We sat down with Paula Niskasaari this month!
She’s a new designer to Knotions (she designed this month’s free pattern – the Valencia socks), but she’s self-published several other designs. Here’s her Ravelry designer profile. Get to know her a bit more! I suspect she’ll be here again in the future!
Tell us a bit more about yourself. Where do you live? Who do you live with? How did you end up there? Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in a small village in Northern Finland, and now I live in town of Akaa, about 300 miles south from my hometown.
I have lived short periods of time in Germany, Ireland, Spain and the US. But currently I’m not planning to go anywhere, as I really like living here with my husband, two daughters (6 and 2 years) and a Norwegian forest cat.
I know you have a job and degree that’s quite different from knitwear design. Can you tell us about that?
I have a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating I’ve been working in IT for more than a decade. I have written quite a few end user instructions for IT systems, and writing a knitting pattern is not too different from that!
Why do you like to design?
Knowing my background in engineering, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise, if I say that design is sort of problem solving to me. I always think of the end user – the person who is going to wear the design and also the person who is going to knit it. Beauty of the design is of course important, but my aim is to design functional items that are suitable for the situation.
This probably sounds too geeky for most knitters 😀
Colors: I have always been drawn to dark, muted colors, but lately all the bright colors have been tempting me. And because of my 6-year-old daughter, I have been knitting a lot of pink recently, even though it’s always been my least favorite color!
Yarn weights: DK. The world is full of gorgeous, fingering weight yarns and beautiful patterns using fingering weight yarn, but I’m always looking for slightly thicker yarns. Fingering weight yarn is brilliant for shawls though!
Fibers: wool, always and forever! I like to try rarernatural fibers, but I always go back to sheep & wool.
Types of objects (e.g., shawls, hats, etc.): I am a sock person. I love them because there’s an endless amount of techniques to be learnt, they are small projects that are easy to carry with you and there’s always someone who needs more socks.
Is there a favorite type of knitting that you prefer to design for?
I’m totally in love with slipped stitches! I like lace and cables too, but stranded colorwork is something I can only take in small amounts.
I usually begin with yarn, color combination or stitch pattern I would love to use and start building around it. Sometimes I first have a killer name, and I simply must make a design that carries the name!
Whenever I design for kids, the idea is likely to be my daughter’s idea! She comes to me saying she wants to have “a pair of unicorn socks” or “a rainbow rug” – and I find the suitable yarn and technique for it.
Can you tell us about your process when you design? I’m curious about your inspiration and how you bring that to life.
If the design is socks or anything else that comes in pairs (which is quite often the case), I first sketch and swatch, then work one sock and make notes on the way, write the pattern and then knit another sock using my pattern.
Sometimes the idea needs to be worked on for quite some time before I’m happy with it – and sometimes it just comes to me, ready-made, and I just need to work my sample, which comes out just as I imagined.
I happened to see a call for submission for Mediterranean themed issue. It was one of those moments when the idea was immediately ready in my head and I only needed to sketch and swatch and submit the idea. I even knew the yarn I wanted to use, and I knew exactly where it was located in my stash. The theme reminded me on one joyous exchange student year I spent in Spain.
Later I learnt to know Knotions as a great place to look for tutorials, as there are so many already. And Knotions is so easy to work with that I’m sure I’ll submit more designs in the future.
What is your nemesis? The thing that makes you want to run and hide when you think about it.
The second sock or mitt or second anything! The first one is always so interesting to knit but the second is quite often just the same thing for another time. I have a good selection of socks that might get a pair one day – or not.
What does a typical Paula-day entail?
I’m writing this in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown, so my days are not very typical at the moment! Anyway, my days include a lot of building with Legos, drawing paper dolls and playing Paw Patrol (if I get to choose, I like to be Rocky, because he’s good at fixing things and likes to recycle).
I have a small studio close to my home, where I escape to work for a couple of hours. My knitting time is very limited, and I only get to knit after kids’ bedtime, and therefore I prefer accessories over garments.
At the moment I divide my time between design and being a mom, but that might change after the summer.
Other than knitting and designing, do you have any other creative endeavors?
I don’t consider myself very creative, but I do love to make things – a few years ago I learnt to make shoes and other leather goods. It might never be my full-time profession, but I fell in love with leather as a material. It’s so durable and versatile!
Do you have a stash? Or if you buy it you make it up pretty quickly?
I have, but I’m trying to learn to buy yarn only when I know what I’m going to use it for.