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Thinking about how it all started for me, I remember studying these two books when growing up. I pored over the pages and illustrations hoping to understand the exciting world of knitting.

Hardcover with glossy pages, The Alphabet of Knitting by Margarita Maximova covered everything from casting on and then transitioning into accessories and garment construction with patterning and quirky details.

The tissue-thin pages of Knitting Stitches by Valentina Kryshtaleva probably initiated my knitting education; I wanted to recreate the samples with my own two hands and needles.

I have distinct memories of trying to knit stitches from this book, then quitting, persevering and trying again in efforts to understand the alien language of knitting all those years ago.

Craft surrounded me from early childhood. My dad has always been creative and he taught me how to make a lot of things with my hands: trinkets and toys, and useful household objects. I continued crafting and making all the way through middle school as I studied various applied arts, which made me observant of things around me for inspiration and also helped me appreciate the workmanship invested in making small objects.

When you swing the pendulum attached to a string on this toy, the motion breathes life into the hand-carved fox knitting a sock from a ball of yarn. The ingenuity and entertainment of kids and adults! The juniper wood comb was gifted to me many years ago and features long-horned sheep or maybe goats. The intricate miniature carving out of pear wood shows two saints that I see processing and spinning wool. 

Growing up in a household where my mom worked as a seamstress, I got to see and feel a lot of different fabrics and textiles, and also learn about different types and varieties.

My world of textile knowledge got way bigger when I moved to Japan and discovered even more textile concepts. In a course of fortuitous events, and with an introduction by Marianne Isager, I ended up teaching knitting and then 3D knitting to the incredibly innovative textile artist Reiko Sudo and several of her employees at NUNO company.

Saving up to get fabric yardage from NUNO has grown me a small collection over the years. I asked my mother to construct several wearable items of clothing out of them. The unique materials—like steel, casein, paper, silk—and the technology that goes into making these fabrics—combining tradition with an outlook into the future—provide sheer joy and endless inspiration!

Being a knitter, it is always fascinating to spot objects that are knitting-related yet are not produced by knitting, and that use a medium quite different from yarn. A cable print vase cast in porcelain, this amazing double jacquard woven linen blanket showing off more cable knitting, and this cable knit embossed tote my mom gifted me one year, knowing how much I enjoy any knit themed items! 

As a late adopter of computers and the internet, I proudly admit favoring all things analog as I still enjoy the art of writing, doodling, drawing, and taking my notes by hand. Several years ago I began a habit of using fountain pens, as now they are much better and less messy than the kind I remember trying to use growing up. It brings me joy to take knitting notes by hand, often it is also a process of thought making for me, and it gives me even more pleasure to try various inks and colors and often their changeable nature. Like knitting needles, tools for writing are joy!

Of course having worked with a variety of yarns there are still those that can surprise and take a breath away, and this treasure as I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this before … 

I came upon this 100% silk yarn—that is actually a 4mm wide woven tape—in an obscure yarn store in Japan over a decade ago and I am still not ready to cast it on for anything. Will I ever find the right project to do this yarn justice or will I have to design one just to showcase this art of yarn?

About The Author

One of the most prolific, innovative designers we know. Olga Buraya-Kefelian draws inspiration from architecture and industrial design, from European and Japanese textile arts and fashion—translating and transforming her sources into patterns that are engaging to knit and delightful to wear.


  • Thank you for sharing your inspirations with us, Olga! Those wooden pieces and fabrics are gorgeous!

    I have worked with reclaimed sari ribbon yarn, which is a bit wider than the ribbon yarn you pictured here. I usually use a size 17 or even larger needle and work garter stitch and/or drop stitch to show off the beautiful sari print bits. Maybe that would work for your yarn. Sari ribbon makes amazing oversized shawls, especially when fringed. I often alternate the ribbon with yarn made with sari silk threads to give it even more texture and interest. I never thought of it as designing but maybe it is after all ..

  • Thank you so much for sharing. Wonderful. I too love the amazing double jacquard woven linen blanket! Is it still available?

    • Thank you! The blanket was a gift from my mom, and when I asked her to get one again, they were not available anymore.

      • Thank you for letting me know! Best wishes.

  • Dear Olga, I love your scholarly approach to craft and your description of your inheriting your father’s creativity echos my recent realization that my 5-year old granddaughter will probably be strongly influenced by Her very creative father. That guy gets into Everything. I wonder where she will land? It’s my job to make sure she includes knitting! Maybe one of your 3-D creations will intrigue her!

  • I like that you say tools for writing are joy—I heartily agree! I have several sets around the house, which my husband calls my “mini-desks.”

  • Olga is so talented and I am so glad I got to meet her and take a class from her. Not only is she an amazing designer but she is a talented instructor! Take a class with her if you get the chance. She inspired me!

  • Thanks for sharing about your background and inspirations, so glad to learn more about you!

  • Loved this article, especially the inspiration from Japan.

  • I’d love to weave with that silk tape.

  • Olga, thank you for sharing some of your treasures and inspirations. They are lovely. I have been lucky to take a few classes from Olga and they are inspiring and filled with new techniques. Olga you are amazing!

  • this article just added so much to my appreciation for a wonderful designer

  • Do you have a new kit for the Gresham shawl? I read that you were sold out.

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