I love when people do interesting things with knitting! When I heard about Louise Walker's new book, Faux Taxidermy Knits, I was instantly intrigued. My grandfather had taxidermied pheasants in his basement, and while they creeped my out a little, I always found them fascinating. Knitted taxidermy? Crazy cool! Louise was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book all the way from the UK...
Tanis Gray (TG): This is a wonderfully creative idea - a book full of knit faux taxidermy! How did it come about?
Louise Walker (LW): For me, the faux taxidermy started when I was a student. Whilst studying commercial photography I began crafting my own props for my shoots. The first one being a hunting editorial where I replaced all the trophy heads and stoles with knitted versions. After graduating I was approached by Boden and a few knitting magazines to work on faux taxidermy pieces after seeing the photos I'd made at university. I was selling finished pieces alongside designing for the magazines and when approached by my publishers, how could I saw no to writing a whole book of faux critters.
TG: Any interest in becoming an actual taxidermist?
LW: I love taxidermy, but from afar! I'm in awe of the artists who have used it in the work, such as Walter Potter, but don't think I could do it myself.
TG: You’re a photographer who fell into knitting by chance. How have you married the two?
LW: I think being in education and solely studying photography for five years gives me a different approach as a designer. Maybe I see things a little differently as I'm always planning for the final stage of the design and how its going to be presented. It's a great skill to have as it means I can knit a design and once it's finished work on the photographic side. I don't think I use my photographers background as much as I should but hope to expand on it as the business grows.
TG: You used some of your own hand dyed yarn in your book. How was that process and would you do it again?
LW: I liked the process of hand dying but it's just finding the time amongst everything else to expand the range. In the future I'd like to have a set of patterns designed in my own yarn so thought the book would be a great place to start. I found it really interesting and frustrating finding the perfect colours and would love to do more. I might go and put a pot on now.
TG: You photographed your own book! Were you able to look at it with a photographer’s eye rather than a knitter’s? Was there anything particularly difficult about being responsible for the look of the book?
LW: I was able to look at the pieces from a photographers perspective, however as the designer I knew exactly how I wanted them to look. I think I would have been awful on the shoot if someone else had been taking the photos. I did have a lot of help with it, from an art director friend who made sure I was on the right track. I think the book needed to really focus on the pieces, so everything else needed to compliment them. The concepts naturally fell into place but it was the shooting of it that proved most difficult.
TG: What’s your favorite project in the book (mine’s the moose head!)?
LW: My favourite might be the mole, but it does change from day-to-day. I'm really proud of the tiger as it took so long to design and put together. But there's something about the mole that just makes me smile. I recently brought a cross stitch of a mole that'll match my door stop perfectly.
TG: Did you have an idea for a project in the book that didn’t come to fruition due to time or impossibility?
LW: The mole was actually supposed to come in a set of three or four but after knitting him he looked so cute by himself. There were time restrictions which meant I'd left the extra moles until the end but I was so happy with him I wasn't worried about making them.
TG: You sell some fantastic kits on your Etsy shop. What’s your best seller?
LW: My best seller is the fox kit, I usually make up a lot more of those to take to shows too as they are so popular. I've just launched some dinosaurs though and I think the triceratops is now giving Mr. Fox a run for his money.
TG: Any plans for another book?
LW: There might be, I've put in a hint that I'd like to do another so it might just be a case of finding some new inspiration.
TG: What’s your favorite animal?
LW: As a child it was always an elephant, then as a teen a giraffe. Now I don't know, maybe a fox. Can I choose a Pokemon?
Thanks, Louise! check out her new book here.