When setting up the shop, trying to decide which products I would like to stock the Sirka® Counter went straight to the top of my list. Not just because I wanted to get my hands on one myself, but because they are truly innovative, there is nothing else like this on the market and I promise they will change the way you knit. I wanted to find out a bit more about the inventor behind this amazing counter. Sara from Grellow and Gray was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Sara Jackson from Nebraska, which is in the very middle of the United States. I’m a prairie girl at heart, although I used to live in New York and I love the city, too. My mother taught me how to knit when I was young, and I just kept picking it up again. Now I can’t put it down. I’ve got an understanding husband and a charming daughter who’s six years old. I think it’s about time she learned to knit, don’t you?
Where did you come up with the idea for the Sirka® Counter?
I was in my local yarn shop when I saw an older lady knitting. She had a Bates Peg-It counter on the table in front of her. I said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for something that keeps more than one count! I’ll have to buy one of those.” She said, “They don’t make them anymore.” I said, “I bet I could find one on the Internet.” She said, “Bet you can’t — not with the pegs. They’re always falling out and rolling under the table.” And she was right; I couldn’t find one with the pegs. So I thought, Why don’t I just invent something new? First, I made a list of what I wanted the counter to do, and then I kept thinking and sketching until I’d come up with something I could test. One of the things I wanted the counter to do is to remind me when to stop counting, because I hate having to check the pattern (over and over again). I don’t have to do that anymore; now I’ve got the hands of the Sirka® counter to show me where each count ends.
The internal mechanics looks pretty complicated, were you an engineer in a past life?
Maybe in a past life. Who knows? But in this one, far from it! I trained as a copyright and trademark lawyer, and then I became a law professor teaching those subjects. I had no idea what made things “click” — literally — so I had to do a lot of research on the Internet. That’s difficult when you don’t know the correct terminology. And although it was painful at the time (I called it “brain hurty”), the best decision I made was to learn how to use a CAD program so I could create the designs myself instead of paying somebody else to do it. Then I tested the prototypes on a Makerbot® 3D printer, which was much less costly than paying somebody else to make parts for me every time I changed my mind. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, and it was just the most fun. I’m grateful for the whole experience.
Does the word Sirka® have any special meaning?
I wanted a word that suggested circularity, hence “circa,” and the word “circa” also had an element of time to it — including, perhaps, the suggestion of an earlier time. This appealed to me, as the counter isn’t an app for a smartphone; it’s a gadget that looks like a watch. The only problem with “circa” is that it might be hard for people in other cultures to pronounce, as it’s got both a hard “c” and a soft “c”. So I changed the spelling to “Sirka.” I was happy with that because I’ve always liked the Finnish first name (Sirka or Sirkka), and I liked it even more when I Googled it and found that it means, in Czech, a wooden match used to start a fire.
Which do you use, the classic or lapel?
I use the classic model. It sits either on the arm of my chair or on the floor nearby, depending on how long my row is (and thus how often I need to advance my crowns).
Thank you so much Sara. It sounds like a lot of hard work but it definitely paid off. I use a lapel model so I can hang it around my neck and I just love it! I am really excited to be taking these to Unwind, make sure you come by the YAK stall to see them in the flesh. Not coming to Unwind? Grab one now!