Lauren makes things. And when we say she makes thing – SHE MAKES THINGS!!! She is behind a movement that has the nation gripping their knitting needles firmly in their grubby hands with the anticipation of making something, well, rather good! If you hear the unflavoursome chanting of “Knit one, Pearl one, Drop one”, etc, – it is more than likely that it commeth from Ms O’Farrell’s direction. Bored with making scarves in the summer? Pick up one of her super crafty books and she’ll set you on her anarchistic knitting programme of delights in seconds.
The Emporium were lucky enough to track her down (we followed an unravelled ball of wool to her abode) and were truly delighted that Ms O’Farrell answered a few questions that we had been stroking our hairy chins to before the use of Veet (or a chemist cream equivalent). We found out lots! Read the below jargon so that you can find out lots too …
For those individuals who are unaware of your work (we pity them) what on earth do you do?
I’m a stitched story teller; a mixed stash of knitting crazy really. I’m a graffiti knitting street artist who helped cast on
yarnstorming in the UK, a writer of kooky little knitting books (I knit creatures rather than jumpers and socks), a craft community wrangler (I founded and run Stitch London, the UK’s woolly Godzilla of a stitching group), a hunter down of crazy craft (I’m the editor of www.craftycrafty.tv). It is rumoured I never sleep.
When did you start knitting and why?
I first picked up my sticks and string in late 2005 when I was six months into battling with a rather nasty blood cancer. My needles and yarn were my way of making the needles in my arms a bit more bearable. I had three years worth of chemo, radiotherapy and various pills and potions. Somewhere along the line they combined to cure me and also bless me with eerie knitting super powers.
What piece of your knitted crafting to date made you so excited that you had to muffle your screams of delight into a couple of huge balls of wool?
Since casting on my first row my knitting thread has weaved its way through some kickass projects. My favourites would be Plarchie, the eight-metre giant knitted squid who I released into the dusty innards of the Natural History Museum. He was made from plastic bags and he likes to eat people “like the puny human sushi they are” (his words). He is the only graffiti knit that ever came home with me. He appears at events I do and even has his own @plarchie Twitter account. I apologise in advance to everyone he will eat in the future.
Also Muncher the wild woolly Telephone Box Beast that I created for the BT ArtBox project this summer. He was a lifesized knitted telephone box monster and he sat on the Trafalgar Square roundabout for a whole month, while people came from all over the hug him. It was all part of the NSPCC’s Childline 25th anniversary celebrations, and it was the most fun a girl and a woolly monster could ever hope to have.
Who is Cooey?
Cooey is a handknitted pigeon. She’s the star of my first knitting pattern book, Stitch London, which is a book of lovely London knits (Big Ben, The Queen, a Tubeline Scarf in the colours of the tube map with a pocket for your Oyster card). Cooey generally travels around with me where ever I go and steals all my limelight by being cute and woolly and birdlike. She’s also pretty crafty. Her Craft with Cooey is one of the most popular pages on my Whodunnknit website. That bird can
Who inspires you?
My heroes are Snoopy (he’s my Yoda) for his confidence and joie de vivre, Jim Henson for his extraordinary monster making and storytelling, Tim Burton for his creepy creatures, Roald Dahl for his worlds of words that I grew up in, and Dr Seuss for making silly ok and especially making my life stripy. How I heart stripy things. And my studio mates Gary Northfield and Sarah McIntyre. They both draw comics and kids books for a living, and the ideas and stories flying around our Fleece Station studio never fail to make my own stories more magic.
What have you got in your pocket at the moment?
A pigeon. One of her feet keeps dropping off. She really is a London pigeon. Also the cut off end of a cable tie (I use these quite a lot to stop my graffiti wandering off too soon. If you really want to steal my work came armed with scissors or really sharp teeth). And my iPhone. I tweet a lot @deadlyknit. A whole lot.
Can you tell us what you are working on that the moment – or is it very hush, hush?
If I told you I would have to kill you. Sorry about that. But I can tell you that my shiny new book, the second in the Stitch City Knitting series comes out at the end of the year. Stitch New York is epic and may feature giant knitted food and some of the cutest city critters to ever make you go “Arrrrrgggghhh! Get it off me!”
What kind words of encouragement would you give to a virgin knitter?
Learn the basics and then throw away your pattern, roll about in crazy colour and textures and go wild with your wool. You never know where the yarn will end up leaving. Sometimes a tangle is the best place the start stitching from. Oh, and learn how to pick up stitches. It’s a knitting ninja skill no yarn Yoda should be without. Waiting till you next see your mum to fix it is not acceptable.
What is your favorite Dr Seuss quote?
There are too many great ones. But I like:
“If you never did, you should.
These things are fun.
and Fun is good.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
When are you going to get a proper job?
Never! I don’t think a proper job would have me. Though these days my job title is getting harder and harder to fit on my business cards. Is there a shorter way to say graffiti knitting squid wrangling author? So far Stitched Storyteller is the only way I can think of.
Interested in finding out about all the lovely knitted nonsense that Lauren gets up to?
Then get clicking on the following links …
Including small and unusual makes and graffiti knitting explained.
Information on joining a free, friendly yet feisty stitching group based in London.
Learn how to Yarnbomb (but don’t say we told you) at …
Check out Lauren’s Editorial skills and a few nifty makes to boot at …
… and meet Lauren and her creative Chums at …
The Emporium wishes to thank the amazing Ms O’Farrell for taking the time to answer Miss H’s questions
and wishes her the best of luck for the future and beyond!
Images © Lauren O’Farrell