16/09/2014
ALL Knitwear has officially made knitting cool.

Words by

Sinead Stubbins

For aspiring designers, Annie Larson’s career is the dream. Larson’s label ALL Knitwear is internationally renowned for its idiosyncratic approach to an old artform, transforming a previously daggy mode of design into something, well, cool.

It may have started in a small apartment next to a puppet theatre in Minneapolis, but ALL Knitwear is now stocked everywhere from London to Macau and Melbourne. We were lucky enough to chat to knitwear’s bespectacled renegade.

On starting ALL Knitwear…
I had just come out of a corporate design position of about three years. I started to learn about knitwear through that job and really wanted to change the direction of my career, to do something more creative and independent. After I purchased my first knitting machine, everything started moving really quickly, and I launched ALL Knitwear in early 2010.

On a normal day in the studio…
I recently moved studios from Williamsburg to Bushwick in Brooklyn. My studio is very small, but it has large casement windows with a great view of Manhattan. I usually work every day of the week, from about 10 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. I switch between different tasks all throughout the day – knitting sweater panels, linking, emails, design and documentation. Most of my job is production, so I listen to a lot of public radio and take coffee breaks often.

On the major setbacks in starting her own label…
Working in the corporate world seemed really macro in comparison to starting a knitwear label. It was both exciting and frightening to suddenly be considering everything on a micro scale. Being self-employed requires a lot of organization, something I'm still learning about every day. I do feel lucky in terms of the timing, though, 2008-2010 was a great time to start an online store. A lot of people started moving in that direction and there were a few different ways to go about it. The playing field felt level and a little sparse. Now it's such a common thing – there's so much more competition.

On constantly developing new designs…
I like to keep it pretty simple. I always revisit certain themes and will reinterpret them over time. There are a certain number of variables in the creation of a sweater; changing one or two things can change the whole look of the piece. I'm interested in exploring that. Often, the composition of the sweater is not about the design of one pattern in one colorway (though that can also be very effective), but more about the way many patterns relate to each other.

On dealing with people trying to rip off your designs…
I don't worry about that so much anymore. It used to upset me, but I think it's better to just keep moving forward and to keep thinking of new ideas.

On her proudest professional moment…
Moving the business to New York!

On the advice she’d give to young designers wanting to start their own label…
My two main pieces of advice are: 1). Figure out what you want to make – not just for one season, but the type of footprint you want to leave over many. 2). Decide what your voice is going to be, how you will sell the label. I think it's very appealing when new labels are confident straight out of the gate, but it can't seem misplaced. There's a fine line! An excellent website is worth the money and you can never have enough good documentation.

allknitwear.com