From starting out with a piece of knitting that resembled an omelette to years later establishing her own knitwear label Marikit By Kitty Choy, this Sydney-based designer is the ultimate advertisement for positive persistence and following one’s passion. Using vintage and discontinued yarns alongside Australian Merino wool, Kitty Choy (with her faithful Maltese Cross by her side) is turning her love of knitting into a robust business, one stitch at a time.
Where do you live now and what do you love about it?
My background is Chinese and I was born in Hong Kong. I called Sydney home when I was four. I’ve always lived in Sydney and I just love how Sydney siders are so welcoming to everyone. We’re always such a happy bunch and willing to try anything and everything – maybe it’s the gorgeous weather!
How did you first get into knitting?
Mum is a seamstress and my dad is a chef. They were always so busy, so mum had to keep me pre-occupied without sitting me in front of the TV watching Play School, so she gave me a pair of needles and said to me “let’s make clothes out of string”. I was totally hooked when she showed me what a pair of needles, a ball of yarn can create.
Was it easy to pick up? How did you learn?
I was meant to knit a square, but it ended up like a piece of omelette with holes throughout. It took me eight weeks to finish but, at eight years old, I was a stubborn little thing. I still remember the colour – the yarn was a beautiful bright yellow. But by the time I finished with it, it was a fuzzy, stretched-out mustard!
How did your label, Marikit, come about?
It came about around the time I had my bridal shower, approximately five years ago. Our wedding was sending us broke and, to keep costs down, everything and anything I could make I would. I wanted to give my bridal party something that was just made for them, so I hand-knitted each of them a blanket. They were so happy (and surprised) with such beautiful pieces – they never knew I could knit. So once the secret got out, friends suggested I should try designing and selling my pieces.
Where does the name come from?
Marikit is actually Tagalong meaning ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’ and I chose this as I wanted to tie it in with my husband’s culture (which is Filipino). I also wanted a name that was entirely different and very distinctive. It was only after trading a couple of months that I realised half my name was part of it as well – total fate.
Is knitwear an all-year-round thing for you?
Definitely. I knit at every chance I get. A lot of people think I just knit in the colder months, but you can find me creating in summer with chunky yarns. There’s always a winter somewhere in the world!
Can you tell us about your sidekick, Hugo?
Hugo is my little fur baby – we rescued him from the RSPCA a couple of years ago and he totally melted my heart when I saw him. He’s my shadow and follows me everywhere. I noticed that as soon as I knit, he’ll crawl in my lap and chill. But he knows to stay clear away from my yarns when I’m not knitting – there’s been times when I’ve found him all cosy in my yarn stash.
What do you love about working with chunky yarns?
I love how simple stitches with chunky yarns can make such a statement! I’ve been using Merino wool lately and I love the softness of it without weighing you down. I like to keep my knits lightweight while keeping the person warm at the same time.
How do you like to style your knitwear?
I like my knitwear to be eye-catching and comfortable. All my pieces are fairly bright in colour and chunky in texture so I like to keep the styling simple. I totally live in my denims, so you can see me teaming my knits up with a pair of ripped denims or leather pants and heels. I also wear my oversized chunky throws over my hubby’s t-shirts with my boho hat – it’s my weekend uniform.
What is your favourite place to knit?
I’m actually quite a homebody and love to knit while at home with balls of yarn all around me. But I can literally knit anywhere. Even on the train while standing up, yarn in my Fendi Tote.
How do you relax?
Netflix in the background while knitting. I mean, what else can be better than having Ryan Gosling from Crazy Stupid Love in the background while I create – that’s true relaxation. But besides that, you can find me taking Hugo to our favourite dog park to de-stress.
Your best advice for inspiring knitters?
Start and don’t give up – even though you’ll take it apart a thousand times and you swear under your breath while dropping the same stitch for the nth time. You will get the hang of it and once you do, I promise that you will have enough courage to knit other pieces besides a scarf.
Merino wool is the must have fibre for spring/summer and warmer climates