I’m sure many of you know Tolt Yarn and Wool owner Anna Dianich is one of my dearest friends — we started our businesses around the same time and have sort of “grown up” together. But what I only just realized myself last week is that I’ve never seen where she knits at home or what her stuff looks like! Any time I’ve ever spent in Carnation WA has been at Tolt, and I was suddenly intently curious to see her knitting life beyond the store. So of course I asked if I could subject her to the Our Tools, Ourselves treatment. Thanks so much for doing this, Anna! For anyone left wanting more, make sure to follow @toltyarnandwool on Instagram.
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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?
I knit. I can spin, and when I do sit down at the wheel (which is not often!) I remember how much I enjoy it. I’m not a technical spinner — I just do it for fun and the feel of the wool, the meditative motion of the pedals and wheel, and the draw, not to get the perfect twist per inch or the exact weight of yarn for a project. I think that’s how I do most of my crafts, really. I’m not super technical with knitting either. I do it because I love working with my hands and creating something useful. I don’t like fussy patterns or complicated construction. My husband, oldest daughter and I just started taking pottery classes and it’s a familiar feeling. I love the rhythm of the wheel, the feeling of the clay and making something useful. And, like knitting and spinning, it takes a bit to get that muscle memory, and I hope that it will click soon because I love it!
Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.
When I first started knitting I only used bamboo needles — circular and double points. They were less expensive and easy to find, and less slippery for a newbie. I now use mostly my Addi Click interchangeable sets, and magic loop instead of double points. I love Addi’s — they are smooth, and the yarn seems to move swiftly on and off the needles. My only complaint is that, although I love how the needles click on and off the cords, sometimes that connection can get fussy on small needle tips, making the stitches hard to slide across that connection. I just got a Lykke set for this reason (and they’re beautiful to look at!) and I am really enjoying them.
How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?
Organization is not my thing. I would like to blame it on my busy life as a working mom with four kids and such, but I think it’s just me. I’m just not organized. I don’t have a craft room or home office, so most of my supplies are stored in and on a cabinet that’s in our living room. There is a large room above our barn that could be used as a studio, but it’s so far from the activity at home that I don’t use it.
My interchangeables are relatively easy to store; if they’re not on a project then they are kept in the case. I keep the cases nearby, or in my project bag just in case I need to switch needle sizes. I do carry a small leather pouch (that I got from Fringe years ago) that I keep my notions in. I am constantly having to find my measuring tapes — I swear I own at least twenty, but can never find them! I guess that’s why the leather ruler bracelets are so handy!
How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?
Again, I’m not that organized. Such a bummer! I try not to have too many projects going on at once (maybe two or three at the most) and they store nicely in a project bag that can be found on my couch, chair, bed, in my car or in my backpack. If I’m going on a road trip I can usually fit two to three project bags, plus my needles, in my Porter Bin. That keeps everything together and gives off the impression that I am organized, haha!
Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?
Hmm, not really. I think we, our bodies and ourselves, are our most prized tool that needs to be cared for and looked after. I think this became real for me after breaking my leg. Eating well, staying active and also knowing when to rest so that we can stay healthy to do all the activities that we love.
Do you lend your tools?
I never really have, but I would.
What is your favorite place to knit/sew/spin/dye/whatever?
Most of my knitting happens after the kids go to bed. I plop myself down on the couch or in bed, and knit while my husband and I watch TV or talk. I also get a lot of knitting done in the car while waiting for kids to get done with school or dance practice or driver’s ed. However, my favorite place to knit would be by a campfire, or by a lake or river in the summer, and cozied up next to a fireplace in the winter.
What effect do the seasons have on you?
I pretty much knit year round. I also knit mostly wool, even in the summer. I’m not usually into “summer yarn” — although I did just finish a Vasa top using YOTH’s new Best Friend yarn, which is 75% cotton and 25% wool, and I really enjoyed working with it, and like the fabric.
Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?
I’m kind of obsessed with books, all types of books. Knitting, cooking, decorating, travel, pottery, wood carving … I have shelves and shelves full of books.
Another little secret is that I still get very nervous when working the floor at Tolt. I spend most of the time in my office upstairs, but every once in awhile I work the floor, and I’m so scared someone is going to ask me something I don’t know the answer to, or I’m going to mess up on the cash register.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on the Morrison socks by Jenny Blumenstein. Jenny designed these socks for our LYS Tour and they are super fun to knit. I also have a ton of things I’m excited about casting on so I’m trying to make a list, but, you know, I’m not that organized.
I am also trying to find more time to do pottery. I would really like to have a little studio some day with my own wheel. Like any craft or activity, you get better the more time you spend doing it. I’m working on the basics still: centering, opening and raising.
PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Brandi Harper
Photos © Anna Dianich