Vancouver-based Aruna cannot remember a time where a paintbrush, pencil, needed & thread, yarn, or the like were not in her hands. She was born on the island of Trinidad & Tobago, in the Caribbean, where diverse cultures meld and are celebrated and expressed through colorful art, handicrafts, and music, so artistic expression is a part of who she is. In 2002, on a chance whim, she was, albeit reluctantly, taught how to knit when she was pregnant with her first child. She was INSTANTLY converted and could not get enough of this new medium. Over time, she realized that her mixed-media background made its way into her knitted works. Breaking away from tradition, the knitted piece is only a starting point for Aruna and is treated more like a blank canvas, infusing haberdashery, origami, embroidery, sewing, image transferring, quilting, and collage. Her novel techniques fuelled recognition, winning her first place in an international knitting competition in 2013, run by knitwear designer Debbie Bliss!
Aruna established her company, Haberdash Couture, in 2012 to inspire and teach both adults and children how to create heirloom knits to document and celebrate life using her own unique, fun, stress-free, out-of-the-box approach she developed over the years. Aruna has also spearheaded charity projects by collaborating with schools, knitting groups, yarn stores and hospitals through her secondary company Haberdash Couture Kids. Aruna’s current project, Welcome Baby Canada Heritage Series, explores Canada’s history, diverse culture & heritage, indigenous & folk art, and provincial & territorial symbolism. Her goal is to infuse all these components, reinterpreting them into textile-rich knitting designs that are fresh and relevant to the modern day but still hold an heirloom quality that honors the rich stories of Canada’s past. This project aims to illustrate the value of how this hand-crafted art form we call knitting, makes a connection with the world around us: our past, our present, and our future. It is the culmination of her pushing her limits, gathering information, experimenting and refining her craft.
Aruna honours her heritage through her full name, Aruna Neela Bahadoorsingh Khan, but you can simply call her Aruna Neela! She looks forward to sharing her unique knitting approach with you.