Welcome to In the Craft Corner, a column where we get to know the brilliant artists and craftspeople of the Oberlin landscape. Today, we’re talking to Noa, a fourth-year GSFS major and sociology minor from the Bay Area, who picked up knitting over quarantine.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What inspired you to begin knitting?
Mid-April of the quarantine, my study abroad program in Italy was ending abruptly. I got super anxious about having nothing to do, and I felt all by my lonesome. I still had school but was terrified of being bored. It happened to be my grandma’s birthday in early May, and she wanted to hang out with me on that day. She wanted to do everything with me, Grandma Marylen, she’s great. Then I was like, “a nice thing for us maybe would be if you could teach me how to knit a sweater, Grandma Marylen!” She knits very fine things and I knit very bulky things, and she showed me how to adapt her patterns for thick yarn. I go through crafting crazes, and am definitely a hobby hopper. So for the days afterward I was like a little knitting sprite.
How did you cultivate the Wompy Knits business empire?
First, I posted a sweater I made on instagram (my knitting account is @wompyknits). Friends quickly started hitting me up for them. I started knitting sweaters for friends. All of a sudden, it was like a little business— I had a friend of mine promote my sweaters, and then someone else saw their post about my website and emailed me saying “this needs work.” They helped me create my website: wompyknits.bigcartel.com. Now, I have knitted over 30 sweaters, and I am now getting more into shirts and tank tops. I get really bored doing the same thing over and over again; my parents doubted that I would knit through the whole quarantine. My mom was hesitant to buy yarn for me to knit her a sweater because she thought I wouldn’t last. Now, I am working on a little Fall-Winter line.
What is the knit piece you are most proud of? What has been a struggle for you on your knitting journey?
I knit a bubble-sleeve sweater, which was definitely my favorite sweater that I have knit. People asked me to write the pattern down after I posted it, and I just couldn’t do it. It was so hard. It is difficult because patterns are also how a lot of knitters make money, as far more people will buy a pattern for 10 dollars than a full hand-knitted sweater for 40 dollars. I tried to copy other people’s patterns, and it was still ridiculously challenging.
How did you come up with these fun names for your pieces?
My first piece I made was called “flompy”, and after that I was like “I guess I’m just stuck with the letter F now,” because when I commit, I commit.
How can I get into knitting on my own?
I recommend YouTube and Instagram videos; particularly @woolandthegang on Instagram. Right now I am saving up for fancy yarn from there. They have an instructional video for how to do a bubble stitch. Experiment with knitting for this week—with online classes, professors can’t see you knitting, and it actually helps a lot of people pay attention. It’s so great—I think everyone should knit.