Friday, December 4, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Sharon Acton of Rocky Bird 7 says, "Each item I make carries a little of me in it and has given me hours of pleasure and an opportunity to express my creative side." I think she is right. And she definitely has a creative side

Sharon your profile says that you have worked with children for 32 years. How so?

I am a qualified Early Childhood Educator , with a Resource teacher diploma.
I have worked with infants,preschoolers and junior and senior kindergarten children. I have worked preschool, and daycare and with many special needs children. I am presently working with the kindergarten group.

Your hats are very imaginative. Do you get your inspiration from the children?

Children are always expressing themselves about the wonders of the world that we as grown ups often over look. Simple things like animals, flowers and dreams of space and snow are of interest to the children. When I come up with a new hat I bring it in and let the children critique it and frequently I am given suggestions. The boys hats are the hardest to come up with something new as they tell me they don't want them to look pretty.

If you had any yarn you wanted and all the time in the world to knit, what would be your dream project?

My dream project would be to help others learn to knit and provide themselves and others with needed clothing, and accessories. Teaching others to develop a useful skill to be handed down to others would be a great experience and very fulfilling.

When did you learn to knit, and how did you learn?

I first learned to knit in 7th grade for school. we were to knit a pair of slippers, a very basic rectangle with drawstring. I made one and to this day I have never completed that other slipper. I still don't like doing slippers. Then my sister was having a baby and I wanted to make something as a gift. A good friend of mine helped me learn the intricate stitches in the pattern and I made a baby layette, followed by sweaters for myself. My friend taught me left handed although I am right handed I continued to experiment on my own and now use a pattern as a guideline more for size and I embellish with french knitting, crochet and other techniques. I also dabble in wire knitting and would like to try free form knitting. I have also taught some of the children (including boys) how to french knit(corking) and they made bracelets.

What do you do with your time when you are not knitting?

Spare time, who has spare time. I knit for Etsy, Craft sales, festivals, and Fairs from May to December. I do watch sci fi programs, mysteries and Coronation street while I knit and I try to read a little each day.

Take a peek at Susan's shop. I think you will love what you see. Just click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Eileen Skocdopole of Skocdem has just re-opened an new shop with emphasis on luxury this week. Eileen works full time at a drafting job, and part time on the weekends at a sheep farm that produces wonderful wool yarn. As you can see, she has two young children 2 and 6 years old and a husband that she says is very patient!

She knits with ear buds, listening to hip-hop and drinking coffee with her feet up!!

Drafting is your day job, what is your field of expertise?

I got interested in the Drafting profession because I like to draw, and I thought that this field would be a good blending of my creative and technical sides. And it has! I work for a major corporation and I have been there for 5 years, and been in this career for 7 years total. I create new, or modify existing part drawings for the company. The drawings look sort of like blue prints or part lists you get with bookcases, etc. Except these drawings are more detailed, and basically a legal document that the company has to adhere to.

When and how did you learn to knit?

Last November, I bought a "Teach yourself to knit" book and some yarn, and that is how I started. I remember watching my mom knit when I was a child, and that info must have stuck, because I could cast on right away!! Then I really leaned on the book and YouTube videos to learn the stitches and techniques.

You've just re-opened one of your shops with luxury items. Do you plan to market that shop any differently than the other?

Well it is a more sophisticated shop, I am seeking customers that would normally buy at a boutique, and elevate them to a hand-knit item, versus a mass produced high-price item. I am really reaching for the stars here! I am keeping it simple, few classic designs, few colors, almost minimal. I know some people who know some people, so we will see if the traffic flows my way!!!

What is your favorite fiber and why?

Favorite fiber, ooooh my. I purchased a white boucle Angora Mohair from Lynn at fuzzyfibers1960 that is ABSOLUTELY to die for. The softness is above anything I have felt. I have an order in to her for 400 more yards. But now I buy all my fibers from a network of lovely Etsy-ers, and look for their names in my listings!

If you could do or be anything you wanted for one day, what would it be?

My ultimate fantasy would be a day that I would just be pampered from dawn till dusk with the whole movie star treatment, think Mariah Carey. Facials, manicure, pedicure, massage, organic food, professional make-up and hair, the whole works. And then fall asleep on soft sheets and a cloud-like mattress. Just for one day. Is that too much to ask??

I'm hoping that dream comes true. You can visit her shops at and, or click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Holly Priestley has re-joined us after a hiatus, and I am very glad she did. Her shop is Silly Little Lady. She loves to breathe in the smell of old books in the library, a good glass of wine, green grass and big leaves. You will love her hats, scarves and handspun.

I love to hear about the process of choosing yarns. Please tell us how you choose your yarns.

Unless I have a specific project in mind, the yarns pick me! If I go browsing around a yarn store (virtually or in person) sometimes a yarn will just jump at me and say "you MUST make me into a super chic and warm slouchy beanie" or "my destiny is to become your warmest, coziest scarf."

What is your very favorite yarn to work with?

Hmm...favorite yarn to work with...Oh I don't know if I could pick just one! but I'm sure everyone says that haha. I love the uniqueness behind every skein of handspun or hand dyed that either I create or get from some Etsy seller. Those skeins are all one of a kind and just speak wonders to the world! If I had to choose one yarn to work with the rest of my life it would be handspun :)

Why do you like elephants?

I'm not quite sure the exact time elephants became my favorite animal, but I'm sure it had something to do with the stuffed elephant that was mine before I was even born. His name is Buddy and I still sleep with him on occasion ;) Elephants are truly majestic creatures, their memory, their size, their mourning ceremonies, elephants have feelings!

What do you do when you are not knitting?

When not knitting, right now I can be found doing homework, I'm a junior at New Mexcio Tech, getting my bachelors in Management and a minor in psychology. If I am procrastinating and not knitting, I love to dye my own yarns and spin, I also love to cook and train our 4 month old puppy :)

Where do you see your shop in five years?

Since I will have been out of college for a few years by that point, I will have much more time and energy to dedicate to my shop and I see it becoming very successful and hopefully my soul source of income (at least until I can get my yarn shop slash tea/coffee bar started up in Colorado somewhere ;)).

You can get to Holly's shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade and you can get to her blog at

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Alicia Mortlock of Willo sometimes picks her needles up first thing in the morning and puts them up the last thing at night. Travel is a passion, and she considers writing her first love. You can link to her shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Your bio says you love to travel, where have you traveled and where would be your next destination? Tell us the most fascinating place that you have either visited or would like to visit.

When I was young, I always knew that I could fly if I really wanted to. While Life has consequently clipped my wings, I still love to escape the confines of day-to-day routine whenever I can. To paraphrase JFK, ich bin ein europ√§ischer, I am a European, and love Western Europe. I especially enjoyed eating honeyed meringues in a coffee shop in Belgium and comparing notes with the village women in Gozo (an island off Malta) as they crochet outside their houses. Closer to home, I’m not sure that the British coastline can be bettered. I love Cornwall and Northumbria, Norfolk and Suffolk. One of my favourite places is Dunwich, just an hour’s drive away. The fish and chips are delicious and the history of the place wonderful, especially for a writer. It was once an important medieval town, a prosperous seaport and centre for the wool trade, which has fallen, bit by bit into the ocean. Local legend has it that at certain tides, church bells can still be heard under the sea.

I’d love to go back to Italy. I went skiing there in my early twenties and fell in love with the country, if not with my skis. But rather than give you a next destination, can I cheat and tell you where I’d like to travel? Into the past. To meet up with a few relatives and give my son, Edward another hug. My granddad was a Marxist; a real working class hero back in the early 1900’s when it wasn’t such a term of abuse. He lived with us during the last few years of his life but I was only eleven when he died and didn’t quite appreciate what he was trying to tell me. He predicted the recent collapse of the banks and tried to explain to me how we are all part of one collective energy. Now that I properly understand how one starving, homeless or disadvantaged person lessens all of us, I’d love to talk to him again. Then I’d go visit my other granddad, one of the most influential people in my life. He was a gardener as well as a teller of tales and I need to ask him exactly what is wrong with my rambling roses at the moment.

What do you do in between the times that you pick your needles up in the morning and the time you lay them down at night?

My day always starts with breakfast and making sandwiches for Charlie, my seventeen year old daughter. As a feminist, I believe equality should be about choice. For everyone. In the past, I’ve had some pretty responsible (and relatively well-paid) jobs in Youth and Community Development. However, since my divorce, I’ve chosen to live in what I call ‘posh poverty’ in order to be there, physically as well as emotionally for Charlie, No one asks to be the daughter of divorced parents.

When the school bus picks her up at eight, I have my morning walk, although some days my back prevents me from walking any further than the end of the garden. Ten years ago, I injured my spine at work. After months of moaning, I went to see my GP and was whisked into the same hospital where my son Edward had much of his treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I had slipped a disc, causing some permanent neurological damage (cauda equine syndrome). Thanks to our marvellous NHS, I had an emergency op which saved my legs, bladder and bowel although they’ve never made any promises as to what might happen in the future and I’ve since slipped two further discs on which they can’t operate for fear of further damage to my spinal cord. The doctors called it a miracle that I could walk. To be honest, that was when I fell out with God. I think that miracles should be reserved for mothers praying for their dying sons and it always seems a bit of a sick joke to me that my son died but I kept my legs.

Anyway, back to answering your question... Although my one and only book (for adults) was published back in 2004, I still tend to think of myself, primarily as a writer. In 2005, I was ‘discovered’ by a well-known literary agent, Maggie Noach who also discovered David Almond and Anthony Horowitz. Although she didn’t feel strongly enough about my first children’s novel, ‘Dead Black’ to represent me, she was very encouraging about my work for older children and young adults and asked that she might have the first read of further books. My second novel, ‘Monsters’ was nearing completion when Ms Noach died during a routine back operation and since then, I’ve struggled to find someone who’s prepared to take a risk with a very raw talent. Even so, my head is filled with the life stories of so many characters who want to be heard and I try to listen to at least one of them every day. Even when I don’t write, I try to plan something (or someone) in my head, inspiration usually coming first thing in the morning, somewhere between answering emails, reading Mette’s Morning Message and trawling the internet for inspiration for my knitting.

Some days I work for my ex sister-in-law Kate as a virtual assistant. It’s great for a flibbertigibbet like me, sitting in the comfort of my own home and ‘pretending’ to be a dental receptionist in Cambridge or the secretary to an IT consultant in Hertfordshire. VA work aside, I try spend the rest of the day knitting or designing until Charlie comes home from school. I can’t stand silence, I guess because I worry too much about what might fill it, so I tend to get through a couple of films every day. In the summer, I spend my evenings floating round the garden, pretending I’m the reincarnation of garden designer and my hero, Gertrude Jekyll as I ineffectually prune the roses. In the winter, I usually get back to my knitting.

Tell us how and when you came to knit?

Like many of us, I had a talented grandma (Nana) who taught me much of what I know and an equally clever mum who filled in any blanks. I used to be hypnotised by the way Nana’s finger wound the yarn around the needle and she did lots of cable work which completely had me hooked. By the time my brother was born (when I was seven) I was knitting him booties and matinee coats and I’ve knitted for family and friends since. First thing I knitted with leaves and flowers was a bedspread, unfortunately unfinished, when I was about eight or nine and had the measles.

From these two amazing women, I also learned how to ‘Make do and Mend’. Without wanting to sound like a fossil, I was born in 1960, just six years after the end of rationing and you learned not to waste anything. I swear that every gym bag my sister and I had in primary school was made from the same blue maternity dress, with our names chain stitched on the front. I admit to rebelling against ‘making do’ in my twenties and thirties, but with changing economic circumstances, I’m actually enjoying a return to recycling and charity shop clothes.

What outlets do you find for your talent in the U.K.?

Er... very few, I’m ashamed to say. I only started selling on Etsy to make some money to help finance the writing. I have a shop on Folksy but I don’t look after it properly and deserve the resulting lack of sales. This week, I’ve finally started developing my own website, one of those basic packages, and I hope to have up and running by the end of next week with a view to using it to help promote my work over here. This year I’ve had to turn down a couple of invites to craft fairs and farmers’ markets because of other work commitments. But after muddling through the past year in a rather pedestrian fashion, I’m beginning to see where this particular journey’s taking me. I love my life. I love my work. And I’m going to flap my wings as hard as I can.

LOL, if Alicia knew how many of us were born before 1960, she would feel like a spring chicken.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

This week we are meeting Susan of Made 4 You By Susan (A Little Bit of Everything- Designs from a chick with ADD). And her shop does have a little bit of everything from yarn to knitted and crocheted items to jewelry and a vintage item. I think the cute subtitle tells me not only that she has ADD, but that she is a person who makes lemons into lemonade. To get to Susan's shop, click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

You make reference in the sub-title of your shop to having ADD. How does that influence your designs?
I know that I don't have the patience for anything large and complicated. Even small complicated projects just baffle me at times (knitting socks). I get the most satisfaction from completion, so I try to complete some smaller projects while working on something larger. I also try not to learn multiple new skills at the same time to keep the frustration level low.

How old were you when you learned to knit, and who taught you?
I only learned to knit about 2 1/2 years ago--so I was 39. I had been crocheting since I was 12 and I desperately wanted to learn how to knit, so I took a class at a local college. I'm still a beginner so I'm trying to master the basics before moving on to anything more advanced. I learned to loom knit shortly after needle knitting because the small DPNS were too hard on my carpal tunnel, so I enjoy using that method to make hats.

You've had your shop on Etsy for over three years. What advice would you give to new shop owners?
Get involved with the Etsy community! Get on the threads and talk to people (not just posting and leaving). I found so many connections in the promotions thread and I did BNRs for many months to spread the word about my shop. I also suggest joining street teams. A team comprised of people who sell similar items is an asset. Trading is another way to get your name out there--I have a lot of sales from people I have traded with in the past. Last, I would advise to advertise. I carry my business cards everywhere and when I'm asked about my shop, I hand over a card. Wearing the items I sell is good advertisement, too. I also have a Facebook fan page and get a lot of business from that site. Basically, you have to put the time and energy into your shop for it to succeed!

What direction would you like to see your shop take in the future?
I had originally opened my shop to sell off the inventory from my jewelry craft business, but the jewelry making never went away and I had to open another shop for it ( I would definitely like to showcase more knitting. Crocheting comes easier for me and it's a safe fallback, but knitting is something I'd like to do more of in the future. I'm expanding my line of products to include some original designs and I'm going to continue in that aspect.

If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would it be and why?
LOL! With ADD, I can't pick just one thing to be!
1) I'd be the first female NFL referee because I love football! (but I can't stand the hot weather, so all games would have to be inside)
2) I'd be a popular mystery writer because I love to write.
3) I'd get my PhD and teach English or communications at a huge college.
4) The most realistic--I'd like my Etsy stores to be my full-time business and support me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Months ago, I was intrigued by a beautiful knitted blanket that I saw on Etsy with a Chanukah and hebrew letters on it. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the ancient Jewish feasts and their symbolism, so I was drawn to this beautiful blanket. The maker of this blanket and its pattern is Sandra of A Cache of Jewels. Sandra is a very interesting person who has been a business woman all of her life.

Tell us about your connection with Judaica.

I was brought up in a combination of Orthodox and Conservative Jewish home. I used to go to shul with my Grandmother for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Women would sit upstairs and my Uncle was in the all men’s choir. The sounds of the Cantor, Rabbi and the choir... looking at the breathtaking stained glass windows in a wonderful old building was a very important part of growing up Jewish.

I was the only child of my generation in my family, being born at the beginning of the “Baby Boom” and was fortunate enough to know all of my great aunts, uncles, cousins and even had my great grandparents and grandparents for a very long time. Yiddish was always spoken and a kosher kitchen always had the most wonderful smells and flavors of traditional foods coming from them. It was a way of life for them and a very large part of who I have become as an adult.

I also have a cousin who is a Rabbi in Israel and is the news director for He’s following in the footsteps of one of my grandfather’s who was also a Rabbi.

Now, I am the Membership Maven for Team EtsyChai. A few of us, as original members, recently restarted it. The timing was perfect, corresponding with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I’m very sure that this will be L’Shana Tova!

When did you learn, to knit and who taught you?

I have knitted since I was a small child, having learned from my mother. I always was designing my own patterns (both for knitting and sewing), but never bothered to write them down. Now I do and am sharing them with everyone else. I especially want to focus on my Judaica work which is what got me though my recent, prolonged illness... one stitch at a time.

How did illusion knitting become part of your design style?

The name of my shop, A Cache Of Jewels, came from being a Ballroom and Latin-American competitive dancer and making the costumes and jewelry with Swarovski crystal stones. I love glamour and glitz.

I inherited this love from both of my grandmothers. My grandmother Esther (nicknamed Cookie – who my dog is named for) collected costume jewelry and music boxes, while traveling around the world by steamship.

The other was my Grandmother, Reba, who owned one of the most prestigious and largest Bridal Shops in New Jersey. She started it long before I was born and was in business well into my 20's. I worked for her all through my growing up, learning to sew by hand and machine and to do fashion bead embroidery on the wedding gowns from her seamstresses. I then worked in the NYC Garment district’s Bridal market for some of the manufacturers, learning a lot!

One of the things I found important was the history of fashion around the world. I went to F.I.T. and was exposed to beautiful textiles. One was Illusion style weaving of fine silk from Japan. It would create a hologram type effect that was mesmerizing. I found out about Illusion Knitting (which is also known as Shadow Knitting) and the rest is history.

Who is your favorite person in history and why?

I don’t know if I have just one person. There are many I admire for a variety of reasons. Most of them are women, but this is not sexist, but because they were all strong, insightful and well ahead of their time.

Beginning a long way back in biblical history: Ruth, Cleopatra, artist Mary Cassat, fashion designer Coco Chanel, dancer Isadora Duncan, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir , Politician Bella Abzug, and fashion columnist, editor and museum curator Diana Vreeland, just to name a few.

Where do you see your shop in five years?

I would hope to have entire collection of patterns, both in Illusion style as well as my Embossed style of which my Concentric Squares Baby Blanket is one – both in Judaica as well enlarging my line of dog items. I also plan to get back to doing my pave’ stonework jewelry. I love working with Swarovski crystal jewel-stones. I have some of my past pieces on my web site, but have not put any in my shop yet.

If there is anything you would like to add that wasn't covered in the questions, just add it at the end

I have been a self-employed artist and craftswoman for most of my life. I enjoy the creative process and never know what I'm going to come up with next. I also was a dealer of antique and vintage costume jewelry and will be offering some of those items also - as I am closing that portion of my business to concentrate on my own work.

Sandra's special love is for her English Springer Spaniel, Cookie. Cookie taught herself to aid Sandra when she came home from the hospital from a very serious illness. This is her inspiration for the great dog wear in her shop. What a great dog cookie must be! She loves good whodunits, and you will love this: She was the original designer for the Village People.

To see Sandra's shop, click on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Beth Bullock of Beth's Baby Blankets is a stay-at-home mom with a 5 year old son, and 2 year old daughter. If you are looking for a shower gift, Beth's shop is the place to go. She also has a gorgeous knitted doily of the kind that is usually crocheted. Clicking on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade" will take you to her shop. You won't want to miss it.

Your blog explains that you learned to knit five and a half years ago. Did anyone help you?

I was laid off while I was pregnant and sick so my husband wanted me to get a hobby to keep my mind off of my nausea. I thought of knitting and got a kit at Michaels, after trying (and failing) to follow the directions for a few days, I asked my friends if they knew anyone that knew how to knit. I found a friend of a friend who gave me two lessons for a few hours. She taught me how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. I then bought a book to continue learning.

Tell us how you got started making baby blankets?

My first project was a baby blanket for my son when I was 7 months pregnant. It was supposed to be really easy, but it turned out really bad! It was a diagonal pattern like a dishcloth where you yo at the beginning and end of every row. Then k2tog at the beg and end to decrease. Well I forgot to k2tog quite a few times and the shape is not one anyone would recognize :) But I tied the ends to make it look like a square and I still use the blanket.

Many have breathed a sigh of relief since yarn was taken off the CPSIA testing list and you don't use findings. But, does CPSIA affect you in any way? Such as, do you have to add labels?

Since I only use yarn (no buttons or zippers etc. I do not believe I am affected by CPSIA. I do list my yarn type and brand in my item description for informational purposes.

What is your favorite activity other than knitting? Is napping an activity :), with two small kids it's a nice treat once and a while. I also enjoy scrapbooking. I love recording our family holidays, trips and just seeing how the kids grow.

If you could experience anything you wanted for one day, what would it be and why?

I would love to be a back up singer for someone like Paul Simon. I was a music major in college and I miss singing.

Since I don't know many people that knit, it's so nice to be apart of this group that is full of knowledge and support.

You can find Beth on facebook at

Friday, September 11, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Because I majored in theatre in college, I was so intrigued to learn that Efia Pearson of Efiafair, this weeks spotlight is an actress. How exciting to live out a dream! I loved browsing her shop, and think you will too.

Efia, your shop is very soft and feminine, do you have daughters to knit for?

That question really made me smile. No, no daughters yet. I just got engaged this year, so hopefully in the not-too-far future I will have a daughter or two to knit for, and to teach to knit of course.

What kind of acting do you do, and what inspired you to go into it?

I knew I wanted to be an actress since age 11. All of a sudden I knew what I wanted to do, and for better or for worse there was no turning back. I think what inspired me (and still does) is to get the chance to "live" so many different lives, to learn about what makes people tick. Also to touch people, to give them something. I think about how inspired I am after seeing a really good film, or dance, or any piece of art, and I'd love to give that back.
I studied theatre in college, and then I moved to Los Angeles where it's more TV and Film focused - so I do all of the above. :)

When did you learn to knit, and who taught you?

Well I feel a little bashful to admit this, but I'm just coming up on my 1 year anniversary of learning to knit!! I learned last Summer, from my good friend Mary (who also told me about Etsy!). Originally, she and I were going to open a shop together - she would teach me to knit, and I would teach her to crochet (I learned to crochet when I was about 8... so maybe that's why I picked up knitting so fast). But she created a total knitting monster, because I went knit-crazy. Bought some books, practiced a lot, and I just developed this big passion for knitting. Mary decided she wasn't into it as much as me, so she decided not to open the shop with me. But she turned out to be the messenger for this delightful knitting journey!

Many of your items appear beautifully Victorian. Is this a favorite era for you?

It sure is! I love so many different time periods (that's another reason I love acting - you can "time travel"!) and the Victorian Era is fascinating to me. I like to bring a bit of that fancy flair into 2009.

If you could go back in time, what period would you pick, and what would you do?

Hmmm. Can I pick more than one? :) The Renaissance maybe? I'm intrigued by the cooks during Medieval times, who worked round the clock to bring humongous feasts to the King and his court. Maybe I'd spend a day working in the kitchen... and then a day as the Queen!
I'd love to visit the 1960s and see my parents when they were my age, to see first hand the stories they've told me... and I'd love to go way back and see the dinosaurs, but maybe from a safe distance, being a bird or something. Just to name a few.

I was pretty amazed to find out that Efia has only been knitting for a year. I wouldn't have believed it while browsing her shop. As always, you can get to her shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Browsing through Lindsay MacKay's shop Knitted Wave Studio, I found everything from knitted scarves and purses to beautiful greeting cards. I especially love the cards with the little crochet hats on them. To get to Lindsay' shop, click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade. So, let's get to know Lindsay.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned how to knit a little over a year ago. At the time I was newly married, in a new state, and without a job. One day I was going through some of the boxes from the move and found my grandmother's knitting needles and some yarn. I thought to myself "this is pathetic I have these supplies and I don't know how to use them." So I plopped down in front of the computer and looked up videos on how to knit and played them over and over again with needles in hand. If the videoes were VHS I would have broken them. Thats how I learned the basics and then from there I just couldn't get enough of knitting! I am a confessed yarn a holic and have no plans of being yarn-free ever.

You also sell gorgeous greeting cards, some of them with crochet embellishment, tell us how you began in this endeavor?

I can't take the credit for the cards, my mother is the creative genius behind those cards, I just help her out every once in a while. As for the crochet embellishments I must confess I wasn't the creator of the one you are talking about. Brilliant idea though, I didn't think of collaborating with my mother in that way. I told her about your blog and she said, "duh, why didn't we think of that?" So in the future be looking for my crochet work on my mother's cards.

In your bio, you mention that you really enjoy working with different mediums. Tell us what about them inspires you.

I love color and texture, especially texture. I also love mixing mediums to see what new things can be created from that. I'm inspired by seeing things in an atypical way sometimes, whether its photo collaging on paper and fabric and adding a little paint or using different color and texture in a knitted piece that takes it outside of what it is, putting it in a totally different light.

What do you do just to have fun?

I love to jump in the car with my husband and just drive up and down the old state roads. My camera and knitting are always brought along. We stop to take pictures of the sights that you don't normally see and sometimes just to stop and crawl up into a tree and start knitting.

It occurred to my while reading Lindsay's answer where she mentioned that she loves textures, that we knitters are not tactile defensive. What a blessing that is to us in particular. I realized that if we were, we would not be able to knit, crochet or spin. Thank you, Lindsay for pointing out that major blessing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Sarah Mason opened her shop, Yard by Yard Knits, on June 28th. She has the cutest baby clothes and accessories, and her choices of yarns add such an attractive glow to her items. Just have a look.

Sarah, you mentioned in your shop bio that your college friend showed you numerous times how to knit, but you just never got on with it. What triggered your desire to start knitting?

I started stamping cards in 2003 and really enjoyed the creative process. After a move in 2004, I considered picking up another craft but never made a commitment to anything. In the fall of 2005, I had dinner at a friend's house. She was knitting a pair of socks at the time.. She gave me a knitting lesson and sent me home that night with a how-to book, yarn, needles, and instructions to keep practicing. I made her a scarf with the baby yellow yarn she gave me and haven't stopped since!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brunswick, Maine. Although I have lived just outside of Boston for the last 2+ years, I am definitely a Mainer at heart - especially when it comes to driving!

What fibers interest you the most and why?

I really enjoy knitting with wool because you can do so much with it. I fell in love with felting when I took a class on felted bags. I haven't done much felting in the last couple of years because I have to go to the laundromat, but hopefully I pick it up again once I move this weekend and have my own washing machine.

What is your most favorite project of all time?

My favorite project is the first baby blanket that I knit. I had only knit two scarves and one hat when I decided to dive into baby blankets. My friend, Christine, is the most giving and selfless person you will meet, and I was so excited to give something back to her after all she had given to me. It was also the first time I searched through patterns and picked out my yarn, and I realized that knitting was something I wanted to keep doing. I think Christine and I both cried when she opened the gift - I was so proud of my first hand-made gift!

What would be your dream vacation?

I studied abroad in Paris for a semester when I was in college, and I would love to go back. Unfortunately, I hate flying, so I'm not sure how soon the vacation will be planned.

Do you crochet?

The only reason I own a crochet hook is to help pick up dropped stitches! I do not crochet, but I think it might be time to learn the basics. The first pair of baby booties I made called for a chain to form the tie around the ankle. I managed to figure it out, but I can't say the tie looks very good!

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Searching through patterns. I haven't yet created any of my own patterns, but I love to look through websites, ravelry, or my day-by-day calendar (one of my favorite Christmas gifts the last few years!) for new ideas. And of course, wandering around the yarn shops to see what colors and textures I can put together always gets me excited for a new project.

If you haven't already been to Sarah's shop, click on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade or copy and paste I'm sure she will be glad to see you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Shortly after I opened my shop, I came across a shop with the most beautiful flowers. They weren't traditional crocheted flowers. They were knitted and unlike any I had ever seen. I had to have her rose pattern because it is the most gorgeous I have ever seen. I knitted it up, all the pieces came out great! When my sewing skills improve, I will sew it together the way it is supposed to be and add it to some accessories to make them gorgeous. This is how I met May Lee Ho. She is the owner of Ohmay Designs. Take a look at these pictures and see if you can stay away from her shop.

May, your flowers are so BEAUTIFUL. Most flowers are crocheted. What inspired you to design knitted flowers?

Thanks Dianne. I do know a bit of crocheting, but it is not my favorite thing to do. I had just joined the California Crafters Club of Etsy (CCCOE) and the team has a monthly challenge with themes. The theme at that time was Christmas in July. Thinking of Christmas type items, the poinsettia came to mind. I thought the shape of the petals did not seem that difficult to recreate. With needle in hand and some yarn from my stash, I started, one petal at a time.

Would you please take us through your design process?

I love texture and am always intrigued with how a series of increases and decreases will bring some string to life.. Many of my flowers were created unintentionally from designs that did not work out as originally planned. I think of the shape I want and start knitting; increasing/decreasing at will. Sometimes they come out and sometimes not, but the “mistakes” always remind me of another one of nature’s beauties. So, I keep the sample and continue trying for the shape of the design in mind. At times, I like the “mistake” so much that I shelve my original design and continue to work and improve the “mistake”. My aster flower was one of my “mistakes”. I liked the way the petals looked and continued with the secondary design and lo and behold it all came together. Another of my ideas came from the creation telling me what it wanted to be, the creation of my wedge shaped flower neckpieces. I had put the original piece away and when I took it out again, it had folded in on itself and I just loved how it looked.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with every kind of yarn imaginable, what would you knit?

OMG….first I would have to touch and feel everything and then like picking a puppy, find one that “talks” to me and of course, it will tell me what it want to be. Crazy huh?

Is there something you are dying to try or create but just haven't been able to get to it?

Felting……needle and/or wet felting. I do a bit of felting now by knitting the piece first and then felting, but I want to learn about the other techniques. I just love the way it is so mysterious, just never knowing how it will come out in the wash..

When did you learn to knit and who taught you?

I picked up the basics when I was 12 years old from my sister. It bloomed into an addiction when I was in my late teens and it just keeps growing stronger.

What do you enjoy most?

I really enjoy knitting and selling in Etsy and other venues. It is very gratifying to have strangers see and love your items enough to buy it. There is nothing like getting a sale, whether it is your first or 1000th. The knitters in the Etsy street team, Etysknitters aka EKS), are a fantastically talented bunch and they keep bringing new and exciting ideas and support to the team members. Yay for the ability to do what you love to do.

Now tell the truth. Have you all already checked out her shop before you finished reading the interview? If you haven't click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade or go to

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Are you a native of the U.K.?

Yes I was brought up mostly in Scotland but lived in Iraq, Luxembourg and Kenya in between due to my Dad's job. He was an engineer and was working for the UN in Baghdad at the time of the Iran-Iraq war so bad timing there, my Mum and I were evacuated to Jordan in a truck.

Alona Kemmett has had her Etsy shop since July of last year. As always, to visit her store just clicke on the title above. I have enjoyed all of my interviews with Etsy fiber artists, but I especially like to interview someone outside the U.S. because there is always a chance that I will learn something new culturally. Alona Kemmett is not only outside the U.S., but has lived in many places.

Your Etsy profile says that you like natural fibers. Are they more popular than synthetics in the U.K.?

I wouldn't say so, there're still a lot of knitters who won't use anything but synthetics but I prefer to use wools that have been hand dyed and spun due to quality, softness and colour depth. Especially on Etsy there are so many amazing fiber artists who do wondrous things with yarn in both colour and texture...major kudos from me to hand dyers and spinners!

I do use synthetics but only if they look good and not too artificial - I use a lot of Lang and Lanartus ladder yarns in my necklaces.

You learned to knit when you were five years old. Who taught you?

My Mum taught me. I remember the first pair of needles were short and I think probably a 4mm and I did lots of mustard coloured hot pads! I found them years later so I guess she was proud! On her side of the family there were a lot of knitters - my Aunt was always sending me wool for various projects so I was always knitting as a child, some worked; a lot didn't but it was great fun.

We knitters always want to know how someone else does it. Do you use the throw the loop method or continental and why?

You know, I had to google this one...I only use continental as that's the way I was originally taught and wasn't really aware of the loop method.

What items do you enjoy knitting the most?

Anything for my children - I have 2 - Joe, 4 and Matilda, 18 months, unfortunately I don't have enough time to do everything I'd like for them. I love knitting soft squidgy yarn - its the best feeling!

Where do you see your shop in five years?

Using my experiences to add more interesting designs and being able to grow it to be in a position to do this full time! I work part time from home as a freelance internet marketing consultant so it would be great if I didn't have to do that!

What captivates you outside of the knitting world?

Arthouse cinema, travelling, my husband, my children, animals (3 cats and a dog), my garden, my house. Mickey, my husband is a house husband and he looks after Tildy whilst I'm working and Joe's at school, does all the cooking and also does amazing things in our veggie patch - even though this summer we've had more rain than we needed but even so its very abundant.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

As I browse Irene Ellefson's show Falling Leaf Designs, I am very taken with how varied and one of a kind her pieces are. When I look at her items, I have the feeling that their creator must be in love with adventure. See if you don't think so too.

Where did you grow up, and when and how did you learn to knit?

I was born in and grew up in the sunny San Fernando Valley which is a suburb of Los Angeles, California, so, I am truly a Southern California native! As a child, I was fascinated by my grandmother's fingers as they held knitting needles and yarn and wove amazing sweaters, blankets and slippers for everyone. I remember thinking there was some kind of magic involved because I couldn't understand how anyone could weave a sweater out of string. When I was 8 years old, my grandmother told me it was time for me to learn to knit. We went to the local dime store and she bought me my first pair of knitting needles and a skein of bright red yarn. I was in heaven imagining the new sweater I would be able to wear to school the following day!!! Needless to say, my first attempt was a misshapen square with holes and lumps, but my grandmother proudly announced that I had made my first hot pad to put a hot dish on. She continued to work with me all the time telling me stories of her childhood which I now cherish. I never got very good so when I was a little older I quit. Also, I never saw anybody else knitting, so I was embarrassed to do it on my own.

When did jewelry making make an entrance into your life?

Life went on. After my children moved out of the house, about two years ago, I suffered from the "empty nest syndrome" and decided to pick up some knitting needles and comfort myself by learning or relearning how to knit. Now, I can't put them down.

You have incorporated crochet into regular metal jewelry. What inspired you to do that?

Six months ago, my daughter took me to a beading class and I loved the challenge of learning a new craft. Unfortunately, I couldn't knit and do beadweaving at the same time, so as soon as I tired of one, I would switch back to the other. Then, I decided to take on the challenge of learning how to crochet so I could weave beads into crocheted pieces. And, I love that, too. What could be better than blending beautiful beads with soft luxurious fibers. So, here I am with an eclectic etsy shop that reflects all the loves of my life. My daughter keeps encouraging me to continue to experiment with beads and fiber and my husband supports me by taking the beautiful photos that I use at my website.

Where do you see your store in five years?

My shop will continue to reflect the beauty and wonder that I see in the world. I have so many ideas and I am acquiring the skills I need to actually bring them to fruition. Etsy is a great place to not only showcase my own crafts, but to be awed by the beauty and craftsmanship of others.

Where do you focus most of your attention and energy besides crafting?

When I am not knitting, crocheting, or beading, my husband and I are members of the Kiwanis Club of Northridge. This is a wonderful philanthropic organization whose main goal is to make the world a better place by helping kids. We are always involved in fundraising or volunteering to help those who cannot help themselves. I also mentor High School students through Key Club International. This is an organization that is run by the students themselves and is also focused on helping others. I also volunteer in a youth program targeting middle school and high school students at my church. Other than that, my husband and I love to travel the world and play with our dog. Life is good and we have been very blessed.

As always you can click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters to link to her store. I am going to start including the shop owners' blog urls,if I have them, in my spotlights. Here is Irene's

Friday, July 31, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

This week I am enjoying getting to know Velvet Dishon who has a shop on Etsy and 1000 Markets. As always click on the Title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade above to get to her Etsy shop. Besides her two shops Velvet is involved with her local Knitting Guild. Last year she was the secretary, this year she is co-chair of the altruistic projects. Their favorite charity to support is Project Linus, who supplies blankets to children of trauma.

Velvet what is your background?

I am a former Army Brat that grew up pretty much in Northern Virgina with a short detour to Japan for 4 years, and Florida for 18 months. I graduated from George Mason University with a BS of Early Education, but spent most of my professional, in the "real" workforce, as an Executive Assistant. I have an 8 year old son, a husband with whom I'll celebrate 15 years of marriage with October 8th, my Grandmother "Nana" who is 94, one shitz tuz dog of also 15 years called Piggy, another dog named Ruby, a cat Tinkerbell, a hampster named Squeekers, and assorted fish at home. I have told my son that the "ark" is full, he'd like another cat. I also play hand bells at church.

Velvet, you began knitting as an adult, what prompted you to take up this art?

I have always liked knitting and the look of knitted items. I grew up in a home where mom was always crafting and encouraging us to craft and experiment. When I finally found an acquaintance from Canada and found out that she could knit I asked her to teach me. 14 years later we are closely bonded friends, she was even my birthing coach (her "real" job is a nurse) I also have obsessive compulsive tendencies with attention deficit and knitting is one of my coping mechanisms.

Are you involved in other crafts?

I dabble in just about anything, and am usually game to try any new craft at least once. I have tried everything from painting t-shirts & stamping to counted cross stitch and latch hook rugs. I have concluded that knitting is my niche. My scrapbooks look like a demented 5 year old has constructed them.

How did you become involved in the prayer shawl ministry?

There was another knitter in church that heard about the ministry and asked me to participate. When my family changed churches, I started a new one in the new church. We are up to a team of 4. The prayer shawl ministry is truly a blessing both for the receiver of the prayer shawl, and also the creator. We don't discriminate and have both knitters and crocheters. We are a very loose group, and only have 2 rules. 1) pray over your shawl as you are creating 2) find your own personal blessing doing the task. Creating the shawls is a gift and a joy, and when the project is stressing you out, put it down. No bad "karma" allowed. We do not follow any particular patterns. Pretty much just whatever "floats your boat".

What is your favorite fiber?

I really like alpaca, bamboo, soft wools. But I am usually on an acrylic blend kind of budget.

What is your dream project?

I have a pattern for a medallion backed shawl shrug that I would love to do in a soft alpaca or wool. I would also love to discover a quick way to knit the beautiful lace shawls that can fit through the eye of a needle.

You crochet also, which do you prefer?

I prefer to knit. I have some nerve damage in my left wrist, and I'm left handed. Knitting is more of a straight motion and doesn't irritate the nerves as much as the rolling kind of twisting motion of crochet.

What else is Velvet all about?

I love machine (aka loom) knitting. I own three, and have borrowed one. I am totally in love with the process of being able to create a knitting item in the matter of several hours rather than weeks or days by hand. And my opinion is that loom knitting still counts as knitting because my hands are all over those needles and fibers. And there still is a lot of traditional finishing that goes into a loom knitted item. For me it has what has allowed me to have an etsy shop that is cost effective, practical, and consumer priced. Must be my Scott-Irishness coming out. Incorporating both handknitting and loom knitting into my etsy shop allows me to have a happy harmony.