What it is Knitted, woven and vintage fur winter accessories by Noelle Sharp
Who she is A third-generation knitter, Utah native Sharp learned the art at the age of six. Now, as a 28-year-old, she admits, “I probably own 40 knitted beanies.” After giving it a go as a skier at Mammoth Mountain, California (with aspirations of becoming a pro athlete), Sharp switched gears and decided to study art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She spent most of her time in the fiber-art department, focusing primarily on conceptual woven work and the relationship between fiber and sound (a study she’ll continue to explore during a residency in Iceland this spring). Sharp also developed an appreciation for the value of handmade, high-quality goods, thanks in large part to a sustainability class in the fashion department: Challenged to replicate a store-bought garment, Sharp copied a woven Anthropologie skirt. If she paid herself minimum wage, she notes, it would have cost $800 to produce.
Sharp continued making hats and scarves for herself while in school and started Aporta—an homage to her grandmother’s family name—on the side during her third year at SAIC. It wasn’t until she went to North Carolina’s Penland School of Crafts last summer for a stint as a teaching assistant, however, that she realized the demand for her products made for a viable business. While there, she sold out of her woven scarves in less than a month. The demand has been so steady since then that knitting and weaving on two looms at her home studio has become her full-time gig.
What she makes Long fringe and a bandana silhouette lend the woven “bandana” scarves ($325) a Western flair. Whereas these pieces are more fashion-focused than winter-friendly, the chunky “yeti”($230)—basically a knitted version of the bandana scarf—couldn’t be warmer, or cozier. It drapes around the body like a blanket, secured with a kilt pin. Sharp also knits slouchy two-tone and monochromatic hats ($45–$58), and her collection also includes cowl necks of the knitted and woven variety and the occasional fur stole, hat and scarf made from upcycled vintage fur. This winter Sharp and her mother launched a baby line, featuring mini-me hats, booties (knitted and fur-lined for $38–$68) and sweater sets ($150). Next up: women’s sweaters and items for the home.
Where to find itMilk Handmade(5137 N Clark St, 847-833-6309) and online at aporta.bigcartel.com. Also find Sharp at the holiday market at Bow Truss Coffee Company(2934 N Broadway, 773-857-1361) Sun 16 from 2–7pm.