Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This week the spotlight is on Tracey Lord of Cheese at Four Pence. It's been many years since I was in London, and I didn't know her then, but I wish that I had known and looked her up. We could have had a cuppa and knitted with the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Tracey lives in the U.K. where she turns out the cutest little pixie hats and little people knits. These luring creations are available at Cheese at Four Pence on Etsy in cotton that is so comfortable for delicate skin of little ones. But, let Tracey tell you herself:
Being a teacher, do you find enough time for knitting?
As a teacher, no, I have to say, I don't find anywhere near enough time for my knitting but I after 6 years of teaching literacy to students with learning difficulties I am set to have a change in job role for September, which should ease things up a bit: I have been given my own brand new fashion and textiles department to run, with a graduate degree programme. So I guess my life should all tie together a bit more closely once I'm back teaching textiles again at last!
Do you currently have venues other than your Etsy shop for selling your creations?
I sell on Folksy as well as Etsy at the moment (http://www.folksy.com/shops/cheeseatfourpence) - Folksy is a UK version of Etsy. Etsy is not so well-known in the UK yet. I also have some of my work in a small designer kids' clothes shop in West London (which I used to be a partner in.) I plan to set my own website up this summer ready for the winter rush. I love selling on the web, it's so personal - especially the direct contact you have with customers, and the support of groups I belong to like Etsyknitters Team. It's been a revelation to me and I wish I had started web selling years ago.
Do you design differently for different markets, such as outside the U.K.? If so, how and why?
I would say I don't really design that differently for different markets: but I have observed that some designs sell much better in some countries than others - I always sold retro/ironic styles really well to Japan for years before the UK/US really 'got' that look, and I sold the brightest colourschemes to Germany and Denmark. I would like to think that most of my work would appeal across the oceans, though!
Do you think that machine knitting saves time on smaller items?
I do still love hand knitting but found when I had a shop that it was not really viable for me to make a living. When I was at university, though, I did more hand knitting than machine knitting and I still always have a project on the go for myself on the needles (well, several to be honest, as I have terrible startitis...) Machine knitting speeds up the more tedious, plain knit pieces, I find, so that I can spend more time on the details: embellishing by knitting in extra bits, adding a tassel here or there, embroidering or crocheting trims: I still love the hands-on fiddly stuff, that's where the fun lies. You can do all kinds of fiddling about on the machine; people perceive it to be less interesting than handknitting, but it's just a different way of working, like knit v crochet really.
What is the inspiration behind your pixie hats?
My pixie hats came about after I found an old book at my mum's that I loved as a child, which was about the circus. There was a lovely big top tent in it and I came up with a hat shape based on it. The trims are I think from the little drums that the seals in the book stood on while they clapped! I may have had a dream about this book as well, so I think it was well-loved.
If you could quit your day job, what aspect of your art would you concentrate on?
If I could quit my day job I think I would concentrate on developing my patterns for others to use: I have always wanted to do a book one day. I never made the most of the fact that Rowan sponsored my degree collection, I regret letting that link go. I would also love more time to paint.
What goals do you have for your Etsy shop?
I hope my Etsy shop will be full of fun and inspiring accessories and clothes for all, over the next few months: I've got a head bursting with ideas for bags, gloves, scarves, socks, cushions, blankets....... and I can't wait to get started on them!
I can't wait to see what new items arrive in Cheese at Four Pence. My current personal favorite is the Potato Patch Beanie.