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A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Interview: Natalie Volyanyuk


The second interview today is with Canadian designer Natalie Volyanyuk.

Natalie Volyanyuk

Natalie modeling the Sunset Cowl

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
I started to knit at the very young age, may be at age 7 or 8. At that time I was not very strong health wise and in our cold winter I was constantly staying home with some kind of cold. And of course, I was extremely bored. So I asked my gramma to teach me how to knit and crochet. My gramma was very wise woman, excellent with the kids and what’s important she had endless patience (she also taught me embroidery and how to sew). So I started my learning process. At the very beginning crocheting looked easier to me – only one stitch you should take care of and only one hook. With needles you had to take care of many stitches and shaping was absolutely out of questions. At that time what I could knit was only scarfs for my teddy bears. But with crochet totally different story – I created more or less sophisticated dresses, cardigans, berets and skirts for my little dolls. Later in my teenage years I realized that I love more knitting than crocheting and I began new era full of endless hats and ugly sweaters. My knitting skills improved with more and more practice. After I graduated the university for some reason I stopped knitting and did not touch the needles for probably good 20 years. Only in here in Canada one day I was on the beach enjoying sun during lunch break with my friend – obsessed knitter and she was knitting as always. I was curious if I still can or cannot do it. I took knitting from her and started. The needles fill so natural in my hands and in that moment I realized how I missed this whole knitting process. Since then my new knitting journey began and I never looked back.

How did you get started designing?
When I had just registered on Ravelry I noticed many regular girls like me knit not only the patterns from magazines or some big names designers, but create the knitting patterns themselves out of their own knitting projects and post it there, online. So, when I knitted one of my hats over and over again with same mistakes I decided it would be useful write down the instructions, make the pattern out of it and show to the others. May be someone found it interesting. I learned and improve from the time I came back to knitting so much that I want to share my experience with others through my designs and techniques I used to create them.

This how it works. At the beginning when I start new project I always put some notes just in case. Then if I notice that something looks not correct I start to redo and my notes at that time could be very helpful. At start I put my notes on every single piece of paper – anything from opened bills, envelopes or just random paper that caught my attention. Of course, sometimes I was losing my valuable notes. Then my husband gave me the notebook and said to put all my notes there where they can be always found. I agreed (happens very rarely with my husband’s ideas), it was an excellent idea. He called it scary notebook, because it full of scary sporadic gibberish notes that only I can understand. But it worked – all my patterns in one place, the book is always with me. I do not have to look around to find it.

What inspires your designs?
The inspiration could be anything – something I saw on the streets people wearing or in the movie. The picture of stitch pattern can push me into thinking where I can incorporate it – sweater, shawl or perhaps new hat? Even some pretty color sometimes put ideas in my head about new design.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I am yarnoholic – so the yarn comes first most of the time.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I always try to design something practical, not just knit something random and put it on the shelf of the closet. Something wearable but modern. I love cables, and lace and lacy cables.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
My favorite item to design is SWEATERS. My head always full of ideas of how my new sweater should look like, but unfortunately it’s not always coming to be a real thing. We have only 24 hours in a day and two hands.

Tell me about “Be Cool“, what was the inspiration for this sweater?
There is a movie with same name ‘Be Cool’ with Uma Thurman and John Travolta. Uma’s character was the owner of music records studio and in one episode she was wearing long vest with the hood and open back. I fell in love from the first sign with this vest, but I thought the open back is not very practical (I did racer back instead). At that time, I started exploring new top down techniques and was eager to try new contiguous shoulder top down method without sleeves. This vest was a good candidate to try this. Then I saw in one of knitters stash the perfect green Wollmeise yarn (everybody was crazy about this yarn) just created for my vest. So, I bought this yarn (and two other colors of course, how couldn’t I). When I finished knitting I decided to make two pockets in different color to add some funky look. I love those pockets!!

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I am thinking about knitting Norwegian all over Colorwork sweater with some sophisticated pattern or for the start knit one of Estonian Colorwork mittens. Their Colorwork absolutely fascinates me and I am thinking all the time about start working on it.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I have bunch of patterns I am currently working on, but in nearest future (November/December) – two hats, the shawl and the cowl.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
My desert island yarn is Colour Adventures Merino Light by Elena Nodel (Anadiomena on Ravelry). This yarn is from our local BC dyer. She is very talented and very creative. Her colors are so inventive, I always in front of the dilemma what color I should order.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I think it’s ‘Down the Sloquet River’. When I created this design I thought – it’s fast and easy knit and as a result you got nice warm cardigan. Testing was not a problem, many people were willing to help me. I used very popular at that time super bulky Malabrigo yarn. Personally, I wear it all the time. It’s soft, pretty and what’s important – my it’s in my all-time favorite blue color. So, I believe it really underappreciated.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Do not be conservative. Always try new things. Never look back and only go forward. Use the best fresh techniques and not afraid to knit anything.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I did not plan for the whole year but for the spring I have to finish at least one sweater out of my favorite Colour Adventures Merino Light, two shawls and couple hats. Or, I totally forgot I want to make a two color sweater from sock yarn my friend sent me from Germany. She always picks two matching colors – one is variegated, one is solid and German sock yarn is the best sock yarn.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Norah Gaughan – I really amazed by her creativity and talent. She continuously surprises me with her endless new ideas. She is always moving forward and never stay back. All her designs are very wearable and at the same time have modern and sophisticated look.

View all of Natalie’s patterns here. All photos copyright Natalie Volyanyuk. All images used by permission.

You can find Natalie on the following social media sites:

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

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