As a designer who has had a career in an entirely different field, I’m often interested in how expertise from one discipline can feed into and creatively fuel another. That’s certainly the case for Claudia Fiocchetti, a British-Italian historic stone and painting conservator, whose flair for original stranded colourwork left Jeanette and myself spoilt for choice when selecting just one of her designs to include in this collection. Claudia’s distinctive take on pattern and colour is graphic and precise in a way that’s evidently informed by the long-honed skills and careful eye she’s developed through her conservation work. She’s a new talent that I know you are going to see much more from! Here’s Claudia to tell her more about herself and her wonderful design for Warm Hands – the evocatively titled Blue Interference gloves.
“Upon hearing what I do for a living, people imagine me with a palette and brush in beautiful places. But conservation work involves so much more. Each painting or artefact has its own history, its own environment, and its own particular story of damage and time. Every artwork is unique and no project is quite like like another. Mine is a job that requires an awful lot of patience: some conservation treatments can be incredibly repetitive and slow and as many people say painstaking! One has to master many skills: attention to detail,dexterity, resilience, precision in matching colours, knowledge of chemistry as well as history, and so on. Because I work in places like old estates and churches, my working conditions are often the complete opposite of luxurious, involving cumbersome safety equipment, uncomfortable positions, cold days, and long periods away from home.”
“Mine is a job that can only be done if fuelled by passion. But I feel incredibly lucky to be involved with work that I love and that, in so many different ways, keeps me close to the world of art and design which continually inspires me.”
“My parents introduced me to art, museums and archaeological sites at a very young age, and I’ve always enjoyed simple shapes, pattern repetition, and the design geometry of Roman mosaics and Medieval paintings. There are so many motifs that figurative art has in common with textiles, and I draw a lot of inspiration from this in my knitting.”
“My other source of inspiration is travel, which I do both for work and pleasure. When travelling, I find I’m more than usually attentive to detail and difference, and often find myself sketching and taking snaps of things that later develop into the idea for a knitting pattern. Away from my familiar environments, I can be struck by colour, or a combination of colours, in an entirely new way. And always it amazes me to find such tight connections (or at least I see those connections) between local landscapes and people, textiles and crafts. I have experienced this epiphany very strongly in places such as Peru, Mexico and most recently, Shetland.”
“The Blue Interference gloves began with the carpets I’d admired during my stay in Mexico in 2018. The Mayan pyramid motif which featured in these carpets really summed up the playful use of pattern and geometry that I love about Mexican design. I knew I wanted to feature the motif on a pair of stranded colourwork gloves, and began by sketching triangles, and shifting triangular repeats, but was initially disappointed – the design seemed lacking in surprise.”
“So I decided to break up the rows of pyramids with a rectangular shape. There was then some swatching trial and error, to get my design idea to work within the two-shades-in-one row constraints of stranded colourwork, but as the design evolved it also became more interesting. My pyramids now looked more like rhomboids in two colours, broken by a rectangle.”
“I chose to knit the main motif with Hare and Hirst and the rectangle with Smirr that for me is the perfect match for Hare in the Milarrochy Tweed palette. The shaping and positioning of the thumb is particularly pleasing – allowing the pattern to flow continuously around the glove. ”
“The name suggests the interruption of the blue rectangle that also has a continuous appearance across the pattern, like an interweaving ribbon.”
“Designing these gloves brought me much joy – I hope they bring the same feeling to many other knitters!”
Thankyou, Claudia, for this design that really sings with the joy of pattern!