On her trip to Vienna, Julia Ponomareva from Russia took the time to tell us something about her great passion: knitting toys. In her hometown, she is known for knitting everywhere. Every toy is individual and has a little story of its own. The love for what she is doing can clearly be seen in her work.
Dear Julia, what is your background and what was/is your original profession?
I was born in Celabynsk, which is in the European part of Russia. I graduated from the medical academy and then worked as a doctor in a laboratory. I worked at the laboratory for four years, but then I decided to work as an office manager and worked there for eight years, till my son was born. I didn’t go back to work afterwards – and when my son was a little older, I started knitting.
How did you learn knitting?
I have been knitting since I was six years old. My grandma taught me how to knit but I taught myself how to crochet from books. Before I started to crochet, I was knitting sweaters and scarves. I thought that my first toys were really terrible but people seemed to like them. The first toys and those which I knit now are very different. Many people started to order them and my son liked them very much. Now sometimes I get inspiration from videos on youtube.
How old is your son now?
Nine years old.
How do customers find you?
I like to knit everywhere, sometimes people ask me on the bus or in a cafe what I am doing. I don’t like to knit at home. Some people see my toys at their friends. Before Christmas or holidays, there is a greater interest in my toys.
Showing and selling my toys in other people’s shops is not an option for me because I like to explain how and why I created the toys but I also love to make customised creations, for example for new borns or birthday parties.
What inspired you to create these toys? How did it all begin?
I made my first toy just out of curiosity and from a desire to try something new. Yes, I experienced a very joyful feeling when knitting. But when I saw how adults reacted to my toys, I was really inspired.
Since you started knitting, what has been your greatest achievements – but also which challenges have you had to face?
I don’t know how much you can talk about success … I guess I just do what I like best. And if it brings joy to someone else, what could be better than this?
About difficulties … unfortunately, due to the difficult economic situation in my country, people stopped ordering toys. And unfortunately, I don’t see my further development in my country anymore …
What was the most memorable or touching event you have had in relation to your toys/business?
I can think about two particular events. The first was when I was shown photos from a children’s hospice with my toys. Then I realised that my work has a sense. It’s one thing to know that I knit for a good cause, and it’s quite another to see it directly. And the second, but no less important, is when my nine-year-old son, every time when he sees me knitting asks: “Are you knitting it for me?”
How much time does it take to create one of these toys?
Knitting toys takes more time than sweaters and pullovers because there are more details. Usually, one toy takes me one day to make. The position of the body and hands during knitting remains static. Тherefore, it is difficult to knit continuously for more than one hour. And every hour has to be interrupted for at least 20-30 minutes. So it’s easier for me to knit on the bus, or meeting with friends, or sitting in a cafe.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have a dream – to have a small shop somewhere in Europe. Where people appreciate manual labour more and have the opportunity to buy something exclusive, something for the soul which is beautiful and not just necessary. And I would not like to only sell toys, but also various cute little things to decorate the home.
If some of our readers are interested in getting a customised toy of their own, how can they get in contact with you?
Of course, I would be very happy!
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is +7 919 358-44-25.
Thank you for the interview!
It was my pleasure.
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