I am convinced that role models can help us achieve our own wishes and goals. That’s why I launched the series “conscious creatives telling their stories”. Here I would like to introduce you again and again to people who are consciously and creatively shaping their lives.
In June last year, at the retreat of the Laine magazine, I had the honor to meet Valentina Consalvi. She has grown very dear to me directly and since then I do not want to miss her anymore. She runs her company “Snailyarn” in Ariccia near Rome and has made a name for herself as a hand dyer in the knitting scene in recent years. She will show us in the “Back to the wool” retreat how to naturally and sustainably dye wool with plants, herbs and kitchen waste. Today we can learn a little more about her, because she was available to me as an interview partner.
Dear Valentina, …
… when and how did you come up with the idea of earning your money as a hand dyer?
I think it all started around 8 years ago, when I took up my knitting needles.
I’ve been fascinated by knitting since my childhood, my mom used to knit until I was a baby. When I was a child, I loved to play with mom’s knitting bag, when cold winter days arrived, asking her all the time to teach me how to knit. But I didn’t continue knitting when I was growing up.
But then around 8 years ago, I went shopping with my mom in a fashion store, and when I saw yet another 100% acrylic sweater at over 100€ cost, I just thought “this doesn’t make sense, to spend that much for plastic, which does not keep you warm! I know how to knit, I’ll knit myself a woolen sweater!!”
Luckily internet time had already arrived, so I started looking for instructions and then I found my first online yarn store, knitting patterns and most important, Ravelry, which I can say just changed my life! I found out about independent knitting designers, at that time Kate Davies and Ysolda had just published their first designs on Ravelry.
I was hooked and somehow became obsessed with knitting and Ravelry. Since that moment I have been dreaming to live of a hobby, a passion, something I love, as most of us probably do.
With time I discovered hand dyed yarn and indie yarn dyers. When I found that people were dyeing and selling their yarn, I decided to give it a try. I googled it, decided to buy food colours and tried to dye yarn scraps. But I immediately knew I wanted to explore more, so I bought books, some from the States, some wool dyes and cheap yarn, and everything started. It took me months of study and experiments before I felt confident enough to open my shop, which happened in August 2014.
… did you grow up with parents who were very open and conscious about life? Which aspect of your education had the most lasting effect on you?
I would not say so. My parents have always been more conservative, they came from simple families, and did traditional jobs. They gave me space to take my decisions about studies, jobs, etc. Yet most of my decisions had been made after my education. But I’ve always been a bit rebel, curious and quite open in some ways. I’ve always dreamt to go outside and explore the world. It took me some time to go outside the box and start to follow my inner self. I’m still exploring this. I still don’t know who I am or what I want, but I quite like the journey, so far. 🙂
… who and what inspires you?
Nature is my first source of inspiration for colours. It has all the colours you can think of and more. After I started dyeing, I started looking at things with different eyes. And I can’t stop watching all the colours around me and dreaming to translate these on yarns, especially when I go for a walk in the wood. Anyway most of my ideas come in quiet moments, when I’m not stressed about work or deadlines.
Also other people, especially makers, inspire me in different ways. For their ideas or creations, for their style, their way of communication, for their ability to follow their dream. I learn something all the time watching other’s works, and I change all the time. I guess I get closer to my true self, one step at a time.
“Keep looking for your own way and try to follow this, no matter what.”
… at some point, every person who deliberately deals with life will come to the question of what he can do with his actions to the world and to people. Have you ever asked yourself this question?
I probably think about it most of the time, especially about the environment. I try to do something good for the world or people every day, may it be reusing or recycling, trying not to buy food with too much packaging, buying fairtrade or organic directly from local farmers and producers, trying to avoid food waste, go walking instead of using the car. I may not be that good at it all the time, but I do my best. I believe that if we all would try to reduce our footprint, the world would be a much better place for every creature who lives in it. I also believe that kindness and a smile, can turn a day into a good day, sometimes. 🙂
And of course I try to apply all of this on my yarn business as well. That is not so easy to do, but I try to improve all the time.
… in which form do like-minded people play a role? Are you well off talking about the topics that move you deeply or do you prefer to keep quiet about it?
Actually I’m not so good at talking or explaining to people about what I love and believe. I’m much better at doing this with like minded people, because they understand, but also often give me different point of views and cues for reflection. And then I can spend most of my time reflecting, while I’m there doing it silently. 🙂
… what does it mean for you to live a creative life?
This is maybe the hardest question. I’m not sure, maybe it means to never stop, to not consider what you are now, or what you are doing. An ending point but also a starting point. To keep questioning yourself, growing, changing. To not living your life as others expect, but as you expect. To keep looking for your own way and try to follow this, no matter what.
Copyright photos: Valentina Consalvi