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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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!
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!
Dear Anna, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story and breathtaking creations with us!
Have a great creative weekend!