Olena, I was looking at the photos of the things you knit, and I was amazed at how professional your work was! Have you been knitting for a long time?
I started when I was probably eight or nine years old. We had crafts lessons at school, they started after the fourth grade, so it was nine or ten years old…
Pretty early! My daughter is eight, but I can't imagine her doing something like that!
Well, it was just the beginning at this age. Of course, I had no custom orders then. Orders came when I became an adult... You see, I am a very experienced knitter. As a child, for example, I got some money from this. It was an additional income for me and my sister, so that we would not be idle. I used to live in the Caucasian region, and all the women there were knitting constantly. And so, our mother has been teaching us since we were little. I was always a creative child: I drew, sewed constantly. My mother bought me a sewing machine, the one that you had to work with your feet, back and forth. Legs were tired, of course! [she laughs] My mother did everything so that I could develop in this direction: if I wanted to knit, I got knitting needles, if I wanted to sew, I got magazines and fabrics. As a child, I even dreamt of becoming a fashion designer…
Did you have a desire to help someone as a child? Perhaps the urge to do good comes from childhood?
It is possible. As I already said, we sewed and knit a lot. We were mostly knitting for sale. But I sewed, so to speak, for close people for free. For example, my sister would always bring a dog or a cat home and hide them. And I did not have such a strong love for animals. But I had it for people, for children. I even wanted to be a psychologist for some period of time, I was often reading books on psychology. When my child was growing up, I wanted to understand children more and study them. Apparently, it all is intertwined: kindness and psychology, communication with children. And it makes you want to help someone.
That is, you wanted to take care of someone all your life?
I always helped if I had such an opportunity. Probably, like everyone else — I saw a charity stand and put 10 hryvnias there. Or I saw information about gathering money on TV and donated a hundred hryvnias there. There were situations when my acquaintances needed help, for example, due to sickness. I could easily transfer some money for a good cause. I thought that it would be better to help someone than to go and buy sweets for myself. And maybe everything would turn out well for this person.
And how did the idea of knitting for charity come about?
I always loved knitting! I had a stall before where my mother and I sold my knitted items, took orders. Knitting had been in my heart since childhood, and I could not let it go! [she laughs] When my son grew up and I had more free time, I didn't stop knitting. It was not for him anymore, because he was an adult. But I continued to knit things for children even then, I tried something new, added some schticks of my own.
Those things accumulated even though I gave some to close people. So, I started thinking about helping children in need, and gave some of my things to them. And then the time came to go to an orphan boarding school to see how it all works. I met volunteers who offered to go with them. I got into an orphan boarding school for the first time, and afterwards the idea came: to organize something related to knitting. I started by looking for similar initiatives, but did not find anything in Ukraine, and step by step I launched "40 loops of goodness".