What do you create?
I design and create handknitted and crocheted accessories and simple garments. This typically includes shawls, scarves, snoods, ponchos/wraps and hats as well as cushions, throws and blankets
Where do you make your work?
I work mainly from home in my dining room which doubles as a studio. I have a work bench that runs down one side of the room and lots of floor to ceiling shelving to store books, haberdashery and some of my stash! I also teach workshops locally and as far away as India. I have recently returned from teaching in Tuscany. I am always happy to work with groups if they have a specific remit or venue in mind.
What is your inspiration?
My sources of inspiration are varied. I am endlessly fascinated by the colour, texture and pattern found in Indian and Japanese textiles as well as the more contemporary influences of mid-century English and Scandinavian designers. Stitches and techniques can also be inspirational in themselves. I enjoy finding ways of taking a traditional method and finding ways of altering it.
What materials do you work with & why?
My preference is always to work with British wool, especially if it has a reliable provenance. We have so many varieties of wool in this country that it is not difficult to find a single breed or blend that will suit your purpose. When crocheting, I tend to use cotton or linen yarns and occasionally silk, as these help to give the kind of stitch definition that I require.
What process(es) do you use to create your work? / How so you go about creating your work?
I knit and crochet by hand. I would not know where to start with a knitting machine and would hate to lose that direct contact with the yarn. I use all sorts of techniques in my work including texture, cabling, lace, Fair Isle and beading. Crochet allows me to work in two and three dimensions as well as produce shapes that are often more difficult to create in knitting.
Wohich aspect(s) of your work do you enjoy most?
I love exploring different colour combinations and am always amazed by the impact that different shades or amounts of a colour can have on a project. I also really enjoy sharing skills with others when teaching and get quite giddy when I discover a new technique or better way to do something!
Who inspires and influences you?
I love the work of knit designers like Erika Knight and Kim Hargreaves – their attention to subtle shaping never loses its appeal. My friend, Jane Crowfoot has exploded into the world of crochet over the last few years with her tremendous sense of colour and pattern. I am a huge fan of Angie Lewin and last year discovered the work of Sheila Bownas, who was a contemporary of Lucienne Day, but largely undiscovered during her lifetime. A recent exhibition of her work really impressed me.
Have you always been a knitter and crocheter?
No! I trained as a Primary School teacher after completing a degree in English Literature and Language. I then moved into FE mand Adult Education, where I trained Teaching Assistants and worked with parents to support their children’s learning. I also worked in community based projects, supporting adults with learning difficulties and recovering from addiction.
How did you get started?
I have always knitted and as I got older decided that working with my hands and keeping textile traditions alive was becoming increasingly important to me. I started to teach workshops for a well known yarn company which led me into the world of publishing. I have written several books on knitting and crochet which was something I never saw coming! I also regularly contribute to knotting and crochet magazines. This combination of teaching, writing and designing has enabled me to work freelance.
Where do you exhibit/ sell your work?
I set up my own website in 2015. sarah-hazell.com focuses on small collections of downloadable patterns for designs that will stand the test of time. I also sell beautiful project bags using fabrics that I have sourced, some from my trip to India. I am working towards selling kits too. I also sell through craft fairs, knitting and stitching shows and open studio events.
What have you been doing / making this year? Do you have plans for next year you can share with us?
It has been an incredibly busy year, starting in January when I spent two weeks in India teaching knitting. I also appeared on Country File that month, talking about British sheep breeds and designing with small batch yarns. This was followed by launching the project bags on the website and working on collaborations with Erika Knight. I was invited to speak with Kirstie Allsopp when the Handmade Fair came to Ragley Hall. I have recently returned from teaching knitting in Italy. I have been making lots of accessories recently and exploring the concept of Sequence Knitting.
I will be returning to Italy next year and also volunteering to teach workshops for Knit for Peace. I would also like to develop more kits for the website as people keep asking and I keep running out of time!
What upcoming events do you have?
I will be supporting Jane Crowfoot and Erika Knight at The Knitting and Stitching Show in October (Alexandra Palace 11-15 Oct). November is very busy. We will be at The Textile Fair at Compton Verney on the 4th Nov. I will be teaching and exhibiting at Nottingham Yarn Expo 11-12 Nov and then rounding the year off with Made in Kings Heath on 25th & 26th November. If there is something you would like to ask me, then please contact me via http://www.sarah-hazell.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see Sarah’s work at Made in Kings Heath 2017, where she will be exhibiting at Silversoles Studio on Hazelhurst Road.