who's that behind the yarn?

posted Fri 20 January 2023

News Story

New Year's Day welcomed the return of TV's craziest guessing game. Featuring incredible costumes, celebrities in disguise and an all-star judging panel, The Masked Singer is a Saturday night hit.

With the nation left pondering who's behind the masks, we wanted to find out more about the creator behind one of this year's costumes. Textiles designer Paula Clark established Cocoon&me in 2017. The small, family-run independent business uses macramé, crochet and knitting to produce a range of beautiful handmade pieces for you, your home and garden. As well as being a business owner, Paula regularly teaches a range of workshops at the Maltings and exhibits at unravel... a festival of yarn. We caught up with her to learn more about the creation of 'Knitting'...

How did you become involved in the show?

Plunge Creations, a local award-winning costume and prop company, got in touch after googling knitwear designers and found Cocoon&me. They asked if I would be interested in a ‘Top Secret’ project, and as I was intrigued, naturally I said yes!

What was it like working alongside the team at Plunge Creations?

It was great to be in such a buzzing and creative environment, as someone who largely works on my own it was so lovely to be back with fellow makers. Whilst I was knitting ‘Knitting’ I was surrounded by other characters evolving into costumes we’ve now seen on series 4 of The Masked Singer - Rhino, Fawn and Jellyfish, so it was very exciting!

Can you tell us more about the creative process involved in bringing the costume to life?

The design created by Tim (the director of Plunge), was given to me and I was asked to suggest yarn and how to make the jumbo jumper. I immediately knew that I would knit it with my arms as needles as I do in my popular workshops at the Maltings.

When I arrived, the basic frame of the form had been created in foam, so I used my skills from when I was a knitwear designer and created a pattern I would follow and knit from. I made the body in four pieces, ensuring the blue stripe matched across the body and arms, and sewed it together. I finished the mittens off by crochet – using a similar method to our upcoming storage basket workshop. The rest of the costume was left to Plunge to finish; the mould for the head, and the three sets of knitting needles. I hadn't seen the completed costume until ‘Knitting’ opened the series on New Year's Day!

When did you first begin arm knitting and do you have any tips for people who’d like to give it a go?

I have a degree in Textiles specialising in knitting and was a women’s knitwear designer for 30 years before I started Cocoon&me, so when I saw the art of arm knitting, I thought I would give it a go! Knitting with chunky yarn and using your arms as needles, soon became addictive and I decided to add it to my workshop programme. It’s now my most popular workshop; it’s very inclusive, everyone can do it and there is something so satisfying about being able to create a blanket in under two hours! I'm so excited that I've introduced a stripe option this year, and hope both the original solid colour and stripe will continue to be as popular in 2023. Alongside my workshops I'm planning to have a simple tutorial that people can watch via my website.

Top tips for arm knitting:
  • make yourself comfortable
  • remove any jewellery on your hands that might catch on the yarn
  • wear clothing so you can bare your arms
  • be aware that the tension of your stitches will affect the size of the item you're making
  • enjoy the mindful process
And finally… now that you’ve seen Knitting perform, have you got any thoughts on who might be behind the mask?

Well, before I heard her sing, I thought it might be Tom Daley, but they're clearly female. I think the voice sounds like Lisa Stansfield, but I'm not sure what the connection is with knitting? After watching their second performance I'm now leaning towards Jane Horrocks. Another person I've seen mentioned is Sara Davies MBE, founder of Crafter's Companion. If it is Sara, then she is one talented lady as the singer has a great voice!