Photos by Stephanie Rose Wood
Melbourne folk rock lady Laura Jean is just as handy at knitting a scarf as she is strumming a guitar. You might have seen a bit about her in frankie 83 (on sale now!) Here, we chat with Laura about yarn craft, inspiration and stitching at gigs.
So, how did you first get into knitting? Making my last album, Laura Jean, was such a huge experience, and I just felt like I needed to chill out before I could start thinking about what came next. I have this friend who’s a master knitter. He weaves wool and spins yarn and knits really complicated stuff. So I asked him to teach me, and he just ran me through the basics. That was about four years ago, and I've just kept doing it.
You must have pretty dexterous fingers after all these years playing guitar – were you a natural? I wish! I really was no good at the beginning, but then again it wasn't something I felt like I had to immediately be a star at. There are always a lot of missteps when you're learning to knit, but fortunately when it comes to crafty things I'm pretty patient. I gradually added new skills, tried out different techniques, lacework, textured work, shaping and turning. I just took it slow.
What's the appeal of knitting for you as a muso? I reckon knitting is a wonderful thing to do if you need to be creative. It actually ended up being a huge part of making my new album, Devotion. I always had my knitting bag under the desk and if I got sick of working on a song I'd go and knit for 10 minutes, and then get back to it.
Is it a bit of a creative meditation, then? For me, the best creative space is when you're able to be occupied without being mentally preoccupied. You might have the telly on in the background, or the radio, and you might be doing something with your hands. And that means that your brain is free, so your subconscious comes out of its hiding place and starts to throw up some cool and strange ideas that your conscious mind isn't able to have.
Are knitting and music-making anything alike? When you finish a song, and you're happy with it, it’s super-gratifying. Knitting is like a minor version of that. When you start you feel really overwhelmed, and you've just got this seed of an idea, and you're like, "Ugh. I don't know where this going to go." You have to restart a lot when you go down the wrong path. But when it's finished you get this beautiful feeling of satisfaction.
Besides the studio, where do you knit? Everywhere: public transport, cafes, parks. It's a bit embarrassing, but I've been going through a phase where I take my knitting to see live music. I find it really hard to listen to music when I'm focusing directly on it. As a musician, you often listen to music quite critically. The knitting helps distract me and lets the music come through the side door into my brain.
This very musical and knitty chat was brought to you by the brand-new Abbey Road yarn range from Spotlight. Inspired by classic tracks and rock ‘n’ roll good times, you can find the whole collection, along with more crafty goodness, at Spotlight.
For more Laura Jean, pop over this-a-way.