Reading time: 4 min. A knife is versatile. It can be a trusty companion on hikes, a prized inheritance or the crown jewel of a display cabinet. A knife can also reflect your own identity – especially if you designed the knife yourself. In the series ‘The Story Behind a Custom Knife’, owners of Marttiini Custom knives share the unique stories of how their knife was born and tell about what their knife means to them.
When photographer Krista Ylinen started to design her own Marttiini Custom knife, a few things were clear from the very start. Number one: this knife would travel with her in the outdoors. Meaning it would have to be practical. Number two: a knife can include significant symbolism. That means tailor-made details would have to be carefully considered.
Guided by these criteria, she started the design process of trial and error involving the combination of different materials and properties in Marttiini’s Custom Shop – and then finally finishing. The Nomad was created, a knife just for Krista Ylinen. A custom knife that meets the needs and wishes of its maker. And the knife really does look like its designer.
Let’s start with the practicality. The knife of a person moving around outdoors must be functional. Everyone who has ever carried a knife in the wilderness knows this. Practicality is also evident in Krista’s custom knife.
“I wanted an all-round knife that meets my needs – making fire, whittling and cutting food. And this can of course be seen in the result. I chose hard-wearing carbon steel as the blade material and beautiful curly birch for the handle. I also wanted a finger indentation in the handle to improve grip and prevent my hand from slipping onto the blade,” Krista explains.
A practical knife is also practical when it is not being used – often that is the measure for real practicality. Often, outdoor trips will include quite a lot of walking, climbing and even scrambling. Every gram is precisely weighed, especially when heading into challenging environments. Krista also considered this aspect when designing Nomad.
“I especially enjoy hiking in marshes and on fells – and I wanted to take Nomad along on both longer hikes as well as daytrips. That is why it was important that the knife was the right size and light enough. The number of materials to choose from was actually higher than I had imagined, but with time I found a combination that pleased me. Experimenting with different materials was a significant part of the process!”
Krista has a notable history as a photographer and many Marttiini enthusiasts are sure to already know her work, because she has in fact taken many of the stunning Marttiini photos! For this master of her craft, who has already been photographing knives for a long time, it was important to make sure that the visual element of her knife was also in order – a well-designed utility knife is also a display knife. And the knife did turn out beautiful. The contrast between the blonde curly birch and the dark carbon steel will instantly capture the viewer of the aesthetic Nomad, crowned by the bronze eagle on the bolster.
There is also symbolism behind the details – just the kind of significance that a knife may carry. Stories that give a knife its character. Viewed from this perspective, even the eagle on the bolster gains entirely new significance.
“The eagle bolster was of course beautiful in its own right, but there is more to it. Long ago, I had a project where I was photographing eagles. Doing that, I developed a special bond with them,” says Krista.
There is also meaning to the name of the knife. As one can expect, the Nomad is named after nomadic people who do not settle down, but live their lives roaming around. Engraved on the blade, the name of the knife is a reminder of that lifestyle.
“The nomadic lifestyle has always fascinated me. I feel like I am similar in nature – always packing, always going somewhere,” Krista exclaims.
And we are indeed on a journey, often further from the hustle and bustle of cities and closer to nature. Krista also finds nature to be significant resource.
“In nature, things become simpler, clearer and cleaner. My relationship with nature is an important resource that enables me to get more closely in touch with myself and the current moment. Often, the best memories are of overnight trips. They allow you to get further into the terrain and be more adventurous.”
Adventure, relaxation and living in the moment – that is outdoor life at its best. And many more things, because a good outdoor trip will always look like the person on the trip. At best, a knife can also become a part of that great experience. As Krista puts it, a knife you design yourself can be more than just a tool and a piece of safety equipment. It can also be a reflection of your identity.
“Nomad carries a lot of emotional value for me. No wonder that a custom knife will easily become very personal and dear, because it allows you to combine just the elements that you feel are significant. And it’s lovely to then carry them around with you outdoors.”