Eva Malpess, designer and creator of the independent label Spagwool, learnt crochet art after her sister attended a "Stitch and Bitch" session at her work. Since then, she has been creating unusual and exciting pieces that are catching the eyes of those looking for fun, slow-cooked, fashion.
What were the first items you crocheted or knitted?
I knitted before I crocheted and I made a handbag that was never used but I still have. It’s hideous but, for a 7/8-year-old, is pretty decent. I moved on to making toys stuffed with my own socks which I was super proud of at the time.
In three words, how would you describe your designs?
Imaginative, textured and optimistic (mainly because the clothes I make tend to be suited best to a hot climate, unlike the UK’s for the majority of the calendar year.)
What do you find most satisfying about being an independent brand?
I really like the excitement it creates when you have an idea brewing and you’re able to just go and try and materialise it straightaway. As I create everything I sell, I’m there from start to finish, figuring out how to make it look how I envisioned it and I think with bigger brands you can get quite separated from that.
Although sometimes that process can be frustrating when things don’t turn out how you expected, and there’s a lot of trial and error, the satisfaction you get from making something and it turning out exactly how you wanted is enough to outweigh any potential downsides.
What is most challenging when sourcing your materials?
It’s really easy to fall into buying affordable acrylic yarns as they can be the cheapest out there, but typically the most unsustainable. I’ve mostly been lucky with finding my materials on Facebook Marketplace and eBay, but when the good listings dry up it can be really hard to mediate the cost of materials with trying to keep product pricing low enough to be affordable.
I think a lot of crochet and knit makers have issues with this, as the cost of material is added to a fair hourly wage for hand-making clothing, which can add up to a significant price and often the final cost of sustainable fashion can seem hefty to some shoppers. But I feel that when buying pieces that were not only handmade, but with sustainable or second-hand materials, you’re investing in the planet as well as owning something you’ll have forever.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I’m not sure I really look anywhere specific, but I do try to imagine some of the clothes I have every day and how I would improve them, which ends up spurring an idea for something I’d like to make! Kind of like upcycling my own wardrobe but just remaking it completely.
What is the one item of clothing you couldn't live without?
That's really difficult! I would say my clompy platform Dr Martens probably even though that’s quite cringe to say.
With summer around the corner, which of your designs is a can't-go-without for the hazy days ahead?
As someone with chronically cold arms, the Lilac Long-Sleeve is perfect for keeping you cool enough to not overheat and collapse in the sun, but protected from the 6pm summer eve cool-down.
What does the future hold for Spagwool?
To continue making lots and lots of things! I want to experiment with embroidery and darning and try working with text and texture on the clothes I make in future.
I’ve got lots of ideas that I jot down on any available paper or onto apps in my phone so I think I’ll have to go back an actually decipher those first and then I’ll remember what I wanted to do.