The fourth Urban Cozy Project maker profile features Laura Twiss, designer extraordinaire and all-around friendly neighbourhood gal based in Ottawa who forms part of the knitting and sewing design collective Us Gals with designer friend Tonia Weber. Laura also runs a Stitch ‘N Bitch at the Carleton Tavern in Hintonburg, which gets Ottawa West-end knitters together to knit, natter and have a drink or two.
Here’s what she had to say about her involvement in the WUCP, her design background and how the city has influenced her work.
S&N: Describe your contribution to the Winterlude Urban Cozy Project.
LT: Us Gals contribution to the Winterlude Urban Cozy Project, is a mulitple of odd and silly items:
- An over sized hat with pom-pom and two matching over sized scarfs –hopefully for some cold bronzed statue(s) (see above – S&N: we used it as a tree-topper instead!)
- A number of felted branch-lets (kinda like wrist-lets or bracelets but for branches) (photo below)
- Trunk warmer with buttons and tabs (second photo below – S&N: it was the perfect fit for a lamppost cozy!)
S&N: What inspired you to participate in the Project?
Spins & Needles always have great ideas to participate in. So, why not? I love what Melanie and Jason are doing. It’s a good combination and makes a good balance.
S&N: Describe your design/craft/knit background. How long have you been making things? Are there other ways you get creative e.g. sewing, felting, etc?
LT: I was never very good academically but I excelled in creating stuff. I’ve been making stuff since high school. Now, if I have to count let’s just say, it’s been over twenty years. With my biz partner, my gal-pal Tonia, the grand total of years we’ve been at this making stuff is well over forty years.
Our backgrounds are very similar: Learned to sew at a young age. Worked in a bank. Went to fashion design school. Graduated. Worked in the fashion industry. Did our own thing. Got tired. Picked up sticks and string and figured it out. We’ve been knitting for well over fifteen years combined. This is only our second season together. What we do is: we draft hand knitting patterns and are currently testing the market at wabi-sabi, the patterns will be available on-line this Spring, we also sell felted hats, scarves, and brooches in order to knit. The cycle keeps us going. So, we sew, we felt, draft, cut, knit, and crochet and a whole lot other things I can’t remember.
S&N: How does your city inspire you creatively? What would you like to see more of in your city?
LT: Leaving it occasionally sure helps. Before I explain that, let me give you a little background info: Ottawa is a small city – of rural thought and little curiosity. You see, my town is a bureaucratic town containing 70% of public servants who are not encouraged to have a personality let alone encouraged to express themselves, 25% small-towners who are of rural descent and heritage and 5% re-locators; those who are not born in or around Ottawa (my statistics are not accurate and the re-locators may be a lot smaller percentage that originally considered). The composition of people in Ottawa may be a good thing for those who have the desire to express themselves.
Though Ottawa is small, it is wonderful. Living in a capital does have advantages. For example:
- There are plenty of trails throughout the city and lots of green space.
- We have the best collection of contemporary art in the country — and it’s ours (except we still have to pay to go view it).
- Besides the above statement, there are free things happening all the time!
- Our side walks and streets get plowed and salted after a light dusting snow.
- Two hours from Montreal, 50 minute flight to New York City or Toronto
All that to say Ottawa is a good town but there are times that get me frustrated.
For example I was out to eat, at what is considered one of Ottawa’s trendiest and yummiest restaurants in the Byward Market. By 10pm the place was emptying and soon to be quiet. In any other city, in this great world of ours, any restaurant would be having their second or third seating of the night. This town doesn’t even know when or how to play.
To avoid the occasional “hate-on”, I try to leave the city every month or two. When in another city I realize how much I appreciate my own. Especially when I’m in another country. Hell, we have it good here. I try to appreciate where I am. I am very fortunate to be born in this country and have what I have. I have every opportunity to express my creativity without prosecution or natural disasters.
S&N: What is the next project you are working on/would like to work on?
LT: My next project is getting our knitting patterns up on our website. I’m not allowed to knit anything until this happens (though I do have a summer hat in linen yarn to knit and chart, a cotton/wool “confederate cap” to knit up, and a plan to bomb a tree for March 21).
Check out UsGals’ pieces sprinkled through both Urban Cozy Project sites at Confederation Park and Parc Jacques-Cartier. Many thanks to Laura for mobilizing West-end knitters to contribute to the Winterlude Project – she rocks!