designer and founder of Electroknit, with a love for yarn and knitting
June 6, 2017
Hi Hanna! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am focusing on doing knitwear and I want to use interesting materials and I kind of want to take knits to another level. Or make it more fun maybe, not as traditional as it used to be, but try to get more fun elements in knitwear and combine different materials as well so it’s not just knit, it’s all kinds of fabrics and techniques.
I think I realised that if you work with knitting and also with yarn it’s almost like sculpting the fabric. So I really like that - I like three-dimensional shapes and I like to exaggerate shapes on the human body. I think that’s why I got into knit to start with. But I always hated to sew when I was younger. I always did woodwork at school.
I started to knit when I was really young because my mom and my grandmother have always been into crafts, weaving and knitting and embroidery, so they tried to get me interested and I hated it. But then I started working as a costume designer and a few years after that I wanted to learn something new, so I went to London and I studied a one-year course in textile and fashion and I realised that knitting is so much fun!
So I ended up studying knitwear in London and New York for another three years. And there are so many possibilites with knitting as well! Knitting is so versatile. It can be chunky, it can be fine, you can apply different materials to it. And you can create different textures.
How long did you work as a costume designer?
I worked all together, I think six years before I left to London. I didn’t just work as a costume designer, I also worked with interiors, interior design and scenography in different projects. I felt like I wanted to develop a skill in a certain area so that's why I wanted to go study again and see if I could learn something new, and I did.
Tell us about Electroknit!
Electroknit is a company that I founded one year ago, so it’s quite new and I’m still working a lot on it! Basically I make knitted pieces. Maybe in the future I’ll make mainstream wear or fashion wear as well, but these pieces are all unique and I spend a lot of time on each one so selling them is not really a good deal because they would be so expensive. I want to inspire people and I want it to be fun. I think sometimes fashion can be so serious and that’s why I think it’s fun to just make things that aren’t and have a fun approach to fashion, it’s not the “Swedish style” really. I want to work with a combination of art and fashion.
For my final show, when I studied, I did this interactive piece with programming, when you got close to the garment it opened up and revealed some colour. It had sensors and I enjoyed taking an old knitting technique and then combining it with new technologies. I want to make exhibitions later on with wearables (wearable technology), I think it’s really fascinating to combine the two. Wearables are still in an early stage - like touch-gloves you can use for your smartphone - but there are brands like Cutecircuit who made hug shirts a few years ago where you can send virtual hugs to someone.That kind of wearable technology is not practical, more experimental.
I think wearable technology is going to be a really big thing in the future, but it has to be more practical. We want to think of ourselves as futuristic, but I think that in the end our needs are quite basic when it comes to clothing. It’s more about comfort, that’s why sportswear is so popular now with smart textiles, that’s where the development is.
Besides yarn, what’s your favorite material to work with?
I love plastics and things… They're so bad, but latex and that kind of thing. And I’ve also been using a lot of wires. Your have to be more conscious about what materials you use, I’m not into fast fashion at all. I think that’s a big concern. You have to be more responsible when you are designing things. For this last collection I used leftovers because I felt I had so much scrap material just lying around. I decided to take all the scraps I had and make a collection out of it and see what comes out. And it’s been fun to work like that as well, because it’s quite limiting. You have a design in your head and the material is running out and you have to change your idea completely, so yeah it’s been fun, and restricting in a good way.
What did your design process look like with this last collection?
This one was very inspired by the materials, I quite like that. I usually get inspired by the material. But when you study, your design process has to look a certain way. You have to do your research first, and then you go into materials and material development and then you start working on test pieces. I like to make conceptual things, but I’m more inspired by the material than the research. I’ve always been torn between fashion and interior design, but I love to work with human bodies and I like covering heads. I like the distortion of the body. I don’t know why really, but that’s why fashion works best for me.
Do you have any favorite colour schemes?
No... the thing is that when I moved to London to study, I was really Swedish. I only did black things. Everything was b l a c k, and that’s such an easy way out, because if you make things black, it’s harder to make something ugly than when you use colour. Then I started to use colours a bit and at the moment I like the vibrant, fluorescent colour scheme with bright tones. I also discovered that when you knit with black and make textures, it doesn’t show as much as with colour, and you don’t want to hide all the work you've put into the garment.
How long does a piece take you to make?
It depends. Two weeks, ten days, something like that. When you make all the textiles from scratch it takes a really long time. It’s weird because I’m a really impatient person who chose to work with a technique that takes a long time... I get tired of doing the same thing all the time, so that’s why I chose to use different materials in this collection so it’s not all knitted parts. Often when I say I do knits, people think that I knit scarves, gloves and sweaters, and when I say I’ve been studying for four years they’re like - what?
Have you always been creative?
No. I’m a “late bloomer". No one in my family worked with anything creative, so I never thought that would be an option. It took me a really long time to realise that I could work with something different. As a child I always wanted to be ceramicist, I wanted to make pots.
Before you worked creatively as a profession, how did you get an outlet for your creativity?
When I was younger I played like most kids do, making shows, drawing and those sort of things. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to follow patterns. I got embroideries for Christmas, but I never finished them. I did a few stitches. When I was younger I used to experiment with my own clothing, now I can’t be bothered so much to think about what I’m wearing, I just focus on the things I’m creating. I actually wear black a lot because it’s so easy…
" Knitting is so versatile. It can be chunky, it can be fine, you can apply different materials to it and you can create different textures "
When do you feel the most creative?
I always have a lot of ideas about things I want to do, but I don’t have enough time. Recently I changed my way of thinking about my creativity. A few years ago I couldn’t see this as “my thing” or my profession, but now I take it seriously. I really feel like it’s my work - I come in in the morning and work all day like a “normal” job, because it’s nice to have that routine, but also - because I have a kid! Now I just start creating and let the creativity come along whilst working, just keep on.
What made you shift from seeing this as a hobby to starting a company and seeing it as your profession?
Before, I was working for other people all the time or freelancing. It was within the creative industry but it was still not my own ideas and you always work with a director or a client. I realised that if I wanted to do my own ideas I had to start my own thing. When I freelance I want it to be because somebody likes my style, and not just work that needs to be done. So I changed focus to get to do things the way I want.
Are you happier?
Yes, I think so. Or at least when I get to be in my studio. Of course you have doubts as well and especially when you’re in a place where you work on something and you don’t earn any money from it, you just work on a project and it takes a long time and you think - why am I doing this? But in the end I think it’s worth it when I have an exhibition and show people what I’ve been doing.
Do you see your creations as fashion or art?
Somewhere in between. Before I used to do music videos and those kind of jobs, I see my things being in those kinds of productions. More an inspirational purpose than everyday wear. I just love seeing my clothes come to life really.
" I want to inspire people and I want it to be fun. I think sometimes fashion can be so serious and that’s why I think it’s fun to just make things that aren’t "
Visit Electroknit's website www.electroknit.com and Instagram account helloelectroknit
Photos by Annie Hansson
Text by Jennifer Borge