25 June 2012

A Portrait of the Artist: Alisa Design

One thing I like about Etsy treasuries is the incredible artists I get to meet when my works are being featured side by side to theirs. One such example is my meeting Alisa from Estonia. The moment I saw her knitted sweater collection in her shop, Alisa Design, I needed to learn more about her and the way she creates. Little did I know that she is such an amazing young company full of inspiring visions!

Alisa's sweaters caught my eye and heart with their whimsical swirls and distinctively elfish shoulders, so I just had to present to you the person behind this magical beauty in this week's A Portrait of the Artist!

When did you learn to knit and how long was it before you opened an etsy shop?
Oh, it was a long long time ago ;) I learned knitting when I was a very little girl, my mom taught me how to do it! Also when I was at school we had arts and crafts classes. This is when I made my first socks and mittens. Knitting has always been more like a hobby for me. About a year ago I completely devoted myself to this art. I opened my Etsy shop in November 2010, but I introduced my first little collection just in autumn 2011, so I'm quite new to Etsy.

Tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Alisa and I was born on the 9th of October 1986 in Tallinn. Two years ago I got my Bachelor Degree in Fashion Design. My love to art and fashion began at a very young age. I have always been interested in arts and fashion. Fashion design has always been a great passion for me and has always inspired me to a creative work. When I was a little girl I loved drawing, sewing and knitting. I took classes in crafts in leather, in batik painting and in jewelry design. When I was 16, I took part in my first school fashion show. About the same time I completed a course as a make-up artist.

Later on, during my University studies I had a wonderful opportunity to make a collection inspired by famous Estonian Folk Ornaments of socks and tights. This was an amazing experience for me and this collection is available now in our country stores, which I’m very proud of ;)

After finishing the University I finally dedicated all my time to the creative work. I was looking for my own style in the fashion design. I tried different directions, experimented with different materials until I got back to knitting. It divulged me completely.

I started to experiment with different knitting techniques. I discovered so many textures and structures, shapes and folds! Knitting allows me to fully express myself. And yet I would like to learn more about it as I started working in this art field relatively recently. I have so many ideas, so I hope all my greatest creations and achievements are awaiting for me in the future!

Electric Chic

Your designs seem fairy-tale like, how do you come up with them?
Thank you for the beautiful comparison!

Well, I’m always in a creative thinking process. I can generate ideas in any minute. That is why I always have a notebook or a piece of paper handy, so I can draw quickly a sketch.

Creating a collection is always a long thinking process. For instance, my ideas are born when I watch a science fiction film, or if I see an interesting line or a shape in the architecture.

Sometimes my ideas are influenced by the shapes from a past fashion tendency. Sometimes, just before going to bed, something strikes me and I hurry up to do a few sketches so that the next morning I would remember this idea.

As soon as I have my idea fixed and all the little details are well-thought, then I start modeling on the mannequin. And if something does not go well, then a new interesting shape appears. At that point I change a part of my design and I have a complete new creation!

Sometimes my creative ideas come when I see a beautiful color of yarn or an intricate decorative detail that attracts me. Sometimes my clients come to me with their own ideas, so that I only have to make their wish come true.

Sea Breeze Sweater

Can you take us through your working process? How long does it take you to finish a sweater?
As I said before to create a collection is always a long process. I spend most of the time generating new ideas, and finding new shapes and lines. I experiment a lot with materials. Modeling on the mannequine takes another lot of time. But when the idea already exists I simply choose my yarn and select the decorative details (if they make a part of the design). So, one sweater can take about one week to finish, it depends on the style and yarn thickness.

Once I had a wonderful client who ordered a sweater for his fashion show. The show was supposed to start in just a few days! It was a real challenge for me but I took the chance! I finished the sweater within three days. I literally knitted it days and nights. It was a hand-made work. The order was done on time. My client was very happy and satisfied with my work. I do not know if I can ever beat my own record. Well, if I have the yarn as thick as my finger I probably could knit a sweater in a day! :)

Speaking of my new knitting collection, it will all be done on the knitting machine. I am in the process of discovering new possibilities and techniques of knitting on a machine. On the one hand, it saves a lot of time. On the other hand, there are many special tricks that I have to learn.

My new collection will be in a minimalist style with folds and small leather details. It will be soon available in my Etsy store and I hope everyone will find something they like.

How do you choose your yarns?
Choosing yarn is very important, because this is the basis for my work and I want to be sure that I choose the best yarn for my creative projects. When I design an item or a collection I have a lot of freedom in choosing yarn! It can be very thick or soft and fluffy. I take into consideration the color and weight of the  yarn, I read the wash and dry instructions as well as general information on how to take care of the yarn.

I try to use eco-friendly materials, such as wool, cotton and angora wool. I also use yarn which has acrylic inclusion because it has a wide palette of beautiful bright colours which is not always the case for wool or other natural yarn palettes. The mixed yarn is easy to wash and it has a good price.

In my new collection I used only high quality yarn, such as 100 % merino wool, 100% cotton with insertion of some leather details for decorative parts. But when I have a custom order we discuss in details what exactly my client wants, what preferences he has in a yarn color. We  also choose the composition of the yarn.

Left: Khaki Chic 2 | Right: Khaki Chic

How do you make sure you are eco-friendly in your practices?
I try to use high quality yarn: natural wool, alpaca wool, cotton, angora etc.

I order yarn from the suppliers that I know for a long time. There are a few companies in Estonia that have a good reputation on the market. When I go there I know that I will not be deceived in my choice. It is very important to me to have clients satisfied with the quality of my work.

What is your greatest inspiration?
It is quite a difficult question, because I am inspired by so many things. I get a lot of inspiration from the local nature. I am inspired by the old architecture of my country. The past that we lived and the imaginary future give me possibilities to create and experiment in my field.

From the things that are around me I like elegance and femininity. I enjoy the classic style and simplicity. As an artist I follow the modern fashion trends. Today I prefer minimalist and futuristic design with their unusual shapes and folds that inspire me most. I like contemporary arts, especially Japanese arts. I find it very intricate and lucid at the same time. I would also like to experiment with a 3D structural knitting, so I hope one day you will find more geometry in my work!

The world of fashion fascinates me. It brings a major influence to my design work. It constantly pushes me to perfectionism.

What is your current favorite item from another etsy seller?
There are hundreds fantastic artists and just amazing items on Etsy, but there are some of them that I like a lot. For example: fantastic products from Diana Nagorna, Behida Dolic's amazing hats, wonderful purses shop Coriumi, Eve Anders, Emīlija Lielā and her amazing felted bears brooches collection.. and many many others.

Make sure you connect with Alisa:


  1. WOW! stunning creations ~~ fabulous interveiw! I so agree about treasuries, it is such a fun way to meet artists from all over ~~

    1. Indeed! Thank yo for stopping by, Elaine!

  2. Wonderful knits. Very inventive.

    1. Certainly a great artist! Thank you for your comment!

  3. Wow. Beautiful post and photographs. Amazing!

  4. Fantastic sweaters! I have a new favorite shop. Thanks for the introduction, Sonya! :)

  5. I love the shoulders. You don't see sweaters doing that too often, and it's so dramatic!

  6. Beautiful sweaters! I love her style and unique designs. Thanks for sharing this amazing artists.
    Everyday Inspired

  7. Fabulous designs, I love her style! Those apparently rigid lines are softened by the pure love that shines through the detailed design of each an every piece...stunning!

  8. It has an armor-like aesthetic to it —love it!