Jules Hogan is a Berkshire-based knitwear designer, producing beautifully understated clothing and home accessories. Inspired by the coast & countryside, her wonderfully subtle pieces exude thoughtful craftsmanship and she says of her designs that they're for "people who like to make a quiet statement"
Can you tell us a bit about your background.....I know that you studied art at University, but what drew you towards knitwear design in particular?
My journey into knitted textiles was not a straight one. I used the time whilst studying to try different disciplines including drawing, painting, embroidery, printed and woven textiles so it was a difficult decision at the end of my first year at Winchester. I decided to study print design, but after the first term realised it was not the right decision and transferred to knit!
I love the tactile quality of knitwear, working with lambswool and machines and turning a design idea into reality.
What prompted you to make the leap into launching your own collection in 2008? Was that something that you'd always been planning to do?
It wasn’t planned, but a natural progression. I was working for a knitwear studio in London producing conceptual designs for national and international markets. The day job was leaving me unfulfilled, so I was driven to continue learning and completing the process from design through to final product. I did both up until the end of 2016 when it was clear I had to make the leap to work on the collection full time!
How do you translate an idea into an actual finished piece? What’s the process of putting a pattern together?
Even though each piece appears simple there are many technical elements to consider. It starts with a sketch, then calculations to work out the number of rows and stitches and where a pattern will start and end. I also spend time experimenting with small samples of colour, trying out different combinations.
When adding a pattern to a machine it is firstly drawn out onto graph paper and then this information is painstakingly added onto screen before being transferred to the computer in the machine. Very low tech! The machine is threaded up adjusting the tension so that the yarn runs freely through the feeders and carriage of the machine. I follow the sketch in my notebook so that I know where to change colour, place markers for a sleeve and where to shape the neck.
Garments are fully fashioned (shaping by moving stitches from one needle to another) and also this takes time it gives a beautiful effect. When a piece is finished it is cast off, lightly pressed, put together using a linker (a sewing machine for knitting) washed, air dried and pressed again. The final part of the process is sewing in care labels and attaching swing tags.
I was struck by how light, yet warm your pieces are (I was lucky enough to receive one of Jules’ scarves as a birthday present this year!) Is that because of the particular yarn you use or more to do with the knitting process?
Lambswool is a beautiful yarn to use as it’s soft and fine but very warm. The 'Horizon Scarf' uses these qualities beautifully due to the chunky machine, honeycomb texture and using two ends of yarn.
Could you talk us through a typical day in the studio for you?
Each day is slightly different depending on what is in the order book. It usually starts with Instagram over breakfast, catching up with the accounts that I follow and interacting on posts. Then I check my e-mails and get into the studio for 9/9.30am.
I am very disciplined during the day and refer to my planner for tasks that need to be achieved. I like to have a solid few hours knitting in the morning, stop for lunch around 1pm and take my dog Jaxon for a walk, usually up to the park or woods where I take photos of anything that inspires me or use the time to refresh my mind and think things through.
The afternoon is usually more knitting, putting garments together or finishing. Depending on what I am working on, I try to finish around 5.30pm, check and reply to emails that have come in throughout the day and spend time catching up with social media.
Brilliant – thanks Jules…it was fascinating to hear more about your process and to learn more about how much thought and attention goes into each piece. You can browse and buy Jules' pieces via her website www.juleshogan.com and check out her stunning Instagram feed here (high recommended!)