The popular designer looks back at her work with Rowan
The iconic designer looks back at her career with Rowan as it celebrates its 40th birthday
THE NAME of Kim Hargreaves is inextricably linked with Rowan Yarns. She was fundamental in helping to establish Rowan’s design style in her role as in-house knitwear designer, working with its varied yarns to create attractive, modern patterns.
Today, Kim is a successful independent designer, regularly publishing her own pattern collections, but she has fond memories of her time with the Yorkshire yarn company, and looks back at her early career as Rowan celebrates its 40th anniversary. How did you start out as a knitwear and crochet designer? “After pestering one of Rowan’s founders, Stephen Sheard, he saw my potential and gave me a chance - for which I’ve been ever grateful.” When did you first come across the Rowan brand and what did you think of it? “My mum used to work for Rowan, and although back then the brand was in its early days, it seemed exciting and full of possibilities to me.” How did you come to be involved with Rowan as a brand - how did you start with Rowan, and where did you end up? “I started on a job placement from sixth-form college, printing tapestry canvasses for its craft business. As Rowan moved into handknitting, I moved into its design room, eventually becoming Rowan’s in-house designer.” What keeps you coming back to Rowan yarns and patterns today? “Whilst I no longer design for Rowan, I do use its yarns in our pattern books. We work with old favourites, along with new ones that feel right for the season and the collection we’re working on.” Tell us a bit about your design style. “Each season I aim to bring something fresh to the collection, but at its core the designs have to be wearable. My work is ever evolving, I’m always learning what possibilities handknitting offers.” What was your first design for Rowan, or your most memorable design? “One of my earliest designs was a simple navy and ecru striped cardigan for its first summer book - that collection meant a lot to me.” What does Rowan mean to you? “Rowan is still close to my heart. For me, what is special are the wonderful people that built the brand, and the team that carries it forward.” What are your favourite Rowan yarns at the moment? Do you have nd a perennial favourite that you like to design in? “Brushed Fleece is a goodie, but Kidsilk Haze has been my number one since it was launched. It’s one of the most versatile yarns, in some great colours.” What’s your favourite design in the Rowan archive by another designer? “I always loved a coat designed by Kaffe Fassett. It was full length and fabulous, and surprisingly for Kaffe worked almost entirely in just two colours. Unfortunately, however many times I asked if we could have a version for the Rowan magazine, he declined… I also have a soft spot for his ‘Earth Stripe Tunic’ from Magazine 42, oversized and knitted in many shades of Kidsilk Haze – just perfect!” Where do you see Rowan in 10 years’ time? “My hope would be that they build on their existing yarn range, introducing new yarns which are relevant to both handknitting and fashion. I see Rowan continuing to inspire knitters.” Discover Kim’s pattern collections at www.kimhargreaves.co.uk. Explore her Rowan designs at www.knitrowan.com 1+2 ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Siran’ are designs from Kim’s latest pattern book, Haze 3 ‘Prue’, from Rowan’s Magazine 35 4 ‘Tuscany’ was an early pattern for Rowan, designed in 1991 5 Kim admires Kaffe Fassett’s work, especially his ‘Earth Stripe Tunic’
‘Fell’ is a feminine design from Kim’s Grace collection