World Crafters

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World Crafter. Nataly. Kiev, 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…

I “met” Nataly a couple of years ago when I picked up my Vogue Knitting issue. Nataly’s design was on the cover and I felt so inspired by her love for texture, color and harmonious combination of knit stitches in her Textured Dress. Since then I’ve been following Nataly’s crafty journey and admiring her endless fount of creativity! Today Nataly is sharing her knitting journey and taking us to her hometown – beautiful Kiev, the heart and capital of Ukraine.

How did your knitting journey begin?

My Mom taught me to knit. She was always in love with handmade – when she was 20 years old, she decided to take knitting classes. Other members of our family were never interested in anything craft related. I remember our house was full of things knit by my Mom. Right now she switched to embroidery  – creating embroidered pictures.

Do you balance knitting with something else?

No, knitting is my full-time job – designing and creating knitwear.

How did it become a full-time job? Did your family support you?

Since I was 14 years old I have been knitting a lot – for myself, for friends. I even remember I got orders for custom knits from my fellow students at school. At one point I understood there was no way I could fit all the knitwear in my drawers, so I tried to sell my works. I think the abundance of design ideas and finished knits became the main reason to start my own knitwear brand. My family was always supportive in all my aspirations!

When a hobby became a full-time job, did something change?

Of course, as soon as your hobby becomes a job, it’s a job, not a hobby 🙂 You can’t allow yourself not to work. But at the end of the day what is a job? Isn’t it a thing that you love to do? It’s not a monotonous process. There are things that are more pleasant to perform than the others. But I believe that a man and the universe are always striving for balance. I even noticed that if I have a lot of custom orders, the new ones are not coming until I finish the old ones – this is my balance! Plus there are a lot of aspects of this job that you can work on to take a break from knitting – it can be communicating with clients, managing my internet shop or designing something new. I think for me the most difficult thing is monotony. In all other work aspects I find something positive and inspiring.

Is it difficult for you to put a price label on your products?

Yes, it can be difficult. In this case I ask my husband what he thinks about the price I am about to put on. Well, usually he says it’s too low and I should go up 🙂

I know that your design was published in Vogue Knitting Winter 2012/2013. And it was on the cover of this issue!

Could you share this experience, please?

Vogue Knitting is the only magazine that I am reading and that inspires me. I was so happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with it. The fact that my design was on the cover of Vogue Knitting is incredible! This work coincided with my pregnancy and birth of my son, so the only thing I was worried about was to meet the deadlines. The dress took me several months. Vogue Knitting sent me a gorgeous soft yarn of rich burgundy color (Fyberspates/Lantern Moon Scrumptious Chunky wool/silk). The most difficult thing for me was to write a pattern. I’ve never written any instructions for my designs, so I had to work really really hard. As far as I know the pattern is being sold individually on vogueknitting.com. Right now I continue working with this magazine.

Hand Knit Dress

Photo Vogue Knitting. Pattern Textured Dress

What is your favorite technique?

I am in love with lace – light and feminine. But sometimes I crave for something more “hardcore” 🙂 For example, I love trying new materials. The world is full of things that you can knit with, yarn is just one of them – ropes, ribbons, wires!.. Try it!

How does your designing process look like? Do you plan your designs or you just go with the flow?

I do plan my designs. I am sketching, knitting swatches, trying different stitches, thinking and imagining the final result. But very often the idea is pretty formed in my head from the very beginning, all the rest is just savoring the details.

Hand Knit Dress

And of course the favorite topic – yarn! What fibers do you prefer? 

I love all yarn made of natural fiber. I enjoy trying new unusual combinations.

Hand Knit Top

Hand Knit Top. Cotton, linen, viscose.

And the size of your stash? 🙂

I have a lot, a lot of yarn. But I am not stashing it, I am just managing one internet yarn shop. So my studio is full of creativity! What I love most about it is that I can always find yarn that I need for my new ideas and designs.

How many WIPs do you usually have?

It’s always 3-4 projects. It can take a year before my idea becomes a finished product. In the meanwhile I’m working on my custom orders or designing something else. And the current WIP is waiting for its turn.

Hand Knit Dress

I love how you play with texture in your knits! Do you have a special design education?

I was studying for my Master’s in Psychology, but I was having my doubts – is this what I want to do? Psychology was extremely interesting, but work with fabric, texture and color was calling my name. So I found a teacher of ceramics and weaving and started to take classes with him. These classes had everything that I loved – color, texture, shape. And of course I was reading a lot and experimenting. I think self-education is something amazing – it never stops, it’s absolutely limitless.

Hand Knit Dress

Hand Knit Dress. Cotton, linen, viscose

What is your favorite knitting spot?

Outside, on a rocking chair.

I am always fascinated to hear about different corners of the world where crafters live. Could you please tell us about your city?

Kiev is a wonderful, incredibly beautiful city. It’s really impossible to walk in Podil and not feel this creative energy and get inspired. We live outside of the city and are fortunate enough to enjoy fields, gullies, pines and birds chirping outside. Nature inspires me to create folklore designs, simple forms and lines. Kiev is full of creative people. I have a lot of friends who turned their hobby (decoupage, embroidery, jewelry) into profession. It’s always interesting to be around these people.

Knitting Blog Inspiration

Kiev

Did knitting influence your life in any particular way?

Each skill opens new doors, new opportunities. Knitting is a big part of who I am, so naturally and organically interwoven into my life that I really can’t say in what way in particular.

Hand Knit Dress

Dear Nataly! Thank you so much for sharing with us your incredible talent! It’s truly fascinating! Find Nataly on Facebook and in her Etsy shop! 

Have a great crafty weekend!


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By | 2017-02-13T18:58:00+00:00 June 12th, 2015|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Samantha. New York, 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…

I met Samantha, founder of “Sosa Knitwear”, on Instagram. When I saw her Triple Cable Cardigan, I wanted to reach for it, grab it and wrap myself in it – so cozy, so chunky, filled with so much love for this craft! Samantha lives and creates in one of the biggest cities in the world – New York, the city where everything is possible. Today she is sharing her knitting journey, favorite yarn spots and her chunky big knits with us!

How did you learn to knit?

I first learned how to knit at college. For some reason I put off actually learning how to knit for the longest time. When I was in 4th grade my school offered an after school program to teach kids how to knit and crochet. I was the only girl in my class who turned it down and I didn’t pick up a crochet hook until my junior year of college. After that I saw a few pieces of Sandra Backlund‘s work and it moved me to my core. I said to myself “I want to do that!” Then I didn’t learn how to knit until the summer before my senior year of college.

Do you remember your first project?

My first knitting assignment was to make an animal and it could be anything we wanted. So I decided to make a frog, but as I went along it turned into a sting ray. I was not a natural!

Is knitting your full-time job or do you balance it with something else?

Knitting has been my full time job for the last eight months. I have my collection SOSA Knitwear and I also create custom knits for different clients. Some people ask for full garments that they can then take to a factory to have mass produced and others just need swatches that they can turn into yardage. I love working on other people’s things, because everyone has a different point of view. I love the feeling of seeing someone’s imagination come to life. It’s never boring!

hand_knit_1

Pre-Fall 2015

How was your brand ”Sosa Knitwear” born?

After I finished school I started working for this accessories and swimwear brand, which was a great experience, because I got to learn so much and work with some amazing women. But because we were a startup there were a lot of mistakes made. I would go home at the end of the day and say “I wish we were doing this” and “why can’t we do things like that”, and I would get so frustrated. Finally I realized that all of that complaining was silly, and if I wanted to do things my way then I needed to have my own company. So I saved for about a year and in September, of 2014, when the company I was working for shut down I decided to take a leap of faith and jump into SOSA. Timing is everything and you really have to trust your gut with these things.

Could you, please, tell us what SOSA means?

So when I was thinking about what I wanted my company to be like I kept coming across this feeling I wanted to give my customer. I knew I wanted to have big chunky knits for fall and I wanted people to want to curl up with them. I kept asking myself what makes me feel the most relaxed and when do I feel the most at home? For me family is a big part of my life and when I’m around my family I feel like I can be 100% myself. When I was little my uncle started calling me Sammy Sosa. I can’t remember how it started, but I remember that he thought it was the best joke ever and it just kind of stuck. From then on he would say it every time I saw him. When I was a teenager I thought I was too cool, so I found it really annoying and now it’s something that always makes me feel at home. So SOSA is named after that piece of me.

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

My family has always been incredibly supportive in everything I’ve attempted to do. I would not have had the courage to start SOSA Knitwear without them! I’ve been lucky enough to find friends that are equal parts supportive and hard on me. Some of them really grilled me and made sure I had really thought things through. But at the same time they were very encouraging. I was a ballet dancer for several years of my life and as a result I developed a very thick skin. This has helped me to be able to hear critiques and not take it personally. It’s easy to get stuck in a bubble and only see your point of view. Having people doubt can sometimes open you up to doing more than you thought you were capable of.

As far as I know you are a graduate of The School of The Art Institute, Fashion Design Department. Could you, please, share with us your experience of your student life there?

Yes, I did attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was simultaneously some of the best years of my life and some of the most challenging. It’s one of the most expensive schools in the world and I come from a middle class family. So there was a lot of stress when it came to the financial side of things. There were a lot of times I couldn’t register for classes on time because I would have a past due balance. Then by the time I could register the class would be full. My senior year was particularly difficult, because my sister started college at Ohio State, so there were two college tuitions being paid at the same time. There was a moment when I didn’t think I would be able to finish, because I didn’t have the money. But I had some of the most amazing teachers and I told them about my situation. Both my fashion teacher, Katrin Schnabl, and my knitwear teacher, Sharon Shoji, allowed me to audit their classes until I could get the money together to officially register. Without them and my fantastic parents I would not have made it.

What led you to knitwear in particular? Was it your initial plan or did you pick it up along the way?

The funny thing is that it was because of my financial situation that I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing today. My junior year I wanted to take an advanced weaving course. But it closed before I could get the money to register. So I ended up in a class called manipulated stitch, taught by my knitwear teacher, Sharon Shoji and the rest is history.

Hand Knit sweater

The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. One of Samantha’s designs as a student

What does your design process look like? Do you plan the design ahead or is it born while you’re knitting a piece? What inspires you?

I’m inspired by color and texture more than anything else. When I’m working on my own things it usually starts with an image in my head and then I try to flesh it out by sketching it in photoshop. But usually the image in my head is clearer than the sketch. So I know going into making the sample that the final product is not going to look like the sketch. Then after I make the first sample that becomes my sketch and it will probably change one or two more times before it reaches it’s final state. Mistakes are my favorite part of the process. If I make a mistake I don’t rush to change it. I ask myself how does this mistake change things? Sometimes mistakes make a piece better than you planned!

What was the most time-consuming project?

From my last collection the most time consuming project was my Triple Cable Cardigan.

Hand Knit Cardigan

Mostly because it changed the most out of all of my pieces, from sketch to final product. The cable that wraps almost all the way around the body is so long and I always underestimate how long a project is going to take me. But it’s definitely my favorite piece from that collection.

Your designs are so rich in texture and techniques! What are your favorite?

I love cables… you will be seeing much more of that in my upcoming collections! I use mistake stitch ribbing a lot! I also love to break the rules a little bit. If a yarn says it should be used on a particular sized needle I like to see what happens if I use a different one. I love looking at, and using, the back sides of the things I’ve knitted! Sometimes I find that more interesting than the side that was supposed to be used.

Hand Knit Sweater

Hand knit Sosa Sweater

What is your favorite project?

My favorite project is something that challenges me. I always fall in love with the ones I had to spend the most time with.

What is your favorite fiber to work with?

I am a very tactile person, so for me if a fiber doesn’t feel pleasant I can’t use it. I love lightly spun wools and baby alpaca, and yarns that have a touch of silk spun in there. I spend so much time touching the yarn as I’m making a piece, so if it doesn’t feel good to work with I know I need to start over.

Yarn

Dyeing yarn

Are you a monogamous knitter? Or do you work on several projects at the same time?

I am absolutely a monogamous knitter. Even when a project is frustrating me I won’t let myself move on until I’ve figured it out. Mainly because I know if I move on to something else I won’t be able to stop thinking about the first project. It just keeps nagging me until I go back and tackle it.

Hand Knit Infinity Hood

Infinity Hood in progress

Where is the best place for you to knit?

I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a studio. So I do all of my knitting there, while listening to NPR’s This American Life. Except for when I have a big order that requires me to do an all nighter. In which case I need to be on a couch or a really comfy chair while watching a series of trashy tv shows and romantic comedies.

Hand Knit Sweater

Sosa Sweater in progress

I believe that surroundings have a huge influence on our creative process. Could you, please, tell us about NY. Are you inspired by New York? Do you have your favorite yarn spots in town?

New York is an amazing place to be if you are a designer! There is an endless supply of exhibits, gallery openings, and good old fashioned people watching.

Knitting Blog

New York through the eyes of Samantha

I split my time between New York and New Jersey and I love them both equally. The people of New York and the landscapes in New Jersey inspire me every day.

Knitting blog

Bryant Park

Knitting Blog

New Jersey

I get most of my yarn wholesale, but for personal projects my favorite place to go is the Lion Brand Yarn Studio on 15th street in New York! The people there are so warm and they always have the most amazing window displays. It’s worth the trip just to see the window! I love being around people who are passionate about what they do and there is no shortage of that in New York.

What gifts did you get from knitting?

Sandra Backlund once said “For me knitting is synonymous with creative freedom” and I feel the same way. It took me a while to find my creative voice. It wasn’t until I first picked up a crochet hook that I felt like I could freely express myself. It’s an escape. I can sit down to work on a project and not get up for hours. My wrists and fingers will hurt and I won’t even notice until I come to a break in the project. Whether it’s a new technique or a yarn I’m not used to working with, I’m learning something new everyday. I’m so grateful that I didn’t end up in that weaving course!

Dear Samantha, thank you so much for sharing your story, it is truly fascinating! You can find Samantha and her handmade knitwear on her website www.sosaknitwear.com. Follow Samantha’s knitting journey on Instagram and Facebook to see her creative process and freshly finished knits!


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By | 2017-01-01T16:18:37+00:00 May 29th, 2015|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Tessa. Los Barriles, Mexico.

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.

I met Tessa, a machine and hand knitter, at the local organic market a couple of years ago. She was the only person I could actually talk to about knitting. Tessa lives in Los Barriles, a small Mexican fisherman town 3-4 hours drive from us. I fell in love with her love for knitting, her simple quiet lifestyle, her closeness to nature… She kept inviting me to visit her for a long time and finally last month me and my husband got on a road trip to her place. You can look up the road pictures in the April’s Adiós series. Tessa met us at the beach coming back from paddling – a petite, but strong woman with an amazing story. Her house that she built in this beautiful corner of the world is a small oasis full of light, smell of fresh fruits, scraps of yarn and silence interrupted only by chirping of birds. We sat in her backyard garden, among fruit trees, vegetable garden and magnificent birds and started talking… 

Knitting sweater

How did you start knitting?

I learned how to knit as a small girl living in England, even before I learned how to read and write I think. I don’t remember exactly how I learned to knit, but in England you just pick it up. Most of my friends in England still knit. I used to knit away, always had a knitting project going. I used to go to the yarn stores, look at patterns, buy the yarn and dream about what to knit. I made some things that I really liked. I enjoyed aran knitting a lot. I also picked up crochet and made a black dress that I never wore – I just didn’t like it. But it wasn’t important, I loved doing it, I’ve always loved the process!

How and why did you move from England?

I went to a college to become a teacher.. I taught for one year and understood it wasn’t for me. My true love was sailing and being 23 years old I took off on a race boat to the States and I didn’t really ever go home again. I remember that while we were crossing the ocean I was knitting and cooking at the boat – it was my second love at school. Life changed – it was brighter and better. I lived among all these foreigners, who were sailors all their lives and it was so much fun! I met my future husband there and we eventually moved to Idaho.

Do you remember how you first started doing machine knitting?

We were living in Idaho. I remember I had an accident and broke a bone and had to stay in all the time. Then I got an idea to buy a knitting machine. I took one lesson with a Scottish lady and I thought – oh my, this thing is evil! I couldn’t figure it out at all, it made me tear my hair out! But I was determined and eventually I learned. At that time we started to come to Mexico every season for wind surfing. And I was still hand knitting on the beach while taking breaks from wind surfing.

How was your brand Tessa Knits born?

One of my friends told me that I should start a business, but I just kept saying that there was no way I could do it on this knitting machine! But no matter what I was saying, this idea got stuck in my head and I started researching. First of all I found a good cotton in about 50 colors for a reasonable price.

Yarn

I created my first design – a simple sweatshirt for windsurfing. Each season a lot of people would come to a windsurfing camp in Baja and I would go to the beach, sail and meanwhile go around the camp asking – Does anyone want to buy a windsurfing sweater? That’s how I got my first orders.

Me and my husband were constantly traveling back and forth between Baja California Sur and Idaho. I started doing summer handmade fairs in Idaho and when we came back to Mexico I was so excited to show my stuff. And it just took off – everybody wanted a sweater from Tessa! I was working hard, but after awhile my machine started to break, it was giving me so much trouble – it wasn’t enjoying anymore. Then I got divorced and thought – I am done, I am not knitting anymore!

I was single, life was different. I packed up my knitting machine and gave it to a an old Mexican lady in town. I started building my house in Baja, and to support myself I worked during summers in the USA, Costa Rica, Europe – cooking, teaching yoga, etc. But once I came back home from a long working summer and thought “I don’t want to be gone anymore!”. And the only way I could stay home all year round was to make some money here, in Mexico. I went to a Mexican lady, she didn’t even unpack my machine, I got it back, oiled and oiled it and it started to work again.

Knitting machine

I know that you do your main business at the local organic market – Mercado Organico. Could you, please, share your experience working there?

I started going to Mercado Organico 5-6 years ago, working basically on the same styles. Making simple loose light sweaters, tunics and shawls. I really do enjoy the act of kniting, and it definitely comes out to the market when I talk to people. My customers always tell me – You can tell that you just love doing what you do! After the hurricane (Odile 2014) the market is very slow, so I can’t help but think – what’s next? I don’t HAVE TO have to work, but I know that I just need to do something. I keep saying to myself – stop and smell the roses! Don’t worry about the future, about next year. You are imagining something you can’t deal with right now! Go with what you’ve got and life will fall into the place. I push myself really hard, I work until late at night, I don’t do anything else but knit during the weekends – I am a total social outcast. But that’s what I’ve chosen to do.

 

Do you still handknit?

Well, I have a pair of yoga socks on the needles that I can’t finish for a long time 🙂

You work in Los Barriles. How does it determine your work and what is the attitude of people to your work here?

First of all, it’s really challenging to get the materials. People in general really love handmade here. Some say – You don’t charge enough, but don’t charge ME more 🙂 Though I still meet someone who says with a note of disappointment – oh, it’s machine knit. Yes, it is machine knit, but it’s a lot of work – calculating, figuring out the sizing, tension, sewn by hand. I put my heart and soul into these sweaters. It’s custom made, I’ll pay attention to what my customers want and try to bring it to life.

Knitting tunic

Plus machine knitting is pretty physically demanding.

Absolutely! I get a workout every time I machine knit, especially with double heavy yarn.

I know from my own experience that Baja is really restricting us with fiber. What fiber do you mostly work with?

I work with what works for me and what yarn makes for me. Mostly it’s mercerized cotton or merino and cotton blend. I worked a little bit with silk and alpaca for custom orders. I almost never do wool in Baja – it’s just too hot.

Yarn

What is your most popular design?

I don’t have time to be too creative. And people always prefer my most simple designs – loose sweaters, tunics, shawls, ponchos. But there is one design that always draws people, especially tourists, in – I put the map of Baja on the sweaters. People just love to take a piece of Baja California back home with them.

Knitting sweater

Do you  have time to make something for yourself?

Well, not really. I remember making a cardigan for myself with 20% merino 80% cotton blend, I wore it to the market and somebody just bought it from my back 🙂 I am dying to find some time to make a simple white cotton tank for myself – it is so comfortable! Maybe this summer!

Knitting shawl

Do you have any other hobbies besides knitting?

I love reading – I am a book worm! I love to workout and gardening. I created my garden from the scratch, when I bought this property, there was absolutely nothing growing here. Though the last years it was all about knitting, I didn’t pay enough attention to my garden unfortunately. I’ve made my choice – I realized that no matter how much I enjoy gardening, I loved knitting more.

Knitting blog

Could you, please, share your usual daily schedule?

I get up very early, way before the sun comes up, ride my bike with my dogs to the hills, hike up the hills, come back home, go to the beach, swim, do yoga for 10-15 minutes, make breakfast (I am a raw vegan, so I don’t have to cook – huge time saver!), check my email, if the weather is nice, go out to paddle, and then it’s all about work. Besides actual knitting I also work with rentals, deal with yarn orders, etc. I usually get 7 hours of physical work in front of the machine, I throw the pieces in the basket and sew them by hand during evenings.

Knitting studio

What’s next? Do you have any special future plans?

I don’t. All I know I don’t want to get any more complicated than I am. I don’t want to hire help or open the store, I like to do it all by myself.

Knitting poncho

Dear Tessa, thank you so much for this special time spent at your beautiful home!

Knitting blog

You can find Tessa and her knits on her website – www.tessaknits.com

Have a great crafty weekend!


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By | 2016-01-01T11:53:09+00:00 May 15th, 2015|World Crafters|10 Comments

World Crafter. Apollinariya. Maribor, Slovenia.

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.

Apollinariya, a designer of exclusive beaded jewelry, is taking us to Maribor, a beautiful town in Slovenia, which is rich in architecture and magnificent nature.

I’ve “known” Apollinariya for several years, following her creative journey and watching her grow as a crafter. Today I am happy to share with you a story of this lovely woman, her beautiful creations and a sneak peek into her working process. 

How did everything start for you as a crafter?

I think everything started a really long time ago, I just didn’t realize it. I remember a lot of kids used to make beaded personalized bracelets with their names on them and little beaded crocodiles for the key chains. And I couldn’t. I just never understood  how it was even possible! I remember taking a book on beading from a school library, but couldn’t understand a single thing.

At the university I fell in love with beads and started to collect them. I didn’t do anything in particular, just kept them in a box. I was delighted with this collection, always trying to add something new, especially as many shades as possible of one color! Then I had an idea of creating different ornaments with beads on a paper and even framed some of them. I think this was a dead end for me as a beader, but definitely not completely pointless. It was a great experience!

When I moved to another country six years ago, my precious boxes moved with me. I really felt the need to express myself creatively. I literally tried everything – from painting to scrap-booking. And then I plunged into bead embroidery. I started to make very simple brooches.I didn’t know a lot about the process and techniques – didn’t  even have the slightest idea how to trim the edges, for example! And the fact that you could add stones and crystals in the beadwork was something completely out of my reach. I was unaware how much information is out there, so I didn’t even look for it. Only after some time I started to read the books on techniques and get deeper and deeper into it. And then I just started to experiment.

I know you are an architect. Do you still work as an architect or your craft takes up all your time?

At the moment I don’t work as an architect, I don’t feel it is something that I want to do right now. But I am still happy that I chose this profession and learned so many things that help me a lot in my beading work – color combination, composition, different techniques, etc.  I really love my day job right now – I am a designer at a local crafts store. I give classes there and teach our clients new techniques and give presentations of new products.

I always have this question for crafters. What happens when you cross the “hobby” line and become a “professional”? Do you feel more pressure?

I still don’t feel that beading is my profession. It is my hobby that I love with all my heart. I am resting when I work on my pieces, it soothes me. But it was not easy to admit, first of all to myself, that I don’t want to pursue my first career as an architect. Right now I want to concentrate on my favorite work, beading, develop it and move further and further. All my relatives and close people support and trust me. Even my husband helps me in developing my small business. I think if you love to do something you always find a way to balance it. For example, I always have projects that I work on for my business, just for fun and for experimenting!

Knitting blog beading

CANCER Necklace. Zodiac Signs collection.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part is when my jewelry pieces find their “home” and are being worn with love.  I also feel excited when I get new materials for work. And I absolutely adore this moment when you make the last stitch and look at a final product in your hands!

The most difficult thing?

The most difficult thing is to get the materials. Sometimes I can’t finish a piece just because I can’t find the materials that I need.

How do you estimate your work? Is it hard to put a price tag on your creations?

Oh, that is really hard. The bottom line is that I really want people to be able to buy my jewelry and wear it, so I don’t go overboard with my prices. I try to put a price that will be fair for me and for my clients.

Your jewelry is just unbelievable! What was the most difficult project for you? 

Thank you so much! The most difficult piece for me was Alice and The Gryphon that was made for the Battle of the Beadsmith 2014 contest. This year I want to do it again and hope to create something even more unusual.

How much time does it take you to finish one piece?

It’s very hard for me to estimate the actual time I spend on each piece. Sometimes I take breaks and put the works in progress away for some time, and sometimes everything happens literally in one breath!  But I really need to count the time someday – a lot of people ask me that 🙂

What is your personal favorite work?

I love many of my works. But I am really proud of my latest collection Beaded Nouveau. It turned out exactly how I envisioned it! It took me so much time to find all the materials and the way to bring these pieces to life. But I can finally say – it was so worth it! I plan to make more pieces for this collection.

How does your creative process looks like?

Usually I plan everything beforehand. Recently I started to work on collections where I think through the general theme, color palette, approximate size and form of jewelry pieces. But the creation of each of them totally depends on the mood and inspiration!

Knitting blog beading

What is your favorite place to create?

Next to the window! I like to work with natural light, lamps make it harder to focus for my eyes 🙂

Knitting blog beading

Like most knitters/crocheters I am in love with yarn and have a very decent stash, what about you and beads? What is your verdict – guilty or not guilty of overstashing? 

The truth is I don’t “overstock”. I don’t why. 🙂 I have boxes of very modest size with Swarovski crystals, beads and other materials. I think I just really meticulously choose materials for each project and don’t hold anything for “just in case” orders. So I think I can claim – Not guilty 🙂

Knitting blog beading

How many works do you have in progress?

Usually there are two works in progress. But if I start one part of a project I have to finish it before switching to another piece.

People create in all parts of the world. Could you, please, tell us about your town?

I LOVE my town. Maribor is my inspiration. I adore spring in Maribor when the town is filled with fresh air! Amazing architecture and magnificent nature win your heart immediately!

Knitting blog beading

Maribor, Slovenia. Through the eyes of Apollinariya.

Slovenia is a paradise for creative people! And my town in particular is very creative. I always have my master-classes fully booked. There are a lot of events dedicated to crafts, for example different handmade fairs. But materials are not that easy to find. Usually I order everything I need on the Internet or buy it when travelling. But I am lucky – my very good friend has her own crafts store and we share the love for Swarovski 🙂

How did your craft change you and your life?

You know, I think I became a better person… I am not afraid to bring my ideas to life and to experiment. I am not afraid to admit that I chose this way for the reason and it is the right way. I am happy to find so many crafty friends and grateful clients from all over the world. Every day I am discovering new and new dimensions of my craft. Right now as soon as I finish writing it, I am going back to creating my pieces – this interview definitely inspired me to create!

Dear Apollinariya, it was such a pleasure and honor to have you as a guest on my blog!

You can find more Apollinariya’s works on her website – www.pikapolina.com Follow Apollinariya on Facebook and Instagram to see her latest works! And don’t forget to visit her Etsy store. These beautiful pieces will make a perfect gift for you or your close people. Unique and definitely made with love!

Have a nice crafty weekend!

P.S. See you on Sunday. Get ready for a giveaway!!!


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By | 2017-03-05T09:24:21+00:00 April 17th, 2015|World Crafters|8 Comments

World Crafter. Tatyana. Tomsk, 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.

Our World Crafter Tatyana is taking us to Tomsk. Tomsk is one of the oldest Siberian towns that was founded in 1604. It’s often called Siberian Athens, it’s a fount of beautiful traditional architecture, museums and art galleries.

 I “met” Tatyana in the Internet long time ago. When I saw her works for the first time my heart skipped a beat… There is something magical about them, something that grips your heart and doesn’t let it go… She puts so much passion, knowledge, love, skills and joy into her designs! I am very happy to share with you Tatyana’s story as a crafter who was brave enough to chase her dreams and believe in herself, even when everybody around her did not…

How did your knitting journey begin?

I am a self-taught knitter, I learned how to knit when I was just a girl by soviet books and magazines. I remember I had children books series “Knitting for Dolls”, classic soviet women magazines “Rabotnitsa” (“The Woman Worker” in Russian), “Krestyanka” (“Peasant Woman” in Russian), “Science and Life” where you could find knitting patterns translated from German, Swedish and French knitting magazines. There were very interesting and avant-garde designs that would be relevant and popular even right now.

Every member of my family was a crafter in one way or another. Especially, my Grandma, my father’s Mom, who was a crafter with capital letter! Her little home was full of curtains,pillows, rags covered in embroidery; handmade satin-stitched table cloths and chair covers made from sackcloth; knitted rags… And our whole big family was wearing things knit by my Granny with wool from her very own goats! And her house had a cozy mixture of flavors – homemade pies, shanezhkas (one of the traditional  kinds of a Russian pie), vatrushka (pastry), zrazy (carrots stuffed with apples)…

Do you remember your first project?

My very first garment was a huge oversized sweater that I knit with fingering weight wool yarn of unidentified origin 🙂 I didn’t have enough patience to finish it and really wanted to show it off at the school’s prom as soon as possible. The result? Well, it turned out inappropriately short and my friends had to literally fight me off the admirers from high school 🙂

Does knitting occupy all your time or do you balance it with something else?

Knitting is my full time job that takes all my time without any breaks for vacations or weekends. Even if I go for a trip to tropical countries I always take several projects with me and knit on the plane, beach or in a park in the middle of tropical plants and birds!

How was your brand ”Ruchki & Kruchki” (“Hands & Hooks” in Russian) born?

I always looked at my finished knits as something absolutely ordinary and common and didn’t think that I was creating something special. At that time handmade things were looked upon condescendingly, most people preferred to put on something “cool” rather than a hand knit sweater. But at some point everything changed… I was going through a very hard time in my life and knitting became my only distraction that kept me sane. I was lucky that I had some experience with the Internet. It was still new and you couldn’t find that much information online, but I decided that it was time for me to start my Internet project.

Who supported you on your way to your dream?

I can honestly say – absolutely nobody believed in me. My family and friends were joking that my “masterpieces” will never be sold. My idea to create a knitwear line was ridiculed by all businessmen that I talked to. One businesswoman told me that my works are too authentic and her customers preferred something more “with a sparkle”, better if with a famous label on it.

So, I had to keep going on my own. I was learning everything from the scratch – bank transfers, mail orders, customer support, internet shop  development, building social network community, creating and marketing my knitwear brand. And I am determined to keep going. Recently I have discovered Instagram, number of my followers have already grown to more than 500! One of the current goals is to launch my own website.

I am always interested in how crafters look at their hobby after they turn it into something more than just a hobby. What about you?

I can’t say if something shifted in me when knitting became my profession. Knitting is my life! I can’t imagine myself without a crochet hook, needles, my lovely models, irreplaceable photographer Ksenia (@cheshireshark), our fun photo shoots, runway shows – this beautiful, creative and full of joy life that I am blessed to enjoy right now.

Hand-knit dress

Crochet dress “Circus Princess” and handknit sweater “Knight of Oak Leaves”

One of the most difficult questions – how to put a price tag on your creations. Could you share your experience, please?

I agree that it is one of the most difficult aspects! It was really hard for me to put a price tag on my designs. As I’ve mentioned when I was just starting to knit, I underestimated myself. There were many reasons for it. First of all, the “proper” Soviet Union upbringing which burned it into my mind – money is always something bad. I was completely oblivious of my work, and didn’t understand that It had to be appreciated not just by praise, but materially as well. And of course the attitude to handmade in general at that time was pretty disparaging… So for me it was easier to gift my knits than try selling it.

But when I started to sell at a very low price I understood that number of orders is growing too fast, and I didn’t get either moral or material reward. So I decided it was time to sit down and properly estimate all the work that is being put into my designs. And, yes, I got some negative comments about my prices, which was really frustrating and discouraging. But my clientele started to grow rapidly and I have the freedom right now to work on projects that are, first of all, interesting to me. Right now I put a price tag taking into account my knowledge, skills and time that are interwined in the final product. It’s also amazing to see how something shifted in the attitude of the online community to my designs. Right now instead of questioning my prices, most people support me. It so important and valuable for me as a crafter!

What was the most time-consuming project?

The most time-consuming project… “Flowers’ Child” jacket. It took me 8 months! But I am so happy with the result!

Hand-knit dress

Handmade jacket “Flowers’ Child”

Your designs are so rich in texture and techniques! What are your favorite?

I use all kinds of techniques. Cables, entrelac, Irish crochet lace, crochet motifs, different kinds of embroidery, felting, beadwork, hairpin crochet… If classic techniques are not enough, I invent something of my own. For example, silk ribbons – I can use it for knitting or joining crochet motifs or embroidery parts. Anything that will work for a design!

Hand-knit dress

Crochet dress “New Granny Square” I really love this interpretation of a classic granny square!

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

Most of my dresses are fruits of my own imagination. Sometimes I work “from the yarn” – the pattern flows on its own. Sometimes, I can be inspired by songs, films, books and yarn/beads/feathers find each other in a new stitch pattern. Often my dear clients have dreams that are later born as a new dress that I create and fall in love with!

What is your favorite project?

I don’t play favorites with my works – I love all of them! 🙂 Each of them has something special that is dear to my heart.

Can you reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets of your design, please? 🙂 What yarn do you use to create these spectacular pieces?

I’ve tried so many different kinds of yarn, different fibers and brands. I love Kauni yarn, it’s so “alive” and inspiring, cashmere by Loro Piano and Carriaggi. I am fascinated by Indian tussah and muga silk and their blends with cashmere, merino wool or cotton; camel and yak wool.  I absolutely adore hand dyed yarn by Violet Lynx Dyeworks on Etsy. She is my favorite dyer, we’ve created the most amazing and bold projects with her! Right now I am experimenting with mixing up different types of yarn in one project for even more interesting effects!

Hand-knit dress

Handknit dress “Indian Summer”

Are you a monogamous knitter?

It depends. Usually I have several things on my needles/crochet hook, working with different techniques. I love switching from one technique to another, it keeps it interesting. But sometimes when I have a deadline I concentrate on one project at a time.

Your taste for color is just incredible! You combine colors in such a harmonious way and the result is always mind-blowing! Do you have a special design education or it came with experience?

No, I don’t have a special design education. But I was always interested in art, loved reading, visiting museums and exhibitions in Russia and all over the world. Maybe that’s how I got my feeling of color. Right now I am all about deep “gem” colors and pastel “macaroon” palette.

Hand-knit dress

Handknit/crochet dress “Winter Rose”

Where is the best place for you to knit?

Any place where there is light, Internet and my dogs 🙂

Crafting is so international! Can you, please, tell us about your corner of the world where you create?

Tomsk is one of the oldest Siberian towns that was founded in 1604. There is a lot of museums, theaters, philharmonic society, 18th-20th century architecture. I love taking pictures of my knits against the background of antique wooden houses with real wooden lace ornaments.

Hand-knit dress

Handknit sweater “Scrap and Cloud”

Tomsk is often referred to as Siberian Athens – there are nine universities! I’ve graduated from one of them as a teacher of foreign languages (French and German). It’s a very creative town! There are several events dedicated to different crafts, for example Tomsk Handmade Fair. There are a lot of craft stores with a pretty good choice of materials where you can find local and from different parts of the world brands.

I really enjoy looking at photos of your knits! They are so inspirational!  Each photo shoot is so interesting and unique, each tells its own story. Do you come up with the ideas yourself or somebody helps you?

These last four years brought me so many wonderful friends who help me to come up with ideas, places, organisation of my photo shoots. I am deeply grateful to all and each of them for this!  Love them all!!

My site is called The Gift of Knitting, as this craft gave me so much in my life. What gifts did you get from knitting?

I do agree that knitting is a true gift! Knitting gave me a new life full of friends and creativity! I live, love and create because of knitting. I think it really shows in my works.

Dear Tatyana, I am so happy and grateful to be able to share your work in World Crafters series. Thank you so much for taking the time to open up about your passion for knitting and crochet!

My personal favorite is “The Queen of Oak Leaves” dress. I love everything about it – color, texture, stitch pattern and fit.

Hand-knit dress

Can you choose yours? 🙂

 Tatyana’s brand “Ruchki & Kruchki” can be found on livemaster.ru and etsy.com. Follow “Ruchki & Kruchki” on Instagram @ruchkikruchki to see her latest runway shows and new creations!


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By | 2017-01-08T08:57:35+00:00 April 3rd, 2015|World Crafters|9 Comments

World Crafter. Alisa. Moscow, Russia.

Our World Crafter, Alisa, is taking us to Moscow today!

Moscow, the capital and the biggest city of Russia. The city that never sleeps… It is a place of beautiful architecture, art galleries and museums, countless theaters and… yarn stores.

Alisa, a 20 year old student, lives, studies, knits and crochets in this big megalopolis, and she surely has found her place here! Her Instagram page @alisa_knitting has more than 20 000 followers and every single handmade item she puts online is sold in the matter of minutes. Alisa balances her student life and successful business masterly! I really appreciate her openness about ups and downs of handmade business in this interview!

How did you start knitting?

My Mom taught me how to knit and purl when I was 11 or 12 years old. And I, struggling with every single stitch, knit my very first blue scarf!

Is knitting your full-time job or you balance it with something else?

I am a student at the university, my major has absolutely nothing to do with knitting – I study foreign languages. But the university played an important part in my knitting journey – there I met my friend, who actually inspired me to knit. Once I saw a half-knit sweater that she had at home and… my heart skipped a beat! Something got me – I wanted to knit and knit and knit… I covered my friends with hats, mittens and scarves!

How did knitting become something more than just a hobby for you?

It were my friends who gave me an idea to share my knits online. I would never have thought that I will be able to knit for so many people! Honestly at first I was a little bit shy and scared to show my work. A couple of years ago handmade things weren’t that “hot” and appreciated  as they are right now. And yes, I had my fears that nobody will like it, nobody will support me… There were some people who were skeptical about my knitting aspirations… To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical myself. I couldn’t even imagine it to be what it is right now! I was just knitting  for the sake of knitting, because I loved it so much. Once I decided to make a leather label with my name to put on my knits. Well, this was a beginning of my brand “Alisa”

handknit hat

Instagram @alisa_knitting

I wonder if something shifted in your attitude to knitting when the transition hobby-profession happened?

As for me I love the feeling of creating beautiful and modern knits for women! One of the most favorite parts of my work is to receive warm comments, pictures and lots of “thank you”. Making others just a little bit happier makes me happy! I still see knitting as my hobby and I really hope it will be with me for a long time! It’s absolutely amazing to have the opportunity to support yourself by doing something that you love so much.

What is the best and most difficult part of your knitting journey?

The best is to create something new. Especially when you vision and everything you planned come to life! The most difficult part… Well, I want to be honest. Lately I encountered some professional knitters who started to treat me as an obstacle to their success, as an opponent. Which is really sad… But I am determined to keep going and look at the bright side of my knitting journey!

What was the most time-consuming project for you?

My knitted coat design took me a lot of time… So much had to be thought through – the fit, the seamless construction, the stitch pattern. Every single detail is important to me! But all this time and effort were so worth it – now it is one of my most popular designs!

Hand Knit Coat

One of Alisa’s clients in her hand knit coat. Instagram @alisa_knitting

What is your favorite technique to use in your knits?

Cables and cables and cables! The diversity of cables just blows my mind, LOVE them!

How do you plan your designs?

Usually I am nurturing my ideas for a long time. But as soon as the idea is shaped in my head, I just have to put it in action, right here and now!

What is your favorite piece in your knitwear collection?

I love my collection of hats, cowls and mittens! Sometimes I even meet women, who wear my knit accessories, on the streets of Moscow. I remember how I was stuck in a traffic jam, and there was a girl in the car next to me who was wearing my hat! The best feeling in the world! 🙂 And, of course, I love the coat. I keep three of them for myself at home 🙂

Hand Knit Cowls and Hat

Instagram @alisa_knitting

Is it hard for you to put a price on your final product?

I feel like the handwork is being much more appreciated right now. Not everybody understands that, unfortunately. Sometimes I even get the messages where people express their irritation by the price of the product. But mostly people are very understanding, they appreciate all the time and energy that is being put into the final product.

You live in one of the biggest and populous cities in the world. Are you inspired by Moscow? 

Honestly I am definitely NOT inspired my Moscow. It’s a big city where people get “lost”. But my very own hand knit  hat warms me and my heart in this huge megalopolis.

Moscow

Moscow

Are you guilty of yarn stashing? 🙂

I try to buy yarn only if I know that I am going to use it. I plan my projects beforehand. I don’t like to keep a big stash, though I must admit it’s not easy to resist all the yarn temptations out there 🙂

How many projects are usually on your needles?

I usually cast on several projects. This way I will never be bored!

handknit_headbands

Instagram @alisa_knitting

Your knits are always so colorful! Which color do you prefer for yourself?

It depends… Usually I prefer pastel shades, but sometimes I crave for color!

What is your favorite place to knit?

My sofa with a sleeping cat on it!

handknit coat

Instagram @alisa_knitting

You are 20 years old, but you have already achieved so much! How do you see yourself years later?

Who knows what lies ahead… All I know is that I really want to keep knitting! One of my dreams is to open a small knitwear store where people can come and touch and try on handmade things.

Knitting_cake_1

Alisa’s 20th birthday. How cute is that cake? Instagram @alisa_knitting

What “gifts” did you get along your knitting journey?

I’ve met so many amazing people who play a very important part in my life. I am deeply grateful to all and each of them for their support!

Dear Alisa, thank you so much for this interview! 

Find more works by Alisa on her Instagram page @alisa_knitting and website www.alisaknitting.ru

Have a nice crafty weekend!


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By | 2015-05-27T18:06:24+00:00 March 20th, 2015|World Crafters|9 Comments
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