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I am one blessed chick! We have a great Knitterly family. I have been fortunate enough to meet some creative and inspiring people. And I have had the pleasure of befriending Mary, her Hubby Chris, and their lovely family at Twirl, in Napa.
Mary excitedly agreed to do an interview with me… Enjoy it and check out, knit, touch, and smell TWIRL. They are local, leave a smallish foot print and love what they do!

Ash: You live on a 2,000 acre ranch surrounded by beauty. Is this where you always saw yourself? On a ranch with hundreds of animals by your side?

Mary: No, I would have never dreamed this in a million years. It is so much better than I could have ever imagined.

A: You attended college before becoming a ranch woman what was your major and where did you go?

M: UC Davis, with a degree in Design (emphasis in textile design) and minor in art.
UC Berkeley for Masters degree in Visual Design. The time I was there Berkeley was the center of the universe for fiber. It was wonderful to be there.

A: Twirl is such an amazing place to visit and you live there… What’s the best part about your day?

M: Each day is different. No two are ever the same, so it has never gotten boring for me to be here for 34 years.
I love surprises, and every day is one – the animals make sure of it.

A: Favorite fiber to dye?
I know it is hard to imagine, but I love dyeing my yarn. I guess I made it so.

M: Favorite fiber to knit?
wool

A: Tell me a little about your dye?

M: I love most natural dyeing, because it is always a little bit of surprise. Each time of year, each plant, the soil, the weather, the fiber blend, the mordant all decide the color. It usually is a more subtle color, and I really like the quiet energy of those colors. They are deep, and rich. They are truly an exercise for keeping an open mind, because if I really have an intent on a particular shade and color, it is JUST right next to it, but never exactly the same.
That being said, I do love color – bright ,vibrant, saturated color that the acid dyes offer. I dye that way with an intent.

A: People love local and knowing what they spend their money stays in the good ole USA, how do you stay local and keep such fabulous price points? And where is your mill?

M: I do it for love, not money. I want my yarn to be used and enjoyed by everyone.
I do a lot of the labor myself, so it keeps the cost down.
The wool mill I use, and love is Yolo Wool Mill, run by Jane Deamer. I love the people who work there – they are brilliant.

A: One word to describe you?

M: I hope *quirky*

A: Who are the guardians and what do they do?

M: I could not live without my guardians….
First, the dogs….. some stay with the sheep and goats, others patrol the boundary. It is the chorus…. 12 in all.
Then, the llamas (Masami, Dolly, Wally, Grommit, and Toni) guard one group, on the terraces.
And, the Alpacas – some stay with the sheep day and night, and others are out, 46 in all. Their shear mass approaching a strange visitor usually makes it leave.
And finally, my two donkey girls, Rose and Estelle (Pistelle). They came to me already trained as sheep guardians.

A: What is your biggest threat on your ranch?

M: the Coyotes, and the Mountain Lions. Coyotes are out of balance right now and causing me grief.

A: How self sustainable are you up on the hill? You are a ways out… How much do you rely on your home for food?

M: I have milking goats, and a few dairy cows. When I am milking, we get fresh raw milk, yogurt and sometimes, but not so much now, I make cheese.
Then we eat our own meat, because I know exactly where it has been, what it has eaten, and know it has had a good life here.
And, we have a big garden, with zucchinis right now we have to really keep track of!
When the kale gets too big, I use it for dye!

A: One word you strive for?

M: Magic

A: Advice to a person who dreams to love animals and make beautiful fiber out of their fluff?

M: Do it now, don’t wait.

A: If you had one super power what would it be?

M: Make time stand still, so I could get caught up on things

A: What’s in your record player/ I pod/ CD player right now?

M: A tie between M. Ward, Josh Ritter and Xavier Rudd.

A: The seasons must affect your dye process, what is your favorite season to dye?

M: Spring and Summer are the best for me

A: Do you have anything exciting coning soon we should look for?

M: Bunny and Muffy!

A: What part do you play in the local Fiber shed?

M: Mostly as a producer. But, I am also on the board. Also I like to support and participate in the sheep in schools program.
It is important for kids to know where meat and fiber really come from.

A: Why Twirl? How did you come up with that?

M: When you spin fiber into yarn – Twirl
It is the spinning wheel.
But, also, I imagine the sheep out in the pasture at night twirling under the stars.
One of them, for sure has the music, and another a tutu.

A: What’s your Moto?

M: Invite in magic.

I love this! Hope you do too!
xx
Ash

This was a very exciting thing for me. I have always been interested in fashion and fashion design. Lately I have been crushing on the Isager yarns and Amimono style of Helga Isager. I was over the moon excited when she agreed to do an interview for me!
Helga’s designs are amazing and inspiring. So excited to share the interview.
Enjoy!!
xx
Ash
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Ash: You have been designing Amimono since 2005, when did you decide/ start to design?

Helga Isager: When I look back I have always been a knitwear designer, but it took me some years and quite a few detours to realize it. Finally in 2003 I tried to get accepted at the Danish Design School, but had no luck, so I decided to start my own company. In retrospect that was a very haphazard move. I learned things the hard way, but I wouldn’t have been without these experiences.

A:Did you always want to design knitwear?

HI: No, definitely not. When I was younger I couldn’t think of anything I least wanted to do.

A: Your Mother is also a knitwear/ yarn designer was there a lot of pressure to have a completely different look? Or was it natural?

HI: I think the difference is very natural and unavoidable. We’re from different generations and have different perspectives on fashion. But it’s interesting how much the outcome differs even though we use many of the same techniques and the same yarns.

A: Who inspires you? Music? Artist? Designers? Authors?

HI: I’m inspired by lots of things. Cool people on the street, films, fashion designers and artists. At the moment I’m working on a collection (The Map Collection) inspired by landscape photos taken from above. In knit design you usually repeat the same pattern. I have wanted to work with patterns and materials on a more abstract level for a long time. I would like to think of the sweater as a canvas on which I can ‘draw’ with stitches in a more free hand.
In aerial photos you often observe different structures, unpredictable patterns and colors clash, and I find this order in chaos very inspiring.

A: What most influenced the bird/ little bird and home collections?

HI: In the Bird Collection I worked with different shapes of sleeves, and some of them reminded me of wings – that’s why I gave all styles bird names.
The colors and forms of the Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky’s paintings inspired The Home Collection. I’m fascinated by his way of using colors. He always uses one or two colors, which don’t match the rest. I love this unpredictability.

A: In the craft world we seem to collect hobbies, cooking, baking, sewing, crochet, what are your favorites?

HI: I make a strong point of cooking healthy food everyday, but beside that my work doesn’t leave me much spare time for hobbies.
I love to knit even though it’s my job, so naturally I always have a knitting project close at hand.

A: What is the most beautiful place your designs have brought you?

HI: I have been teaching knitting several times in Iceland. I can’t think of a more beautiful place. The landscape is magnificent and untouched by human hands and the natural colors are just beautiful.

A:What’s your best advice for nurturing your creativity and family?

HI: Take a vacation on your own or with your best friend, once in a while. It makes you a better mother/wife when you come back.

A: What’s on your iPod now?

HI: The Norwegian artist Ane Brun is one my favorites at the moment. Love her music!

A: What, in your career, are you most proud of?

HI: Luckily I’m always most proud of my latest collection.

A: If you could have one super power what would it be?

HI: I never thought about that. But being able to do several things at the same time would be fantastic. So maybe a cloning ability would come in handy. So many things to do and so little time to do it.

A: If you could live anywhere in the world… Where and what time of year?

HI: I actually feel quite privileged to live in Denmark – In Copenhagen and in Northern Jutland, where we just bought a little farm. I have plans of spending more time there. My husband is a documentary filmmaker, so he travels all over the world. Because of my work I’m free to go with him sometimes. He’s planning to make another film in Japan and we’re thinking about living there for a period of time. I love Tokyo!

A: What are your favorite fibers to work with? What’s your favorite Isager yarn?

HI: I only work with natural fibers and like to work with all Isager yarns, but my favorites at the moment are Spinni and Alpaca – especially knitted together. It makes a very light and still durable material.

A: How old were you when you began knitting?

HI: My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 7 years old, but at that time I didn’t really have the patience for it. My obsession with knitting started in high school. I lived far out in the countryside – far away from fancy shops – and I realized that I could make some pretty cool designs with a little help from my mother. It was in the nineties, where no one else – except really old ladies – knitted, and my classmates thought it was weird that I spent my time on such an old fashioned hobby.

A. Do you have anything exciting coming up? Little Nordic Collection?

HI: I just released The Little Nordic Collection in Denmark. It’s a booklet with 10 designs for children, all inspired by the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren’s fantastic universe.

A.What is your motto?

HI:The process is just as important as the outcome.

*Thank you so much to Helga for being so awesome and answering my questions*

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