A Knitter’s Quest | Cities News, The Indian Express

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HER mother’s basket full of brightly colored balls of yarn, needles sticking out like chopsticks; the legendary bench at the Loreto Convent School where Sister Aquinas parked and passionately knitted life into the solemn gray yarn – knitting unraveled “warm and cozy” memories for Niyati Sharma, wrapped in the loving embrace of her mother’s handmade woolens. “My mother’s knitting needles were sacred, her prized possession, her tools, her therapy, her means of expression. We watched with rapt attention as she knitted effortlessly,” recalls Niyati, whose love of knitting grew to become her tool, her therapy, her medium for creativity and expression, her Bunn Na brand. “Chalo kucch bunn te hain,” her mother would shout, and they would sit with their needles and balls of yarn, ready to receive an education, skills, and tradition that she passed on to her eight-year-old daughter.

“People have a preconceived notion that handmade woolens are not upscale. I wanted to change that perception, revitalize that art and preserve tradition,” says Niyati, continuing her quest for knitting, one stitch at a time.

Models in Bunn Na attire (Express Photo by Jaskiran Kapoor)

Waffle-knit dresses, sumptuous wool capes and kaftans, tassel jumpers, patterned throws, statement bedspreads and blankets, Icelandic coordinating sets, chunky funky cardigans, structured knitwear, signature shawls and wraps, crocheted wonders – with exquisite designs, captivating colours, contemporary styles , embroideries and patterns – the Bunn Na collection by Niyati is a fashion statement for the winter.

An Indian embroidery specialist, Niyati, who holds a BSc in Fashion Design and an MBA in Design Management from Chandigarh, was born with an artistic bent and creative energy. Her extensive administrative and fashion work at NIFT in Chandigarh and a stint in a textile factory in Ludhiana where she built up an entire embroidery department honed her talent until she decided to start her own business. “I took a sabbatical in 2011 and moved to my hometown of Shimla before tying the knot in 2013. Home is where my love for knitting was rekindled. The old world charm, the grounding, rhythmic movement of the needles, the unraveling of a dream through design and color resonated with me.” Niyati opened the doors to her Bunn Na studio in Chandigarh in 2015.

The first years were a challenge. “The first step was to find and curate a knitting circle. My mother-in-law helped me and connected me to vendors and knitters in Bathinda,” says Niyati, who has found a brilliant crocheter in Simi and a top knitter in Anita, who helps her run a knitting circle of ten women in Bathinda.

A model wearing a Bunn Na garment (Express Photo by Jaskiran Kapoor)

For Bunn Na to stand out from the crowd, there had to be no compromise on quality. “You have to know your wool, have a good aesthetic sense and master your art. My non-med major in math and science at St. Bede’s came in handy because knitting is all about mathematical precision. It’s a science and an art.” She spent hours with the ladies, patiently teaching them new silhouettes, clean finishes, contemporary patterns, color schemes, etc.

“I send them detailed sketches and designs for each piece. Accustomed to only one or two patterns initially, they provided a rough finish. It took me time to improve their skills. As soon as the product gets to me, labels and embroidery are made by me,” says Niyati, who follows the work of international designers such as Gurenkova Knitwear and Laerke Bagger and hosts an annual exhibition at The Cottage every December. “But we knit all year round.” Niyati also strives to empower its employees. “They come from humble backgrounds, most of them are widows, hardworking and raising their own families. I want to make sure they get their rights.” The vision is also to start a “Bunnwadi”, a knitting and crochet school, add a winter bridal line and open “their first shop in England”.

“Knitting gives me a sense of calm. It unleashes my creativity. I take my knitwear everywhere,” Niyati raises her needles, ready to exhibit at La Feria on October 1st and 2nd.

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