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Meet Tracy Chapman, textiles lecturer and author of Easy Toys to Knit

Tracy Chapman is a lecturer and teacher in the Textiles Faculty, running all knitting workshops and courses ranging from beginner to City and Guilds Level II. We met Tracy to find out a bit more about her work.

Hi Tracy, tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Hampshire and spent my younger years by the sea. I guess that’s why it plays such an important role in my life. I moved to London to study only to return twelve years ago to the house where I now call home! Whilst in the capital I spent a few very happy and very interesting years working for Rowan Yarns in retail management. I also had the privileged role of instructing at the sewing school in Liberty for them. It was during that time that I started my designing in earnest! It was also the period when I imagined a house on the beach and a studio overlooking the sea! It was a dream I was lucky enough to realise and my first achievement in that haven was Toys to Knit!

What makes you passionate about your craft?
The thought of being able to create something unique from yarns using the very basic of tools is fascinating. I knit every day & cannot imagine my life without knitting being a part of it! It is a practical craft, a great pastime and wonderfully portable too! My carpet bag of knitting comes with me everywhere! The contents often change and very often the bag is heavier when I return home because I’ve added to my collection of yarns!

Which is your most cherished childhood memory?
Holding my mum’s hand whilst walking to school with a bag of knitted toys she’d made for the fête has to be my most cherished. I used to sit and watch her knit every day. The household was always busy but mum always made time for the craft. She also made time to teach me to knit, for which I am truly grateful.

What sparks your creativity?
Everything! If you have a creative eye you can draw on anything for inspiration. I love colour, and I suppose I start by thinking about that element in the design process first! It may be something you hear, a memory, a thought that has sprung into your mind! For me it isn’t necessarily something I see that initially inspires me.

Could you describe a typical crafty day in your life?
I start every day with a wander down to the beach. I am fortunate that I can be there in a minute or two from closing my front door! Whilst listening to the waves I piece together my day. I always have two or three projects on the go at any one time! I very often work on private commissions and special requests for theatre and television. My days are always interesting, varied & full of activity! I always listen to something, either Radio 2 or whatever music I’m into at that moment!

Organised mess or creative minimalism? What does your working space look like?
My studio is at the top of the house. It is a light and airy space. I think co-ordinated disorder would be the best way to describe it! At first glance everything seems in order, but if you look a little closer you will see chaos! I dream of being more organised however I know that I’ll never achieve it! You see I collect things! Obviously anything to do with knitting & crochet, that goes without saying! But amongst other things I also have a passion for buttons, books, decorated tins, crockery and guitars!

Tracy Chapman is the author of Easy Toys to Knit (Collins & Brown, £6.99)