Artist of the Week: Kate Jenkins
Kate Jenkins began designing knitwear anonymously for the likes of Missoni and Sonia Rykiel before becoming her own boss. One day, she decided to crochet a full English to promote her cardi's at the Brighton Festival of Arts and the rest is history. Nowadays, there probably isn't a food you can think of that Kate hasn't crocheted. Kate makes and sells her wares from a little studio in Kemptown. Read on to find out about her bonkers wollies... We bet you'll never look at a packet of pork scratching's in quite the same way.
For those who don't know, tell us a bit about who you are and the work you produce.
I work as a crochet artist and knitwear designer based in Brighton. I have a studio and shop in Kemptown where people can come and visit and buy my work. All the artwork is all created by hand using crochet, embroidery and knit to create framed original art pieces in wool and sequins.
We hear your mum and Nan were both prolific knitters. Is that were the obsession began?
Yes, I was encouraged at an early age by both my Nan and my Mum. The first thing I ever made was a crocheted blanket made from hundreds of crocheted circles and squares all sewn together to create a crazy patchwork. My Nan used to make the most amazing fairisle sweaters.
Your motto is 'Knitwear for Life'. What do you mean by that?
'Knitwear for Life' describes the work I create which is fashion, homeware and art
You say anything can be created from yarn if it is made with love. Do you ever fall out of love with projects and wish you'd never started them?
Sometimes but not often. I really love what I do and feel it is important to start with a theme that really interests me so I dont get bored tire of it.
How come you predominantly crochet food? Is it simply what you're craving that day or is there method behind the madness?
There is so much inspiration in the world of food and drink as it is such a broad subject matter. I get really excited when I eat out and see a plate of food that I haven't seen before and I can create it in yarn. It has become a bit of an obsession over the years.
We hear you have a pretty impressive collection of 1950s-'70s craft books. Where does your love for retro graphics and mid century crafting from the come from?
For years I have collected vintage knitting and sewing books. My Mum used to buy the weekly sewing and knitting magazine 'Golden Hands' published by Marshall Cavendish in the 60's and 70's. She gave me the entire collection many years ago when I started university and my collection has grown ever since.
To name a few, you've knitted an American diner in New York, a champagne bar at the top of the London Eye and been exhibited in Liberty's. What has been your favourite project to date?
Last year I created an entire knitted and crocheted fish counter which was exhibited at Alexander Palace. It took 9 months to create and reallly was a labour of love. I had always wanted to make the fish counter for many years and it was fantastic to see it all come together. I even dressed up as a fishmonger to complete the whole look!
How did it feel being given free rein to jazz up one of the rooms in Brighton's Pelirocco hotel?
The 'Do Knit Disturb' room was a great project to work on and receieved global press coverage which was amazing even ending up in the New York Times!
How do you make sure your creations are as close to the originals as possible? Some of your pieces must take ages and a LOT of patience!
I have to really concentrate and work for hours to get things exactly right. I have a huge amount of patience when it comes to my work and hate to rush things. Working by hand is a slow process but very rewarding when it all comes together.
What do you love so much about crocheting food as opposed to kitting your cardigan designs? If you could only do one forever which would it be?
I think crocheting as it is very therapeutic.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
I am currently starting work on a new exhibition for 2017. The working title is Sex and Drugs and Rock in Wool so expect all the themes within the title.