Anna Johanna, Indie Design Gift A-Long 2019 Interview

Today we’re chatting to knitwear designer Anna Johanna, who is a knitwear designer from the tiny northern country of Finland.

How did you get into knitting/crochet and who taught you?

Here in Finland kids are taught to crochet already in kindergarten and to knit in elementary school. So that’s on 3rd grade but I think my mum had already taught me to knit a bit earlier.

What made you want to start designing?

As a kid, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. I don’t have the skills for that but this is pretty close!
Alho by Anna Johanna
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Alho by Anna Johanna

What’s you favourite part of the design process?

I have a PhD in statistics so grading and solving all that knit math is the best.
Harmas by Anna Johanna
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Harmas by Anna Johanna

What inspires you?

Yarn and photography. Usually, I either get inspired by the yarn. Or then I have an idea of the FO photo I want to take and then I have to knit the FO for the photo. 
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Are you a full-time or part-time designer and how does that fit into your life?

I’ve been a researcher at the university for years. Couple years ago I started my knit design company on the side and it has been super busy for the past two years. But now, I actually have so really exciting news as come New Year, I’ll start designing full time!
 
Zopflicious by Anna Johanna
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Zopflicious by Anna Johanna

Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?

I love designing sweaters and cardigans – mainly, because that’s what I like to knit. Shawls and socks are lovely too but they’re too quick to finish. I like having projects that take some time so you get to enjoy to project longer.

Do you have much time to make things for yourself or for gifting?

I make almost all my samples for me, so I do have lots of time for selfish knitting. But I do love to knit gifts. Few years ago, for to consecutive Christmases, I made all the gifts by hand. That was a lot.
 
Xenakis by Anna Johanna
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Xenakis by Anna Johanna

If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?

Socks and shawls.

Do you have a favourite yarn and why?

Not a specific yarn. I have favorite yarn bases. I love high twist base for socks and merino singles for shawls. And in recent years, I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into non-superwash wools. I love the natural feel.
Ruso Socks by Anna Johanna
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Ruso Socks by Anna Johanna

What’s your favourite of your own designs and what do you love about it?

I think my all-time favorite has to be Harmas sweater (see photo above). It’s knit in non-superwash Kainuu grey (Finnish wool!) and it has all my favorite things at the moment: a tall brioche collar, boxy shape with a cropped hem. And the best thing about it are the extra long sleeves and folded cuffs with thumb holes. No need for mitts with this one!
Rohdin by Anna Johanna
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Rohdin by Anna Johanna

Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?

I just released a sweater design called Alho (see above) and it is the most personal design I’ve made so far. It’s named after the farm that my great grandfather bought, where my grandfather was raised, and then my mother. Now, it belongs to my aunt. I’ve never lived there myself but it is the land where my roots are. The sweater is a luxurious blend of cashmere, wool and mohair/silk. And it has this delicate lace insert in the yoke that’s worked with just the lace weight mohair/silk. The lace reminds me of grains and soil – hence the name after my roots.
 

What’s your favourite colour?

This is a fun question since people often laugh when I’m asked about this. I’m into what I like to call non-colors. All the hundred shades of white, light grey and dusty pinks. Anything with absolutely no contrast. I’m often teased about picking too low contrasts for colorwork and stripe projects. Though, when it comes to socks, I like go wild and pick vibrant colors.

 

Have you been a participating designer in the Indie Gift Along before and what do you love most about it?

This is my third year joining in GAL. It has been amazing seeing the community interact. I also love seeing how many people knit Christmas gifts. 
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Which Gift Along 2019 designers inspire you and why?

There are many! But to mention few, I adore Abbye Knits’ photos. Megan Nodecker has an awesome style and I’m absolutely going to cast on for the Persian Dreams blanket by Jenise Hope some day soon!

How do people get in touch with you or see more of your work?

 

 

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