When Kali Berg was in college she decided to teach herself how to knit. Picking up supplies at the grocery store, Berg had no idea that only a few years later her self-taught hobby would turn into her own business, Isola Handmade Originals.  

 “I’ve always really loved to do things with my hands. My whole life I grew up in a family where everyone does things with their hands,” she says. “My grandmother did all kinds of all kinds of crafts, but no one else knits.

Isola means island in Italian and Berg chose the name for her business in honor of her great grandparents, who came through Ellis Island when they immigrated to New York City from the Calabria region of Italy. 

Berg found herself captivated by the creative possibilities she was able to explore with knitting and she describes the process as meditative.  

“I just got very obsessed with it,” she says

In 2014, Berg set up a table at a local farmers market with less than a dozen knit hats. Eight years later, the majority of her sales are still made at in-person markets, but she also sells her knitwear on her own website. 

Berg estimates she sells about 500 knit pieces a year and each one is handmade by her.  

“There’s much you can do with it, you know, with different materials, colors, and textures. It’s very personal,” says Berg

Berg says that one of the most rewarding parts of selling knitwear is that, for a lot of her customers, the items they purchase from Isola are the first handmade pieces they have ever owned. Berg spends a lot of time with each piece to make sure each one is special.

In addition to this, Berg has also begun to sell her own original patterns for other knitters to use

“I’m getting feedback from other knitters about how wonderful their experience was with making one of the patterns.”  

When selling in-person, customers have told Berg that her work inspired them to start knitting again. She loves knowing that her passion to create can be passed on.  

Berg says she finds inspiration for her knits and patterns in the nature around her; for example, her Stonebridge hat was inspired by a bridge in Whatcom Falls Park. 

Seasonal items are among Berg’s favorites to make, including small fruit and vegetable themed knits she makes for children, but the Mega Spec Beanie is by far her best seller.  

“It’s a super chunky merino wool, and then it’s got a spiral design that goes all the way up to the top of the hat, and I see those all around town all the time, which is fun.” 

In the future, Berg says she hopes to continue to grow Isola Handmade and she is exploring a possible expansion into the world of retail.  

No matter where the next year takes Isola Handmade, Berg says her goal is to continue to invite people to get involved. 

“You hear a lot of the time, people will say, ‘Oh, I could never do that,’ but you can. You have to just have to start somewhere.

You can purchase Berg’s knitwear online or at a number of farmer markets including Anacortes Farmers Market, Valley Made Market, and Skagit Valley Farmers Market. Her work can also be found with elSage Designs in Mount Vernon and Posey Handpicked Goods in Leavenworth.  

Anacortes, 509.607.0172, isolahandmadeoriginals.com