unravel 2020 design competition winner: Zanete Hussain!

unravel 2020 design competition winner: Zanete Hussain!

The response to our first ever design competition for unravel… a festival of yarn was better than we ever could have expected! We received entries from so many wonderful designs from both knitters and crocheters and it was terrific to see the public engaged and voting for their favourite.

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the public vote is Zanete Hussain of Zanete Knits whose design, the Fireside Chat Cowl, will be included in our show guide for unravel. Zanete was kind enough to answer some questions for us about her journey with yarn and knitting.

Zanete Hussain - cowl

What is your making story? Are you exclusively a knitter? How did you come to knitting?
I’m Latvian, I’ve been knitting since I can remember. Both of my grandmothers and my mum are knitters, and they taught me from a very young age. At that time Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union, so making your own clothes was the only way to dress uniquely, and it gets freezing in winter, so knitwear is a necessity. I also studied knitting at school with all the other crafts imaginable, like crocheting, cross-stitch, sewing, weaving etc, but knitting was my favourite.

cabled blanket small

How did you begin designing?
I became a computer programmer, and for many years, I worked in tech companies in London. Every few years I would take on a knitting project to de-stress but it was when I went on maternity leave for my second child in 2018 that I found the time to really focus on knitting every day.

The way I was taught to knit included designing, before leaving Latvia, I didn’t even know patterns existed. For me, designing was just part of knitting. However, I never wrote anything down, once I had knitted something no one, not even me, could replicate it. It was when I started putting my work on Instagram, and people asked for the patterns that I toyed with the idea of doing knitwear design. In April last year I decided to give it a go and released my first pattern in June 2019! I’ve also recently started a video diary about my knitwear designing adventures which you can find on my YouTube channel.

cabled yoke

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Sometimes I’m inspired by clothes I’ve seen people wear on Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube. I watch fashion shows, looking for silhouettes or elements that are trendy.

Sometimes I see a stitch pattern or technique that I want to try, and I imagine how I’d use those in a design. If you ask me whether I follow people around in a supermarket to figure out the stitch pattern used in their sweater, I’d say yes.

Sometimes I fall in love with some yarn, I try to imagine how to get the best out of it. That’s the hardest one!

Zanete Hussain - cowl 2

Tell us about the Fireside Chat Cowl. How did you come up with the design? What was the spark?
The yarn dyer told me the colours were inspired by a campfire, she gifted me two different ones, a solid and a hand-painted, they looked so gorgeous in skeins, like they belonged together. I set myself the challenge to use both in my design. I tried many concepts with one dominant over the other, but none of them worked, after the 18th attempt I almost gave up! I then saw two people joyfully chatting by a fireplace, and I realised I needed to be represented each colour equally. That’s when the double-layered Moebius cowl concept sprung to my mind.

cabled jumper back

Do you have a favourite thing to knit or design?
Definitely cables. Big or small, no matter. I like to swap the stitch order and let each column have its own way. In my world that’s the most fantastic way to draw.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what yarn would you absolutely need to have with you?

I’m still discovering different yarns, and I suspect this will change with time but at the moment it would be fingering weight merino with some silk in it, solid or semi-solid cool colours.

zanete and cowl

What is your favourite thing about attending a yarn show, and will you be at unravel?
I’m definitely going to unravel! I love being able to touch yarn, feel it in my fingers and daydream of new designs. It’s also the atmosphere, being surrounded by like-minded people and the positivity!

You’ll be able to see Zanete’s Fireside Chat Cowl and many of the other shortlisted designs on display at unravel too! Thank you so much to Zanete for answering our questions! 

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