INTERVIEW: LAURA ZUKAITE

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Winner of the Vogue Live Knitting competition stops over in Johannesburg en route from New York to the world's mohair capitol

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When Laura Zukaite got on the eighteen hour flight from New York to Johannesburg her neighbour remarked on the three inch-piece of knitting she had in hand. She politely said she was making a ‘sweater’. When they landed the neighbour was alarmed and charmed by the speed in which Laura had indeed knitted half a ‘sweater’.

“I tend to always knit on the go,” says the petite blonde. “On the subway or the bus; I only come up with the designs and usually finish the garments at home.”

Lithuanian Laura has been knitting since she was a child. She’s written two books about knitting, Luxe Knits and a follow-up, works days at Ralph Lauren as knitwear designer for the Rugby label and most recently won the inaugural Vogue Knitting Live competition in New York.

The prize, a trip to the Eastern Cape, sponsored by Mohair South Africa, was immediately attractive to the passionate knitter.

“The rules of the competition were such that the fibres used had to be at least 25% mohair,” she explains. She adds about 6000 knitters entered the competition. She won, for her light, feminine frock. “I like knitting because I like making things, I never get bored of knitting and I like working with mohair has it has a lace-weight, it can be very light.”

Zukaite studied fashion design at New York’s famed fashion school, Parsons, for four years, but says making a knit pattern is completely different to a fabric pattern. “When you’re knitting you have to think in 3D,” she says. “It is never going to work flat. You are creating the fabric at the same time as creating the design. And your variation, your design comes from using different fibres – silks, blends, mohair. You have to understand the different properties of these textures, know your fibre before you start to make anything. For instance, linen has no give and will always lose shape.”

Unfortunately Laura’s hand made goods are not for sale. For her, it’s an act of love. However, given the speed with which she’s coming to the knit-fraternity’s attention, we expect it won’t be much longer before she has her own label. With a strong mohair component, of course!



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