Chloé Elizabeth Birch is a knitwear designer and the author of Mindful Knitting. As well as being beautiful makes, her 35 projects are specially designed to be a form of mindfulness practice.
Hi Chloe, where does your love for knitting come from?
I got into knitting when I was a young adult suffering badly from bulimia and depression. I had gone home from uni for a while and my mum and I thought we would spend our extra time together teaching me to knit. I made a very simple top and, no surprise, I loved it! I didn’t really go into it thinking about mental health, it was only later I realised the effect it had on me. It was so wonderful to have a craft that I could fully immerse myself in.
During those times spent knitting, my mind seemed to calm and my spiralling thoughts quietened for the first time. That time away was a blessing and as I went on with my life knitting stayed with me. Not a day would go by when I wasn’t click-clacking away at some point. I was studying Fashion Design specialising in knitwear and just made it my life. Looking back it was a real turning point for me.
I have still had a lot of ups and downs since, but with knitting in my life I have my own little personal escape that allows me to take some time away when everything gets a bit much.
How did you find the process of writing Mindful Knitting?
I found it really therapeutic. It made me look inside myself and better understand the reason knitting has helped me so much. I spent a lot of time looking back at old projects and stitch patterns I had used, and remembering how they made me feel at the time. I also thought a lot about techniques and how I could design each project so they’re fun to make and keep you engaged, without being stressful.
Designing the projects are always the most fun part for me. I wanted to create a collection of pieces that would add vibrance to the readers life by decorating their homes, creating special pieces to wear as well as smaller knits they can gift their loved ones.
What is your favourite project from the book?
Good question! I think I would have to say The Mindful Jumper. This design was very much just me creating my perfect jumper to knit and wear. I designed it using all my favourite stitch patterns and with a cosy fit and choice of yarn so it feels like a warming hug while you’re wearing it.
What are some of your favourite craft Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?
There are too many to choose from! My classics are Debbie Bliss and Erika Knight; they are designers that have inspired me so much over the years and made me want to be a part of this world. For crochet I love Anna Nikipirowicz and Emma Leith, who both have such a fab concept of colour and texture.
Laerke Bagger has also been a big inspiration to me. Her work really plays with and explores the never-ending possibilities of knitting and makes you question what new and exciting things can be done with our craft.
Who is your go-to for knitting supplies?
KnitPro is a staple in my equipment. Their needles are lovely to use, but also come in such lovely, fun colours that make them even more of a joy to knit with. Their blocking pin set is an absolute must as they make blocking out so easy and quick to do. I have multiple sets now!
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I am indeed. I’m not sure how much I am allowed to say right now but work has been started on a second book… I am so excited about it! The other reason I love knitting is its part in the slow fashion movement. What I can say for now is that this book will very much focus on this idea and the way our knits can be a part of a brighter, cleaner world – one stitch at a time!