In what decade were you born?
In the 70ies, I'm all about that peace and looove baby!

Where are you from, and what brought you to London?
I'm Norwegian, and in my past life I used to be a filmmaker. I've been visiting London several times in my youth, but my first proper stay was in 2006 when I moved with my husband and daughter to London for a year because of a production I was involved with. Then fast forward to 2010, our family had expanded to four, and we moved to London 'for good' where I began this Knit With Attitude adventure.

Maya - owner of Knit with attitude

How and when did you learn to knit?
My Nan taught me to knit when I was about 4 years old, needless to say my attention wasn't that great and I produced a scarf that I considered finished as soon as that little strip of fabric could be tied around my neck … patience has never been my forte. The next project she set me up with was a colourwork jumper when I was about 7 yo all done in the pastels of the 80ies of course. My mum taught me how to crochet about at the same time, all though definitely a knitter at heart I do dabble in crochet now and then.

Have you ever had a complete knitting disaster?
Several! But I guess the absolutely worst one didn't involve a project per se but plenty of yarn. I was completely ignorant to moths when I first moved to London, at the time the little bastards literarily did not exist in Norway. I used to store all my yarns in open baskets in our living room, and then we went back to Norway for our first summer holiday. When we returned to London – there was no more yarn – what was left was the worst thing I've ever seen – a cloud of dust and fibre-remainings completely devoured by a swarm of moths. All the stash I had collected for years had disappeared! You might say I learned everything about moth prevention the hard way.

What is the project you are most proud of?
Those that I complete! In all seriousness, I mentioned I'm not a very patient person, and I tend to fall out of love of certain projects real quick. 

But joking put aside – I rarely get the time to develop my own designs but occasionally I do – and I guess those are the projects I'm most proud of. Designing is a very time consuming and labor intensive process that involves so much more than just the knitting, as a complete nerd I find myself the most happy when calculating sizes and drafting schematics.

A moment of epiphany?
When I realised that there are no rules in knitting, everything can be changed and altered to make whatever you are making perfect for you. My Nan always repeated that you should never 'force' the knitting but make sure it always gives something back to you. This all came to full circle for me when I realised that I don't need to complete projects I've fallen out of love with – there is no shame in changing your mind, to rip it all out, and start something new and exciting.

East London Knitters Say Thank You to all the NHS Workers

What does Knit With Attitude mean to you (as a shop or an idea or both, you choose)?
Knit With Attitude has of course plentiful of meaning to me. It is my place of work that I have built with my own two hands, and where I created a career, and future for myself that looks nothing like what I pictured when I was younger. 

But Knit With Attitude to me is first and foremost – an attitude! For me, knitting can be a powerful tool of expression. 

Knitting used for political action has long roots, from the American Revolution in the 1760s, throughout the abolition and women's suffrage movements, to what we are seeing today with the #pussyhat project and #metoo campaign – knitting is a symbol of activism that dates back hundreds of years closely linked to issues concerning race, gender and class. 

For me knitting is political by its very nature, involving a huge variety of political issues. From making sure that techniques, historical records, traditional patterns and knowledge are being passed on and maintained through education in schools and public libraries, to recognising the therapeutic qualities of knitting and campaigning to have them academically researched, or even working to introduce knitting as a tool for motor skills recovery or mental health issues. The knitting community as a whole is expressing values like open-mindedness and inclusivity, which directly translates to anti-racism, anti-fascism, and anti-sexism – many many knitters express opinions about these issues every day through their act of knitting.

Knitting in the context of history and activism is something I've been thinking carefully about throughout my adult life – and the want to express something I feel very passionate about through my love for knitting was what spurred me into setting up Knit with attitude more than 13 years ago. Back then, I was incredibly inspired by the environmental campaigns that was happening at the time using knitting as the main form of expression, and I really wanted to become part of that scene, hence the name Knit with attitude!

What is your role in the shop – and when can we find you there?
I am the owner of Knit With Attitude. I work in the shop on weekdays except Tuesday, but this is a rule with more exemptions than I can count. If you pop by you'll most likely find me there. 

What is the best thing about working in a yarn shop?
The conversations, and the constant stream of inspiration that comes from engaging with each other. The moment it 'clicks' for someone, a new born knitter or an expert who suddenly grasped a new to them technique. My wonderful colleagues and partners in crime at Team KWA! And of course – I get greeted by walls full of the most wonderful colours when stepping into 'my world' every single day! 

Wall of yarn in different colours

What is the worst thing?
Sometimes you just can't make someone happy, no matter how hard you try.

If you were to choose only one – what would be your favourite yarn in the shop?
Having selected each and everyone of them with certain criteria and with an intention and purpose in mind – this is an impossible question for me to answer. I love them all! 

Jacquard by Klara Nilsson

What are you currently working on, and why did you choose this project?
Having gone through a period where I have been very strict with myself working on only one or two projects at the most, I am now completely rebelling against my own rules and am now at a place where I just keep casting on new projects. Right now I am obsessing over Planet A by Susanne Sommer and The Autumn Forager by Jennifer Brou (I wrote about these two in this blog post). I also just cast on for the Jacquard by Klara Nilsson that I fell head over heals in love with when looking through the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly.

My mere Jacquard beginnings ...