In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.
You all remember the “mantastic” cowl from way back last week, I know, knitted by the charming miss Lauren of Süsk and Banoo. From the minute I saw her blog, I knew I wanted to see and hear more about her life as a knitter (in Helsinki), so of course I invited her to participate in Our Tools, Ourselves. Her answers and photos are just as colorful and charming as I could have expected. Kiitos paljon, Lauren!
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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?
I am just a knitter. I took a sewing class in high school and promptly forgot everything except how to sew on buttons, and after trying to learn to crochet and making a right mess of things, I stuck to the safety zone of knitting. My Mum taught me how to cast on and do the basic knit and purl stitches about seven years ago, and the rest I picked up from books and lurking online and following patterns. I’m still a little uncertain about officially calling myself a knitter, since I still panic when a stitch drops or something is twisted or not right, and have to grab a book to try to figure out what I’ve done wrong!
Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.
I have to sit up straight. I can’t “lean-knit” or anything — especially on circular knitting needles, as my stupidly-long arms get uncomfortable and I get huffy and throw the knitting down. Seating position is paramount! I also much prefer knitting on straight needles than circular, but I just like the way they look, I think! This could be an odd graphic designerism — we do love a straight line!
How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?
I have this bright mustard ceramic jug that my Mum always used when we were little to serve the custard she had made for on our mashed bananas. (Real England poor-folk pudding!) We were joking some years ago about how she was going to leave it to me in her will (we’re an odd bunch) but instead she surprised me a few years ago by giving it to me sooner. It now is my dedicated needle jug, and it always makes me happy to see it. Other bits and bobs get shoved in a little weird cloth suitcase I found in Paris in a children’s shop, and I keep my wool in two wire baskets I found in a shop here in Helsinki.
How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?
Since discovering Fringe Supply Co., I use the cute Bento Bags for smaller projects, and the handy Project Bag for bigger knits when I’m out and about. If I’m at home, projects are usually strewn about on various surfaces or tucked into a basket.
Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?
The first needles I ever knit on are a horribly ugly pair of grey Aero 6mm needles. They’re the pair on which my Mum taught me — one is shorter than the other and discoloured and warped, but they’re my old buddies. I also have a tiny pair of childrens needles with little happy faces on the end that I rather like. In fact, I used them so much while sitting through boring University lectures that when we had to design a personal identity for a school project for our fellow classmates, the guy who designed mine used the shape and face of the needles as the basis to my business card shape, and whole identity’s look. I suppose they were always with me — so it worked!
Do you lend your tools?
Nobody around me knits really, so they’re all mine! I do try to get my husband to knit a few stitches sometimes though — he is a mathematician, and I keep telling him knitting is like meditating (and also is very mathematical) and he might get some new abstract results if he gave it a try!
What is your favorite place to knit/crochet/whatever?
Often when I sit in cafés around Helsinki. I like to people watch while I knit, and also like to hear the buzz of the people around me while I sip a coffee and stitch away. Or on the couch at home — it’s the perfect arm-bend/sit-up-straight level for my height, super important when you’re 6’2″!
What effect do the seasons have on you?
Since living in Helsinki and having to deal with the kaamos, or dark season, I knit a lot more in winter. The sun comes up only for a few hours, and then not even very high in the sky. There is nothing nicer than a pot of tea, some wooly knits, and the snow falling outside. I still knit during summer months, just not as intensely as in winter. This year though, everyone I know seems to be having a baby, so the mini-knits have been non-stop!
Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?
Apart from fondling all the wool and making pervy ooooh noises that I’m certain creep out the saleswomen in my local wool shop? Not really. I do have a soft spot for baby alpaca though — I want to knit a giant onesie out of it and just wear it all day, every day!
What are you working on right now?
Since finishing my Dad’s Christmas gift cowl, my husband has insisted I make one exactly the same for him, so that’s my pre-Christmas mission. I can’t wait to be done with the k2,p2!
PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Carrie Bostick Hoge
Photos © Lauren/Süsk & Banoo