Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nora Bellows talks about her new book, Noni Flowers & a Giveaway!

We recently had the opportunity to interview Nora Bellows, the creative mind and hands behind the beautiful Noni pattern line. Known for her felted bags and accompanying flowers inspired by blooms found in gardens around the world, Nora is truly one of the most unique knitting and felting designers around. Here is what she had to say about her new book, where she gets her inspiration, and well, a few other fun things too:

JBW- Can you give us a super quick (2-3 sentences) description of your book for our readers?

Nora- This book offers 40 botanically inspired and botanically correct flowers for the home knitter to make as embellishments or stand alone ornaments for home d├ęcor, knitted garments, gifts, neck pieces. . . The book also offers 6 projects as inspiration for how to use the flowers in multiple ways. I like to think of the Noni patterns as “canvases” that are ready to be decorated with flowers from the book. A flower on a single, sculptural branch can make a beautiful art piece.

JBW- What was the inspiration for the book?

Nora- I have always been interested in knitted flowers and had a number in my own pattern collection. Quite simply, my garden, actual flowers, are my inspiration.

JBW- Do you have a favorite design (or designs) from the book that you’d like to highlight for us? What makes this design(s) your favorite?

Nora- My favorite flower is the Star Magnolia. I had revised all the flowers I imported from my own Noni Pattern collection and then moved on to other flowers. The Star Magnolia was the culmination of all that revision work and was, in a sense, my breakthrough flower. After that, I knew something about designing knitted
flowers that I did not know before.

JBW- What made you want to start designing knitting and crochet patterns for felting?

Nora- I saw a cute felted bag and wanted to make one for myself. And then I start posing challenges for myself. Posing a challenge and then creating a design to respond to that challenge is a great way to work. I still use this technique.

JBW- As a designer, do you have any advice for those folks out there who are just starting to design on how to make a living doing what they love?

Nora- I think it is difficult to make a living at one thing these days. We need to have our fingers in more than one basket, we need to reinvent ourselves often, keep things exciting. My advice is to try to find something you love in everything you do. If you can make a living at it (or at several things you love) so much the better. Keep doing whatever it is you love until you no longer love it and then move on to the next exciting thing.

Now here are some "fun" questions we asked Nora to answer for us:

JBW- Where did you grow up?

Nora- In Massachusetts until I was 4 and thereafter Maryland

JBW- What time do you start work?

Nora- I’m at the studio usually by about 9/9:30am.

JBW- Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Nora- Coffee

JBW- Tell us about your previous life—you know, before yarn:

Nora- I have a masters of fine arts in creative writing and a Phd in Renaissance Literature. . . I taught English Composition and Rhetoric for first year college students, English Lit, and Creative writing for 12 years.

JBW- What is your favorite hobby?

Nora- Gardening and knitting. . .

JBW- What is your dream job?

Nora- Being able to make beautiful things without worrying about making a living. . . I guess that would either be teaching or being an artist. Would be lovely to teach English (no grades, just comments) and make what I want.
From Nora's garden.

JBW- Your favorite book?

Nora- My favorite author is Michael Ondaatje Love the book "In the Skin of the Lion"

JBW- What was the last crafty project (knitting or other) that you created?

Nora- Ella’s Going Out Bag

JBW- If you be any animal (besides human), what would you be and why?

Nora- I would love to experience what it is like to be all different sorts of animals. I would love to run like a Cheetah, to swim like a blue whale or a minnow in a school, to fly like a hawk or California Condor on thermals. . . wasn’t it King Arthur who was reported to experience all these things? Wouldn’t that be a fascinating learning experience? I think it would make me a better human.

JBW- What was the last movie you saw in the theater?

Nora- Men in Black 3

JBW- Favorite possession?

Nora- A blue bottle that was smashed with air still inside so it’s bottom is cracked away. I found it in an old abandoned glass plant.

JBW- Next big adventure?

Nora- Don’t know yet, as that is the nature of adventures.

JBW- What inspires you?

Nora- My garden. My son. Looking at the world. I believe we must look at the world to create.

Thank you so much to Nora for allowing us to interview you for the blog! Please be sure to check out the website for the book Noni Flowers or Noni Designs for her patterns and more information about her work. Additionally, Nora has a fantastic blog that is worth reading as she gives wonderfully detailed tutorials and all kinds of insights into her designs! You can also follow her on Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter


We have a copy of Noni Flowers to giveaway to one lucky reader courtesy of Nora herself! Please leave us a comment on this post telling us what your favorite type of flower is. We'll choose a winner at random and announce them in next Wednesday's blog post, June 13th. The deadline to enter is 11pm on Tuesday, June 12th. Good luck!


Lastly, the winner of last week's giveaway of Denise needles (thanks to random.org) is- LaurainATL who wrote: 


"I've already had my big vacation trip to France - and had to pick out which of my Denise tips I wanted to bring with me. Denise2Go would have been perfect. But winning a set would still be fantastic. I take knitting with me on business trips and when hanging out at my sister's house."


Congrats LaurainATL! Please e-mail me at: kristen@jimmybeanswool.com to claim your needles! Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments. :)


Happy knitting everyone!
Kristen


*All photos in this post except for the last one are by R.A. Sullivan and are from Nora's Website and blog.

35 comments:

  1. Yeah, I'm the first comment!
    A friend of mine owns this book and I was lucky enough to look at it: it's amazing! We are planning to knit many of these beautiful flowers to raise money for a local charity in October. Thanks Nora for this beautiful book and thanks JBW for the opportunity to win a copy!

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  2. I have bought several of the NONI handbag and flower patterns and find them to be very user friendly. Felted birds last year and want to felt flowers this year to include on upscale scarves and shawls-this book would be wonderful! Thanks!

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  3. I love the whole idea of knitted flowers.

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  4. It would be fun to make flowers from this book. Favorite flower - that's a hard one, but I think maybe daffodils.

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  5. Lori Winterfeldt (lori.gluckman@yahoo.com)June 6, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    My favorite flower...the rose.

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  6. I have had the pleasure of meeting Nora and am taking a class with several friends to make a couple of her bags. I love making the flowers! Nothing like adding a rosette to a project to make it pop! Nora is a delight!

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  7. My favorite flowers are irises, except when my favorite is a rose (and some days daffodils)...

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  8. I love real pansies, because when you open the middle up, you see a little Dutch girl!

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  9. I love the concept of being able to knit flowers! This would be a book that I'd love to find. As to favorites, I have two Lilac and Rose.

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  10. My favorite flower is a tie between lilacs and shooting stars.

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  11. Magnolias...beyond a shadow of a doubt! I lived in Alabama for a few years as a child, and I simply fell in love w/Magnolias. I really like Peonies, Irises and various Lillies.
    The book is fabulous!

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  12. I love daffodils, because they mark the beginning of spring. So pretty -- so many different kinds.

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  13. I love dahlias (and this new book!)

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  14. African violets! They sparkle!

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  15. I love flowers, real and knit. Among my favorite are irises and Gerber daisies.

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  16. These sound so fun to knit! As for my favorites...it's a tie between peonies and poppies. Oh, and thistles and lilacs...!

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  17. I love that book! I saw it at the bookstore the other day. My cats like sniffing and eatting flowers, so we can't have real flowers in the house. I would love to make an entire vase of Noni's flowers! My favorite flowers? Oh, roses, irises, geraniums, and sunflowers ....

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  18. Sunflowers! I love that they follow the sun across the sky!

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  19. My favorite flower is the red rose. Portland is known as the City of Roses, and I had 6 red roses in my wedding bouquet. But I love ALL of Noni's flowers, and I'd love to win her new book :)

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  20. I have so many favorite flowers, but at this time the Peony is my favorite. It has a lovely sent and the petals are so dense and yet delicate at the same time! I have been a fan of Noni designs for a long time...thanks for the great interview Nora!!

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  21. Favorites - lilacs and gardenias. Intrigued by noni flowers!

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  22. My favorites are pansies and violas - I love their little faces.

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  23. cynthia.landers@ocps.netJune 7, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    What's not to like about Noni's flowers? You can have a garden outside and inside your house!!

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  24. I love irises! The scent instantly takes me back to childhood.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

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  26. Although it's difficult to choose just one, my favorite flowers are lilacs. They were my beloved mother's favorite. The scent of lilac will always remind me of her. I live in California though, where we are lilac deficient!

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  27. My favorite flowers are dahlias. They come in so many varieties and are so beautiful!

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  28. Ever since I was a child my favorite flower has been the Daphne. Knitting flowers, sounds like fun!

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  29. I am just starting to realize the beauty of flowers. My husband and I are finally living in a home where we will not be moving, and we are beginning to add our flower beds.

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  30. It is really hard to choose just one favorite flower; right now, the honeysuckle is blooming and to me, smells like orange blossoms as I walk past.

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  31. I like tulips. The colors are so brilliant against their green leaves.

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  32. OOH, difficult to choose! Birds of Paradise and Stargazers would have to top the list though. Thanks JBW and and Nora for this opportunity to win this beautiful book

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  33. I love pansies but who can decide which one is their favorite when they are all so beautiful? The Shirley Poppy sure looks happy! Maybe that is my favorite for the moment.

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