Crushing on Allie Buckley from Itchy Knits
I was lucky enough to visit Allie from Itchy Knits at her cosy home studio in central Tāmaki Makaurau to talk about her journey and relationship to slow, sustainable fashion. I also loved seeing her pieces of art, homeware and clothing to understand her style and the love for what is unique, what is crafted, and what is pre-loved. Very "Itchy Knits" and very "Crushes!"
Okay, we're recording! Why don't you introduce yourself?
Hi! I am Allie Buckley of Itchy knits, and I am a small little business that is knitting beautiful little one off pieces using recycled and repurposed mohair yarn.
Why did you call it "Itchy Knits"?
I called it "Itchy Knits" because I thought it would be a cute little play-of words because people think "is it going to be itchy" but in fact they are really, really soft.
Why do you use recycled and re-purposed yarn?
The materials have been so considered in respect that they have been especially sourced from second-hand. It's not as easy as ordering this wool online, I have to scour Op-shops and Trademe to find them. I find small little balls of left over random colours and sometimes they're end of line, or sometimes I hit the jackpot and find 5x of one colour which is actually quite rare! This leads me to be able to make great colour combinations cause I'm only left being able to use tiny balls of random colours.
I love to think that each ball of yarn probably has a story from a little home knitter that makes her family a piece and has this little bit left over. And now I have found it and can repurpose it in to an amazing fashion piece!
How long does it take to make a piece?
I've never timed how long it takes, but I would say around 2 days. When I was more of a leisurely knitter, it would take about a week. Now I can just get in the zone, especially with a good show in front of me! I've been known to knit for about 10 hours, and that's how I can get it done quite quickly cause it's literally sometimes a 10 hour day!
The other thing is is that, yeah, it might potentially take me 10-20 hours to make a piece, but it takes me more time to plan them and to go scour all the Op Shops to find the yarn!
10 hours a day?! Wow! How are your hands and wrists, do you get pain?
My hands do get sore sometimes. I think if I am knitting a lot over the course of a week, I start to notice they do start to get sore. But I'm getting better to make sure that I stretch them ever couple of hours. I used to be really bad at it and let them get quite sore, but I've been good lately and making sure I take breaks.
Let's go back to the beginning! Have you always been interested in fashion?
Growing up I was super creative. I came from a single mother household so we had to shop at Savemart cause I had to. It meant I had to be creative with my outfits and I remember that on mufti day I was always the weird girl, and everyone would say 'wow you look so cool' and, 'I would never wear that though'. And I was like 'yeah 'cause you can't! It's from Savemart so you can't replicate this'.
I've always shopped sustainably 90% of my wardrobe is pre-loved clothing, and I've always loved the idea of giving something a new life.
And I've always enjoyed having very rare pieces. I think that is what has drawn me to making really rare pieces of knitwear is because I get so much joy out of having a one-off piece that no-one else has. We live in such a trend-based society and I've always been opposed to that. When I do buy new, I buy investment pieces.
And did you study fashion?
Yes! So I have a very industry based knowledge about construction. I think that's why I can knit without patterns and just knit in my head which is quite rare. I started with constructing garments with pattern pieces so I can envision the flat lay of that pattern and I can apply that to my knitting.
When I worked in fashion and design roles, I was always valued for my vision. So it's really awesome to see people invest in pieces that I have designed from the very beginning, right through to handing it over and seeing who will like it and who wants to invest in this really special one-off piece.
Why should someone invest in handmade fashion, like this?
When you buy something like an Itchy Knit piece, you're investing in someone who has invested back in to your piece; they have spent so much energy and time on it! You're also investing in someone who really wants to showcase their creativity and wants to continue to do so. So buying this piece you are really being able to support that person and keep them on the road that they are on.
Any why an "Itchy Knit"?
With my knitted pieces, it's super considered, and a one-off piece, so no-one else in NZ will be wearing this, which brings a lot of value!
And you can expect the softest most cuddly, cloud like pieces of knitwear that you can imagine. And they're one off which is so, so special.
And lastly, it's a fashion piece! Even though I'm inspired by vintage knitwear, I bring my pieces in to a real modern, on-trend realm.
What's the future of "Itchy Knits?" And what would success look like to you?
I'm super passionate about making Itchy knits a thing because as long as I remember I've wanted to do something fashion related, and now it is bringing in my other passion of sustainability.
I'm really enjoying the ride and wherever itchy takes me I'm going to be super grateful to go there.
I would love for some of my favourite people in the fashion or entertainment industry to be wearing itchy. that would really make my heart sing!
What would you say to someone who will come away with one of your pieces?
I hope anyone who ends up finding their special Itchy piece from this or future Crushes drops, that they feel so warm and cosy. Like they are wearing a hug, which is how I feel in them! It feels so nice to be able to share that feeling with others who purchase these pieces!
Just know that this was a really special piece for me. And when I was making it, I thought about every single detail! I really hope you enjoy having it in your wardrobe.