World Crafters

/World Crafters

World Crafter. Alicia. Barcelona, Spain

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

ODD ONE OUT knitwear brand was created by young and talented knitwear designer, Alicia Gonzalez. The brand specializes in artisanal knitwear made with high quality materials carefully handpicked by the designer. The brand’s main focus is to create timeless pieces that will last for many years to come. From the computer engineer to the owner of knitwear brand, Alicia’s fiber journey is truly inspiring! 

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Cable Sweater. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

What is your first fiber-craft related memory? Do you remember your first stitch? 

That’s a good question…I have never thought about it, but I suppose it was a dress for one of my dolls. I cannot remember my first stitch, but I’m sure it was when I was a child with my grandma. She took care of me during the day as my parents worked and she was an expert knitter and crocheter. I have inherited such a nice crocheted quilt. It’s amazing! The truth is I have always loved textile crafts. When I was a child, I remember being at Christmas holidays learning to knit, embroider and cross stitch with my Mum. My first project related to fibers and fabrics was a doll dress. I loved to design and sew dresses for Barbie 🙂

Before becoming a full time knitwear designer, you were a computer engineer. These two professions are quite different from each other! How did this transition happen? Was it scary for you to make this step or you didn’t have any doubts?

I wanted to become a fashion designer since I was 8 years old. I have lots of folders full of “sketches” from that age. When I was a child, I used to spend most of my time drawing and painting dolls. The thing is though I loved all the activities related to art, I also loved Maths and technical subjects. I have always been a real good student.

So, when I got to High School, despite my interest in fashion, art and design, I decided to study a technological baccalaureate. The truth is I felt really divided between two opposite things that I liked. The main reason for that choice was that, as you probably know, in Spain there have always been high unemployment rates, so many people in my surrounding (teachers, friends, family) made me feel that with such studies (“serious studies” as my teachers used to told me), I could have a job/economic security that I could not get through fashion or other artistic activities. Once I entered the university I decided to study Computer Science Engineering because I felt really interested in computers and information society. In my second university year, I decided that I should also go ahead with my “other” me (the artistic one), so I started with Fashion Design studies.  In the mornings I was an engineer student and in the evenings I was a fashion design student. Those were hard years of lots of work!!! And many weekends at home instead of going out!!

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Aurorae, AW 15. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Vanessa Poderoso.

When I graduated, I started working as an engineer because it’s quite easy to find that kind of job. Furthermore, I have always had in my mind to create my own label, because I would like to transmit not only a look or a garment, I wanted to transmit my way of understanding the world and specially the fashion industry.

My initial idea was to combine my two professional careers; but as an engineer, I wasn’t able to do that, as it took most of my time. On the weekends, I was always working in my atelier with my knitting machines. As the time passed, I felt that I was much more committed to the idea of starting my own knitwear brand. At this time the project I was working on finished and the company asked me to move to another country. That was the moment I decided to change something. It was really scary to make such an important change in my life. It took me a lot of years to change my mind and realize that what I was dedicating most of my time to wasn’t what really made me happy. In my case, as a Computer Science Engineer I got a good job, with stability… but finally, I happily decided I should give a chance to my dream… So here I am!

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Olha Tsybina.

“…much to my regret, I’m more than 30” – this phrase on your blog really got me! Let me know if I am wrong, but I have a feeling that what you mean by this is that you regret a little bit of not starting your handmade business earlier. If that’s the case, do you mind sharing what was stopping you before and what “pushed” you to make this final decision and create your own knitwear label?

Yes and no 🙂 What I really want to say is that I don’t like getting older, I love life and I want to do so many thing in life, that I feel that I would need more lives to do everything I would like to. But in some way, you are also right in your perception. Sometimes I regret not having started earlier because 32 are not like 22. When I was 22, I was not so scary about stability, my economical situation, because you feel it’s the time to take risks and start your “own life”… I feel that 20’s are the perfect age to start a business, because you are young, full of energy and not worried about many things that worry you when you get 30 or 40. Nevertheless, I also feel that now, I’m in a more mature place, that helps me to deal better with many situations that I wouldn’t be able to manage as well as nowadays when I was 20.

You are a hand knitter, machine knitter and a crocheter! Do you have a preference or you are equally fascinated by all of these crafts?

I prefer knitting to crochet. If I have to choose between hand knitting and machine knitting… that would be a difficult choice. Hand knitting is so relaxing, bu at the same time I’m quite an impatient person, so I cannot wait a couple of days or more to see the finished garment, I want to see them right now! On the other hand, machine knitting can be a bit stressful and it’s not so relaxed, but I can see the final garment in just some hours!! I cannot choose, it depends on the moment and the piece.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Cable Poncho and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

Before founding “ODD ONE OUT”, you did the internship with MANGO Knitwear Quality Assurance. I can only imagine how fascinating it was! You mention that because of this experience, you discovered your true passion – knitting. Do you mind sharing a little bit about this experience – what were your responsibilities there and what did you learn during this time? How does the process of big, mass product knitwear production as MANGO differ from a small handmade knitwear company?

I have always loved knitwear and I specialized in it in my fashion studies, but it was when I was at MANGO that I really realized it was my passion. I came to the conclusion that I love knitwear design because I can combine design with an important technological background. And, at the same time, that’s why not many fashion students are interested in knitwear design. Designing knitwear can be the most creative experience, but at the same time, it needs a high technical background from the designer as you have to know how knitting machines work to get what you have designed.

In the Knitwear Quality Assurance Department, we had to control and ensure the quality of the garments in terms of garment finishes, yarn quality, measurements… As you may know, MANGO produces all their garments outside their offices, so our work was to validate prototypes. In general, in a fashion industry, a Quality Assurance Department is provided with technical sheet from the design team. That sheet gives all the information about the garment:  a sketch, description, measurements… Once the prototype arrived from the producer, we had to check and confirm that what the producer knitted was what the designers asked for in terms of measurements, quality, colour, yarn…

I learnt so much during this stage!! Specially about knitwear technical aspects related to production and machines. It differs a lot from a small handmade knitwear brand because in my brand, I’m the designer, the knitter, the pattern maker, the quality assurance department, the sales department… I play all the roles, whereas in such a huge company like MANGO, you are a gear’s part and not the whole part. It was after my internship, that I bought my first domestic knitting machines, I soon needed to know more and more about them.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Sweater and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

You are creating your beautiful knitwear pieces with gorgeous fiber! One of the most important things for you, as I understand, is not only the quality of materials, but also where it comes from. Do you mind telling us about the process of choosing the fiber for your collections? You mention that you also use “dead stock” yarns. I think it is absolutely amazing! Could you, please, tell my readers what “dead stock” means and why it is important to put it in use?

Yes, I like to work with high quality materials. I’m especially in love with mohair and alpaca. I try to work with providers who take special care of environment, worker’s conditions… Most of my yarns are produced in Italy and the companies are under #DETOX Greenpeace project, working in a textile industry free of so many pollutant chemical products.

Choosing yarns and fibers for my collections is a hard process, because I like all. I receive lots of mohair shade cards with hundreds of colours, I cannot choose just one!! I fall in love with all of them. I choose colours depending on the collection’s concept. Yes, many times I try to work with dead stock yarns although it is not always possible.

Dead stock yarns are yarns which are no longer used by the fashion industry because they think they are no longer trendy or desirable. For example, imagine Pantone forecasts that next AW17/18 pink is going to be the most trendy colour. That means that most yarns providers will produce lots of yarns in many pink variations and you will see many pink garments on shops. So the following year, Pantone forecasts that in AW18/19, pink is no longer a trendy colours.  All that would result in levels of pink yarns stock.

Using dead yarn stock would mean using that pink yarns, which are no longer desirable for the rest of the fashion industry because they consider pink is no longer fashionable and people would not buy pink garments. It’s like giving a second life to a product which is in perfect condition but humanity deliberately decides it’s useless.

As I understand you love the fiber/yarn diversity! In your upcoming SS17 collection you are using different plant fibers. And you are also raising a very interesting question – why knitwear should be associated only with cold season and wool? Do you mind telling us about the fibers you are going to use for SS17 and what advantages/disadvantages do plant fibers have compared to wool?

In my next SS17 I work with cotton. You have to consider that Spain is a really hot country in summer, so knitwear is not a real preference for summer 🙂 In general, people associate knitwear with wool, and it’s not always like that. Using linen or cotton is the only way Spanish people can wear a knitwear piece in the middle of August! The main difference between cotton and wool is perspiration. Plant fibers help us with perspiration, that’s why they are especially good for summer clothing. On the other hand, wool protects us from cold, that’s why is a common winter fiber.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Dress. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Olha Tsybina.

You are from beautiful Barcelona. From what I can say, knitting/crochet is definitely making a come back in Spain. Am I right? Do you feel like people became more interested in fiber work over the last years? Tell us a little bit, please, about your city. Is it a creative city? Are you inspired by it? Do you have your favorite yarn spots?

Well… it’s true that it is coming back a little, but it cannot be compared to other countries. There’s a lot of ignorance about knitting and knitwear. I think the main reason for that is weather. I think knitting is mostly a winter hobby. When you think about winter in Sweden it’s not like when you think about winter in Spain. What I mean is that in Spain, winter it’s like spring in other countries 🙂 You can go out or do many other outdoor activities because we are not at -10ºC and with 50cm snow. I think all that affects in 2 ways:

  • Knitting is mostly associated with wool, and in Spain most of people don’t really need huge wool sweaters.
  • Our weather conditions allow us to do more outdoor activities, so we don’t have as many indoor hobbies as in other countries.

I think that in general happens in all the Mediterranean countries.

Yes, I think Barcelona is a really creative city because of its connection with the Mediterranean and its proximity to France and the rest of Europe. I’m not usually inspired by Barcelona for my collections, but I think I’m much more open-minded thanks to Barcelona. Barcelona is a very touristic city so we have so many different cultures that it’s impossible that not to connect with them. My favourite yarn spot in the city is my atelier, full with the yarns I love.

Handmade Knitwear

Collection: Aurorae, AW 15. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Vanessa Poderoso.

Your AW1617 collection (which looks so cozy!!) is inspired and hugely influenced by Icelandic folklore. How did you become interested in Iceland and its history and people? What attracts you in this culture which is pretty different from Spanish one?

As I mention in my blog post, I’m in love with Nordic countries and culture. I have always dreamed about moving to them. I like them so much because of their landscapes and nature. Their lakes, huge trees, snow and their winter! I feel like I would be knitting all the time there, their landscapes are so inspiring… In Barcelona there’s no snow, and almost no winter, so I miss it. I hate summer, hot weather and I don’t like the beach, so I guess that helps to be so in love with them 🙂 I love their simplicity (less is more) and how much they value their crafts and traditions. I think they’ve managed to find a perfect balance between modernity and tradition. I would like a future like theirs for my country. I’ve been to Sweden, Norway and last year in Iceland. It amazed and inspired me so much, that I had to dedicate a whole collection to it.

Handmade Knitwear

Handmade Sweater and Skirt. Collection: Hidden Nation, AW 16/17. Italian mohair blend. Photo: www.theoddoneoutdesign.com. Model: Alessa.

What “gifts” did you get from your craft?

In my case, the most important gift I could have: happiness.


Dear Alicia, thank you so much for sharing your fascinating and inspiring story and beautiful knitwear pieces! You can find ODD ONE OUT knitwear at www.theoddoneoutdesign.com and on Instagram @the_odd_one_out_design.

Shop ODD ONE OUT knitwear at www.theoddoneoutdesign.tictail.com and OddOneOutDesign Etsy shop.


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By | 2017-01-01T15:56:49+00:00 November 30th, 2016|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Alison. Montreal, Canada.

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

Almost a year ago I found the coziest and prettiest Instagram account – @la.reserve.design. Every time I see these chunky, cozy, textured, cabled big knits I just want to wrap myself in them. Today the maker and owner of La Reserve Design, aka Chunky Thick Wool Blanket Specialist, Alison, is talking about yarn, inspiration, craft social media and makers community. 

Do you remember your first stitch? What was the beginning of your knitting story?

The first thing I ever knit was a long circular tube made from a children’s spooling kit given to me by my grandmother. I remember being so proud of my first “knit” project, which was pretty much a useless tube of uneven stockinette stitches. When I was a bit older my grandmother taught me how to do the garter stitch. I think this is how most people start knitting – a relative or friend teaches them the garter stitch and then for years all they can knit are squares or rectangle scarves! My grandmother is a wonderful lady and without her I would have never picked up a pair of needles, but her knitting lessons pretty much ended with the garter stitch. Since then I have taken many workshops, watched pretty much all of YouTube, and continued to learn as much as I can from friends and family about the craft.

What made you turn your hobby into business? Was it a conscious decision or it just happened on its own?

Turning my hobby into a business was definitely not a well thought out or calculated plan! I was all over the place the first couple of months I tried to sell my knitwear – making yarn runs every couple of days, not calculating my costs or time properly, and basically trying to figure it all out on the fly. I love knitting large chunky blankets, which, as you probably know, are very satisfying to make but quite costly in terms of yarn consumption and labour. I decided to list some of my items on Etsy on a complete whim. I remember turning to my fiancee and saying: “What have I got to lose? Worst comes to worst I’ll never sell anything, but the upside is I can continue to fund my craft addiction without spending my paycheck on yarn every month.” 

I would love to talk about social media a little bit. How important is the social media for a successful craft business right now? How to find a healthy balance between being active on social media and still devote enough time to your business? 

This is an amazing question! The truth is I’ve never been very active on social media in my personal life (I’m that person who has had the same profile picture since 2012). I was very hesitant to get involved with social media at all for my knitting because I felt ‘it just wasn’t me’. I started an Instagram account for La Reserve Design as a way of connecting to all of the beautiful and inspirational makers I had stumbled across online, without any intention of growing my following or even posting my own content. I very quickly became addicted to the whole thing. I love the instant feedback and I am constantly blown away by the support and creativity of the handmade community that has developed on Instagram. I’ve been so lucky to connect with some amazing makers, and have even become involved with a community called Our Maker Life, which is holding an offline makers’ meet-up this summer!

I remember you opened a very interesting discussion in your Instagram feed about sharing the process of your work with others and how it can actually turn against you, when some people can overuse it and even steal your ideas. Did you find a way to balance the desire to share your knowledge and the need to protect your copyright?

The supportive and creative nature of this IG community inspired me to share my process online like an open book, and I’ll admit I was very naive to the fact that there might be consequences to trying to grow a business while revealing all my makers secrets. After this realization I threw the question out there on IG, and I was overwhelmed with comments and messages that confirmed that this is something that as a community we all face. While I recognize that there is nothing proprietary about knits and purls, it’s hard to feel like your ideas are being copied or re-sold without care for the time and effort it took for their initial development.

This issue is something that I talk about all the time with the Our Maker Life team as we try to strategize ways to encourage everyone to create their own patterns and find their own identity online, along with giving credit to the makers they were originally inspired by to create. I recently began taking over the Our Maker Life blog every week with “Tip Tuesday”, where I share one of my makers secrets with the community at large. For me, this is my way of staying open about my process and connecting with everyone while maintaining some control over what I chose to share.

Having a craft business definitely requires some skills that go way beyond actual knitting/crochet. From your experience, what things did you have to learn apart from your craft to keep your business going?

I’m definitely still learning all the skills that make a good business run smoothly! I had to seriously up my photography game to be able to sell things online (just through photos). I’ve also had to learn a lot about accounting and bookkeeping to keep my craft business healthy. When I first started selling my knitwear, my father, who runs his own business, sat down with me and crunched the numbers so to speak. It taught me a lot about looking at the big picture of my small project and trying not to get bogged with too many creative ideas before making sure it makes overall sense for my business.

What advice would you give to someone who is just thinking about opening her/his craft business, Etsy shop for example? Looking back to your start what would you do differently, if anything?
My one piece of advice for anyone starting any project is to manage your expectations and be patient. If you’re looking for an overnight success the handmade marketplace is not the place for you. If you’re looking to start a project you can be proud of then you have nothing to lose. Looking back I wouldn’t do anything differently. What I love about my Etsy store is that it’s all mine. My mistakes, my successes, and all the uncertainties in between are all mine. Opening my knitwear store has really felt like I am doing something for myself – so in that sense I wouldn’t change a thing.
Time management. Always a fascinating thing to talk about with crafters – it seems like it is our worst enemy 🙂 How do you balance creating/Instagram activity/working with clients and your life in general? 
Time management is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from running my own craft business. At first I largely underestimated what my time was worth and took on too much to chew. By nature knitting is a labor intensive, and it’s easy to undervalue your time when you start out. After making one of my largest custom pieces, a hand knit queen sized chunky blanket, I realized I had only made about $3.00 an hour on the whole project. I was like “Okay, that was a real labor of love. Now it’s time to re-evaluate what I’m making and how much my time is worth.” 
 Are you an yarn-a-holic? How big is your stash?

I am definitely a yarn-a-holic! My day job and background is in textile design, so I go totally gaga over anything fiber related. Recently I’ve been very good about not adding yarn to my stash without a clear plan for its use. I have a bad habit of buying beautiful yarn just because it’s beautiful, and then being too hesitant to use it for anything because I don’t want to waste it. I live in a fairly open concept 1 bedroom apartment which is a great motivator to keep my yarn stash under control!

Do you have a clear “dream” destination for your business or you just enjoy what you have right now and go with the flow? 

The dream for my business is to turn La Reserve Design into a full time (or almost full time) job. I’m not sure what that job looks like yet, but I’m sure it’ll involve a lot of hard work to get there. I wouldn’t call it a “go with the flow” attitude, but more like I’m on a very flexible plan at the moment.

The series are called “World Crafters”, as I believe our surroundings can have a great influence on our work. Would you mind telling about your corner of the world? What’s it like? What energy does this place have? 

I was born and live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and I agree that my surroundings have definitely had a large influence on me and my work. Canada is known globally for a couple of things, but it’s reputation for cold, long winters are no joke. I think this is why I love chunky knits so much. Sometimes I see beautiful, intricately knit scarves with lace patterns on them and I think:“When would you wear that? The snow and wind would blow right through the hours of work that went into this design!

Montreal is a pretty unique place in Canada. It’s located in Quebec, with a predominantly French speaking population in an otherwise English country, and has an enormous restaurant/ food scene, with a vibrant local culture. While my investment banking friends fled to NYC and Toronto after university in search of the corporate experience and salaries, those of us who chose to remain in Montreal are pursuing slightly more creative endeavors. Thinking of my extended circle of peers, young professionals are pursuing paths like: textile design, cooking and opening restaurants, personal training, graphic design, interior design, and so on. Although no place is perfect and Montreal certainly has it’s own set of politics, I firmly believe that growing up here has made it possible for me to start my own knitwear business.
What “gifts of knitting” did you get from your craft?

I would have to say knitting has taught me patience and has forced me to slow down and sit still for a couple of minutes everyday. It has also taught me that ripping out a project that doesn’t feel right is all part of the fun, and if I were to extrapolate on this idea to other parts of my life: it’s never too late to do something new or start over. The biggest gift of all has been the amazing community of fellow makers I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with (have I mentioned Our maker life yet? 🙂 ). The handmade community has taught me so much about pursuing a creative business and that supporting each other is a win-win. You know what I mean? “Success is not a zero sum game” or “Supporting someone else’s success doesn’t take away from your own” and all that good stuff!
Dear Alison, thank you so much for sharing your knitting story with us! You can find Alison on her Instagram and in her beautiful Etsy shop – La Reserve Design, where you will find not only her gorgeous chunky knits, but also patterns for them! 
Have a great creative weekend!

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By | 2017-01-01T16:06:46+00:00 June 10th, 2016|World Crafters|18 Comments

World Crafter. Nikki. Napier, New Zealand.

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

Some very long time ago, I saw knitwear pieces by Nikki Gabriel and I knew immediately that the professional story of this knitwear designer just has to be told. Nikki Gabriel, a fashion designer, books and patterns writer, creator of sustainable yarn, is taking us today into her world of textile in the “Land of the Long White Cloud”which is fascinating, admirable and oh-so-inspiring!

Handmade Knitwear | Knitting Blog

Designer Nikki Gabriel at her studio Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

How did you become interested in fiber arts? Do you remember your very first fiber experience?

I’ve always loved clothes, which led to my interest in making fabrics and textiles later in life.  I realized I was actually good at making things because I have the temperament to sit for hours on my own to work – one of the prerequisites of fiber experience.

Did you always know that you want to make a career in fiber arts? When did this realization first come?

In 2001, after I graduated I was selling my knitwear ranges to stores, producing up to 600 items per season, employing makers to work in the studio. But I think I always thought it was an unrealistic occupation until I was invited to be in the Endless Garment exhibition in 2010.  This show of knitted fashion included designers Issey Miyake, Sandra Backlund, Walter Van Bierendonck, and a whole list of international designers who I had considered as my heros – and now that I was showing my work alongside them I had to pinch myself.  I think I realized it only then that I had a real career in textile design.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade sweater Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

Could you please share your experience at RMIT? 

I had enrolled in the Diploma of Studio Textiles at RMIT which gave me the option of learning different textile techniques of printing, weaving, knitting and hand-making techniques such as felting, dyeing, shibori, etc., which gave me great skills to follow on with.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

You created knitwear lines for many fashion designers and for your own knitwear label . What is the main difference between working for your own label and for other brands?

I have a brief to follow when working on commissions, but in reality I have to set a brief and time-line for my own label also; things like season, yarn, price point, productivity, etc.  But the exposure of the work is far wider when creating product for high-end professional designers and costume houses. And the excitement of working for large production can be wonderfully delirious. Contemporary Dance, Theatre, Ballet, or big Ready-to-wear shows are filled with glamour, wonder and fantasy!

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade ballet knit costumes for Universal Ballet, Korea. Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

I remember my first experience of the atelier at the Australian Ballet Dance Company in Melbourne, when I was using their dye lab.  To get to the lab I had to walk past the costume archive, and the work-stations of shoe makers and milliners, the space filled with fabrics, ribbons, feathers, and all sorts of artisan tools.  It was fiber heaven.

Handmade Knitwear | Knitting Blog

Handmade ballet knit costumes for the Australian Ballet. Photo: nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz

In 2009 you’ve developed a sustainable yarn WOOLI. I know that one of the main criteria for you was its sustainability. Could you share a little bit about the process of creating a yarn? 

When I looked into yarn production the choice was either small hobby farm spinning mills or large factories, neither of which suited the production quantities I wanted to commit to. I discovered a natural fiber spinning mill in New Zealand that ran smaller production runs but the product they made looked too similar to what already existed on the market.  To get a point of difference I asked if I could use up their waste yarn which comprised of a rainbow of different fibers; all types of wools, alpacas, silks, cashmeres, possum into the same yarn. I suppose sustainability is a by-product of the way I think around things; I’m always searching for the best possible experience with what is at hand to create a design solution, and that integrity translates into what’s considered good.

You can buy WOOLI yarn online at www.estaustralia.com

Two years later you published a book “Handknitter’s Yarn Guide”. Could you tell us about it, please? Who would find this book useful?

Knitting is generally associated with wool.  As the book shows, there are 80 other fibers that can be knitted with. I was offered the author commission from Rotovision in the UK to work on this book.  It took many months to research the facts of all the types of knitting fibers.  The book therefore has only a little of my narrative voice, but it is an extremely practical and factual guide to knitting yarns that every knitter would find useful.  I did learn a lot in the process as I swatch tested every fiber that I wrote about, and there were many I hadn’t used before.  The book is published by St Martins Press in the USA, Search Press in the UK and Harper Collins in Australia/New Zealand.

You are a hand knitter and machine knitter. Machine knitting is often misunderstood and even underestimated among hand knitters. Some people don’t consider knitwear made on the knitting machine as “handmade”.  As an experienced hand knitter and machine knitter, could you tell us please what is similar and what is different between these two crafts? 

 As a designer, for me knitting constitutes the whole range of ways it can be produced.  Hobby knitters can and do create on knitting machines, but I know them to be mostly designer’s tools.  From what I have learnt, there are different types of knitting machines, some of which are less automated than others.  Small knitting machines were made for the domestic market from the 1950’s and mine is from the 1970’s.  They still use these machines at textile schools for students to learn on, and to understand the basic mechanics of larger industrial machines. But the knitting machine is like a potter’s wheel. To use it well it takes a certain skill, nuance, practice, and is directed by the maker’s hands. I use my machine in ways that requires manual operation as machines don’t design my patterns, I design my own patterns for the machine to make; manually manipulating stitches by moving them around (cabling), omitting or reintroducing (distressing), taking up or down (tucking), etc, and all is finished by hand; i.e. joining seams, casting off, securing threads… its extremely labour intensive. That’s what I mean by “handmade on the knitting machine”.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

I absolutely love your idea of Construction Knitting Patterns! I think it is such a fresh look at the conventional knitting pattern. Could you, please, tell us more about it? How is it different from the traditional knitting pattern? 

The Construction Knitting Patterns developed out of an idea to create another type of product that was more accessible than the high price point knitwear I was producing.  When I looked into this market there was very little that aligned knitting with it being a design process, as it just seemed to be surrounded by the stigma that it was an old-fashioned craft.  Being a knitter and a designer, I was determined to portray it differently.   And rather than creating another type of knit-by-following-the-pattern project I wanted to engage the user in a knit-by-designing-the-pattern project.  To do this, I needed to look at the fundamentals of knitting, and the fundamentals of design, and merge them.  This translated to knitting basic geometric shapes in basic stitch structures, with a visual guide to assembling the knitted shapes to make garments.  The shapes can become parts that the knitter can adapt, omit and re-assemble in as many ways they see fit to play with.  Although the patterns are written for the yarn that I produce, the patterns can be adapted to any type of yarn.  As part of the idea of making knitting more accessible, the patterns are suitable for beginners.

Construction Pattern

Construction Knitting Pattern NO.3 on Etsy (currently not available)

Nikki is offering a special promotion on free worldwide shipping on all Construction Knitting Patterns until the end of February in her Etsy shop! It’s a great chance to try innovative and exclusive designs!

I know that you don’t offer the construction patterns as downloads, because it’s important for you to preserve “the enterprise of the graphic designer, the printer and the postie”. I really admire that. Do you think it gives a different feeling to the pattern when it’s printed and physically sent to the knitter?

Well downloads don’t suit the patterns as it is divided into sequences of knitting which just doesn’t translate well on screen.  But – Oh my, there is so much that goes into the design considerations of printing a product; choosing the right printing press to work with in the first place, then the paper stock with the right feel that saturates the ink just enough to reflect the bespoke experience of the knitting patterns.  Then there’s the consideration of the folds in the paper and the cover to enhance that experience.  All that attention to detail is what makes a product special in my opinion.  And yes, isn’t it great to get a parcel hand delivered by a postie!

Could you, please, tell us about your corner of the world? Is it a creative and inspiring place?

New Zealand is beautiful and I’m surrounded by dramatic landscapes. The native name of the country is Aetoroa, meaning “Land of the Long White Cloud”. This nature inspires me, but also gives me the space to isolate myself, and work alone.  But having said this, I’m inspired by big cities and I also found isolation and space to work in the bustling and creative inner city of Melbourne as well.  I think the corner of my world is in my imagination (and my laptop).

Knitting Blog

New Zealand through the eyes of Nikki Gabriel

You manage to combine a career of both a fashion designer and a DIY designer (developing yarn, writing books and patterns for hobby knitters). How does the process of creating a fashion line and the process of designing for hobby knitters differ? Do you have the preference or you enjoy both equally?

The fashion knitwear and DIY markets operate on different spheres, but the fashion writer Sandy Black states that, the knitting pattern is a “trickle-down of high fashion”.  I also believe that because of the resurgence of craft, there is an emergence of new indie-commerce models of production that are closing the gap between the industrial and the domestic product. So too, the boundaries between the manufacturer, the designer and the consumer is becoming blurred. I don’t have a preference of which type of design I prefer, I just see the role of the designer changing as a reflection of these things.

Handmade Knitwear|Knitting Blog

Handmade Sweater Photo: Instagram @nikki_gabriel_knit

Dear Nikki, thank you so much, for sharing your story with us!  

You can find Nikki at her blog nikkigabriel.blogspot.co.nz and website www.nikkigabriel.com. Make sure to follow Nikki on Instagram to see the latest updates.

Nikki’s exclusive Construction Knitting Patterns are available in her Etsy shop. Nikki’s book is available on Amazon – “The Handknitter’s Yarn Guide”.

You can find handmade knitwear by Nikki Gabriel at www.taylorboutique.co.nzwww.arohaandfriends.co.nzwww.theshelter.co.nz


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By | 2017-02-13T19:06:07+00:00 February 26th, 2016|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Anna. Odessa, Ukraine.

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

Anna is an artist whose professional journey I’ve been following for almost a year. Fascinating, unique, bold handmade masterpieces by this great crafter took my breath away. Today Anna is taking us to Odessa, one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine. Incredible story of a very talented woman who found happiness, professional fulfillment and a great joy in her craft.

handmade wedding crochet dress

What is the story behind your first stitch?

I can remember it very clearly. I was 6, my first year at school.  Christmas break, the holidays are over, but still too early for school… At that time my Mom was knitting for me and my sister warm tunics and I was so bored with sitting at home that came to her and ask to show me how she does it. To cut a long story short, half a year later all my dolls were ready for winter with their warm knits, though “beautiful” wouldn’t be a right word to describe them. 🙂 By the time I was 9 Mom had a company of neighbors who would come in the evenings for some tea and knitting time. I still remember their conversations interrupted by bursts of laughter and the sound of clicking needles… I was the heart of the company! Mom already gave me projects to work on. One that comes to mind were the wool leggings with the cables on them. It’s worth to mention that Mom was very demanding and a true perfectionist – if I crossed the stitch to the wrong direction the knitting was destined to be ripped out, no matter how much I knit. I guess this is where my ruthlessness to my knitting mistakes comes from.

As for a crochet hook, our meeting happened much later. It was at school’s craft workshop when I was already in the 5th grade. I was absolutely confident that with my knitting experience, crochet would be a piece of cake for me. But no, my relationships with crochet were complicated – I finished a couple of small projects and gave up on it for a long time.

handmade wedding crochet dress

Handmade crochet wedding dress “Beauty and Femininity”

Is your business your full-time job? How was it born?

Yes, now it’s my full-time job. And I can’t imagine any other job that would be better and more fascinating than mine! It’s been 4 years since my decision to start a handmade knitwear business. And of course, not everything was always smooth. I started with quiet peculiar bags. I didn’t have any experience in marketing and money management, so the income was next to nothing, but I was happy even with that! Then I got a great push from life when I was left alone with my little baby on the hands and no money to support us. I couldn’t go back to my work because my daughter was just 5 months old and I had to figure something out. I had to find a way to get money working from home. It was my sister who told me that I could try and build a handmade business online. I jumped on this idea, though at that time I didn’t even have a computer at home. Though my bags were quiet original, my clientele started growing pretty fast. At one point one client asked me to make my first Irish crochet dress. I was really nervous, as I had more experience with needles, using basic stitch patterns. But I felt that I had to take that order, I knew that it was exactly what I needed to go on another level.

Being your own boss is amazing, but it also implies a great sense of responsibility and the ability to organize yourself. Can you share your secrets of time-management?

At this stage of my business, I am completely comfortable working alone, I am used to count only on myself. As for time-management, it’s hard. As a creative person I am not organized and consistent at all, but I am working on it. I try to have a short break from work two times a year, during a Christmas break and summer. I don’t know why, but I noticed that during these months I am really lazy and just need a break from work. It’s really important not to overpush yourself and not to turn your work that you love so much into something tedious.

handmade wedding crochet dress

Handmade crochet wedding dress “Only happiness, only love”

Are there moments when you just don’t feel like working? 

Of course. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often. I never work when I am sick or in a bad mood. I do believe that it can leave some kind of “mark” on a handmade piece, so I try to take a break from work at these moments.

There is an opinion that turning your hobby into work is stealing the excitement and freshness from it and it becomes just a routine. I am curious how do you feel about it?

In my case it’s the other way around! If knitting was just my hobby, I would knit simple everyday basic pieces, but as a designer I have the freedom to bring to life the most fascinating ideas to the fullest, well, almost to the fullest. The most amazing thing is that my job is so perfectly balanced – I seem to have all the necessary qualities for it, I feel completely comfortable being a designer and it was my childhood dream that came true! There are some things that I want to improve, of course. For example, I dream about a spacious studio full of light where I can have my guilt-free “creative” mess. And a couple of extra hours a day would be great too – 24 is just not enough to make everything that I have planned in my head. 🙂

handmade wedding crochet dress

Handmade crochet wedding dress “Miracle Lace. Glamour”

Do you have a special design education?

Very long time ago, I took some classes in fashion design, where I learned composition concepts, working with color and developed my own style. But mostly it’s experience, because my taste always changes. There are so many different trends that I fall in love with from season to season, that I am surprised that I manage to stick to my signature style.

How does the process of creating your stunning pieces look like?

The first draft is born in my head when I discuss the project with its future owner. Then I go to sleep still thinking about it and by the morning it changes, slightly, but I can already see all the details. A couple of hours before the sleep are the most important for me, I am so inspired by my own ideas that it’s really hard to keep myself in bed and not jump up and start working 🙂 It’s a completely different story when I knit for myself. Until the last moment I didn’t know what I want my wedding dress to be like. I changed the initial design 5 times! So I decided to knit intuitively, coming up with ideas on the go. I saw the big picture only when I was finishing the dress, and I couldn’t be happier with it!

What technique do you enjoy working with the most?

At the moment I am obsessed with lace! Mostly Irish crochet lace, but slightly different from the traditional one. I love its organized chaos, its slightly perceptible rhythm and “unfinished” pattern – everything that is hidden in the Irish crochet net stitch. I am literally enchanted by its transparency, there is something magical about it. It’s really hard to describe this feeling with words!

Do you work on one project at a time or do you tend to go back and forth between several WIPs?

I prefer not to waste my inspiration. I work on one project in one breath! If I have to put the project aside, for any reason, when I come back to it – it feels different, the initial excitement is gone and it becomes just a work.

What fiber do you usually use in your work? And what about your yarn stash? 

My favorite fiber is mercerized cotton, but I dream of working with silk. Since the very early childhood I don’t buy things that I won’t use, with yarn it’s the same. I almost never buy more yarn that I actually need. Of course, I have my stash, but is’t very modest. Maybe someday when I have my own studio, I’ll allow myself to splurge on more yarn!

Knitwear photography is no less fascinating than knitwear itself. The photo shoots of your creations are just stunning and so inspiring! Who is the main idea-generator behind them?

I think of style, models, ideas for photo shoots myself, but during the work process a great team of professionals is helping me – a make up artist, photographer, model, jewelry designer. Naturally my initial ideas change, so it’s definitely a team work!

handmade crochet dress

Handmade crochet dress “Red Diamond”

Do you have any special knitting spots where you create?

You can often find me in front of the computer. I love audio books. I knit while “traveling” in imaginary worlds. I can’t knit in public or on the road, I need to be thoroughly involved in the process, with no interruptions.

Could you “take” us to your city where you create? What is it like?

Odessa is a very creative city! I love it and cannot imagine any other place that is so cozy, fun and interesting! There are so many places that I love there! I live a little bit outside of the city where you can find truly magical places. I think every single photographer of Odessa took pictures of the magnificent sunsets that we have here!

knitting and travel

Odessa. Source

What are your gifts of knitting?

Knitting is a huge part of my life. It gave me bottomless inspiration, a professional fulfillment and even personal happiness – I met my husband because of knitting! I have a feeling that me and knitting will be inseparable for many years to come. At least all the ideas that I have will take several lives to bring to life! Through knitting I learned to be independent and not to be afraid, to always move forward and believe in myself!

handmade wedding crochet dress

Handmade crochet wedding dress “August”

Dear Anna, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story and breathtaking creations with us!

You can find Anna on her Facebook and Instagram. Make sure to visit Anna Radaeva’s online store where you will find more of Anna’s masterpieces!

Have a great creative weekend! 


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By | 2017-01-01T16:17:28+00:00 October 16th, 2015|World Crafters|15 Comments

World Crafter. Nicole. Salem, USA

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

There are journeys that are only starting but already have so much purpose and determination, that you can’t help but admire the person behind them. Today we are travelling to a beautiful state of Oregon, USA with Nicole, a creator of MISKUNN. It’s been just over a month since Nicole has opened her Etsy store, but her vision of life and craft already attracted thousands of people that follow her on this truly admirable and inspiring journey.

crochet pillow

Photo @miskunn

What were the first steps of your knitting journey?

I had wanted to learn how to knit ever since I saw “Lady and the Tramp” as a little girl. Watching Darling knit those sweet little pink booties for her coming babe just seemed so lovely to me. However I didn’t actually learn to knit until roughly a year ago. I taught myself how through a knitting book I picked up at a local craft store. My first project was a scarf in sock weight yarn, which ended up looking quite sad if I’m honest. I had so little knowledge about knitting when I started that I actually taught myself how to knit English style at first because I thought Continental meant “foreign” somehow and since I was from the US, I thought English was what I was suppose to learn. It was just silly the amount I didn’t know and I am only sharing it because my husband told me to since he always gets a laugh out of it. So be encouraged anyone who feels they can’t do it – If I can do it, you can too!

You use both knitting and crochet techniques in your pieces, how did you learn crochet?

With learning crochet, I had tried a few times, but since I couldn’t immediately get the knack of it, I was discouraged. Then about six months ago I really sat down and decided to learn and have grown to love it more ever since.

crochet swatches

Photo @miskunn

I know you started your Instagram page just recently and you already have a very strong following. What do you think attracts people most in your feed?

Instagram has been such a wonderful experience for me and has taken me by so much surprise! When I first started my Instagram it was just to build up some following before opening my shop – I had no idea that it would take off so! I am incredibly thankful for all of the support I have gotten there and for the amazing community I have met. As far as what is getting people’s attention, I think the biggest things have been the simplicity of my photos having a clear focus, a white background and soft colors in my knits.

garter stitch hand knit scarf

Photo @miskunn

As far as I know you were pretty excited and scared at the same time when opening your Etsy shop! How do you feel now? 

Ah, yes! I had wanted to open my own Etsy shop for an embarrassingly long time before I actually took the plunge and did it. Now it seems quite silly to have been so nervous, but I have only had my shop open for a little over a month now. Regardless of how little I have had it, I am already proud of having one and the work that I have put into it. I feel like every day I am learning more about how it all works and what to expect and how to really create a brand I love.

Could you please tell us the story of MISKUNN? How was it born? 

Miskunn is an Icelandic word that means “grace and mercy” and I picked this word for my shop specifically. When I was first thinking about starting my own shop I knew I wanted it to be founded on a greater cause. That was extremely important to me, but at the time of officially opening it, I hadn’t solidified exactly how I was going to do that. I will actually be officially announcing soon – so here is first to know! – that I will be giving a percentage of each sale to help end sex trafficking. The amount of unawareness surrounding this issue breaks my heart. I want to be a part of extending grace and mercy to these people that have been abused for so long. To help reaffirm that they are loved and cared for and that their life can move forward from here. I am so excited to be taking this next step and hope that others come along side to help end this horrific issue.

Who supported you on your crafty way? Were there people who were skeptical about your aspirations?

My husband was by far the biggest support from the very beginning. He has always encouraged me to pursue a shop and to learn and adjust along the way, instead of waiting for my brand to be entirely lined out and perfect before starting. He was always the first to say, “You can do this. We’ll figure it out all the way. Just go for it!” Most everyone else seemed to support the idea, but through much hesitation. Since opening my shop I have gotten increasing support from those who were previously hesitant about it. And of course, those on Instagram have been greatly encouraging in my shop and all that I have done so far, which I am thankful for.

hand knit cowl

Photo @miskunn

Is your craft your full-time job or do you balance it with something else? How do you manage your time?

My husband and I recently moved and so my shop is something I do along side looking for other work. I adore knitting and working on all of my ideas and hope to make it my full-time job at some point, but right now, I am divided between a few other things. I try to set a timer for x amount and work on a project straight through that time. I find that when I do it this way, instead of working a bit here and there I get much more work done.

How does your design process look like?  What inspires you?

I don’t really have a design process, I just kind of make stuff up and experiment with colors and yarn I like and hope it turns out well. And when it does, it makes me very happy, but there have been many, many times of pulling it all out and starting again. As far as inspiration goes, I find most of it from minimalism. The foundation of minimalism is something that I hold very close to me and am always striving after, whether that be physically or mentally. How that portrays in my knitting is creating intentional pieces, using quality I love and buying only what I need for each project. Everything has a purpose and a plan. Inspiration concerning minimalism looks like many things – it can be clothing or home decor, a quote, or the way someone lives their life. I hope that my work reflects this love I have for purpose and intent, as that is what is important to me.

Do you have a special project that is particularly dear to your heart?

I have developed a special love for the pillows I make. When I came across the Bobble Stitch I thought it was such a sweet and playful stitch that is so neat to make. I have been having so much fun coming up with different color combinations and ideas for my pillows. I am in the middle of a new series for them and can’t wait to share more of it with everyone!

Do you have a favorite place where you usually create? Do you need special atmosphere or you can create any place any time?

I really can create anywhere! I take my knitting with me most all the time and enjoy it so much. But if I were to have a perfect atmosphere it would be curled up on the couch under a blanket knitting next to my husband.

Tell us, please, about the fiber that you use in your creations. 

I absolutely love working with high quality natural fibers such as wool, silk, alpaca, and cashmere. They are long lasting and age well. They are incredibly soft to touch and so to feel them in my hands as I work is like a dream. It seems you’ve caught me right in the middle of many changes as I am also in the process of moving my brand in the direction of high quality fibers, which I couldn’t be more excited about as well.

yarn balls

Photo @miskunn

How do you see the future of MISKUNN? 

I am so excited for all the changes ahead! Everything from aiding the end of sex trafficking to moving to high quality natural fibers. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the changes I want to make and how that will effect those who have been following along my little journey already, but I heard something the other day, from Jim Carrey nonetheless, where he said, “What that taught me is that you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well do what you love” and that really stuck with me and has actually given me a lot of motivation to pursue these new dreams and desires for Miskunn. I hope others will follow along and be just as excited and inspired as I am for the new things ahead!

crochet pillow

Photo @miskunn

Could you, please, tell us about your corner of the world. Are you inspired by your town? 

I live in the U.S.A, in the lush, green part of Oregon and I love it. The fresh air and green trees brings me so much happiness. It is finally getting colder here and the rain is coming back, which has been wonderful. I think living in Oregon gives me much inspiration, because most of the year I am surrounded by weather that makes you want to be cozy and warm. And what better craft to solve that than knitting? I wish I had photos of Portland, because I love it so and find much inspiration from that city. There are so many little shops, cafes, and yarn stores. Walking the streets downtown feels like I’m in a whole different place since I grew up in a tiny little town away from the city. Maybe that’s why I’m always longing to be in them now.

There is one very beautiful and special place overlooking a cliff. Gabriel and I got married here.

knitting travel

Oregon through the eyes of Nicole

What gifts have you received from your craft?

Knitting has given me such a beautiful opportunity to meet people I never would have met. The community of friends I have made through Instagram has been incredible and there are many ladies on there I feel like I could go to coffee with and just talk and talk for hours. Also just knowing that something I make with my own two hands can be treasured by something else and help aid different causes and change lives in some way I find so beautiful and something I am immensely thankful for. I hope the wonder of it never ends.

crochet pillow

Photo @miskunn

Dear Nicole, thank you so much for sharing with us your crafty journey that I am sure is just starting and there are so many wonderful things yet to come on your crafty way!

You can find Nicole on Instagram and in her adorable Etsy shop!

Have a great creative weekend!


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By | 2017-01-01T16:27:13+00:00 September 18th, 2015|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Olga. Saint Petersburg, Russia.

World Crafters are people who make things in different parts of the world. Some turned their hobby into a profession, some are balancing a day job with small crafty business, some chose to keep their hobby and just enjoy making, creating and giving. Behind each stitch is a story…

There are people who draw you in immediately with their passion for life, for work, for the world around them. That was happened to me when I found an Instagram page by Olga, a crafter who is deeply in love with knitting and her city. She introduces herself in one simple sentence: “Olga. In love with St. Petersburg and tightly bound up with it by a merino thread”. I fell in love with her love for her corner of the world! Olga fills her days with yarn, teaching knitting classes and walking around the most beautiful historical places of the Northern capital of Russia. Today she invites us to her world!

Usually I start my interviews with the question about first steps in knitting, but as you are so “tightly bound up with St. Petersburg by a merino thread”, I can’t wait to ask you – what happened first – your move to the city of your dreams or knitting obsession?

Knitting happened first. I was drawn to knitting since the very early childhood. My memory sends me back to the third grade – the year of my first stitches. It was the winter school break, so freezing outside that the idea of going out was horrifying 🙂 So, I got some yarn of cinnamon color and simple Soviet aluminium needles. The first day I was just casting on and knitting until running out of yarn, then ripping out and starting all over again… Knitting came first and only then the move to the dear city of my dreams where my love for the knitting kept growing and growing. Here I found my first wool of great quality, gorgeous needles and so much craved for choice of yarn and tools. In St. Petersburg the most important thing happened – I took the courage to post the first picture of my knitting on the blog. My hobby turned into my work and the main pursuit of my life here, in beloved St. Petersburg.

You mentioned in one of your Instagram posts that you have been looking for your life path for a long time, trying different professions, but only in knitting you have found yourself. What is so special about this craft for you?

In my opinion knitting is very underestimated in Russia. I think it can be explained by the Soviet Union past when knitting was not a form of art, but the necessity – it was almost impossible to buy anything in stores. Some stereotypes about knitting are like echo of this time. Many people think that knitting product is something cheap and scratchy.  But it is so far from the truth! Knitting is so much more than just stitches. Knitting is the science where your hands and your brain are working in harmony, but the most fascinating thing is that knitting is emotionally healing! When I taught my girlfriends to knit, I heard from them so many times how their days became more meaningful and how seeing progress in their projects make them happier. When I teach classes, the most important thing for me is to bring the smile and relaxation to my students and the best way to do it is knit!

Could you, please, tell us about your project “Knit from Sheep”?

This question made me smile  🙂 When 8 years ago I first published the pictures of my hand knit hats, I thought that I needed to give them some name. Two minutes later “Knit from Sheep” was born. And now I can say for sure that this is a real project! Though I feel like I have just started developing it. Everything started with knitting just for my family and friends, but right now it has become more of a business with custom knits, yarn and tools orders, teaching knitting classes…

Your biggest love in knitting  are accessories, especially hats. Why?

I like the fast result! Well, relatively fast. It feels amazing when in a couple of days you can finish a hat with mittens or a cowl. With sweaters it is a different story. For me knitting a sweater is more contemplative, it is a process that starts with taking measurements, drawing the schematic, calculating the shaping… It’s a long process that can take several weeks.

Tell us about your knitting classes, please. Where do they usually take place and what do they mean for you?

When I walk around the city, I always take notice of new places with delicious coffee. The place for a knitting class has to be cozy, with comfortable sofas and chairs and good lightning. If I have a big class coming, I try to organize it in my favorite restaurants with a special atmosphere. The most important thing for me in all my classes is to see how a person walks away from my class smiling and inspired with the confident “I can do it!”. When I see how a girl learned something new and smiled, I feel like the world becomes a little bit better in this moment and it makes me really happy!

I remember reading your post about time, which was called “No Excuses”. There you discuss the art of juggling many things at the same time and how to-do lists can really put you back on track. What about right now? Do you still use this strategy?

To-do lists are always present in my life! But I have to confess that when I start a new project, I dive into it entirely, choosing yarn or design, so I can totally forget about my to-do list. I just don’t want the inspiration to slip away! So I guess it’s challenging for a creative person to follow the to-do lists 🙂

Could you share with us your favorite fiber or a yarn brand?

For several years my heart has belonged to merino wool! But this summer something shifted in me and I became interested in alpaca/silk blend, merino/cashmere blends or lima yarn. I can’t name a single yarn brand, there are so many that I adore!

What is your favorite place for knitting?

The favorite place to knit is always different, it really depends on my mood. The cozy and comfortable armchair at home is the most frequent companion in knitting, especially with a good movie. Right now I am knitting a hat and watching Madame Bovary. But I always look forward to changing my knitting spot, so I take my yarn and needles to small cafes where I can knit on cozy window-sills or at tables with interesting texture.

Especially I love modern cafes where the energy is just bubbling – it is so contagious that I start knitting faster! I used to be very shy knitting in public, but right now I knit even in the subway. I recently got the most memorable comment on my knitting, when one middle aged man was sitting next to me in a subway, watched me knitting for some time and then exclaimed – Oh, wow!!!

My favorite part of your Instagram feed is how your knitting and your city coexist with each other. It is so obvious from your pictures how much you love this place. I fell in love with you “live knitting” posts where you knit in famous places of St. Petersburg! Please, tell us about YOUR St. Petersburg. Why did you decide to move there and how does the city influence your creations?

You know, sometimes just one second is enough to understand – this is my place! That what happened to me with St. Petersburg. I decided to move without living here even a single day, I just briefly saw it for a couple of times. But its streets, houses, squares, canals and air shook me to my core. My city is my greatest motivator! That’s why I moved here. Here I breathe not just with lungs, but with my soul, to the fullest! The city and suburbs are my biggest inspiration.

knitting and travel

St Petersburg Photo @gravitaziya

Whenever I have the opportunity I try to go to the nature during the summer or go for a walk on Nevsky Prospect, visit the Hermitage Museum or the Russian Museum, then buy a book about these wonderful places and dive into it with my head and heart, so next time when I visit them I would notice something new, something that nobody will ever see.

I knit almost everywhere, because the big city means big distances and knitting comes in handy not to lose this time. I began wondering about atmosphere of places where I knit when I started to get comments under my “live videos”. I think it sounds amazing – a hat knitted on the Palace Square!

What are you grateful for to yarn balls and needles?

For positive emotions every single day, for interesting work, for many new friends and the most important – for happiness!!!

Dear Olga, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your great love for knitting, your beautiful city and your bubbling, absolutely contagious optimism! 

You can find Olga on her blog and on her Instagram page @gravitaziya. Warning: you will spend hours and hours browsing beautiful and inspirational pictures of yarn, needles and best places of St. Petersburg there! If you ever find yourself in the Nothern capital of Russia, make sure to take the knitting class with Olga! You will definitely have a lot of fun! And if you’d like to have your own hand knit hat made in the best places of St. Petersburg, just drop Olga an email to knitfromsheep@gmail.com

Have a great inspiring and creative weekend!


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By | 2017-01-01T16:27:45+00:00 August 28th, 2015|World Crafters|14 Comments
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