Monday, 5 October 2009

The View From the Shoe: Awkward

Today, I speak to someone who goes only by the name of Awkward. Or, to anyone who knows them on Twitter, Very Awkward. Awkward makes themost exquisite hand-knitted accessories, with a texture so ine they could be the oldest lace.

Thank you so much for your time. So, Louboutin or Converse?
Converse, as a matter of fact, coffee-and-cream ones. Louboutins look nice, but given the means, I would skip them and have a whole selection of John Fluevog’s boots and shoes instead.

What do you do?
I make things. Currently, all my efforts are almost exclusively focused on my etsy shop, where I’m trying to stock up small winter things in hopes of being able to expand and start offering other clothing as well.

Why is there no one in the world who does it quite like you?
I think most other people manage their time more effectively. I like to use complicated, slightly archaic design aesthetics, thin string, small needles, and old buttons, and I like to design as I work. It’s hard to imagine anyone else working this seriously and having such a ridiculously circuitous approach.

What do you really, really love about it?
The textures, colors, and potentials in a new box of yarn are amazing; it’s like being immersed in some sort of synesthetic paint box. The entire process--being able to turn what is essentially just nice string into something warm and cozy and wearable, something you imagined in your head or at best sketched out in skeleton design notes, and then having someone else whom you’ve never even met fall in love with the result--is kind of indescribably joyful for me most of the time. I really really love the tactile pleasantness of it, the usefulness hidden beneath the tactile and visual appeal, and the way most knitting and needlework builds on itself in a way that often reminds me of simplified fractals.

A bit more time in the day, or a bit more money in the bank?
I’ve already kind of given up having more money in the bank in favor of having time to work on things I’m most passionate about, so embarrassingly I’d prefer the second at the moment.

Imagine you “make it”. You wake up, and imagine the day ahead. Tell us about breakfast.
Breakfast is slightly non-existent for me, and I don’t imagine that will change--but I do imagine I’d have many more varieties of tea and coffee on hand. Upon waking, I’d laze in for a while before giving up my spot in a warm bed, then get up to go to the kitchen and stand indecisive in front of the tea cupboard. After briefly fantasizing about my potential to starve to death in indecision before lunchtime, I’d make two mugs of tea--one for me and one for my favorite-person-at-first-sight, who is possibly the only human being I’ve ever met who is sleepier in the mornings than I am, and even less interested in breakfast. It would be really good tea.

What’s your Jimmy Choo? And what’s just cobblers?
As far as independent designers go, I am really smitten with Gibbous Fashions, and their blog, which is I think they’re brilliant and strange, and I really like their designs--all of which seem to be one-of-a-kind, elaborate concoctions that I wish I could have for my own. The website’s also beautifully designed with typewritten scraps of text, buttons, and frayed strands of sequins. I am really the opposite of smitten with the fetishization of the artist, particularly lately--it annoys me when I find myself getting caught up in it, and I also think that it plays into the problems creative people face in finding ways to be paid for their work, since you’re supposed to be unconcerned with mundane things and able to exist without benefit of sandwiches apparently.

Tell us about the last time a fan made you feel 100 feet tall.
I’m not sure I have any fans, per se, but recently someone let me know that they were very thrilled with a neo-Victorian-style button cuff I had made and it had me floating around with an idiotic smile all day. I really really liked it, and was strangely concerned about sending it off; it’s completely exciting to me that the new owner likes it at least as much, if not more.

Independent and poor, or under contract and rich?
Both! Wait. It depends on the contract, and whether as an independent I would have so little money that I’d be almost imprisoned by my own independence. It’s a tricky question; a non-restrictive, lucrative contract could fund independent work.

Do you remember that bit on Play Away where Brian Cant stood behind people and did the actions whilst they spoke? If you could choose anyone to stand behind you and do the actions to your sales pitch, who would it be and why?
If I ever got to be really very famous, I would like to hire at least one stunt double to play me whenever I had to do any kind of sales pitch or PR. Preferably the double wouldn’t really look like me, and would be taller, and when people pointed out that they suspected we were two different people we’d both act completely shocked and aggrieved that anyone would say such a thing, especially when we were spotted together. An old friend of mine who’s much more extroverted than I am would be the ideal for this, but he’d get mad at me if I praised his acting talents here, and rightfully so--it would give the scheme away. It is possible that I don’t remember the bit you’re talking about at all. I hope no one notices.
Frocks or socks?
Socks! Usually very tall ones. Curiously, I’m much better at choosing socks or stockings and then finding a frock to fit them, rather than the other way around.


  1. a fun interview I love Awkwards' wristlets!

  2. It's the wristlets and chokers that particularly caught my eye - although I can only imagine how unctuous the scarves feel

  3. Ah Awkward is as Awkward does; delightful, intangible, hard to catch as a flickering star, remote yet close all at once; leaving behind a trail of linked string you will be happy to touch.

  4. Can't compete with the above testimonial, but happy to have MS Awkward on the Treasury Team, and wish her lots of exposure and sales. Her work deserves it! Interesting interview, I enjoyed it.

  5. Wonderful interview. Creative questions, and inspired answers. Just perfect!

  6. how lovely to see you all. It's always a pleasure to meet people from the Etsy community, whcih I would never have known existed were it not for twitter. Thanks to it, I have Chrisdtmas and birthdays wrapped up (as it were) for years to come.

  7. how lovely to see so many of my friends in one place!

  8. Wonderful interview! What a delight to get a peek into Akward's very creative mind.

  9. Great interview and I had a look at your beautiful things on Etsy. Absolutely lovely. The cocoa merino wool/silk scarf is so delicately beautiful.

    And the wristlets...!

  10. Great interview! Andy Warhol did the stunt double thing with Edie Sedgwick... inspired & hilarious. I'm coveting a button cuff. xx

    Penny Goring/@triplecherry

  11. I think we're all agreed the wristlets are just plain amazing. Half of me thinks of Clara Bow or some glamorous 20s film icon, and half can't imagine anything but Bette Davis at her most sinister. Neither of which is a bad thing. And with the choker to boot - wow!

  12. Awkward I have admired all of your pieces...if only they were necessary in Arizona! Also, love your answer about socks....socks are just IT!

  13. Awkward seems to be a misnomer!

    To Awkward: are you self-taught? How did you get started with the knitting?

  14. Thanks again for hosting the interview, Dan. :)

    Hi Bee--I am, in fact! I started because a small sister wanted a scarf, and I decided to learn to knit one on the sly so it would be a good surprise; after a bit of frustration and false starts, it suddenly clicked that it was almost just geometry, fuzzy textile geometry, and I quickly got much more interested. Thank you for asking. :)