magical city, architecturally beautiful and very inspiring.
SK: Besides knitting, what are you really good at?
DB Driving strange cars, reading maps and building flatpack furniture.
SK: What are you terrible at?
I have no sense of time, it’s so embarrassing.
SK: What do you knit when you’re on holiday?
DB I like to try and do some lace while I can concentrate without interruption. But it depends – if it’s anywhere hot I can’t do anything at all!
SK: Do you have any favourite colours and colour combinations? What about decorative styles?
Blues, greens, and teals, pinks, purples and greys. I adore art deco and Scandinavian styles. I’d love to live in a ‘Poirot’ style house but I’d have trouble keeping it sleek and tidy! Or I’d be happy with an Edwardian house like the one I grew up in.
SK: What do you secretly like that is not considered fashionable?
Anything that’s warm makes me happy. Entirely random layers in random colours are not the height of fashion, apparently!
SK: Your favourite movie?
Too hard to choose! Jane Eyre (the Orson Welles version), Ninotchka, Star Wars, The Matrix, Dodgeball, Grease, West Side Story…
SK: Your favourite book?
Depends on my mood but I do love Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (or in fact anything by her) and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.