Interview with a Grad Student: Lauren Brauninger

Today we are highlighting the journey and work of Lauren Brauninger. Lauren is focusing her graduate studies in knit design. She has a background in pattern and fashion design, both of which influence her work. Here is her design story in her own words.

How did you choose Textile Design as a major?

After years of playing around with textile design as a hobby, my life came to a point where I needed a change, and grad school became an option. I spent some time trying hard to focus on what direction to go in and realized that if I could do anything in the world, it would be to attend “Philly Textiles” and learn how to apply my interests and talents towards fabric design. I visited the school and instantly knew it was exactly where I belonged. I had never touched a knitting machine before beginning this program, but once I had that opportunity, a new pathway opened up in my life, and I have truly “found myself” as a textile designer. 

When did you learn to knit and who taught you?

When I was 20, my grandmother spent some time with my family, and I asked her to teach me how to knit. My mother had always done crochet, but I liked the way knit looked and felt, and I wanted to make sweaters. My grandmother taught me the basics, and I spent my 20’s learning different stitches and structures and making piles of gifts for my friends. Towards the end of my first year at Jefferson, I bought a Passap knitting machine. I spent an afternoon teaching my daughter how to use it and found out that evening that my grandmother had passed away. Although I don’t do as much hand knitting anymore, I will always be thankful for the lessons from my grandmother. She continues to inspire me to learn new things and push new boundaries in knit design.

Do you have a background in design or textiles?
My bachelor’s degree is in fashion design, and I enjoyed working as a patternmaker. Still, surface design was always more interesting to me than silhouette, which made textile design the perfect direction for me to turn towards. 

What is your favorite book of all time?

I have a few, including but not limited to: The Witches by Roald Dahl, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and anything about Marie Antoinette. 

What do you have on your knitting machine today?

It’s off the machine but on the dress form now, almost finished, a short lacy sweater from my thesis collection, “Eidolons.”

What would you like to be doing in 5 years?

Making a living from creating cool stuff, enjoying my kids, who will be 11 and 15, traveling, adventuring, and still refusing to act my age.

What is your favorite thing to do to distract yourself from school stress?

Taking walks in the woods around my home in Virginia, baking, being fully engaged with my kids, and making short trips to the mountains or beach. 

What drives you to make your best work?

In my 20’s, I didn’t think design was a viable career option because I listened too closely to the voice of doubt. In my 40’s, I understand that I get to have my own voice, and it gets to be as loud as I want it to be. For a while, I was interested in proving wrong the people who doubted me in the past, now I am solely motivated by the need to just be entirely myself and follow my own lead. I don’t want to make good work because I want to impress people, I want to make good work because it’s inside of me. I have found that the best way to avoid being misunderstood is to push beyond any limitations of insecurity or self-doubt and just do what comes naturally, even if it’s weird.

What kind of music do you listen to in your headphones?

I don’t use headphones while I work because I prefer to work without background noise or any other distractions. I do, however, spend many hours each week commuting to school from my home outside of D.C., and in the car, I listen to a whole lot of Nick Cave, who I have been following for decades now. 


Meghan Kelly

Meghan Kelly is an assistant professor of Textile Design at Jefferson University, where she teaches Knit Design Studio and Knitting Technology to undergrad and graduate […]

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