Knitters You Should Know: Ohdessa

Meet Ohdessa!  You know Odessa from her colorwork mitten pattern in Knitty Deep Fall 2010- her adept use of color in intricate two-color mittens is amazing, and it’s no surprise that mittens are her favorite item to knit!  Enjoy Odessa’s interview, and check out her blog  and ravelry for more!

How did you get into knitting? 

Around 10 years ago, when I was near the end of high school, a friend and I decided to start knitting for some reason. And it stuck. Up until a couple of years ago I was knitting off and on, but in these past few years it’s kind of taken over.

Do you have a ‘real world’ job other than design? If so, what do you do? 

I just became a co-owner of a charming and established yarn store, Wolseley Wool. But before that, no. I had two kids right after finishing university so I hadn’t gotten to the career part of my life yet. But I am really excited about this new venture. I got to go to a yarn rep meeting for the first time the other day which was crazy fun.

Where are you from? Do you have one or two interesting insider tips or observations about your home or hometown? 

I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Which is in Canada. It’s pretty much the geographical center of North America and it’s REALLY cold in the winter. Which makes knitting mittens and hats and scarves more of a survival instinct than a hobby.

What is your favorite knitting spot? 

I mostly knit in front of the tv. Knitting makes me feel productive while watching bad shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County or whatever. Once a week I meet up with my friends in the area at a nice coffee shop called the Daily Grind that has really comfy chairs and coffee drinks that come with chocolates.

Describe your average day. 

My average day is so boring to talk about. Wake up, feed kids, play, lunch, nap, play, dinner, knit & watch tv. It’s not the sort of day that is exciting to talk about unless you really like PB and crackers or watching Teen Mom.

Tell me about your favorite project. 

My favorite project is my Cuckoo Mittens, which were in Knitty, but not just because of that, because I wear them all the time in the winter. They are thick enough to keep my hands warm but thin enough that I can pull my keys out of my pocket and unlock the door without taking them off. Which is a very great quality in a mitten.

If you could have one splurge knitting purchase and project, what would it be? 

I really love skeins of handspun yarn, especially bulky handspun, so if I could splurge on any sort of knitting purchase and project it would be done on etsy, buying all sorts of bits and balls of handspun yarn to make a really pretty cozy blanket with.

Who is your favorite knitwear designer and why? 

I have a few. I really like Lee Meredith (Leethal)’s designs because they are fun and customizable and she is really innovative. Adrian Bizilia’s fun mittens are what really got me into colorwork in the first place and I love everything Kate Gagnon Osborn has designed.

Do you have any hobbies other than knitting? 

Not really, I do crochet a little, but other than that I find I just don’t have the time for much more. I really like spinning, but it seems I only get time to spin once a month or so.

What is in your knitting bag right now? 

A half finished shawl in Handmaiden Sea Silk for a swap, some balls of DK yarn from a failed shawl project, a mini pouch with some basic needles/hooks/notions an issue of Mollie Makes. I just got back from a little trip so it’s all cleaned out.

You have designed beautiful colorwork mittens that have been published in online magazines Knitty and Petite Purls. Do you have any advice for new knitters trying to refine their craft, or trying to design professionally? Any tips about self-publication? 

Keep lots of notes! I sometimes forget this which leads to taking things apart to figure out what the heck is going on. And have a point of view. Don’t be afraid to take something apart too, it’s better to start again than be unhappy with your design. When I was working on the chart for the design I eventually had published in Knitty I actually had something completely else in mind, but I just couldn’t get it to work the way I liked. So I undid my knitting and started again with a new idea and I was so much happier with the result. And eventually I got that other chart to work out and it became a pair of Swallow Mittens. The worst that can happen is you can get rejected and try again or self-publish on your blog or ravelry or where ever.

What is your favorite item to design?

Mittens! Haha. I’ve said this a lot, but I love sock yarn but not socks. And I really love to draw. So I put these together and knit lots of intricate little mittens. They are a small and portable project with enough challenge to keep you interested until the end. And I also have a great fondness for tiny addi needles so that helps too.

Your project photography is beautiful. What role does photography play in your knitwear documentation, and how do you get such fantastic shots? 

It’s funny, I actually took photo major in my last year of university, so I think my pictures kind of suck and are not up to my personal standards – there is a real lack of natural light in my house, and I don’t get much time to take pictures during the day because the kids are around. I am hoping to put together a better photo taking set up soon. But the secret, which I learned from a professor, is to not let your insecurity in your work show. So many times I delete the sentence “These aren’t the greatest pictures but…” Because you need to own your photos. Because if you say they suck, they will and people won’t like them as much.
Other than that, natural lighting, and a good camera goes a long way. It’s all about a larger lens (like a prosumer model such as the Nikon P series and the Canon G or SX-es or a DSLR) and not about megapixels. 6 megapixels will give you a good picture for a ravelry project page or a blog post, but a large lens will give your photo a great depth and richness that can’t be achieved otherwise. Also using a good monitor. I mostly edit pictures on a netbook, and when I look at them on my husband’s MacBook, they don’t look as good as I thought they did, so I’ve been trying to use it when I can.

Do you think the internet is changing knitwear design? If so, how? 

Oh for sure. It has become so much more accessible to anyone. Before I would make up cute things for friends and stuff and I do not even have pictures of those little mittens and hats and whatever. But thanks to the internet I have pictures and can share them and publish the patterns and that is pretty wonderful.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve gotten about knitting? 

I actually can’t think of one. But I have gotten a few “you are finally using your degree” comments which I don’t mind.

What role, if any, do you think knitting will have in your life in ten years?

That’s a tough one. Probably a big one, what with being a part of a great yarn store. I think I am only at the beginning of an exciting journey with yarn.

If you could teleport to any city for a day where would you go? Why? 

I’ve really been wanting to go to Miami lately. I love the art deco influences and the vivid colors. Not to mention the ocean. But I’d wait until February, because come February and extreme cold temperatures I really need a warm teleportation destination.

One Response to “Knitters You Should Know: Ohdessa”
  1. Cheryl says:

    Wow, gorgeous colourwork!

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