Today marks the start of a month of mini-collections, released as part of our Yarn Support Programme.
The first collection, released today, is by one of our favourite crochet designers, Nicole Knutsen who you might recognise as Naturally Nora Crochet. She has released over 150 designs since she started in 2012, many of which are designed for children. Her womenswear is glorious too – so many simple, wearable and stylish pieces that would be perfect in the heatwave we are currently experiencing here in the UK.
In today’s interview, we chat with Nicole about her life, design work and the inspiration behind her Pathways Collection.
An Interview with Nicole Knutsen of Naturally Nora Crochet
Nicole, we are delighted to have you in our Yarn Support Programme! For those who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Nicole and I have been crocheting and knitting for half my life and designing crochet for around six years.
I live with my husband and three children in Orange County, California, where I was born and raised. We are currently renovating a little two bedroom, mid-century home with an overgrown backyard in the beach town where my husband grew up.
The first few hours of my days are spent as a reading teacher, providing specialized intervention in literacy to primary students; work which I find very satisfying. In the afternoons, I come home to my yarn and design, about which I am equally as passionate.
I also find the written word to be a most effective and rewarding form of expression, as well as a fulfilling catalyst for connection with others. My days are full and sometimes busy, but my moments are lived with intention and quality in mind.
My life’s work is to slowly build something worthwhile and lasting, whether that be in my home, family, writing, teaching, or crochet design.
How would you describe your design philosophy?
Writers are often given the advice to write what they know; I take that to heart in my design philosophy as well.
Designing from what I know means creating pieces that will work up with a balance of interest and ease, writing patterns that are clear and concise, and designing with classic appeal and, above all, pragmatism. My designs reflect my own tastes: there is an obvious influence of nature, shown in my penchant for a subtle colour palette, organic shapes, and natural fibres.
I like to describe my style as “California hygge.” The feelings of welcome, joy, and comfort connected with hygge speak to my heart, but deep down I am a Southern California native and always will be-designing for snowy seasons and frosty mornings isn’t natural to me.
I design from my own perspective. I hope my pieces can display that blend of sunshine and softness, whimsy and warmth, bohemian spirit and imperfect beauty that tells the story of what California hygge means to me.
It’s such a gorgeous, wearable collection. What inspired these pieces?
This collection is inspired by the simplicity of line work and classic shapes in pieces that can easily be tossed into your carry on for summer travels, no matter the weather.
I imagine wearing the Well Traveled Top with a loose, linen skirt on an early morning walk through the bustling streets of a busy foreign town, tossing on the Compass Rose Beret as you skip out the door of your rented cottage for an afternoon picnic, or wrapping up in the light and cozy Vagabond Scarf for an evening harbor cruise.
To me, this is vacation style done in an approachable, cosy, and down to earth way.
What is your favourite part of the collection and why?
I love all the pieces and find them very wearable, which is my foremost goal in designing, but I unexpectedly fell in love with the Compass Rose Beret.
The post crochet work is challenging enough to keep the work interesting but still simple and tasteful. I love that it works up in just one skein, but produces a little hat to be proud of and to wear anywhere. It has a fun balance of unique charm and a classic shape. It has that French girl vibe without being too derivative or on the nose.
This collection was designed as part of our Yarn Support Programme. Could you tell us about the yarn you chose?
For each piece in the collection, I used Luma, a DK weight yarn in a delicious blend of merino wool, cotton, linen, and silk.
Part of why I love and am devoted to The Fibre Co. yarns is their dedication to natural fibres. This yarn has the loft of merino wool, the durability of cotton the lightness of linen, and the softness and sheen of silk.
I am a huge fan of cotton or cotton blend yarns, as much of what I design is ideal for warmer weather climates and cotton just makes sense, but it can be tricky to find a cotton yarn that is worth using for a garment. This blend is the perfect warmer weather fibre, but because of its merino content, the pieces designed for this yarn will last well into the fall season as well.
The colourways offered range from deep jewel tones to light and bright spring colours, but the range of soft neutrals obviously have my heart. Luma is definitely a yarn I will reach for again.
We can imagine that many in our crochet community will want to make all of the pieces in this collection! What advice would you give to them?
I have some general advice I always give, which is firstly to always test your gauge and secondly to just try it!
The three pieces in this collection were designed intentionally so that regardless of how much time you have or your yarn budget, you can jump in and try one of them.
Because all of the pieces have line work elements that require post crochet, I would add a third piece of advice: be sure to have a good grasp of stitch anatomy before beginning. Knowing where to work the back post or front post stitches will make these projects fun and easy.
For a more experienced crocheter, the Compass Rose Beret offers some really fun, possibly challenging post work. For someone who prefers a really easy project, the Well Traveled Top is surprisingly quick to work and looks impressive, although it is quite simple.
Thank you, Nicole, for chatting with us. We are in love with your latest collection and can’t decide which project to try first! Perhaps that sweet little beret?
You can download any of the designs in Nicole’s latest collection in her Ravelry Store. You can also follow her on Instagram to keep up with her latest designs. Her feed is an oasis of calm and could tempt any devoted knitter to try crochet…!