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July 6, 2011

Getting to know you - Sonya Kanelstrand

From one end of Europe to the other: last week we were in Italy and today we're in Norway! Sonya of Kanelstrand (which is such a cute name: in Danish, and Norwegian, it means 'cinnamon beach'!) makes organic felted jewellery with Scandinavian design inspiration. On her blog she also writes about blogging and creative business. Definitely worth checking out!

Thank you, Sonya!

Your name
Sonya Kanelstrand :: blog :: shop ::

Where in the world are you?

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I live with my family in a pine forest by the sea. I like the close touch of nature, the colors of autumn and the smell of the sea. I try to live sustainably and to impact the environment minimally by using local, non-toxic or recycled materials. In my everyday life I actively reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle.

I run a handmade business where I sell my organic jewelry and accessories with Scandinavian design.
At my blog Kanelstrand Organic Living, apart from good photography, I share my views on sustainable
design and eco friendly living, and encourage a healthy discussion about implementing the organic approach in optimizing our time and efficiency on the Internet. I also write about blogging, and other aspects of marketing our creative business.

Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration in everything. Like all creative people I get blown away by even the most remote at first themes.

When / how did you learn?
Well, my daughter taught me to knit, as funny as it may sound. When she was in the 4th grade, she came back from school and showed me the knit stitch. And then it all began! Actually, it may have begun years before, when I was looking at my grandmother knitting but honestly, I had never tried until that fatal day some years ago.

Why is making things by hand worth the 'effort'?
Handwork is extremely important to me because it provides an outlet for my creative energy. The hands that create play a twofold role – not only do they physically give shape but also transfer thoughts and emotions to the item that is being made. In this way, handmade becomes a link between souls.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
I am a proponent of sustainable design and follow a philosophy of peaceful creation. My products are made from pure organic materials and comply with the principles of ecological sustainability.

And because I believe that people and nature can co-exist as friends in a healthy and inspiring union without harming each other, I strive for natural balance, sustainable living and honest relationship between humanity and the Earth. My aim, as artist and designer is to provide a medium for sharing the beauty of the natural world and to relate people with nature.

Fondest craft-related memory?
It is not exactly a memory but rather the realisation that I have the power to create and where once was air, now stays a real object made with my own hands!

Have you always made 'stuff'?
My ”making” started when I was 5. That was the time I wrote my first poem. Since then, I have experimented with so many media, that I cannot even count them. I remember in highschool I used to carve my pencils and then color the carvings with nail polish. I have boxes full of sketches, drawn in every spare moment.

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
My creative process is very much like fever. When inspiration strikes I cannot get sleep at all. Once I have an idea, I cannot wait to see it in reality.

When I make my felted organic braclets, I take care to choose great local yarn, either from Norway or from Iceland, as they are clean, ecological, non-toxic and perfect for achieving durable products that are soft to the skin. Then I start the creative process by knitting or crocheting big rings that will later become the bases of the bracelets.

The second step is wet felting each piece. During this process my creations change their shapes and lose much of their size while the fibers intertwine and connect to each other to form a new type of fabric. I love that physical transformation of the yarn - from fiber through a knitted form to a completely new object with different functionality.

The third step is drying, molding and trimming, and the whole process takes no less than three days.

The final step is decorating by needle felting with a lot of care and love to create a unique piece of art.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes? Are they mistakes?
Oh, that is one of the reasons I fell in love with knitting and crocheting – there is no such thing as a mistake, you can always go back and change it! Last winter I knitted a lovely cardigan for myself which I unraveled no less than 5(!!) times because I either didn't like the length or the circumference, or the patterns. But it looks perfect now! I see each unravelling as a chance to gain more experience.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
Oh, I love reading! Since I started knitting I turned to audio books because they keep my hands free!
l like Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, the poetry of Emily Dickinson... A very profound book that has
influenced me in later years is Independent People by the Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldor Laxness – an example of what I call poetry in prose.

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
I use a journal which is also a sketchbook because I need to be organized and to see the process on paper. I am afraid that some day I will forget this amazing craft or the way I did something specific and that is why I write down every pattern and every change I make.

Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
Yes, it is a business as well. And I find that I am on a completely different journey in the business part of my creativity. Running a successful online business requires much more than crafty hands. You need to be your own marketing manager, your own accountant, and what not. But I am loving this journey as well because it helps me develop another part of me. I like challenges.

I can give tons of advices on running a crafty business, I've been sharing them weekly on my blog but to keep it short, I believe that as long as we read a lot and listen to our hearts we can achieve anything we've set our minds to. There is nothing impossible in this world!

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
The Internet has the biggest, strongest and most influential impact for me! Once my daughter showed me the knit stitch, hundreds of questions started popping in my head and with my grandmother thousands of kilometers away I didn't have anyone to consult so Internet came to help. And my, oh my! Thank God for the Internet! I learned and keep on learning amazing skills with the help of so many generous crafters who share their knowledge for free. Thank you, dear people! I taught myself to crochet absolutely alone with videos from the Internet.

Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
I don't think there is much difference between art and craft. It is probably just in the way people feel about both.
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