You know those great needle gauges you’ve seen on-board the yarn truck (and can buy online here)? The ones featuring Lil Dorothy? They are made in Finland by industrial designer, Aleksi Viirilä, the award-winning talent behind Succaplokki tools. In 2013 Aleksi Viirilä was chosen as the Young Finnish Crafter of the Year and nominated for the Noste Craft Award.
I recently asked Aleksi some questions about himself and his process. Here are his responses written, as he modestly claims, in “Finglish”.
Purlin’ J: Each needle gauge is unique. Can you describe the process and materials used?
Aleksi: I use industrial waste/left overs to make my items. Old signs, production leftovers, material with scratches and colour flaws. I use a laser to produce accurate cuts and all the items are finished by hand.
Why knitting tools? Are you a knitter?
This is kind of funny story. My wife (who’s a fanatic knitter) asked me to make her a pair of sock blockers in 2008. We did several cardboard models to make the blockers in the right size. I wanted to add some extra feature so I cut a needle gauge in the blocker. I made the final blockers from a piece of plastic I found in a trash can. She used the blockers on her knitting blog and from there the story of “Succaplokki” began. Finnish bloggers started to ask me if I could make more pairs for them. I was so excited that I started to design more items.
The name “Succaplokki” comes from combining the English words Sock Blockers and “Sukanpingotin”, which means Sock Blocker in Finnish. At the same time my wife discovered Etsy and from there the items started to sell out of Finland. Now this has been my main job for three years and I love it!
I’m not a knitter and this makes it even more interesting because I don’t have any presumptions about the knitting tools and how they should look or feel.
What is your training/background?
I’m a Industrial Designer. I specialize in tooling and prototyping. I’ve been working in this field for about 10 years.
What is your favourite thing about living where you live in Finland?
We live in a small countryside town in Southern Finland. Our house is an old house from the 50’s and my workshop is located in our basement. My favourite thing in all this is the slow way of life. I really love what I do. I don’t know if I can explain this in English but I truly feel a great joy for being able to make my items, which for me started by accident.
KingstonFest is a free indoor and outdoor family festival that showcases Kingston’s remarkable organizations, and encourages community involvement. Speaking of remarkable, Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Co. was recently named by The Globe and Mail Report on Small Business as one of “the Top Ten Most Remarkable Small Businesses” in Canada! Thanks to everyone who voted. I think it is rather remarkable indeed that a yarn store is part of the top ten!
The Purlin’ J’s truck will open 10am – 3pm Saturday October 4 at St. Lawrence College, 100 Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. FREE admission!
Visit Lil Dorothy, Purlin’ J’s yarn truck, this weekend at Anwyn Studio (105 Mowat, Kingston). Needlefelting kits from Fancy Tiger are back on-board, plus the new Flatter spray from SOAK! The yarn truck is open 10 – 3 on Saturday 27 Sept, and 11 – 3 Sunday 28 Sept.
Autumn is now upon us, and if you are anything like me, the distinctive scent of the crisp autumn air sets off my desire to settle in with my knitting. Have you planned your holiday gift knitting yet? A quick review of the calendar shows me that there are only thirteen weekends until Christmas! This year I want to make a knitted tie for a friend, at least two pairs of socks for the men in my life, a pair of leg warmers with some special yarn I bought for myself, and a poncho! I had better get started!
This weekend you can shop the Purlin’ J’s yarn truck, Lil Dorothy, at the first annual Sculpture Park Folk & Arts Festival! Lil Dorothy will be in attendance Saturday and Sunday, 20/21 September. The Festival features three stages to accommodate the many performances and workshops, plus an artisan corridor and demonstrations for all ages. FREE for all, in Gananoque’s beautiful Confederation Park!
Enjoy some Bluegrass with Bob Burtch, Fiddle & Step with Andrew Vanhorne, Irish dancers, a Songwriters Circle with Rob Carnegie, Jenica Rayne, Jeff Callery and Jeff J Gaulton, Latin music with Mauricio and last but not least, my favourite choir, Georgette Fry’s “Shout Sister” on Sunday afternoon!
There’ll be Songs and Stories from the Road with Michael George and Cliff Edwards, sprinkled with some Paint & Play, Young Peoples Theatre, a puppet show and more!
The Sculpture Park is Canada’s largest outdoor contemporary art exhibit.
This park sits on what was once an industrial site that occupied both sides of the Gananoque River. When the Jones Shovel Company ceased operation in the 1960’s, the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce developed a park which was dedicated on July 1, 1967. Over time, the Rotary Club added walks, lighting, ponds and a beautiful fountain in the centre of the river. During the 1990’s members of the Rotary Club approached the Art Bank in Ottawa, and in due course, a number of sculptures were leased from the Art Bank.
The plan is to gradually return the Art Bank pieces to the Art Bank and commission local artists to create replacement pieces to reflect either the history or the environment of Gananoque and area. The sculpture committee has commissioned the first piece, the flying Blue Heron by Bruce Mellon, and the following year the standing Blue Heron, also by Bruce Mellon of Wolfe Island. Last year it commissioned and installed the Pitch Pine, the official tree of Gananoque, by Rick Lapointe, of Kingston.
This weekend Lil Dorothy is returning to her roots in Lanark County for the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum’s 19th annual Fibrefest in historic Almonte. Whether you are interested in art, history, clothing, or textiles or are just looking for a great day out, Fibrefest will have something for you.
This two-day celebration of textiles and fibre arts spans three locations: the Museum, the Almonte Arena (182 Bridge St., where you’ll find Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Co.), and the Almonte Curling Club. Local guilds will demonstrate spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking, lacemaking, smocking and quilting. Vendors include spinners, weavers, and fibre artists from across the province, as well as quilt shops and alpaca farms.
“That’s My Style,” vintage clothing show and sale will have a large number of vintage clothing dealers, giving you the opportunity to enjoy and purchase a huge variety of vintage fashions in one location. “Button Mania” returns to Fibrefest this year, with displays of WW I era military and fashion buttons, alongside button vendors. Members of the Ottawa Valley Button Club will be present to identify your special buttons!
New this year will be a “Sort-a-Thon” presented by Alpaca Ontario. If you are curious about this wonderful animal, here is your chance to meet and greet them and to familiarize yourself with alpaca fibre and the products made with it. Alpaca farmers will have their fleece at the Sort-a-Thon, where it will be assessed, sorted and batched ready for the mill. Come and check out this fascinating process and see what the buzz is all about! Edited 12 Sept to add: The Sort-a-thon has been cancelled.
And finally, the Lamb Race! At 4 pm on September 14th, hundreds of wooden lambs will be thrown over the main falls in downtown Almonte, and the owners of the first three lambs to reach the finish line will win fabulous prizes! Tickets for the race will be on sale at the Museum ahead of the event.
The Museum is featuring two artists: Frances Taylor and Reiko Sudo, and on the second floor is the permanent history exhibit “Fabric of a Small Town,” which interprets how a piece of wool becomes a piece of finished cloth and the industrial machines used throughout the process.
The Friends of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum will again be running a tea room, featuring homemade goodies, beverages and sandwiches all available at a reasonable price.
Admission to Fibrefest is $5.00 per day, which includes access to all sites.
Lil Dorothy is going on her first long road trip this weekend, travelling from Kingston, Ontario, to Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec, for TWIST! I am nervous and excited all at the same time! But once she has arrived at the Complexe Whissell, Lil Dorothy’s doors will be open Saturday and Sunday, Aug 23/24 beginning at 9 am until 6 pm Saturday and 5 pm Sunday. There is a $7 entrance fee and kids 12 and under are free.
Do you love the yarn truck? Then vote for it!
Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Company is a semi-finalist for The Globe & Mail Report on Small Business #remarkablebiz contest and your votes are needed! Visit the G&M Pinterest page here and vote for Purlin’ J’s using the ‘like’ button (heart) on Pinterest! At the end of August, the Report on Small Business team will select the final winners based on a combination of factors including number of votes, original submissions and the ‘remarkable’ quality of the business. Finalists will be featured on the Report on Small Business website. Thanks for your support!
To celebrate Purlin’ J’s first anniversary, I’m having a sale! Shop Lil Dorothy, Purlin’ J’s yarn truck this Saturday, 16 August, at MUSICwestport and stock up! I need room for new fall products so selected yarns will be on sale for up to 50% off! The truck will be open 11 am to 6 pm, and will be parked on Spring Street near the tourist information office.
The 2014 MUSICwestport festival line-up features bluegrass to country to rock and roll. Hosted on two outdoor stages in beautiful downtown Westport, Ontario, the afternoon of FREE music runs from noon until 6pm on August 16.
"One of the coolest 'yarn stores' I've ever seen" --Vogue Knitting magazine, Holiday 2013
Challenging myself, one stitch at a time.