Interview with Wool and Water

We are over the moon that Alice of Wool & Water is coming to visit London this week! But it’s not all for fun, she will be hard at work too.

This Saturday 14th June from 10am, Wool & Water will be selling their unique and gorgeous bow ties at a pop up event at  Hawkhurst Vault, 240 Brick Lane, E2 7EB

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“The tearoom & lounge is situated off the beaten track on North side of Brick Lane serving up the widest range of fine teas in London. Named after the notorious group of tea smugglers the Hawkhurst Gang. We smuggle good vibes, funk and soul and pour it into your cup.

We’re offering 17 beautiful varieties of tea and the highest quality coffee, all sourced from local suppliers, with a range of locally crafted pastries and cakes to compliment them. Laid over two spacious floors, furnished with pockets of comfort ready for you to make your own.”

So, we have used this opportunity to interview the lovely Alice and hear her thoughts on craft, creativity and inspiration.

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Wool & Water is a boutique knitwear label based in Amsterdam and was launched in 2013 by Alice O’Connell. Alice is a British Actress with a passion for natural fibres, the knitted textile, and a desire to combine the traditional craft of knitting with a contemporary aesthetic.
Wool & Water seeks to celebrate the natural beauty of wool & cotton and the unique personable qualities of the handmade piece. In a world full of disposable fashion sometimes you want something to treasure, something that makes you feel special, a garment made just for you.

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How and where are you today?

I am feeling good, well rested and focused! I am in my home studio in Amsterdam.

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How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And were these the roads you expected to take?

The journey has really been about me being brave enough to broaden my horizons, open my eyes and arms to the opportunities that are there in front of you as long as you are receptive and run with them.

Somebody on an acting job suggesting I knit as a way to pass the time – as an actor, when you are filming that can mean a lot of waiting and I wanted something to do that would keep me focused and yet relaxed so I had asked my mother to teach me as a Christmas present about 10 years ago and I never stopped. I had no idea that I was to become utterly addicted.  It is very rare for a day to pass without me knitting. I started knitting small gifts for friends and family then started taking private commissions, eventually I was knitting for several independent British designers and labels including The North Circular and Gerard Allt. 

A few years ago, after a very inspiring chat with the brilliant British knitwear designer Amy Hall, I  decided to focus on creating my own opportunities and start seriously exploring this passion. After a lot of research and saving (and a well timed ad job) I was able to study Knitwear Design and Domestic Manual Machine Knitting at the brilliant Knit One studios in Brighton.

After a very long search for the perfect name, I started Wool & Water in 2012. It is a continuous learning experience but one I am cherishing every moment of. It is unlike anything I’ve ever embarked on but I feel excited and inspired every day and believe from little stitches, big jumpers will grow.

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Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?

Not exactly, I am refining it all the time. Learning to listen to myself and my rhythms. Generally speaking I collect a lot of material that inspires me, images, quotes, music anything really that speaks to me in some way and then every now and again I sit down with a big mug of Green Tea and review and organise. Then I start sketching, anything from scribbles to pattern ideas to shapes, from that point I start swatching and playing with my yarn (I have huge boxes full of cones in my studio). I pin them up everywhere and try and breathe them in. Once I’ve identified the ones I’m really obsessed with, I pin them on myself, my mannequin, anything. Before I know it I’m trying to create a pattern – a knitting pattern – and then starts the weeks of pattern development until I have something that works. It’s never quite what I saw in my head but I enjoy striving to achieve that all the time plus often I come up with something so far removed from where I started that it excites and inspires me in itself.

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(J. Willgoose Esq of Public Service Broadcasting wearing bespoke Wool & Water bow tie!)

How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?

I think my sense of theatricality helps me imagine other personas/characters and be inspired by them. I also have a love of costume/dress up which I can see origins of in my knits. Through my acting I have been lucky enough to be exposed to different genres and styles so this has broadened my aesthetic perspective. Growing up I spent a lot of time around various artists and musicians, all of whom were somewhat bohemian in their approach to life so I have no doubt this influenced me to explore my own path.

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What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty to me is confidence, individuality and curiosity.

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(Handsome & Pretty’s Lisa wearing her Wool & Water hat)

If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?

An actress, I wanted to be an actress since I was very little. I only started exploring my knitting in a serious, more focused way a couple of years ago. I suddenly realised life is about broadening your perspectives, being open to new opportunities and that expressing yourself can be done in more than just one way.

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What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?

You and only you are responsible for your happiness. If you’re not happy it is up to you to make the changes to let your happiness flourish. It was passed to me by a very wise and brilliant person. It changed my life in so many ways.

Wool & Water website / blog / twitter / instagram


Thank you so much Alice! We are so delighted to have you here, and to be seeing you on Saturday!

handsome and pretty

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