Makers Monday: Susie of Knit Natural

Share with the creative community who you are.  Hello!  My name is Susie Gourlay and I am a knitter, handspinner, wool judge and designer.  I am the face behind Knit Natural.  I belong to the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild, Sask Weavers and Spinners Guild and I am a Team Leader for Etsy SK.  I am a crazy cat lady and snail mail enthusiast. 

What do you create? What materials do you use to create  I create and design knitwear and accessories with a focus on natural fibres like wool, cotton, silk, alpaca and other using their benefits in my work.  The majority of my work is made using my handspun yarns and time-honored techniques.  I really enjoy the processes and skills that go into making a project from fleece to finish.  I find my work very rewarding and love to share the process with others.

Why do you create?  I love working with fibre because it ties me to traditions of the past.  I also love how I can be productive yet Zen out at the same time. Mostly though, over the years, it has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people.

How has your art practice evolved since you first started?  I have learned to not be afraid of experimenting.  I used to be so fearful of making a mistake or trying a new technique.  I now use “mistakes” as a learning tool and decided long ago that if I want to make or do something, I jump in with both feet and usually I discover that what I was anxious about was actually a gratifying experience. 

How much time do you spend on your art practice? Is it enough? I spin or knit on my lunch breaks at work, as soon as I get home, until I go to sleep and on the weekends.  I still wish I had more time in the day and I love how it is so portable because I can work in the car as well!

What is the most rewarding part of creating?  Connecting with other like-minded people and being able to share enthusiasm.  We are all creative in our own ways and I love seeing how each person puts a part of themselves in what they make.  We are all keeping the craft alive, 

How is your art unique from others?  I am a big supporter of the wool industry and have built my business around the promotion and study of wool and sheep.   I use education as a tool to motivate others about fibre arts and using my knowledge of sheep breeds, I design with those qualities in mind.  

 Do you have a philosophy? “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” -Leonardo da Vinci.  I love that with fibre arts, broken down into its simplest terms is that it is just string, and using primitive tools and natural fibres, you can make anything you can imagine.  There is a lot of physics and energy rolled in but you are putting a bit of your life and a lot of heart into everything you make. 

What does creative joy mean to you?        
When something inspires, then it’s hard to not feel creative joy.  That feeling when you come up with a great idea and you just can’t get it out of your mind.  When time flies by so fast and you realize that you’ve been working away all day.  Also sharing this joy with others, laughing and learning from fun experiences.

Who inspires you the most? My mentor and friend Deb Behm taught me all I know.  She wasn't a technical spinner and her way of teaching really inspired me.  She was very generous providing supplies and tools and I wanted to learn everything. If it weren't for her and the amazing fibre community in Saskatchewan and Manitoba I don't think I would be where I am today.  I am also very inspired about making my life and home filled with as much “handmade” as I can.  There is a lot we can make on our own.