Meet the Maker Month: Calandra of The Nurse Who Knits
I am a 27-year-old Registered Nurse with a passion for knitting that I’ve turned into my side gig! I love being outdoors and taking my Giant Schnauzer, Valkyrie, on hikes. My husband is in the Coast Guard. My goal for this year is to travel, design new patterns and explore the country by travel nursing.
Why did you start your business? I started The Nurse Who Knits because I was making too many things for me to keep for myself! We had just moved to Sydney and I was waiting to start work. I was alone a lot, so I was knitting a lot. Things just kind of spiraled from there.
Who inspires you to create? I get a lot of inspiration from creatives I follow on Instagram. My grandmother was a knitter and worked with clay, she inspires me a lot. My great aunt Gail is a painter and a very free spirit. She loves painting landscapes and stepping outside the box. My mother is a pretty darn good seamstress, though she will deny it. She made all my skating costumes. She could manipulate a pattern to make it what I needed. Wicked smart and wasn’t afraid to break a few rules to try something out.
What color themes do you tend to use? I love using jewel tones in my work. However, I find it very difficult to keep within a color theme! I see yarns that just speak to me and then they end up in my stash. Sometimes I feel like this makes my feeds and my website look a little all over the place. But it’s how I feel in the moment.
What does being a Maker mean to you? Being able to create pieces that are meaningful to people means so much to me. I recently knit two hats for the children of a bride for her wedding. Seeing photos of my pieces as part of someone’s special day means the world to me. And being able to create exactly what they want is a skill I’m very proud of.
What motivates you to create? Many things inspire me; people, nature, other creators I see on social media. Sometimes I get so focused on an idea I can’t do anything else until I’ve finished it. Problem? Maybe. But it’s so fun!
How have you developed your skills? My grandmother was the original person to teach me to knit when I was young. I got back into knitting when I started university as a way to offload stress. Most of the more complicated skills I have learned through YouTube. My mother-in-law is also the queen of handknit socks so we swap skills often.
Where are you from and how does that influence your work? I’m originally from the GTA but I’ve done a lot of my schooling in more remote communities with heavy First Nations influence. I also was brought up in a home where art was appreciated. I remember learning about the Group of Seven and Emily Carr and absolutely falling in love with how she interpreted her world
How have your life experiences shaped your art? My husband and I love being outdoors, so I find it hard to create items that aren’t also practical. If I’m going to spend all this time creating and then wearing a garment, it better last and it better do what I need it to do!
How has the pandemic impacted your creativity? As a nurse, I haven’t exactly had MORE time to be creative as going to the hospital for work drains me a lot of my energy. However, I also find myself relying more on my creative outlets when things get hard at work. On the small business side, the pandemic has pushed me to get my website up and running full tilt, and that’s something I’m very proud of.
How do you apply your creativity to other aspects of your life? Having a job “in fashion” was never something I imagined for myself, nor do I really see myself as a person who creates fashion. However, I do now find myself appreciating fashion designers and garment creation a lot more. As a small business owner myself, I’ve come to appreciate and advocate for shopping small whenever possible as I know what it feels like to be on the other end of that transaction.
What is your favorite thing you've created and why? My favorite garment to make is sweaters. They are a longer project but they are so rewarding. Being able to create something that someone will live their life in is awesome. And when people come up to me and ask “I love your sweater, where did you get it?” And you get to say you made it yourself- there is nothing better
What type of art do you like to consume? I love film, photography, and music. I have a deep appreciation for visual arts as my great aunt is an incredible painter and we have many of her pieces in my family home. Only when I started knitting as a creative outlet did I start to see knitting and textiles as a form of art as well. If I were to start a new creative hobby I think it would be pottery.
What are your long-term goals? Maybe a book of patterns? I don’t know. I think letting the wind take me where it wants is an important part of the creative experience and setting too many hard and fast goals can deter the process.