Saturday, March 14, 2015

Let me introduce... Suvi Simola

Hi everyone! Justyna Lorkowska made a wish to read an iterview with... Suvi Simola (Ravelryblog) and here you are! Knitting designer based in Finland, who published her patterns in Vogue Knitting, Twist Collective and many others magazines and pattern books. Suvi designs modern style knitwear for both men and women and for kids as well, her patterns represents the best of nowadays scandi style: clear lines, light neutral colours and geometric motifs. Last but not at least she is blessed with a talent to take a breath-taking photographs

Today´s interview is like her photography: about ordinary everyday things, which are actually an endless source of beauty and inspiration... Enjoy reading! 

Suvi Simola.

1) Why do you knit? What makes knitting so special for you?

I’ve been knitting more or less since I was 6 years old so it’s something that’s just natural to me. I’ve never thought why I knit, it has just been something I do. When I was little I knitted with my mom when we spent summer holidays on countryside, each of us working on our own projects. I loved to sketch out my own designs and my designs on late 80s were wild, haha. 

When my kids were born, I knitted for them. There have been periods without knitting but I have always returned to it after a while. I guess this also answers the question what makes it special for me. It’s always been a part of my life. That’s pretty special I think. 

2) You are a proffesional knitwear designer. It´s rather unusual and very interesting occupation…! Please, tell us the story behind: when did you decided to make living by designing knitwear, have you studied designing or are you a self-made woman, what is your former occupation (if any), etc.

I’m a self-made woman. At first I knitted for myself and my family and sometimes made up my own designs instead of using a pattern. I often got requests to write up a pattern for something I had just knitted (there were a lot less knitting patterns available in 2007) so I started taking notes while I knitted. It was easy as long as I had to write up instructions for only one size but when I started to write patterns for multiple sizes, I really needed to learn a lot.

I read several books about designing and sizing and did a massive research about everything that I needed to know about pattern writing. I learned a lot at that time but there’s always something new to learn, new techniques, etc. which makes this job so great. Being self employed also provides flexibitily that suits our family. Previously I had an office job and I have a degree in business management. 

River Mist cowl.
3)  Knitwear designer… it sounds like a dreamy job to many of us. :-) How does your ordinary working day looks like?

I get up at 6.30, drink my coffee (important!) and take my youngest to school. After that I usually check the emails and Ravelry messages as well as my group, reply to emails and make a to do list for the day if I haven’t made one on the previous day. Then I do some tidying up around the house and after that it’s my work time. I try to do everything that requires concentration while the house is empty. The rest of the day I pretty much spend on knitting. Besides that I don’t have any dedicated hours for certain tasks because some days are more about paperwork and others about knitting so I just do what needs to be done. 

4) Could you describe the whole process of making a knitting pattern, please? 

Of course there has to be an idea. Sometimes the idea comes first but sometimes I have the yarn, swatch with it and see what it wants to be. It’s a very fun process. When I know what I’m going to knit, I always do the math first for the whole garment. Then I write the pattern and knit from said pattern. This way I can instantly  see what needs to be improved and write down all the helpful tips that need to be added to the pattern. It’s like running the first test for the pattern. Sometimes there will be some unraveling, sometimes not but usually I’m able to knit a sweater in 2-3 weeks depending on how time consuming it is. 

The numbers will be checked at least a couple of times and the wording will be edited before sending the pattern to test knitters. During the test knitting I take notes about the suggestions and make changes to the pattern if needed. It takes about a couple of months to release a pattern. I do the photographing myself since it’s a very dear hobby of mine and I also do the layout of the pattern. 

Baby Cables and Big Ones Too.
5) Your designs were published in famous knittinig magazines such as Vogue Knitting and many pattern books. How did you manage to do that?

I remember the feeling when Vogue Knitting first approached to me and asked me to design something for them. I was so blown away and honored. It was soon after Baby Cables and Big Ones Too was released and I was just getting into the business. I very rarely send submissions myself, most of the times I have been lucky to be asked to participate.

6) What is your favorite and unpopular yarn/fiber?

I have many favorite yarns that have impressed me. To name a few, Drops Lima and Nepal are absolutely wonderful, I just wish they would come in 100 g skeins. Then Mellifera Merino DK is another really good yarn and at the moment I’m swatching with Isager Merilin and I think there’s another new favorite of mine. I love yarns that are sturdy enough to show off the stitch patterns but then create a surprisingly soft fabric. It’s like magic. The unpopular one - I have had a really bad experience with a blend that contained cotton and silk.

7) You come from Finland, a country with long and strong knitting tradition. How this tradition continues nowadays, is it popular hobby among young people? (In previous interviews I told that knitting in Czech has rather low social status and is weighted by prejudices – I would like to compare the situation in different countries.) Does your family have any knitting history?

I was actually born in Estonia and because I had many crafty people in my life when I grew up, it’s the Estonian knitting and crafting that has affected my knitting style the most. I have lived in Finland for almost 20 years now and though I know that knitting may have this ”granny factor” to it for some people, I’ve never quite noticed it in real life. Maybe I’m just unable to see it :) I know many teenagers who knit but I wouldn’t say it’s popular among young people. 

8) How has Ravelry changed your knitting? Do you know other knitwear designers or Ravelers in person?

Ravelry has made possible to make designing a career. I don’t think I would be here where I’m now without Ravelry. It’s the coolest site ever with the best people who run it. Seriously.
I know many knitting designers in person but because of long distances, I have actually met only few.

Photo by Suvi Simola.
9) What about your second hobby: photography? What does it mean to you? Can we see your photos anywhere?

Photography means everything to me, I need it. It’s hard to describe but I love the ability to ”see” the beauty of the most mundane things through the lens. Some things look very different when photographed, for example you can play with light endlessly, using the reflection from different surfaces, background it creates etc.
You can see my photos in Flickr.

10) Who would you like to read the next interview with?

I would like to read the interview with Melanie Berg.

Photo by Suvi Simola.

Thank you for your time, Suvi!

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