Setting down a sewing needle to pick up knitting needles is no easy transition, yet German designer, Claudia Wersing has crossed the great divide almost seamlessly. Initially trained as a dressmaker, Claudia completed a number of fashion collections for German designers, continuing on to achieve a Master’s Certificate as a clothing technician and merging her experience in all aspects of fabric construction with the more fluid nature of knitwear. Now working as an independent designer, her crisp, clean style is frequently showcased in European publications, Burda, and Verena, as well as the latest Fall/Winter Collection for Mirasol.
MM: Hi Claudia, thank you so much for stopping by to share your views on design with us. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?
CW: Yes…..I would like a Latte, please.
MM: So, where exactly is your home base, and do you have a studio where you do all your work?
CW: Throughout my life, I have moved around a lot. I worked abroad for awhile, but now I live in Northern Germany in a comfortable old farmhouse in the country where my design studio is located. I am very fortunate because I can see the lake from my desk, which I find to be very soothing and inspiring. A few metres away, is an old farmstead building that I have converted into my wool shop. This is where I work also, whether it’s selling wool or giving workshops.
MM: What a beautiful setting for a home and studio. I understand you started your career in dressmaking, what led you to branch out into knitwear design?
CW: Knitting played an important role in my childhood, and I have always had a passion for traditional handicraft techniques. I don’t really separate knitting and sewing, as both crafts involve use of the hands. They are just used differently. During my work in the clothing industry, the collections always included knitwear and there is not much difference between creating a pattern for a piece of knitted fabric that must be sewn together, and creating one for a hand knitted item of clothing. What’s important to understand is how to build comfort into the piece….. and of course, where the seams should go. I like seams!
So in both my professional and personal life, I have always mixed sewing and knitting, and I find that both disciplines benefit from each other, they complete each other. This gives me freedom in my work. Anyway, when you are knitting the ability to sew becomes a great advantage.
MM: Can you remember your very first knitted creation and what it looked like?
CW: Yes, I can remember it exactly! My first knitted creation was a dress for my Barbie doll. It was sort of a potholder belted with a woollen string. It looked like a wraparound dress, but of course on Barbie everything looks stylish. Later on, in the eighties, I knitted a lot of raglan pullovers and those big motif styles which are now very fashionable. You must remember those??
CW: Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it. At the moment I am working exclusively in knitting design, I rarely work with fabric anymore. This is a natural development, knitting has become more important during the past few years as more and more people discover the soothing and balancing effect of working with their hands. That is why the demand for modern, wearable knitting designs has risen significantly. Knitting is such an attractive counter balance to our increasingly technology-driven lifestyle and it suits people’s desire for ‘homeyness’.
MM: Being trained as an apparel technician must bring incredible focus on detail to all aspects of your work, can you describe some of the intricacies that are your signature in knitwear?
CW: Yes, I have to laugh….but you are right. As a technician, a lot of value is placed on careful detail and you learn how to organise something ‘big’ into many little steps. I laugh because my designer’s heart doesn’t like the technician in me, and always takes my inner designer to task and forces her to work carefully, testing everything for both feasibility and usefulness. It demands precise work on the pattern and exceptional accuracy, but it is essential for a good fit. That is exactly my signature; well thought-out patterns, pure straightforward designs that are both wearable and fit well with a clean silhouette.
MM: Lucky you, to be able to work with yarns from Mirasol. Ushya, Miski, and Sulka are all equally irresistible. Where did you draw inspiration from for this lovely collection of knitwear in the latest book of designs for Fall/Winter 2012?
CW: Thank you again! And yes…….it was a great privilege to be able to work with all these beautiful yarns. I enjoyed it a lot. I love alpaca and the Mirasol yarns have fantastic colouring and are exceptionally high quality. These designs were developed during my stay by the sea, a place not far from my home.
MM: I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but if you had to choose….is there one favorite yarn that you really enjoyed working with?
CW: Gosh… that is really hard to say, I have a great number of favorite yarns, as it is not only dependent on the season, but also on my mood. I like to be able to work with different yarns for different occasions. Sometimes, something cosy is needed, because you want comfort. Then again, sometimes something a bit more exciting is needed for a glamorous occasion. Therefore….. no, I have no favorites. What I favor is constant motion and ever-changing.
MM: Right now in Canada, ruffle scarves and lace shawls are very popular, and cowls for the winter season. What seems to be the current trend that you see in Germany?
CW: That depends on the level of knitting ability. Beginners like to knit hats and what we call ‘loops’ and those who want to try a bigger project usually choose a knit jacket. The classic knit jacket is very popular and also a versatile item of clothing.
MM: What’s ‘on your needles’ at the moment Claudia?
CW: At the moment, I am preparing for a new workshop which deals with knitting Christmas ornaments, and I am knitting a size XXL ‘Fun Bauble’ with size 15 needles.
MM: That sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for letting us take a peek inside your studio!
(images courtesy of Claudia Wersing)
(Video) For a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for Mirasol’s F/W Collection 2012 by Claudia Wersing.