This is me with my grandmother in 1963. In 1966 she taught me to knit.
I'm Liona and I am a knitwear designer, indie dyer and textile artist. AntigoKnits is my working studio with a local yarn shop attached, as well as a gallery and retail space for my other business, Kreative Knits. I'm located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and source fine yarns and gifts for knitters from around the world.
My first knitting busines, Kreative Knits, has gone through many iterations since my grandmother taught me to knit when I was only three years old. She was my best friend and knitting was a very enjoyable thing that we did together. She passed away when I was 11 but the love of knitting that she shared with me lives on.
At age 15, I was in school and too young to find a job which paid well but I was able to design knitwear and sell it for a good income. This is how I supported myself while I earned my degrees in computing science and math.
After graduation I worked as a programmer, an actuary, a financial analyst, a project manager, and a systems analyst for the next 24 years. Kreative Knits was on the back burner--I didn’t put a lot of time or effort into it. For the first few years I enjoyed my job because it was constantly changing and I was always learning new things. By the early 2000’s I was paid well but I was not challenged and hated to go to work to be bored for 8 hours while I could have spent that time knitting. My employer was bought out by another company and I was really hoping to be laid off so I could get severance and then focus on my knitting. However, the company didn’t want to lay me off. They kept paying me and I kept going to my boring job. In late 2009 I realized life was passing while I went to a job I hated. I asked my boss if I could cut back to part time so I could focus more on my knitting business. I could have done my job in 25% of my hours anyway and he could have saved 75% of my salary. He said no. I quit. After a brief moment of wondering, “What have I done?”, I regret that I didn’t do it 15 or 20 years sooner.
For the next few years I was free to explore many different directions for my business--selling yarn, dyeing yarn, felting, custom knitwear, designing and selling patterns, etc. Then about 5 years ago my brother was in kidney failure and my mother wasn’t well and I was thankful that my self employment allowed me to spend more time with them without changing anything about my career. I still have my apartment and my studio in Halifax and I also have this studio with a part time retail yarn shop called AntigoKnits in Antigonish.
My brother has had a kidney transplant and I was able to enjoy a lot of time with my mother up until she passed away at 86 in 2022. I have developed a love for more exotic fibres and a deeper awareness of just how much textile waste fast fashion is contributing to our landfills. I like living in three different places and moving around all the time while operating a part time yarn shop. I have stopped spending a lot of money on clothes I don’t need or wear. I want to be part of the solution and focus my business on creating quality knitwear that will last. I want to give back by donating more to local and global charities.
My mother. She used to meet me after work at my Halifax shop and we'd go out for supper. Although she was too busy with her own life to knit for me on a regular basis there were a few memorable occasions when she stayed up all night to help me knit Christmas stockings when deadlines were tight. After she moved to Indian Harbour Lake she used to knit cotton wash cloths for my store. And then when I opened the Antigonish store she enjoyed visiting once or twice a week and chatting with my customers.