Monday, 19 December 2016

#GAL2016: Meet Amy van de Laar

The Indie Design GAL* has a couple more weeks to go, so if you're quick you could still fit in a last minute Christmas gift for someone special (or something for yourself if you're all set for Christmas). Today I'm interviewing the wonderful Amy van de Laar.


Amy van de Laar is a knitwear designer based in Ausstralia with an eclectic portfolio that features stranded designs, textured designs, hats, shawls, mittens and more. I first came across Amy when she launched her Paper Hats collection, a series of designs inspired by children's paper crafts; the styling of the collection is beautiful, and made me want to knit them all.

Paper Boat hat by Amy van de Laar. Image copyright Amy van de Laar
Multifaceted Mitts by Amy van de Laar. Image copyright Amy van de Laar

When did you learn to knit?

I learned the absolute basics as a primary school kid, but I hated it and never got beyond wonky garter stitch 'rectangles'. I got into knitting as a hobby at uni, and this time progressed from garter stitch rectangles to all sorts of mad projects, thanks to inspiration from and the Wellington City Library's knitting book collection. Norah Gaughan's book Knitting Nature blew my little maths-student mind!

How did you getting into designing and pattern writing?

I'm fussy and want everything I make to be juuuust right, so I usually end up tweaking bits and pieces when I work from a pattern. At one point I figured out how to make a pair of mitts based on my own colourwork chart, and then there was a lace scarf after that, and my designing kind of expanded from there. I got more serious about it a few years down the track, and revised my early patterns and started charging for them.

What designs do you have in the pipeline?

I have a double-thick stranded cowl called 'Cinnamon Stars' that's in the final stages - it just needs a few more photos and a final edit. The other big thing I'm working on now is a secret unfortunately, since it's for a third-party publisher. It's going to be beautiful though, I'm so happy with how the lace is coming out!

What's your favourite knitting technique?

I'm torn between lace and cables. Both have so many possibilities! At the moment I'm really into graphic, geometric lace created with simple yarn-overs and decreases. I like it when projects just flow off the needles, so simple stitches combined in cool ways are my favourite.

What knitting techniques would you like to try in 2017?

Two-colour brioche! I have Nancy Marchant's book Knitting Fresh Brioche, and I want to start playing with swatches. I need to wait until January though, so I don't fall down a designing hole and neglect my deadline knitting or the GAL. I'd also like to get to grips with magic loop at long last.

Which other GAL designers have caught your eye?

I've been posting little collections of inspiring GAL patterns on my Instagram and Facebook, and fellow Aussie local Ambah O'Brien is represented quite a lot. She has some amazing colourblocked shawls, and her Mendia hat is super cute. For sock designs, check out Clare Devine - I'm knitting her Grellow Love socks for my first GAL project, although I haven't made much progress yet. I'm just past the toe of sock number one. ;)
Mendia hat by Ambah O'Brien. Image copyright Ambah O'Brien
Grellow Love by Clare Devine. Image copyright Clare Devine

Do you knit Christmas gifts? What are your favourite gift knits?

I'm actually not super big on Christmas, unless we happen to be hosting the family. I like to knit gifts occasionally for birthdays, or when someone special deserves a woolly treat - hats and scarves and cowls always seem to be well-received, especially when I consult with the person about the colour and the pattern. I do enjoy Christmas baking though - I like to give European favourites like panettone and stollen a try.

Amy can be found as baroquepurls on Ravelry, as AmyvdLaar on Instagram, on Facebook and at


*Note that you will have to signed in to Ravelry for this link to work. Joining Ravelry is free and Ravelry is an excellent resource for knitters and crocheters.

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