{Designer of the month}

If you want to write a text about knitwear designer Claudia Eisenkolb, there are several ways to start. For example, there is the fact that the Frankfurt-based designer doesn't really like knitting socks - but her first designs were almost exclusively socks. Or - and this is where her heart lies - you can take a look at statistical data on the German population.

Focus on custom-fit knitwear: Claudia Eisenkolb.
Photo: ©️ private

Among other things, you learn that the average woman in Germany is around 165 centimetres tall and weighs around 69 kilograms. But this is exactly where the problem begins that Claudia has taken on: These are average values. If you look to the left and right and look at other women, you will see a lot of sizes and body shapes - but very few of them will be exactly average.

Fashion that fits 

Now it's not so much the data itself that concerns the knitwear designer with the gray bob haircut, but rather the things that result from it. "I've never been average," she recalls. She was already quite tall as a child, but always had a shorter neck, even if she only became aware of this fact much later. Claudia, who actually has a degree in engineering, is very interested in fashion and fit - and not just since she started designing knitwear herself.

She has been knitting since she was very young - starting in the traditional way in class. In her day, it was called "needlework" and was, well, not always crowned with success. "My grandma had to finish knitting things," she says with a laugh. She in turn was a trained seamstress, so there was definitely a family predisposition for needlework. And so the "knitting career" took its course: at 14, she made her first jumper, more and more pocket money was spent on buying yarn and one or two of her own design attempts were started.

If the sweaters don't fit properly 

As the pattern market for knitwear continued to grow, Claudia also kept knitting according to existing pattern, but at some point she had to realize: Something doesn't fit here. That was about 15 years ago. But what exactly was wrong or where was the problem? It wasn't really clear. And then several things happened almost simultaneously.

For example, there was a knitting festival in London and a tee break with a friend. The two of them began to measure their shoulders. "At that moment, I got the answer to why raglan cardigans in particular were slipping off my shoulders," says Claudia. Her shoulder width is simply narrower than the measurements on which most knitting pattern for her size are based, which are determined using her bust size.

"We see what we think of ourselves, but not what we really are" 

Perhaps the biggest "aha" moment came during a color and style consultation that Claudia gave herself for her birthday a few years ago. The consultant stood the designer in front of a wall and sketched her body shape. To her great astonishment, Claudia realized that she had a waist - a part she had long believed she didn't have. And the phrase "You have a short neck" also came up and explained why turtleneck sweaters never made it onto the needles. Today, Claudia says: "I think it's so important to know your body shape. We see what we think of ourselves, but not what we really are."

Cardigan Winding Bands. In Claudia's designs, every detail is thought through to ensure a precise fit.
Photo: ©️ Claudia Eisenkolb

This sentence basically describes Claudia's motivation for her work as a designer. And it goes far beyond designing knitwear. In addition to her designs, the Frankfurt-based designer wants to help other women to recognize and accept their body shape and knit fashion that fits them perfectly. Once again, it was chance that gave her this focus of work.

Again and again the coincidence 

A hand dyer from Berlin asked Claudia if she would like to give a workshop in her store. "But the subject wasn't really my thing," Claudia remembers. So the question came up: "What am I good at?" The answer to this still applies today: adapting top pattern to your own body. There was a lot of nervousness before the workshop - but enthusiastic participants encouraged her and Claudia still gives workshops on knitting and fit both online and offline.

Shirt Pimentón: The pattern contain descriptions for different waist shapes, so there is something for every wearer!
Photo: ©️ Claudia Eisenkolb

One of the biggest recent projects was probably the book "Maßgestrickt - Der Weg zur perfekten Passform", which was published by Stiebner Verlag last year. The beginnings date back to the beginning of 2020 in response to a request from the publishing house manager. There are so many books on sewing and fitting, why not do something similar for knitting?

The book - a bestseller 

It is immediately clear that the book reflects Claudia's approach: on almost 200 pages, she talks about her career, her own experiences, gives detailed step-by-step pattern and, above all, works with different body shapes for the individual designs. "Everyone tries to fit in somewhere," she says, "but that doesn't work." And so five knitting friends stand godmother to her designs. Each design is tailored precisely to them. Whether with bust darts or waistlines - in the end it fits just right. The success of the book shows that the concept has worked: it is on the SPIEGEL bestseller list and a second edition is already in the stores.

Will things calm down for Claudia Eisenkolb now? Certainly not. In addition to her main job as an engineer, she is thinking about another book, working on the further development of her online course, designing a newsletter and throwing herself into her "master classes" on topics such as avoiding mistakes when knitting sweaters and working raglan. In everything she does, she is guided by her main concern: Giving women everything they need for a successful knitting project. This includes having confidence in their own abilities as well as accepting their own bodies. "That's so important," she says. "I want to raise awareness of this."

Workshop dates with Claudia

On April 13, 2024, Claudia will be a guest at the Schwedenrot Loft in Koblenz from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be a workshop in Iserlohn on September 7.

Further information and the links to register can be found on this page.

Claudia's website

Claudia's Instagram profile


About Sophia

I'm Sophia, live in Hannover and since October 2020 I've been taking care of the blog posts, the newsletter, planning the podcast and coming up with actions for social media. By the way, I also happen to be a knitting addict, which benefits me at work.

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