Who is a Black Brown Indigenous Melanated Person (BBIMP) who has inspired you or your work?
3 people who have been an inspiration to me, are my mother, Sivayogam, my father, Nadarajah, and my cousin sister, Ramani Devi. They have taught me through their patience, teachings, and love that we have the power to make things better, knowledge is meant to be shared and learning is forever. Because of the courage that they demonstrated throughout their lives; I continue to be inspired to grow in mine. The most important thing that they have passed on to me is that doing the right thing is the easiest choice.
How do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by earth, our wild siblings, nature, space, oceans, my garden, people, words, the animate, inanimate and life. Pretty much everything that I have encountered.
Share your maker journey. How did it all begin for you?
I learned to crochet at the age of 49, to honor my mother and my cousin, who with everything that they were doing, still made time to crochet. Then it was knitting that I decided to learn, even though I was sure that holding 2 sticks was going to be impossible!
In 2017, I decided to add to my repertoire and began to dye. Starting with scraps from my kitchen, mainly avocado and onion skins, purchasing undyed wool everywhere I could find them, and having a blast experimenting. I then moved on to acid dyes and diving into various wool content, brought forth a new venture, and on August 20, 2018, I opened Serendipitous Wool Company. In 2020, I co-founded Radicle Threads Magazine with Elisabeth Desamour and Caroline Dick and this is one of the most humbling work in all my making, creating, and working journeys.
What is your favorite design?
I believe that we can have more than one favorite and will never be able to name one as most. I like the speckles on my Painting Skies colorway, the tonal purples on my Ancestors, the variegation of Lotus Lake, the colors from 2 or 3 skeins to produce a new colorway. And this my reader is why I do not have a favorite and will keep on refusing to pick one most time.
Who taught you, encouraged you in your craft?
I learned much from experimenting and watching videos. I found that writing everything down, literally everything, helped me to discover methods and ways that have become my guide in developing colorways. I still have all the hundreds of sheets, filled with my scribbles, in a box that I still refer to constantly. They are reminders and encourage me to explore and dive deeper into my craft.
As a BBIMP, in your line of crafting, what steps do you find you need to take, to promote and share your creativity if any?
As a person of Tamil origin, South Asian, born in South East Asia, collectively labeled as Asian by the Western world, I find myself navigating a field that can be unfriendly and very white, even though like many BBIMP, my ancestors played a part in creating, and making. I find that I need to share about my products on IG on my feed, stories, and more than once. I am grateful for the circle of IG friends, who re-share.
Do you feel being a BBIMP has an impact on how your creativity is viewed/received?
Yes, I find that I am reminded constantly that I am different and that more “explanations” need to be provided to clarify for those who do not bother to research. My creativity, my knowledge becomes secondary, and the focus becomes what box can I be put in so as not to disrupt their comfort.
What suggestions, other than your tools, that you would like to share with fellow makers?
If you would like to learn to dye, my suggestion is to throw the “rule” book on color out and look to your inspirations. Do not be afraid to mix, and match dyes and have a book to write everything down. You might discover a new color and a new method and open the door to creating more for you and others to enjoy.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on dyeing new colors and creating kits for a few collaborations with some amazing BBIMP designers. I am also working on Radicle Threads Magazine with a couple of talented and creative co-founders.
How does your creative work| craft help you?
Crocheting and knitting help me to relax and make beautiful items for myself, my family, and my friends. Dyeing helps me unleash and indulge my love for color. I find that painting on yarn, which is forgiving, enables me to grow the artist in me.
Tell us a little bit about your practice or the steps you take to create your work.
I like listening to music and having a cup of tea before starting to dye. I do like silence when I am creating new colorways, as I tend to write everything down, how the dye breaks up, how it changes color when I add other colors, what it looks like on a different base. Yes, as much information that I know will help me re-create the colorway or to create a new one.
What’s the overall message you want your audience to take away from your work?
I want them to see my inspiration in the colors, see how the speckles paint pictures, and mainly that they enjoy crafting with my yarns. Whether crocheting, knitting, weaving, or any other medium they use them for, I want them to know that each skein has a little of my story in them.
What is the most helpful resource for your business that you can share with us?
Making friends with other dyers who have shared tips, suppliers, willing to share their un-dyed yarn with me because of shortages! I am so grateful for the BBIMP dyers who are generous with their knowledge.
What is a personal habit that has helped you significantly in your business?
Writing everything down, as it helps jog my memory.
Where do you see your business|Crafting in 5 years?
I am planning to collaborate more with other BBIMP dyers, and designers. I also would like to branch into natural dyes and would love to have plants in my garden that I can use.
What is a lesson learned, from being a designer, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
I learned from my father early on that you should not let the destructive words and thoughts of others matter. I have carried this with me and it has helped me navigate my way through choppy waters, even when it hurts.
What is something that you’re passionate about and why?
I am passionate about sharing knowledge. The way I see it the more we share, we can help ourselves, and others. In doing this, we also build communities that support, encourage, care, and nurture for those who are here and for those to come.