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Behind The Stitches: Nomagugu Sibanda

“I was raised by highly creative women, who, at some point earned a living from their crafts. There was always some knitting or sewing going on at home"

Sam: Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Noma: I am based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sam: Have you always been a creative person?

Noma: Yes – I was raised by highly creative women, who, at some point earned a living from their crafts. There was always some knitting or sewing going on at home, so I learnt early.

Sam: What is your craft of choice?

Noma: Definitely knitting!!!

Sam: Where do you think your love of crafting comes from?

Noma: I love creating something new and different that has never existed before - that’s the most thrilling experience ever.

Sam: When did you decide to start creating your patterns? Was that an easy jump for you to make or did it take a little convincing?

Noma: I had always created my own patterns even as a child. Somehow, I struggle with following instructions, so it was easy for me to do my own designs. I started designing earnestly in 2013 when I was expecting my first child.

Sam: How would you describe your aesthetic?

Noma: I love minimalistic modern designs that are practical and can be worn with a variety of outfits.

"I love creating something new and different that has never existed before - that’s the most thrilling experience ever"

Sam: Your Khwezi Throw is one of my favorite new patterns. Where did the inspiration come from for that knit?

Noma: I wanted to design a large stash-busting project that could use a sizeable quantity of yarn in one colour instead of just a few rows. It was also an opportunity to explore and make use of mini skeins. I wrote the pattern for a variety of yarn weights; fingering, DK, Aran, Bulky and Super Bulky to give everyone an opportunity to use their leftovers effectively.

Sam: Where does your inspiration come from when starting a new project?

Noma: An idea just pops up in my head mostly…..I go through stitch dictionaries quite a lot and because I’m interested in the texture of the fabric when designing, stitch dictionaries are my best source of inspiration.

Sam: When starting a new design, what comes to you first: the Stitch that you want to use, the shape of the garment, or the yarns/colors that you want to use?

Noma: The stitch usually comes first then I decide on the suitable design and lastly the yarn. Until recently, we haven’t had a lot of yarn options here in South Africa so mostly I had limited yarn options to choose from so it was rare to have a variety of yarns in the stash but fortunately there’s been tremendous growth in the Indie Dyeing space and there are more options and a number of online shops importing international brands have grown.

Sam: Are you a process crafter or more of a finished object crafter?

Noma: Definitely a finished object crafter!!!

Sam: You use your sister as your model for most of your patterns and I noticed that you aren't super visible on your social media. Are you a shyer person or do you just prefer to be on the other side of the camera?

Noma: When I first started designing, I had to do the photography myself so someone else had to model the products. I tried getting other people to do the photos but was usually disappointed with the results because mostly they wouldn’t capture the correct details which the knitter would like to see. Later on, I was fortunate to find a Professional Photographer that I now work with and since I already had 2 models who enjoy the photoshoots immensely I never felt the need to shift from working behind the scenes. I’m planning to model some of the designs this year though!!!

Sam: How has your relationship to your craft grown and shifted over the years?

Noma: In the past knitting was a hobby and something to do to pass time but now it’s a full-time job and I knit every single day.

Sam: Are there any books, accounts, or YouTube channels that you think newbie crafters should be following if they aren't already?

Noma: Yes definitely, I learnt a lot from Very Pink Knits (YouTube channel) by Staci Perry when I got back to knitting a few years ago. I’d also recommend the Fruity Knitting Podcast – it’s very informative and loaded with knitting information, tutorials, history, and interesting interviews.

Sam: Do you have any new projects that you can tell us about?

Noma: I have a couple of sweaters in the pipeline. These are some spring/summer designs I’m very excited about. I get to work with a variety of fibres including linen and silk – which I haven’t designed with in the past.

Sam: What do you like to binge-watch or listen to while you craft?

Noma: I usually watch knitting podcasts on YouTube or some movies on Netflix.


If you want to see more of Noma's work you can follow her on Instagram @biggerthanlife_knits, Ravelry, Etsy, and LoveCrafts.

Who should I talk to next? Leave your suggestions in the comments section along with any thoughts you have about Noma's interview. I’m always on the hunt for inspiring crafters. Also, don't forget to follow along on my Instagram account @bobbleclubhouse for your daily dose of all things fiber. Until next time, happy crafting!


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