Noelle Sharp learned how to work a pair of knitting needles while the rest of us were still trying to color within the lines—her mother and grandmother taught her when she was six. So while it’s no shock that she now runs her own knitwear line, called Aporta, we are a bit in awe that she got it off the ground while still an undergrad at the Art Institute of Chicago (apparently multi-tasking is a strong suit). Her combined majors in weaving and conceptual design lent a certain effortless-cool vibe to her creations, which made her fellow students fall hard and fast. “I was weaving scarves and hats for myself, and people just started asking if they could buy them from me,” Noelle says. “It started taking up all my time and thought, ‘Maybe I could really make this into something.’”
A brief but life-changing stint in Iceland working with wool from sheep whose ancestors were cultivated by the Vikings (yes, those Vikings) cemented her desire to make yarn-made awesomeness a full-time job. Now a resident of Salt Lake City, Noelle works with local craftsman to make her nubby knits with fibers sourced from farms in Wyoming, Nebraska, and Vermont. Despite her wool’s rural roots, her time on Michigan Avenue still influences her design choices. “I’m really inspired by nature and making products that can be used for hiking and skiing,” she says. “But I also lived in Chicago for seven years—so there’s also a kind of minimalist aspect to it.” Consider us maximally on board.