On Your Toes - a story not only about knitting and socks, but the woman's story about searching and accepting yourself.
Alesya Karmalinskaya (creator of the small brand called „On Your Toes“) shares with an idea how to overcome society’s expectations about being successful and beautiful. And how to return to the women basics – to reveal your energy, to understand your character, to feel harmony in this world. To do this, we need to expand the conception of „Hand Made“ and to think beyond the standards.
Imagine, the cookies are being baked in the oven, something amazingly flavouring and hot is being poured into the cups. The red dog blissfully lays on the shining floor. The clews of yarn are neatly placed on their shelf, like paper projects in architecture firm, splashing colours and making colourful spots among the tranquil interior. It’s quiet, only working needles.
The smell of cookies slightly hiding the flavour of dry lavender and forest herbs that streched from the shelves of yarn. At first glance, it is a simple apartment in the outskirts of Prague, but certain people know that it’s a creative workspace of „On Your Toes“.
Knitting against Career
„When I was a little girl my granny and my mom were always trying to get me into the knitting“, says Alesya. And of course as a child I was strongly influenced by them, so I used to knit a lot of scarves for my friends and their dolls. Being a 10 year old, I couldn’t event imagine that knitting would bring me so much joy and opportunity to provide for myself and my family. Probably because of independence, being free from bosses, deadlines, choking office rooms and to have the ability of creative realization. Just me, good mood and my needles. No matter where I am, I do my work: in a Austrian village with a breathtaking Alpine views, at the coffee shop nearby or on the Vietnamese seashore visiting my relatives.
I’ve been through life, I worked myself from a kindergarden teacher to a top notch manager in a big company and when I say that it is very precious to do what you love, I reallly mean it, trust me. In the battle of Knitting and Carrer, the winner is obvious, because it brought more valuable and enjoyable results.
I want socks just like yours!
One day, my husband and I spent a summer vacation on the Mediterranean coast. I was waving needles for hours then. And some morning I was afflatedly knitting socks outside, when a young man came up to me and said, how amazed he was by my work.
I felt a little confused, as I didn’t understand why he was doing it, also I was very shy to accept a compliment from a random person towards my skills. But his story was so touching and sincere, that in a glimpse, we became friends. He told me, that he was from north of Turkey, about his family, especially his mother, which knits pretty good aswell, that she makes a lot of socks and sweaters for him and his family. I heared a lot of warming words that day, and suddenly realized, that the picture of „A knitting woman“ reminded the man of his mother that he misses. Eventually, we made a funny bet, that I would make a pair for his daughter and he would call his mother. I don’t know if he did, but when we were leaving, I handed him a pair of little socks for his daughter. The mans eyes were full of surprise and appreciation. Now I know, somewhere in Turkey a little girl wears my tiny knitted socks.
I never had any useful business contacts or proper clientele and of course nobody stood in the line to buy my products. Everything started with me and my beloved friends which are the most dedicaed fans of the brand. My first order was a pair of socks from the „Spring Melody“ collection for my friend Anna. She once saw me knitting a pair and said: „Alesya! These are amazing! Never seen socks like that! What the hell are you smoking to make such a piece?! You need to make it a thing! Visit me one time I’ll give you a proper kick to make it happen, stop whining“. Exactly from these words I got my first order and a good portion of confidence – it was call to get down to the business.
Accidently or not, from that moment I started to recieve a lot of attention and compliments from strangers all around Prague, who were trying to take a sneak photo of my socks. Once, a young man approached me in metro with words: „I would like to buy the same socks like yours, for my girlfriend.“ When I told him that I made them myself in a single copy, he answered: „You should sell them to everyone who wants.“ The Universe already started its job, I only needed to admit it and follow the path.
Who wears my socks? First of all, who appreciates the handcraft and votes for its uniqueness with money. Like my friend said: „Buying another ZARA blouse, you are just helping a boss to buy another yacht, but if you invest into a handmade product maker, you will bring them inspiration and hope for the future.“ Sounds so true, to be honest. That’s why I’m supporting masters of handmade all around the world. Women from all over the world are buying desinger „On Your Toes“ socks, no matter on nationality, culture or a place you are living in. Does location really matters, if the socks brings you comfort, warm. They help you create your everyday image, help you with sports, yoga or dance lessons. Recieving a photo from a happy client who wears my product really gets me, it’s priceless. That is the time when you understand when „sockmania“ connets people around the Earth.
There is no a professional institution for knitting in this world, I guess, where you can study how to knit properly. And the graduate thesis would be a wagon of scarves, sweaters and socks so you can defend your knitting abilites. It’s either you like it or you don’t. Learning how to knit is a consuming process, multiple resources like books, magazines, video master-classes, prepared patterns, knitting tutorials will help you to get along. And very likely it becomes a real study. Hard to believe, but in the beginning I couldn’t even pronounce „knitting“ or „socks“ correctly in English, how to read wrong or right stitch on the pattern, what needle brands exist and what’s their difference.
I found a big help in some tutorials from russian knitting expert Svetlana Garanina and also from british professional Caitlin Hunter. In a community knitting or deep pattern analyze you are starting to perfect and develop your skills also to get inspired to create your own sock design. This way is open for anyone, who’s ready to start. The main rule is „Don’t look back and don’t pay attention to comments of those who have never done any handmade product by themselves!“ If your heart sings from what you are doing – then it’s your time to go!
Closer to „On Your Toes“
„On Your Toes“ collection has lots of different styles. For example, the socks of „Spring Melody“ or „Norah Jones“ frequently used like accessoires or a daily piece. Socks like „Hygge Style“ are good for any time of the day, they are comfortable for walk and for sleep. But lately, special DIY knitting kits are growing their interest. The kit includes 100% natural eco yarn, pattern instruction about how to make any particular piece, either it’s socks or leg warmers (for sports, dance etc). The Key to this kits is that it holds needles with the first rows completed! Beginners love those kits, because it helps them to get into the knitting and understand the basics, the needle positions etc. If it seems easy you can easily tink (un-knit) it. But if you are struggling, you can keep knitting the row you already have, what helps you achieve your final destination. As a result the client recieves his first handmade product. Because the main rule of „On Your Toes“ – 100% handmade no matter who did it, me or you, it was made with love.
As Albert Einstein said: „Creativity is contagious. Pass it on“.
I made my part, now it’s your turn.