Aspire

Interview with Thesis student Hannah Beckett

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Hannah for both her first and her last knitting class at PhilaU/Jefferson with one or two in between. I’m so proud of how far she’s come. She has a beautiful final collection to show for all of her hard work. I’ll show your her final pieces in a post yet to come, but for now, I’ll give you a peek into her process and let her tell you about her journey. 

When did you learn to knit/weave/print, and who taught you?

I actually learned to weave from my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Pilgrim. She had us make clay frame looms that we designed ourselves. Then after the clay frames were fired, we used the frame as the base for out woven. I still have the frame and the fabric woven on it sitting in my parent’s house. It is a special thing for me. 

Do you have a background in design or textiles?

When I started at Jefferson, I did have a design and textile background that was more rooted in fine art. My BFA is in fine arts with a concentration in fibers. My undergrad was a lot more free and conceptual in my way of design, with every piece being very personal to me. I love this way of working just as much as I love to work from an inspiration that is not personal but is instead something that I find inspiring through its use of color, pattern, concept, and its use for knitted structures. I also mostly did weaving and beading in my undergrad. 

Who are your design heroes?

My design heroes are Alexander McQueen and Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is someone who has inspired others since birth. His amazing use of important societal and environmental themes, as well as the beauty and feeling of his movies, make me want to create better work. Alexander McQueen’s use of high-concept in luxury fashion is able to transcend to a more mainstream market and his use of conceptual aspects in not only his clothing but in our modern fashion sense is apparent. 

What surprised you the most about Textile Design at Philau/Jefferson?

I was surprised at the immense amount of textile equipment, as well as the amazing technical background that you are given. In my undergrad, I was not given much technical explanation to fabric outside of the basics. At Jefferson, I was able to learn in-depth technical knowledge that has lead me to be a better designer. 

What is your favorite thing about Textile Design?

My favorite thing about textile design is actually two things. The first is something that applies directly to knitting, which is the counting and patterning that is required for designing and knitting.  It is meditative and almost relaxing, that is until you get to into it and mess up. The second applies to all textile design, and that is the ability to create art without having to be great or at least feeling you are great at drawing. As a child, this was always something that held me back from doing art or wanting to do art as a job. When I went to college and realized I could do the same crafts that I had done all my life as a job, I was so sad that my entire childhood and teenage years, I never realized that this was also just as valid as an art form. 

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

My favorite thing to distract me from the stress of school is to cuddle my dog or go to the rescue farm I volunteer at. To me, animal energy and the ability to sit quietly with someone who doesn’t have societal pressures is freeing and calming. 

Are there any techniques in textile design you’d like to explore further?

I would love to explore beading, knitting, and weaving all more thoroughly. Even though I have been doing all of these techniques for almost 12 years now, I am continually learning and being inspired to try new things. I would love to incorporate each technique with the other someday too! I love the interplay of different textile and embellishment techniques. 

What do you have on your knitting machine/loom/sketchbook today?

Today, I was knitting the final skirt that I have to make for my thesis collection! This skirt is multiple pieces and has taken a few days to complete, but tomorrow I should be done. I am super excited about how it’s coming out! 

What drives you to make your best work? 

What drives me to make my best work is continually looking for new inspiration. This varies from conceptual, visual, and for the most inspiring, other knitter work. I love to see all the different ways people are utilizing techniques and find new things I have yet to try to use in my own work and look at different ways of patterning and color stories. 

What are your hobbies? How do you make time for them?

My other hobbies include media of all kinds. I love games, books, and movies. I usually find time for them easily, especially movies. The great thing about textiles is being able to watch movies while you are working! I also love to give myself time at the end of every day that I am working to do something I love from these three things, and its usually playing Animal Crossing on my Nintendo Switch. 

To see more of Hannah’s work:

www.hannahkbeckett.com

Author(s)

Meghan Kelly

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

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