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Nikki goes Gathering
Thread's Willow Sharp talks to Nikki Gabriel about her Napier shop Gather - full of textile treasures from around the world, and her knitting - and her fabulous style...
How did the idea of Gather begin?
"I've always wanted to have a little fibre shop full of textile treasures from all over the world, which are rare and curious, and tell a story. The name 'Gather' comes from the idea that the materials for our textiles were once and still are gathered and harvested in amongst nature and the wild.
The shop is about celebrating this process of 'gathering', to connect us with the history that our textile culture is steeped in, and which nature supplies. For example sheep are still sheared seasonally by hand, and they still roam the beautiful New Zealand landscape; Angora is from a fluffy little white rabbit which sheds its fur naturally, and indigo dye is the oldest blue dye in the world which created the denim jean and is still harvested from the indigo plant. Every product in the shop has a story."
How has your experience as a designer and a craftsperson influenced what you stock?
"My knitted fashion collections have always reflected the process of handmade textile production. Raw materials and fibres have been the initial inspiration to the artisan collections I've produced and over the many years I've found amazing materials, such as silks and linens from Japan, organic hand-spun wool from New Zealand, naturally-coloured cotton from Peru, and plant dyes from India and Africa. So I've filled the store with all these rich finds from all over the world, and mixed it up with my obsession of design books, magazines and contemporary craft that fuses industrialised processes with old-fashioned ideas creating new and interesting objects."
What are your hopes for the store?
"I hope to keep finding more rare finds from all over the world that are tactile, full of wonder, and inspire people to make or collect."
Tell us a bit about your workshops.
"The workshops are based on my Construction Knitting patterns, which are designed for beginner knitters. They are based on knitting simple geometric shapes that transform into creative garment constructions accumulatively. With the use of big needles and chunky wool a knitter can complete a garment in one workshop session. And as the gratification and confidence of the knitter grows they can then transform their garment into a new one with the addition of another knitted shape. So the projects can keep growing!"
Favourite items on the shelves? Things you'd like to develop?
"I love the natural dyes from the blossoms, bark, roots and leaves of plants. They smell amazing in the shop, and I'm looking forward to some dye workshops over Spring/Summer. My own up-cycled yarn called Wooli (pictured below) I think is amazing, as it's a blend of factory fibre remnants of wool, cashmere, silk, alpaca and possum, and it's produced here in New Zealand."
"I'm dreaming up new yarn designs, new knitting patterns, and a homeware and accessories line using all the amazing materials I have in the shop."
71 - 73 Tennyson Street
Phone 06 835 1384
www.nikkigabriel.com and http://nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz/
Interview and photographs by Willow Sharp
14 May 2012
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