Do or do not, there is no try. ~ Yoda

Pop-In Artisan: Wendy Voon Knits

Pop-In Dates: June 2012, May 2013
Artisan Info: www.wendyvoon.com

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
- Ray Badbury, 20th Century fantasy and science-fiction writer.

True, true. We certainly share his insightful thoughts on creativity but sadly, we very easily forget it most of the time. Lost in the every day madness of running a small business, the reason why we do what we do – the love of making and creating – quickly disappears into the folds and creases of paperwork. Many of you would agree!

With millions of things to think about, thousands of decisions to make, deadlines to meet in short periods of time – the space, time and freedom to be creative is becoming ever-so-rare. Ultimately, it is our own doing. We must not ‘try’ to make time for creating, we must do it. We must not overthink everything we do, just start doing it and see where it takes us…

*A relevant sidetrack – check out this fascinating talk about creativity by the talented writer, actor and tall person John Cleese of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fame. Funny, thoughtful and so completely practical.

And so it is our greatest pleasure to introduce the stunningly sculptural, textural and thoughtful woollen knitted wares of Wendy Voon Knits. Wendy’s approach to daily work and life is terrific – she makes the time and space to play and create, she cooks, she grows and she takes time out when she wants and needs to. She doesn’t just try, she does. And the results speak for themselves.

proj-wendy01
proj-wendy02

Have you always been a ‘knitting lady’?

Yes, ever since my mum’s friend taught me how to knit when I was about 12 – armed with my knitting book of Jenny Kee garments – there was no holding me back.

Your work comes across as contemporary and sculptural, is there anything in particular that continuously inspires your creative process?

I’m inspired by anything that is done well – everything from architecture, furniture design to music – things that make you go ‘oh – that is as it should be’. I’m particularly inspired by Japanese design and craftsmanship.

proj-wendy03
proj-wendy04

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

It varies all the time – but I always start the day with a coffee at my local cafe, where a group of us who work for ourselves, gather to talk and do the daily quiz in the paper.  Then I’ll head to my studio, I have domestic machines at my studio where some production takes place, so if I feel like some meditative yet productive time – I’ll hop on and knit some pieces that are destined for customers or stores.  Most days there is usually some time spent on those machines! I may also have one of my talented knitters at one of the machines helping with production.

If its ‘design time’ of the year, I will usually spend all day sampling with yarns and ideas, I find it works best to be working on 3-4 designs at any one time – so I don’t get ‘stuck’.  I also get some designs done at a local manufacturer here in Melbourne, and for those designs (done on industrial knitting machines), I will usually visit the mill and talk through my ideas with the amazing technician and the outcome is a collaborative one, as ideas and problems are workshopped and sampled.

Then theres all the support work to maintain and grow a label – keeping up an online presence, corresponding with stores, customers and my makers, paper work!, planning the next event/idea.

proj-wendy05
proj-wendy06
proj-wendy07

What are you looking forward to in the year ahead?

A holiday :) I’m looking forward to seeing how my label grows, and also the adventure and learning process of a new project I’m working on.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

It is particularly satisfying when a customer tries on one of my pieces and it fits them perfectly and co-ordinates with what they are already wearing – and we both know – that that piece is for them.
There are also perks to being your own boss, I work very hard, but my time is my own, so if I want to play lawn bowls because it’s potentially the last warm day before winter sets in – I will.

What is a valuable pearl of wisdom you can share with us?

When it comes to design – just start, don’t over think it.

proj-wendy08

Where would we find you on a Saturday morning? How do you unwind?

Can we make that Sunday morning?  99% chance you’ll find me at that local cafe! Sunday is about buying fresh food for the week ahead, I love cooking, I find it very relaxing and satisfying – so I’ll usually cook some thing that takes a little time.  I’m not always super committed to our vegetable garden, but right now I have cabbage, kale, spinach and watercress seedlings growing on the ledge of our sunny lounge room – ready for winter planting. Other ways to unwind – spending time with friends and family, wine and exercise.

What is your favourite local or best kept secret spot?

So many great spots, unfortunately nothings stays a secret in Melbourne for very long, but Small Block Cafe for the people and the coffee; Monsieur Truffe for the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had; Mr W and the Alderman are two local bars that I have been known to frequent.

Story and interview by Angela Foong.
Model photos courtesy of Wendy Voon, other snapshots by Ro.