Riley Friesen, owner of Knotty Oak Designs, works in a cute little corner of her house, where the light streams in from a small window to the side and bounces off of a large wooden desk. It’s a beautiful, cozy space, just right for getting creative.
Her tools and bits are placed here an there with beautiful rounds of wood propped up in all the corners and free spaces of the room.
Riley welcomed us in to do a little snooping, and talked with us about how she’s worked her way up from painted signs to the challenge of wood burning. But that’s not all she does. In a big beautiful chest on the floor next to the desk are all her crocheted pieces, everything from blankets to tea cozies.
This young mom and entrepreneur was a lot of fun to talk with, easy going and casual, curled up in her chair as she worked, making us feel right at home as we chatted.
Her designs are beautiful, full of geometrical shapes and simple, clean lines that catch your eye. She’s hard at work at the moment, getting ready for the upcoming Christmas craft show, where she’ll share a booth with yours truly, Kettle River Bath and Body! Come on out and find us there if you can!
Riley is currently beginning a new project for all those of you looking for Christmas gifts – a subscription box of goodies in partnership with Kettle River Bath and Body. Come and catch a glimpse of what it’ll look like and pre-order one for yourself or a loved one!
Here is our interview with Riley.
Tiff: Tell us about the different things that you make?
Riley: For the last couple of years I’ve been really into Pyrography, and using my burning tool to create some cool stuff. This year I’m working on more decorative pieces, where in the past I did a lot of signs that seemed to be on trend. I’ve also got bamboo cutting boards, cork hot plates, and wood disk magnets, and, of course, Christmas decorations! There there is my first love… crocheting. It’s my wind down time after a day. Kid goes down to bed, make myself some tea (or wine if it’s been a day), curl up in my favourite chair and start creating. I’ve always loved slouchy toques and big chunky Infinity scarves, so I’m doing a lot of that this year.
Tiff: How did you get started doing what you do? What inspired you?
Riley: I have a lot of Artists in my family. Both my Nanas are amazing painters, my dad and my Papa do woodwork, and my mom is so darn crafty she could put the rest of us to shame. So I think I got my creative side from all the wonderful people I have in my life to look up to. My mother-in-law actually taught me to crochet about 10 years ago… she taught me to knit, but I’m an instant gratification kind of person so once I started crocheting I never picked up the needles again. Wood has always been around me. I grew up in the bush and my dad is a carpenter. So creating something out of wood runs in my blood.
Tiff: What is the most satisfying part of making the things you make?
Riley: Other than the creative outlet which I so desperately need in my life, probably people’s reaction. I think if you stare at something long enough you actually start doubting that its any good. But when people are stoked on your work, it definitely gives you a little spark to keep pushing on and creating new pieces.
Tiff: Where can someone purchase your handmade items?
Riley: The GFSS craft fair is on Saturday Nov. 24th, and I’ll be there selling. I always welcome custom orders too. People can find me on my facebook page: Knotty Oak Designs, my instagram account @knottyoakdesigns or just email an order to email@example.com I’m hoping to get a website up in the new year!
Tiff: Why do you choose to live in Grand Forks? And what is your favourite part about living here?
Riley: My husband and I grew up in Vernon, and we loved the freedom and security it offered. We spent 3 years grinding in Northern Alberta and knew that before we started a family we wanted to settle down somewhere that somewhat resembled ‘Old Vernon’. Bran had spent a lot of his youth boxing in GF so he took me for a visit and I fell in love. Within 6 months we had bought a house, left Alberta, and made GF our home.
My favourite part is probably the sense of community and security. I love the comfort of knowing my son can grow up somewhere he can be free. He can ride his bike around town with his friends, or meet buddies in town and I don’t need to worry. (He doesn’t do that yet though, he’s only 7) I also love the lifestyle in the boundary. We are so lucky to live in an area where you can go and adventure in your backyard. There is never nothing to do… and for the most part its free. River days, camping, campfires and friends that have become family. That’s what GF is to me. Plus… I got Nana and Papa to move to Jewel Lake… just sweetens the pot.
So we’ll leave you with the option of contacting Riley about your Christmas needs, and maybe stopping by to say hello at the craft fair!
Stay tuned for our third entrepreneur this Thursday! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover over the next few weeks before Christmas – lots of wonderful people coming your way! Keep your eye out for our blog posts twice a week til we’re done this series!