A Yarn with a Yarn-lover
Kim Sharman-Smith is one part of luxurious yarn business, Lola Lovegrove. She and her sister, Naree, are passionate about their love for Katia yarns – where the yarnmaker uses a secret dyeing process to create beautiful colours. Through the sisters’ business, Lola Lovegrove, they make summer and winter yarns available alongside kits, patterns, accessories and even knitting needles.
We spoke with Kim as she was packing excitedly for the Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show…
How did you come to be involved in knitting?
My mother and grandmother taught my sister and I to knit, crochet, sew and embroider when I was about seven years old. I first started on the basics of knitting. I never ever saw my mother or grandmother idle and sitting down without something beautiful being created by their hands. We would spend hours learning the skills and tricks of each new craft and making items for our rooms.
We were also privileged to be in a family of amazing hardworking, disciplined women who would sit for hours and encourage and support each other in whatever endeavour we chose to do. Our mother, Jenny, is very integral to our business. She makes many of the samples, tests our patterns and comes to each and every show to work on our stand to share her vast knowledge and experience.
My sister Naree and I went to university with quite different careers in mind. Naree set her sights on becoming a chartered accountant (although she changed her mind from fashion design at the 11th hour) and I initially went into teaching (PE and Japanese) and then into the business world as well. We always went to the craft shows in Melbourne, inevitably coming away with armfuls of new projects and inspiration. We both used crafts as a stress release to our otherwise busy lives.
Quite a few years ago we were hunting down yarn to make our children some winter warmers and came across Katia yarns. We came to the conclusion that if we were going to spend hours making items then we wanted great products that would look and feel fantastic. The quality of Katia yarn excited us and we discovered that while the range was vast, only a very small amount was available in Australia. We did our research, created a business plan, put our finances on the line and set about creating an online yarn company, focusing on the Katia brand with their magnificent yarns and European designs.
Where does the name come from?
Lola Lovegrove is our grandmother’s name. She has passed away but it was her skills and love for craft that she imparted on us that made us want to use her name. We think her name is really groovy as well!
What are you creating at present?
Currently, Naree is designing a rug and other homewares, which will be available next year. And I have fallen in love with a book called Edward’s Menagerie and have been making crocheted animals from gorgeous Katia yarns. I’ve also been making some summer wardrobe items and picking pieces for next winter.
What is it you love about knitting and crochet?
Firstly I love yarn. It is incredibly satisfying, relaxing and interesting to work with. There are always new techniques to learn and I am amazed that after almost 40 years of knitting and crocheting, there are still techniques and patterns to learn and master. I love the fact that it’s a portable craft. And I always know that if someone is in a handmade item, then they are loved by someone…even if you made it yourself.
Do you think yarn crafts will always be around?
I think with all the busyness life brings, I find it a complete pleasure to take the time to make items for friends and family. At the end of a busy period, I hanker for some yarn in my hands. Many of my friends in their 30s, 40s and 50s are now finding the pleasure of handmade products. I believe as long as beautiful yarns and designs keep coming out, and people have the opportunity to purchase them, yarn crafts will be around.
How has interest in knitting/crochet changed over recent years?
In the past, knitting and crochet may have been driven by the economy, but now it really is a luxury. The designs are continually changing just as fashion does. The yarn combinations with cottons, alpacas, silks, virgin wools, bamboo, viscose and merino – in addition to the dyeing processes – keep it really interesting. Plus, the multi-coloured yarns are really beautiful and have inspired people to knit and crochet again.
Cat or dog?
Dog, Dog and Dog
What are you reading?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner.
What’s your ideal weekend?
Watching the children (four of them) play their respective sports. (If it is the season for cricket for the boys I always take a bit of knitting to do as the games do go on a bit!). Having a really nice meal and catching up with friends, chasing some sun, and definitely getting some relax time with my yarns.