Behind OCEAAN is Gretha Mensen, the talented designer of knitting patterns. Discreet, Gretha was kind enough to tell us about her and reveal some designer secrets with a lot of humor, during an exclusive interview for Woolissime.
Thank you so much Gretha !
Name of Oceaan ? Could you tell us your story and who you are briefly?
My biggest passion is the sea and in Dutch, the word for ocean is Oceaan. Formerly I was an IT-specialist and currently I live in Netherlands on the coast of the North Sea. I am a quiet and private person however I am also quite bubbly and enthusiastic.
What are your earliest memories of wool?
At a young age, we learned to knit and crochet at school. Usually we would start with potholders and scarves but around 11, 12 years old, we would have to knit a colorwork sweater. I made a 2 colors fair isle vest and was so proud that it was my school picture outfit. Since then, I knitted sweaters until my late twenties. Then life happened and it wasn’t until a couple years ago I took up knitting again.
How did you go from knitting as a hobby to starting design patterns ?
I had more ideas in my head than my hands were able to handle so one thing lead to another. I love the creativity of it and being systematic at the same time.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your designs ?
Most of my inspiration comes from nature’s shapes, colors or movements.
What advice do you have for knitters who would like to knit your designs ?
At first glance, the patterns might look complicated but really are easy to knit. The patterns are clear, to the point and with stitch counts so you know exactly where you are. Just dive in, follow the pattern, relax and knit.
Would you recommend a specific type of yarn ? Color ?
Everyone has their own preferences, however, mine is all about soft yarns, shiny superwash or rustic looking. My color palette is mostly based on sky and sea colors; grey, blue and/or turquoise.
How do you describe the women wearing your designs ?
Well, not only women wear my shawls! It’s hard to narrow it down to one type of person. There are the more dressier ones who like to pair with dresses and skirts and the ones who like to be a bit more casual with jeans and sneakers. What’s great with my designs I feel is that you can dress it up or be more casual. It’s really up to the person.
How long does it take to create a design from the idea to the release ?
It totally varies. I am a swatcher, so I can swatch for hours and hours until I find the perfect stitch pattern I have in mind. Once that is decided, it can be anywhere from a couple of months to designing and knitting, then onto testing and then a couple of months to the final release date. However, I also have designs in the closet from a year ago that I am still working on. It needs to be just right before I release any pattern for testing.
Do you have other hobbies eventually linked to creation or does knitting take most of your free time ?
Knitting takes a lot of my time but as I am able to knit ‘blind’ (I don’t need to look at my knitting often), I knit while catching up with friends or watching TV.
If I am not knitting, I am indoors cycling, or outdoors running or walking along the beach.