Singing and sewing all the way to Australia and back
Erin Franklin is an awe inspiring young woman. I have known her since she was about ten years old, when I was introduced to her Mum and we became good friends. Over the years I have spent many a happy hour drinking tea in her farmhouse kitchen, with various comings and goings all centred around the hub of the house. I watched as Erin grew up into a beautiful young woman, and marvelled at the textile projects that were often strewn across the kitchen table, and the incredible drawings that her Mum showed me from time to time. When I was setting up my business in around 2007, I asked Erin and her sister Esme if they would model some of my ready made hand knitted accessories and bags, and thankfully they were game! As the girls became more busy during their GCSE and A level years, I saw less of them, but they still modelled for me from time to time. In 2013, Erin and her lovely friend Tori modelled for my first collection of patterns, and when I learnt that they were both studying Textiles A Level, I roped them in to help me in my workshop with preparing yarn and kits for sale. Their contribution was invaluable. They both had a natural eye not only for design but also for organisation - something which is not my strong point!
I am delighted to welcome Erin to my blog today to share her experiences of modelling for us, her hopes and dreams, and to tell us a little bit about the incredible year she is having in Australia.
1. I’ve known you for a long time, Erin, but can you remember when I first approached you about modelling and what your initial thoughts were about the idea?
I remember you first approaching my sister and I to model a couple of your hats many, many years ago! As I was much younger then, I think I was a lot shyer and, as happy as I was with the idea, very glad that my sister would be doing it with me!
Early photo shoots with Erin, 2007 - 2009 (above)
2. What was the first photo shoot like and how does it compare to the last one?
The first photo shoot was very different to the ones we have done more recently. I think, for you and I both, it was all very new, and we were definitely experimenting and learning along the way. There weren't many things to shoot and it was all much simpler. Whereas the last few shoots have been at really beautiful locations and they've lasted much, much longer because of the huge number of things that we have had to shoot. Unlike the first shoot, there are now outfit changes to be done and we are both used to what we are doing so everything seems to run a lot slicker. That doesn't mean that there aren't any stressful moments though, things can still go wrong and camera batteries can still run out!! (Libby: Yes, that was rather silly of me not to have a spare battery pack - lesson learnt!)
More recent photo shoots in 2014 (above)
3. Which was your favourite garment or accessory to model?
I think my favourite thing to model is the hats because there are always so many to swap around and choose from! Wearing hats is my favourite thing about winter, along with wrapping up in cosy snoods and beautiful wrist warmers - despite them being nice aesthetically though, it is sometimes a bit of a challenge being wrapped up in a thick coat, complete with hat, scarf and gloves on a hot summers day. (Libby: Yes, I did feel sorry for you last time, when it was a boiling hot day and you were wrapped up in winter woollies for hours! You didn't complain at all though.)
Some of the hats Erin has modelled for us (above)
4. Have you modelled for anyone else and is it something you would like to do again?
No, I haven’t modelled for anyone else - I don't think it's something I would pursue personally, but if I was asked by anyone else I definitely wouldn't say no because I love doing it!
5. You and your friend Tori have also worked for me in my workshop helping to prepare products for sale. You did an amazing job at organising the space, labelling and sorting products and making everything generally spick and span. Where do you think you get this organisational streak from?
I think my parents are both very organised, not necessarily in the same way as me, but I would say I definitely get it from them. My parents are very creative and both have a good eye for detail and I think I have inherited this from them too - I am a huge perfectionist and love things to be tidy. It's just natural for me to want things to look nice and neat, down to the tiniest detail.
6. You have a keen interest in textiles and did Textiles A Level. Do you think it is something you would like to pursue as a career at some point in the future or keep as a hobby?
I really love textiles, it is one of my main passions but I don't think I will be pursuing it as a career. As I said before, I am a huge perfectionist and when I create with textiles, it often takes me a long time to make something perfect - I never stop anything until it is up to my ridiculously high level of perfection. This has been frustrating for me, even when studying Textiles at A Level as teachers would be trying to teach me shortcuts and quick techniques and being stubborn, I wouldn’t listen and would do things the long way to ensure every single stitch was perfect. This has led me to think that it would just be best for me to do my own thing with my textiles and this way, I will enjoy doing it a lot more. I don't want my hobby to become something I associate with stress and deadlines, I'd like to keep it as something I like to do in my down time, as a skill to create things for myself and loved ones for many years to come.
7. What sort of things do you like designing and creating?
I love designing dresses - over the years I have made a few dresses that I have designed but they take up a lot of time that I don't really have at the moment and I would want to be able to give things like garments my full attention. At the moment I prefer to create quick and simple things for other people in little bursts of time that I have. Just recently, I have made 30 little draw-string bags for someone to give away, huge quantities of bunting for a local wedding and I always seem to be making cushion covers for somebody! These little creations for other people are what I love to make most!
8. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Apart from when I would make things at school, I don't really tend to properly design things. Often I will see things online, or in magazines, and just make them from scratch with no pattern, or I will see a problem or opportunity for something to be made and just grab the sewing machine and whip something up!
9. What are your other interests besides textiles?
As well as textiles, I have a huge interest in music. I have my Grade 8 Singing and taught myself to play the guitar too. I love singing in choirs and in youth bands and playing the guitar at home.
10. You’re currently on a gap year in Australia, can you tell us a bit about what you are doing and why you chose to have a gap year?
I chose to have a gap year because firstly, I wanted to take some time out from school. As I did Art and Textiles at A Level, this meant that I was always spending spare time completing coursework, so my last few years were extremely stressful and extremely time consuming. I also wanted to explore the world a bit more whilst I had the chance, I went to Uganda when I was 10 and fell in love with Africa so I knew Africa was somewhere I would like to go back to, sooner rather than later! I also wanted to get some proper life experience before university, as well as work experience that would help me with the university course I want to study.
I am currently living in Sydney, and have been for the past 5 months, as the start of my year away adventure. Here I am living with a family that have 3 children and I am working as their au pair. I look after the kids on weekdays and have the weekends to myself to explore this beautiful country - I am having truly the most incredible time and it is such an amazing way to see another part of the world.
11. Would you recommend Australia as a good location for a gap year, and if so, why?
Australia is so beautiful, so I would definitely recommend it as a good location. I have met lots of people that are also taking a year out here so it is definitely a popular thing to do right now and there are plenty of young people to meet.
12. What do you intend to do when you come back from Australia?
When I come back from Australia, I am doing a quick turnaround and heading out to Madagascar for 6 weeks to work in an orphanage. Not long after that, I will be off to Kenya to volunteer for a charity, called Mango Patch, that teaches African women how to sew, and looks after their children at the same time, so that they can earn money for themselves with this new skill. And finally, once my year abroad is up, I will begin my Paediatric Nursing degree at Kings College London in September, I'm very excited! (Libby: Thanks for sharing your story with us today, Erin and make sure you check back in to tell us all about the rest of your gap year adventures!)
I'm crazy about yarn, Scotland, food, my husband and my three girls, and I live in a perpetual state of organised chaos. Some just call it creativity.