An amazingly inventive knitting project has hit the headlines this week – and it definitely doesn’t blend in! Brighton-based Nina Dodd, knitter, and Joseph Ford, photographer, have collaborated to create a selection of fun and quirky photos. These images show people wearing knitted items that camouflage seamlessly into their surroundings and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. In the last few weeks they’ve been featured in The Independent, the BBC, the Guardian and the Daily Mail. We knew we just had to talk to Nina to find out more about this fun project and about her knitting life!
Can you tell us about what inspired the camouflage collaboration, and the history behind it?
“I love buses and would sit on them all day being driven around if I had the choice (which sadly I don’t)! A long solitary bus journey is also often where ideas drift into my head. This time, it hit my with full force – I love buses and I love knitting, why on EARTH don’t I knit a jumper that blends in with the bus upholstery? Once the idea came to me, I just felt stupid that I hadn’t thought of it before!”
How long does it take to come up with a scene you wanted to shoot, and how long did it take to create the relevant knitted item?
“It really varies. After our first photo [of the man on the bus, see above], Joe and I would normally meet up a few times and drink a lot of coffee while discussing backgrounds and what would work. Often Joe would have seen a background he liked, and we talked about whether it was feasible and what sort of garment would work best. I would then go away and make up a pattern (which was always the hardest part by far) and once I finished, handed it over to Joe for shooting. I went along to a couple of the photoshoots, and every one took many hours. I had no idea how much work goes into [things like] lighting [or] positioning. It was an eye-opener for me [and] I now have a new found respect when I look at advertising hoardings!
How long have you and Joseph been collaborating for? Are you going to continue your camouflage collection?
“I was shocked to realise that it’s been four years! This is mainly because we do a photo and then our “real” lives take over for a while, but we just keep saying …”just one more” because they’re so much fun and so challenging. We’ve said we’ll stop now, but I suspect if the right project comes up would could EASILY be persuaded…”
How long have you been knitting for? Where did you first learn?
“As long as I can remember. My mum taught me when I was about 7 or 8 I guess. I remember sneaking some yellow wool and needles up to my bedroom and knitting in the dark after I was supposed to have gone to sleep because I just didn’t want to stop. I can’t remember what the finished article looked like, but I fear there could have been a dropped stitch or two!”
You are obviously a very skilled knitter who uses advanced techniques! What was your favourite thing to knit?
“That’s very kind of you! It’s funny that people think I’m a skilled/advanced knitter because I don’t think of it that way at all. It’s a bit like cooking, you just naturally get better at it by doing it – you don’t wake up one morning with a Michelin Star on your kitchen wall, you just make more interesting things for dinner. My favourite on this project were the blue trousers. I hadn’t knitted trousers before and I found a trouser-suit pattern in a 60s magazine that I found in a charity shop. I adapted it for what I needed and voila! If I had my way we’d all be weraing knitted trousers – I think they’re lovely”
You are the knitter in residence for the Brighton and Hove bus company and the Knit the West Pier project – can you tell our readers more about this? What are you planning to do for them next?
“As you know I’m the world’s happiest bus passenger. I had been in touch with the bus company over the bus-man picture and the new Marketing Nanager got in touch with the idea of having a knitter in residence (it was more complicated than that, but let’s go for the simple version!). It’s been such fun – with lovely people from all over the world sending in squares which we’re sewing together to up a woolly West Pier, which will hopefully get attached to the side of a bus. We’re at the sew-up stage now, again with lots of lovely volunteers and we’re hoping for maybe March, although we’re not into deadlines.
How much does Brighton and the city your work?
“[It really inspires me as] most of my work is in collaboration with creative talented people who I’ve just come across through work and friends. I know I would have knitted some unusual things without them, but it’s been much more fun and exciting (and sucessful) with them.”
What new projects do you have lined up?
“It’s Eurovision in May and I usually do a Eurovision-inspired knit. I have to confess to having made a dress knitted from all the flags of all the countries that have ever competed in Eurovision. Plus there were some ill-advised Euro-flag-mankinis that we might prefer to draw a veil over!”
Oh and finally – why do you call yourself the Duke of Woollington?!
“It was for a Eurovision knitted animation – it was 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the 60th anniversaty of Eurovision so I knitted a tribute to Abba’s “Waterloo”. So really I had no choice but to call myself the Duke of Woollington!” (Click to see the video here)!
- Thanks so much to Nina for the interview! You can view her website and read more about her projects here. She can also be found on Facebook (@DukeofWoollington), Twitter (@Woollington1) and Instagram (@DukeofWoollington).
- Click here to view Joseph Ford’s website – and here to see all the knitted camouflage pictures! He can also be found on Facebook (@josephfordphotography), Twitter (@joseph_ford) and Instagram (@josephfordphotography)