As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, stop 13 was to visit Silviya Metodieva, a knitwear designer from Lovech, Bulgaria.
Hi, Silviya! Where are you from originally and where do you live now? What do you miss most about your hometown?
I am from Bulgaria. My native town is Lovech – a very picturesque, quiet, and historical place. Yet a bit lonesome as it usually is with small towns. I left it when I was 18 and I’ve lived in Sofia (the capital) since – with a little break for one year, which I spent in England and Greece. I’ve traveled a lot and I miss every place I’ve been to, even those I am about to be if that makes any sense
What’s the best thing about where you live?
Sofia has had lately a very active cultural life and I believe it could be put next to other European cities of that rank. There are lovely bars and music, yet if I have to recommend something to tourists it would be to visit the countryside and all the natural miracles that this small piece of land is abound of. Moreover, in the villages you can still meet “real,” humble, hard working people. Aren’t they a rarity these days?
How did you get started knitting and how did it turn into designing?
I still don’t have an answer to that question. It might sound trivial but my grandmother taught me when I was in 4th-5th grade – I don’t remember exactly. I knitted some slippers – always begin with the hardest thing! It was only one or two projects, then I totally forgot about it. And about 3 years ago I had to start from scratch, as I had even forgotten how to cast on. The almighty YouTube played an important role in my self-education. Here is the time to express my gratitude to all those diligent and devoted people who’s videos helped me to restart my hard- and software.
Designing – it is a necessity. I admire all the patterns and projects I see, but this is where my creativity prevailed. Yet I am a young designer (I sometimes wonder if I deserve that title yet) and I have plenty to learn. Which is actually the thrill!
Who are your favorite designers?
Oh, I admire so many and I am learning so much from all of them! I love unconventional artists like Vladimira Ilkovicova, Sandra Backlund, Galina Dacheva – a really talented Bulgarian designer (“Babini kuki”), who is no longer living but her daughter continues her work. Elena Nodel is a perfect example of a person who slowly but surely, thanks to their talent, diligence and clear ideas makes a successful business from knitting patterns and yarns. The list of designers is really long and I thank them for the inspiration they are!
What is your design process like? Do you plan it all out before you pick up your needles, or do you let the yarn show you where to go?
I have to see it first. I read knitting books with stitch patterns and when I see something fabulous I imagine its position on an actual garment. Sometimes it is the other way around – I start from the actual shape, design of the garment and then I choose a stitch pattern to embellish it, or underline something. Some things happen on the needle though.
Where is your favorite place to work?
At our villa in the mountains. But the flat in Sofia is mostly where I design. It also works – as long as I get some quiet time.
A villa in the mountains sounds like a very lovely place to knit! How does where you live influence your designs?
I don’t think I am much inspired by anything but nature, although I tend to design more fitting, sexy, feminine clothes, as women here are always so dressed up! We simply care about what we wear and how we look. Stitch patterns and shapes are what really inspire me.
Do you have a favorite local yarn store?
Well, yes, I do as a matter of fact. There is a a lot of Turkish yarns that are sold here and I am happy with its quality. Although it is hard to find luxury yarns here. There are some German brands available, but not very popular, probably due to the high price of the products – yet I find them marvelous!
What is your favorite snack when you are working?
Oh, yes, lately I have discovered the perfect cookie recipe without wheat flour (by improvising) and I would gladly share the recipe:
3 mugs of muesli
½ cup of the brownest sugar you can find
1 cup of nuts and (or) dry fruits to your taste
The oats need to be processed in a blender. You could put all the dry ingredients there, but I like the nuts and the dry fruits chopped. Mix the eggs and the soft butter and sugar well and leave for the oats to soak into the liquids.
In 3 hours, heat the oven to 150C degrees. Using a tablespoon take some of the mixture and place it on a baking paper, which was previously nicely cut and placed in a cookie pan. Place them at minimum 2 cm away from each other. It the mixture is somewhat too liquid like just add some oat, rice or other flour (or whole meal wheat if you wish).
Bake them for 15 minutes. Well, pay attention 15-20 minutes to the first batch, then the next – check on them after the first 10 minutes. 🙂
Those sound yummy – thank you for sharing the recipe! Is there a big fiber arts culture in Bulgaria?
Oh, yes there is long tradition in knitting but especially in weaving here. Aprons for the traditional costumes, belts and bags depicting specific motifs and symbols. Yet it is more of an unwritten tradition passed through generations that still needs refining when it comes to pattern instructions.
Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your home country?
More or less I get inspired by nature and a lot of knitting patterns imitate natural elements and beauties. The remembrance of the sea is a design knitted during winter with marine elements like seahorse and shell. Therefore the contrast between the winter colors chosen for this outfit and the actual symbols. It is like a vague memory of the sunny beach. All the four seasons in Bulgaria are very distinct and therefore we associate summer with going to the sea side, winter – well you know, a cozy, warm hut with a fire burning and a fragrance of a delicious meal in the air. When summer comes though all women here are doing their best to underline their beauty and designs like Lilac passion and Sea foam are inspired by the Bulgarian women’s endeavor to be sexy and attractive at all times!
Thank you for being a part of the tour and sharing your beautiful country and designs with us!
Find Silviya and all her designs on Ravelry: THEGALE or Craftsy: Silviya and follow her on Facebook: Knitkind