PM: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what are some great memories from your childhood?
Ani: I’m Ani, and I’m a pretty daggy, excitable human originally from California. I grew up on the coast of California on a hillside with my two siblings, my parents, and a runty little dalmatian. We were (and are) a pretty tight little family unit, and there are so many good things about my childhood, but mostly they centered around being outside together, going on long car trips (like a month long one driving across the USA when I was twelve), riding our bikes and playing games of ultimate frisbee.
PM: What is Close Knit and how did all begin?
Ani: Close Knit is really just an expression of my deep desire to be connected to people and places around me. I think I’ve always been doing ‘close knit’, but really only gave it a name in the last couple of years. On the internet, it’s home to the podcast and IRL it’s the name I go by when I teach fibre art workshops (so far, in knitting and spinning wool). The podcast exists to hold space for conversation to be had about the ways in which we use fibre to process life and world events, and on it I speak to fibre artists from all over the world.
PM: What’s the best Close Knit project you have worked on and why?
Ani: The podcast is hands down the best part of Close Knit. I do a lot under the umbrella of Close Knit- I knit a lot (for myself and others), I write and test knitting patterns, I’ve had a go at keeping a regular blog, I teach (and this definitely is a close second to the podcast- maybe it’s even a tie?), but I think it’s overall the podcast that inspires me most.
To be honest, the podcast is a crap ton of work - there is so much that goes into every single episode - and over time it’s gotten easier and I’ve been told I’ve gotten better at it (I hope this is true!), but I really wouldn’t trade it. The conversations I’ve gotten to have with fibre artists from all over have been so incredible - so eye-opening and inspiring. Every time I get to have one of these chats, I am reminded why the work of editing, which is tedious and sometimes frustrating, is so so worth it.
And any time that someone reviews the podcast, or messages me to say that the podcast has impacted them in some positive way, I am so filled with joy. It’s an incredible reminder to keep showing up to this work, even when it’s hard and especially when I am tired.
PM: When did you start taking note of sustainable fashion and was there something or someone who inspired this?
Ani: My relationship to clothing has changed a lot over my lifetime. I’ve always been interested in the environmental and social impacts of my consumer choices, but clothes have particularly piqued my interest, mainly because I like dressing myself - I find it a fun exercise in self-expression and comfort.
There are many ways my relationship to clothing has changed in the last few years, but the general gist is that I have a rule of ‘buy new but few’. I used to spend a lot of time op-shopping, because I do generally think that op-shopping is a good approach to buying clothing on a budget that means nothing new needed to be produced. But when I’m honest with myself, I don’t really like trawling through heaps of clothing to possibly find one thing I like, and I don’t often find silhouettes or fabrics I enjoy wearing. (I also realised recently that all my friends think I am a natural fibre snob - this is possibly true). I prefer to spend a fair amount of time researching the supply chains of local brands, and I use things like Well Made Clothes, Intent Journal, Ethical Clothing Australia and Instagram to find brands and people that are making clothing in a sustainable and ethical way. When I lived in Sydney, I spent a lot of my free time attending events about sustainable fashion and researching brands - I’m a total nerd for this stuff, so it makes sense to me to spend hours on the internet researching before buying.
PM: Where would you most like to live in the whole world?
Ani: I have this vision of the Scottish Highlands being my form of paradise - tons of sheep, rolling hills, cold weather that means I have a reason to knit all the time. I’m not sure it’d be all I’m picturing in my mind, though.
PM: Where feels like home to you?
Ani: Hobart. I used to live in Sydney and it felt like I was constantly hitting a wall there. Then I decided to book a cheap flight to Tassie to take a weaving workshop, and I was hooked. I honestly felt my shoulders relax down my spine, and I thought ‘oh! This is what it can feel like to be somewhere you like living? You can feel less anxious all the time?’ it sounds kind of strange, but this was a huge shift for me, and I’ve spent the last couple of years feeling the effects of a reduction in anxiety from living in Hobart. I often refer to Hobart as my ‘heart home’ and I’m pretty certain that even if I don’t live here forever, it’ll always be a home for me.
PM: What is your favourite item of clothing and has Pitbull Mansion influenced your style at all?
Ani: Well, my favourite clothing item is now the Kowtow Overalls. I’m wearing them right now. I tend to wear the same 2 linen dresses I have from the etsy shop Not Perfect Linen, but lately I’ve been wanting to feel more tomboyish in my style. I’ve had a few friends remark that they think of me as quite feminine, I guess because I wear a lot of dresses? For some reason that kind of irked me - I don’t want to be pigeonholed, I suppose - so it feels good to reclaim this more tomboy side of my dress sense (in large part thanks to PItty with my overalls and my lil green cap I’ve been wearing backwards).
PM: What are your favourite spare time shenanigans?
Ani: Spare time is not really a concept I totally get because I tend to fill my moments with work of some sort - Close Knit or day job, but I spend a lot of time walking places, listening to music and podcasts while I walk, knitting, knitting while I walk, dancing, and dancing while I knit. I sing in the Southern Gospel Choir which rehearses weekly, and that’s a huge outlet for me musically.
PM: So what's your favourite music right now?
Ani: I’ve been on a Chicago-based artist kick recently, all my favourite artists are from/in Chicago - Chance the Rapper, NoName, Smino, Ravyn Lenae, Jamila Woods. All of these guys are dealing with some pretty heavy themes in their music, and they bring so much lightness to it. And they just bloody groove.
PM: What do you think is the best thing about Tassie?
Ani: The air! And the quality of light. There is something about the way the air and the light work together down here that makes it feel like a dream. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried from sheer joy of being alive in this place, watching a sunset or walking up the mountain.
PM: Has anyone influenced you life through words or actions and if so who and what?
Ani: I think I’m quite a sponge and I easily take on the mannerisms of those around me, particularly of people I admire. My sister is someone I don’t get to see all that regularly these days, but the way she moves through this world is incredibly inspiring to me. She is probably the single most humble, graceful and genuinely compassionate person I know, and I aspire to channel my inner Thea. She’s also an absolute goofball, and her laughter is infectious.
PM: What’s next for you?
Ani: Soaking up the spring and summer in Tassie. It’s the first day of Spring and you can feel the lightness in it. We’re out of winter, the sun’s going to set later. I’ll be down at Rektango having a boogie, over at the Polish Club listening to the Rug Cutters Jass Band, wandering the rivulet and making tracks up the mountain. I’ve got a few weeks in Sydney coming up, which I’m excited about, but I know I’ll be stoked as hell to get back to our little island home.