Interview: Oliver of the Knitting Couple


   Today's interview features a rather unique story. When trawling through my emails I came across one message which really stood it. It was from Oliver, a New Zealander, who wrote to tell me about his Dutch girlfriend Catja's latest business venture - she'd quit her career in medicine to pursue knitting. Even more wonderfully, Oliver too has taken up knitting and they have begun to sell their designs of which there has been great interest. For this post, Oliver answers my questions about being a male knitter whilst in the second post (here) Catja talks about her business plans.

   Throughout these posts are illustrations of some of their creations. If you are interested in what Catja and Oliver do, whether you would like a personalised hand-made knitted garment from them or are interested to bring the project to life through sponsorship/investment, please do not hesitate to contact them at catjathomasson777@hotmail.com




   The knitwear the two of you have created are quite eye-catching. At the moment, however, you do not have a website. How could an interested party purchase your creations? 

   At the moment we are making & selling them locally and to friends and family on Facebook. The demand is keeping us busy but hopefully by the end of 2013 we will have a website. ln the interim, if anybody is interested in CATJA KNITWEAR and her range or for any other topic then they should feel free to email us at Catjathomasson777@hotmail.com.


   Knitwear has, until recently, been considered something of a female rather than male based activity. Whilst wearing knitwear has becoming incredibly trendy for men in recent years, actually physically making it is something that not many men have been confident enough to attempt themselves. (I've seen how complicated it looks!) What inspired you to turn your hand to this?

   I guess it's a combination of things really. At the moment I am looking for work in the sports marketing world after finishing a recent contract with London 2012. It meant I had loads of spare time. We often watch movies and Catja would always be listening, watching & knitting at the same time. It made me feel quite lazy. I wondered if I could multi-task as well! That was nearly four months ago when I picked up a pair of knitting needles and Catja has now taught me 3 different stitches as well being able to make beanies & scarfs. Warning, it can get rather frustrating and I never thought I would be having many a heated discussion about knitting with my girlfriend. Another reason I guess is that I found out knitting was originally a male only occupation dating back to the 1500's, where Egyptian men would knit pairs of socks. I think I am trying to bring it back! Don't worry guys - it's still a very manly pastime as you can watch sport and drink beer whilst you knit :)

   How have your male colleagues and friends reacted to you embracing knitting?

   It's split really, I get feedback on Facebook that I've changed or that I'm a bit of a pansy. It doesn't really hurt my feelings as I know they are joking (I think) and I'm known to try my hand at many different things. On the other hand I am getting feedback from friends who are amazed at what they are seeing and asking if I really managed to make what they see appear on my FB page.



   Despite the continued success of high street mass-produced goods, it does seem many men and women are now taking more of an interest in bespoke and hand made clothing. Is this something you are hoping to capitalise on?

   We hope so. We think that men & women are becoming more interested in what they buy and where it comes from. People seem more stimulated to support local businesses & younger talent. In terms of Catja's hand made knitting range of clothing (& mine to a very small degree) we are trying to really personalise the whole experience. Catja is often on the phone, email or in person meeting with customers to find out why they would like a knitted garment? and how it fits into each of their own individual tastes in fashion. It gives Catja a deeper understanding that helps her create something that will not only make them look good but feel good also. Customers have the ability to decide on specific types of wool, colour combinations, types of stitch and overall style. I guess the experience is a bit like going to the hair dresser's.


   Provided your knitwear sells well, is this something you could consider doing full-time?

   Yes I think so, I am learning lots from Catja's creativity and have recently bought a rocking chair that I used when I sit down for an intense session of knitting. A few weeks ago, I was in town (Delft where we live) outside a shop knitting sitting in my rocking chair. It caused a bit of a stir for passer-byes and I hope to do the same in summer with a couple of beer's this time round. But at this stage I hope to continue knitting beanie's for guys and trying to change that perception. I would like to maybe use the summer months to stock pile a few different designs that I have knitted and be ready to sell them at the start of next winter. At the moment I am still learning and happy to take orders in between.


   When it comes to knitting what do you tend to focus on?
   I like to make beanie's that feature neon colours. This has proved popular among my friends who ski & board in the winter. I also think there is an opportunity to also combine different sports club's colour's so players/supporters can be kept warm whilst huddling together on the sidelines during winter. At the moment I am making a sample one for the North Kildare Rugby Club in Maynooth, Ireland that I used to play for. We'll see how it goes.... Ollie's knit for thought..Guy's, next time your with your nana or grandma ask her to teach you to knit. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised but so will others around you. Go on..I dare ya :)


I'd also like to add extra kudos for Oliver as I found out not only does he support the same football team as me (Leeds United) but that his Father's side of the family all come from my home-town of Bradford. To celebrate the former fact I've ordered a blue and yellow beanie.


2 comments

  1. Ollie is the sweetest/funniest guy I know, can't wait to see him knitting and drinking beer :)
    Ilaria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He seems like a really nice guy when I've spoke to him by email!

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