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Rising Stars 2013: Candice Johnson

Candice Johnson is a knitwear designer based in Cape Town, producing her  beautiful pieces under her Miss Knitwear label. Describe yourself. I am a knitwear designer and creator of luxurious fine-quality knitwear. Knitting is a highly specialised artform through which colour, texture, design and stitch interest can be created into fabric and interpreted into garments. I’m colour- and pattern-obsessed. I love how each pattern and design can look completely new when interpreted into a different colouration. I love the freedom and the magic that happens when beautiful yarns are interpreted into beautiful, luxurious works of art that make my wearer feel special and nurtured. I have the ability to understand how each yarn will react in the knitting process. I have a great understanding of the interpretation required and how to combine different yarns to bring them to life in fabric form. What is your background? Both my grannies were great knitters and I grew up making designer Barbie doll clothes behind my mother’s sewing machine. Also skilled in illustration, fashion and design has always been my greatest love. I have a National Higher Diploma in Fashion Design and Technology from Cape Technikon. I specialised in knitwear design in 1997 – my first job was as a designer for Danco Knitwear, a supplier to all the large local retailers. I have since held designer and merchandiser positions in knitwear manufacturers for the retailers for the past 15 years. What inspires you? The beautiful city of Cape Town and our wonderfully diverse people,  the mountain, our beautiful coastline, wildlife and fynbos are all hugely inspirational in my work. As a designer, finding colour and pattern in nature is quite compelling and breathtaking. I also find great inspiration trawling through flea markets and looking at vintage knitting books. As a fashion enthusiast, I am also inspired by the great designers such as Missoni, Iceberg, Custo Barcelona for their direction with pattern, yarn and fabrication. What are you most proud of so far, career-wise? I am most proud to have launched my own Miss Knitwear brand of locally produced and handcrafted fine-quality knitwear. I am also very proud of my working experience, the amazing people that I’ve been blessed to have worked with, great knitters who have shared their knowledge and technical expertise in my field of specialisation. I am very honoured to be showcasing my first collection of fine kid mohair scarves and shawls under my Miss Knitwear brand on my website. What are you working on now – and what's next for you? I am working exclusively with local South African yarns and my knitwear products are all made in Cape Town. My first collection is made up of entirely fine kid mohair yarn. For luxury, warmth and softness this yarn is second only to cashmere. In the collection are scarves in beautiful stripe and colourblock combinations – in beautiful stitches with a warm and cosy feel. Also, shawls and throws in lace designs. Each style is designed my myself and handcrafted by my knitters. I am working on developing my brand as a luxury local brand as I believe there is a great need for luxurious locally produced knitwear. I would like to fully intergrate my brand into the South African market and further expand into the international market. For more information about Candice’s designs, visit Compiled by Leigh Robertson