Meet the Fellows: Olya Mikesh

I am a stay-at-home mom of 5, living in Milwaukee, WI. My fiber journey began in childhood, when I learned to knit and crochet from my mom. I have been creating most of my life, and studied Art in college. I am ethnically Russian, having lived in US all my adult life, enjoying discovering the rich heritage of fiber arts of Eastern Europe.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? A couple of years ago, I was challenged / inspired by the Fruity Knitting podcast to knit and modify an adult garment. This challenge helped me to overcome a fear of not following a pattern exactly, as well as knitting an adult garments, something that I was still reluctant to do, even after decades of knitting! I also became a test knitter for other designers, and have knit 28 garments before taking the plunge of designing my own.
image1 (1)What does your design process look like? I love to study stitch dictionaries, looking at interesting textures, lace, and colorwork patterns. This is especially helpful if I am designing for a particular theme/mood board, in a pattern submission to a publication. But occasionally, I just pick up the yarn and “play” with it, creating something that is inspired by the colors, or an idea I had, developing design as I go.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I enjoy variety of projects, sometimes alternating between a smaller and larger project, but my favorite category would have to be garments.

What are you (or hope to be if you’re just starting out!) best known for as a designer? I hope to be known for designing wearable garments, that are enjoyable to make, with interesting details or embellishments. I love color, and like to play with bold designs for accessories. I am also interested adding embroidery to knitted, or crochet projects.

image2What yarns do you prefer? I believe that there is a place for all types of yarns in a maker’s world, and finding the right project is a key for a successful outcome. I have yet to come across a yarn that I would not use in some way, be it a man-made fiber for a home decor project or a toy, or a luxury blend for a special accessory. I am probably
a lot like my mother in this regard, practical and frugal. I just love yarn!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? I love to learn alongside with my kids. Homeschooing them over the last 9 years has been a very enriching experience. It also helped me to become a better communicator, which is important for pattern writing. I also love to sew, garden, and do some painting.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you? I have done some natural yarn dying in the past, and hope to do more of it in the future.

See all of Olya designs on her designer page or see what she’s up to on Facebook!

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