Tools & Talismans #56 — Norah Gaughan

I often seek out special versions of the tools that I use every day.  My stitch markers are held on a hammered sterling silver pin, kept in in the bag I carry daily so it's always at hand. I love the sound of it when shaken about. Mom gave me my stork scissors 30 years ago, symbolically and literally passing down the importance of quality tools. They are perfect for the daily task of snipping yarn and for remembering how much my mom means to me. The nautilus looking silver item, a gift from my husband, is a needle gauge. I keep it on a necklace with a few other trinkets I am fond of. Other small tools — circular knitting needle, tape measure, tapestry needle, cable needle — are more ordinary, but essential to my daily work.

In contrast to the artisan made, out fashioned items I cherish the tool I rely on most, my iPad. This electronic rectangle serves as the center of my communication, the keeper of my to-do lists, my research portal and it's where I sketch at the beginning of the design process. I've always envied people who can carry around a paper notebook, sketching and planning with it. I have tried many times but either I fail to carry a notebook around or a disliked page or two turns me sour on it, or I can't figure out how to stay organized within the static pages. The iPad has solved all of those problems. I always have it with me, I can control and rearrange content at will. While it's the center of my daily work life, I do put it down to get to the business (and joy) of knitting.

Norah Gaughan is a knitwear designer. She designs hand knit sweaters, and sell the patterns so other people can enjoy knitting and wearing them.


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

I'd love to talk about creating illustrations for you! Do you have a project that needs some illustration? Think my work might be a good fit? Get in touch, I'd love to talk about your project with you!