Untangling: Janina Kallio

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I first learned of designer Janina Kallio when I spied one of her ads at the bottom of the French Market Fibers Ravelry group almost a year ago. I contacted her right away about posting to the Marketplace, and then I took advantage of her Buy Two, Get One Free New Year’s sale (it was actually hard to narrow it down to three patterns). I was thrilled when, a few months later, Janina expressed interest in participating in the Indie Untangled yarn club, the first installment of which shipped out this week.

I figured it would be challenging to decide who to pair Janina up with for the club, since her simple, elegant patterns let any hand-dyed yarn shine. I asked the dyers and designers pick the top three people they wanted to work with, and Janina made it easy, expressing interest in partnering with Ami of Lakes Yarn and Fiber. And the rest, as they say, is yarn club history. Their Drops of Honey collaboration, which should be arriving in mailboxes starting today, is stunning, and I can’t wait to knit this shawl. Read on to find out where Janina’s inspiration comes from and what her all-time favorite TV show is — which seeing as she’s from Finland, this New Yorker was quite (happily) surprised by!

When and how did you learn to knit?

Knitting and crocheting is taught in schools here in Finland from a young age, and I’ve been knitting basic socks and scarves with bulky market yarn on and off ever since. But the tipping point for me was discovering Ravelry with its inspiring knitting community and luxury yarns. It literally changed my life. I’ve met amazing people both online and offline, discovered the limitless possibilities of knitting, and left my day job to pursue career as a full-time designer and entrepreneur. And most importantly, I’m definitely never going back to market yarns. 🙂

What made you decide to become a designer?

I published my first Ravelry pattern in October 2012 just for fun, and then a few others in Summer 2013. The response was so encouraging that I threw all caution to the wind and left my soul sucking day job in September 2013. That was a crazy move, but I haven’t regretted it for a second. I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe that this is really happening. The only thing I miss from my “pre-designer” life is work colleagues as being a solopreneur can be lonely, but fortunately the awesome community of fellow knitters on Ravelry and social media more than make up for it.

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Tell me about what inspires your minimalist designs.

I believe that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. And with luxury hand-dyed yarns you really don’t need any bells and whistles from the pattern. For me, knitting is meditative, relaxing experience, and the pattern should be simple enough to follow while watching TV or chatting with friends and family. I aim to design Netflix-friendly patterns that are simple yet interesting to knit with drop-dead gorgeous results.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

Every design starts with a sketch. My sketchbook is full of scribbles and funny looking sketches, and big part of the design process is deciding which ones to follow through with. Next step is calculations and drafting the instructions. But the knitting part is where final design decisions are made, or sometimes the entire design rejected. No matter how thoroughly I plan in advance, sometimes the yarns just have a mind of their own.

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Do you have any plans to design sweaters or other garments, or do you prefer to stick with accessories?

I get requests for garment patterns with my design aesthetics from time to time, and it’s certainly something I’m intrigued to dip my toe at some point.

I see you’re a big fan of Netflix and wine. What are your favorite shows and what’s your favorite red varietal?

With wines, I’m an annoying snob with a soft spot for French and Italian, but when it comes to Netflix, I’m not that picky. Hubby’s always mocking me — lovingly, of course — with all the ridiculous shows I watch while knitting. I guess the better ones would include Suits, White Collar, The Americans, Downton Abbey and House of Cards, but I’ve also been caught watching shows like The Glades and lately (don’t judge!) The O.C.

My favorite show of all time is Seinfeld and if it ever comes to Netflix I’m never leaving the couch.

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Where is your favorite place to knit?

At home on the couch watching Netflix and sipping red wine or sweet tea. 🙂

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