The story behind Rauwerk is one of a kind. From a career in Haute Couture to starting her own yarn label Christine has managed to reinvent herself while creating a unique product. Her passion for high quality fibres and her commitment to sustainability emanate from her work. As fellow Brightonians we were curious to hear more about her personal journey and how Rauwerk came about. We thought you would be too. So now without further ado here is Christine.
How did your knitting/fibre journey begin?
My knitting journey began when I was a child in Germany in the 70’s. I learnt knitting at school at the age of 8 or 9 and then taught myself the basics from there. When I finished school I started an apprenticeship in dress making, followed by a masters then a degree in design and pattern making. During all that time, from childhood to working in Haute Couture, costume making and after I moved to the UK, I was always knitting. When I moved from London to Brighton in 2011, my commute was over an hour each way and that’s when I started knitting on a more regular basis and I haven’t stopped since.
What is the story behind Rauwerk?
The very first time I saw the flock of sheep that is now producing Rauwerk wool was in the early 90’s when I first met the family in Munich. Even after I moved to London in 2004 we always stayed in touch, but it wasn’t until 2014 that we first started talking about yarn making. During one of my visits back home to Munich I met up again with the family and the daughter (who cares for the flock alongside her father) and she told me that no one was willing to pay decent money for the fleece. She also explained how farming had changed over the years – they became organically certified for example – which I thought was rather fascinating. I also couldn’t believe that no one was interested in Merino fleece in Bavaria, whereas in the UK wool seemed to have a much higher value. Also, there are so many yarn producers (large and small) in the UK that produce their own yarn that I started looking into this more. However it was not until nearly 12 months later that I approached the family again and asked if there was a possibility to buy the fleece from them. This is where it all began.
You live in Brighton, work in London, run a yarn shop in Munich as well as a yarn label. How do you manage to make it all work?
I am an eternal optimist and strongly believe that everything is possible; there is no such phrase as ’you can’t do this’ in my life. When I left Munich to move to London, I didn’t have a job or flat to come to but I knew it would work out. It was a challenge at first but I just knew I had to do it and that it would work out in the end. Both things were true as I now been working in the City of London for over 15 years. Starting Rauwerk was slightly different but similar in the way my gut feeling was to try it and see how it worked out and so far it has!
In order to make something like this work you need good organisational skills; I keep check lists which I regularly update and try and get things done as soon as I can. Of course that doesn’t always work, but I’m certainly getting better at it – I also find mindfulness very helpful and productive. In Munich I have an assistant who runs the shop when I can’t be there and without her it wouldn’t be possible at all. I go to Munich regularly and those times are usually booked with yarn, shop or sheep related activities, keeping time free to see my family and friends as well as yarn labelling, twisting and of course knitting. I have to add that the customers that come to the shop and use the website are kind, understanding and helpful, without them Rauwerk wouldn’t be where it is right now.
What are the differences in between the UK and German knitting scene?
Oh, that is a difficult question. I don’t think there are any? Knitting became very popular in the UK a few years before it happened in Germany but now that has happened, I’m not sure if there is much of a difference. Germans do love colours and colour work though and they love to travel to yarn festivals within Europe and of course the UK too.
Favourite designers/knitting inspiration?
Since I don’t design and have no desire to do so I’m not sure if inspiration is the right word. I certainly love to learn from other people and there are some out there whose work I highly admire. Junko Okamoto is one them. Her designs (specially in combination with Moeke yarns) are just amazing! And last year I had the opportunity to do a workshop with Olga B. – K. Her interest in art and architecture is so well translated into her knit work; simply stunning! I’ve not knitted any of her designs yet, but they are on the list!
Most recently I started to increase (my until then non-existent) colour work skills in order to one day maybe tackle something by Anna Maltz or Astrid Tueting aka Knitforpassion, because their designs are just stunning !
Where I’m definitely getting inspiration from at the moment are some fellow yarn makers; Emma (Little Grey Sheep ) and Rosa (Retrosaria / Rosa Pomar) who are certainly an inspiration for Rauwerk. Their aim is not just to make yarn but also support their local environments through their constant efforts and hard work. It is certainly inspirational!
Are you planning to take part in any festivals/events this year where people would be able to meet you?
Yes, Rauwerk is again going to be part of the ‘Wollmarkt in Vaterstetten’ just outside Munich and we’re also going to be in Barcelona again in November. We are very pleased to have been accepted for both and we’re super happy to be part of both of these festivals again this year.
For the whole month of August we are hosting a trunk show with no less than 11 pieces and 13 swatches knitted out of Rauwerk. Those include designs by Isabel Kraemer, Veera Valimaki, Anna Maltz and many more. Make sure to have a look at them next time you come around!
Until Next Time… Happy Knitting!