Well, June 2nd, 2022 found me celebrating the day, forty years ago, that I walked down University Avenue in Toronto to register my business…Carolyn M. Barnett Designs…how imaginative…NOT! However, I thought that ‘Jumpers’ just wouldn’t fly in Canada (the Brit word for sweaters) so I went with my name. That’s worked well in that when I expand to other things, like Polymer Clay sweater pins and sticks, felted jackets and vests etc, they all go under this same CMB umbrella.
The mint green cotton sweater above and the black rose vest are from the early ’80’s when I had moved from lots of hand-knit sweaters to using a knitting machine.
The rose is one of the patterns which come on punch cards with the brand new shiny Singer 360 I purchased from Peter Smith’s shop on the Danforth. I saw it at the Canadian National Exhibition the Summer of ’84 and my knitter friend and I purchases one each for over $1000. She went to make children’s clothes and I did what you see here.
We lived in tiny apartments, me downstairs, she above me, on Queen Street in Toronto (I had two rooms) and the 9 hours of introductory instructions were given to us on my new machine so we learned together rather than going to the shop. I used her as a model when I got some sweaters done.
I had studied Fashion Technique and Design at Sheridan ’69 – ’70 but left to study Early Childhood Education when a lot of what we were doing in the first year was what I had been doing through my teens. Nearly 12 years later I had been knitting for folk for small fees and was working in an art gallery (The Grange Gallery) across from OCA (as it was then). I met artists and artisans and was still knitting and designing my own garments so I decided to put together a collection and apply for the Ottawa Christmas Craft Show, which I knew to be a good one. I was accepted and started this journey.
I lived in tiny apartments, taking all my own photographs, finding a way to get my bin bags of sweaters to the show (I used garment bags and Rubbermaid boxes now), making my own labels (with a stamp on ribbon) and engaging a friend to sew them into my knits as we sat in my two room apartment.
This is my booth at the 2003 One of a Kind show, lots of colour, different designs, jackets with buttonholes and my hand made polymer clay buttons. I sewed the bunting around the top. I had curtain backdrops and even a changing room!
Since then I’ve gone into felting, Nuno felting, and making jackets and scarves. I’ve also done a bit of costume work, from Mirvish production, Stratford to San Francisco Opera in the US…to local theatre in my town…all a lot of fun.
Though semi retired, I still have a studio full of yarn and fabric, a basement full of show set up kit and felting roving for my use and teaching…as an artist or artisan, a creative person…it changes and might slow down but it never ends