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Yokoo Gibraan

I don’t think I truly understood the meaning of beguiling until I came across Yokoo Gibraan. A tiny pixie of a person, she has perfectly arched eyebrows, deep rockpools for eyes and a gentle focus that would make an English Pointer weep with envy.

From her beautifully kept apartment in Atlanta, Yokoo runs a one-person knitting enterprise that has turned her into the patron saint of kickass knitting with a cult global following.

Entirely self-taught, Yokoo can knit anything.  Her huge, seven foot long ‘soopascarves’ are her signature piece, but she also knits hats with long woollen ribbons that tie under the chin, pompom necklaces, and cowls big enough to house a litter of kittens.  Like every true artist, her creativity has bred pragmatism and she’s had to invent new stitches to create some of her more complicated pieces. In 2012 she launched a clothing label called Mother featuring simple, pared back dresses and smocks made from vintage fabrics with an almost Amish bent.  Needless to say, it’s going gangbusters.

The more we exchange emails and the more I read about her, the more intrigued I become.  Yokoo models every piece that she produces and her natural penchant for what she calls ‘emotional photography’ is no doubt one of the reasons she’s been picked up by the New York Times, Vice Magazine, Refinery29 and Nylon Magazine.  They’re also an excellent manifestation of her accidental charm and (often disarming) honesty. 

 “I find that honesty tends to be at the centre of good communication,” Yokoo has said. “I have a little saying that goes like this: “If you’re smart, don’t be a fool wasting your time being a genius.”

The more I look, the more tidbits of her sage advice I find scattered around the internet, like: “It’s important for people to create their own worlds.” And: “Each task assumes a grain of sand and each grain has its own time to creep from the top of the glass to the bottom.”

If there’s anyone who understands multi-tasking though, it’s her.  Yokoo starts the day with a cup of tea (at the moment it’s Marzipan Cherry) and then spends the next 15 hours knitting and sewing to fill the huge volume of orders she receives through her Etsy stores, with old movies for company. (Think The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Ox Bow Incident.)

Yokoo quit her 9-5 day job at a copy centre to commit to her ‘secret projects’ after a ‘seismic shift in conciousness’ – though she says that it was also a matter of financial security.

“I slowly began to realise that my time has unlimited value,” Yokoo has said.

It’s rare to be confronted with someone so comfortable and true to themselves, and also weirdly disorientating.  Her candidness, professionalism and sweetness are, I realise, all completely real.  (She calls me ‘dear’ and always responds to my emails within twenty minutes.)

And so I suppose I should be prepared for her answer when I ask her what animal she would be.  (A phoenix, I imagine, or a swan. Something whimsical and beautiful like her, surely.)

A giraffe, she says.

 “I'm only five feet tall and I've always wished I were taller.”

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 Yokoo's scarves are available here and here.