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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great inspiring and creative weekend!