We love our members, and we love to feature them on the website, too. This time around, our featured member is Laura Twiss of Balsam Knits in Ottawa, who designs size-inclusive knitwear and accessories. Here, Laura gamely answers all our questions about her work and her life.

(P.S., not a member yet? What are you waiting for?)

Workshop: Describe your business in 10 words or less.

Laura Twiss: Balsam Knits welcomes those interested in lightening their footprint by making, slowly.

W: What was the first product you sold?

LT: The first product Balsam Knits sold was The BK Large Journal. It's not even something I made. It was through the drop-shipping company Art of Where. Because they produce it in Montreal, it sort of goes into my philosophy of Canadian supporting Canadian, so I uploaded my logo and put it on. My sister bought four of them.

But if you want something more romantic, I would say my Ptarmigan pattern.

W: What’s your latest innovation?

LT: My latest innovation is the Coronet Beret. Designed and launched in a fervour to remedy my lack of producing.

W: What’s something you’ve done in the past year that you’re proud of?

LT: I did two things.

At the end of 2022, I really wanted to get back into my community and start nurturing a new community. So I started a monthly knit-night at a local pub. I call it knerdy nights. I think about 30 people showed up the first night — it was fantastic.

I also taught young people about fibres, textiles, slow-making, and zero-waste design at a summer camp.

W: What’s something new that you’ve learned lately?

LT: It is okay to go slow.

Over the last few years I experienced many health issues (unrelated to Covid). As an independent business, not being able to produce as effectively as I had prior to being sick added more stress. I have been fortunate to be able to rest, to learn how to listen to my body, and to give myself permission to go slow.

When I designed the Ptarmigan Pullover, it was a part of a collection. My intention was to release four patterns a year and after five years, to focus on releasing the body of work. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I resolve to take my time to complete my goal. I recently knit up the Ptarmigan Cardigan in two beautiful Yukon yarns by Crux Fibres: Fingering Weight plied with Suri Alpaca Silk Lace Weight.

The Toty-Tote-Tote, with a photo of Laura's Ptarmigan lace pattern. Photo courtesy Laura Twiss.

W: What’s the most recent thing you’ve bought from another Canadian maker?

LT: Stephanie Davis Designs, also out of Ottawa, is a women's wear brand for those who like to have fun with fashion while feeling strong, confident and beautiful. I picked up the Ava Sweater Dress in Camo.

W: Describe your dream studio.

LT: My dream studio would have a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, natural light with access to fresh air — perhaps patio doors leading to a garden. The space would have custom-built cupboards designated for my supplies with a cutting table on top to save space. Computer and screens on one end of the room with an L-shaped table for my sewing machines in a corner. An entire wall with a few pegs to celebrate my completed work and work in progress. All this exposes clear and clean hardwood floors, with many more plants, and ideal spaces for the cats to keep me company while I’m working — and keep them out of the yarn!

W: What’s one book, movie, TV show, magazine, podcast or album that you’re loving right now?

LT: I can’t get enough of Haptic & Hue. Jo Andrews is the David Attenborough of the textile kingdom. She invites the listener to lovely tales of textiles and fabric manipulation and her tales keep me company while I create and make.