Friday, June 26, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

This week I am spotlighting another shop that both knitters and crocheters have an interest in, and that is one that has stitch markers for sale. Not all projects need them, but for those that do, stitch markers make it so much easier. So, let's meet Beth of Needle Bling. As always, you can click on the title Knitters and Crocheters on Parade to go to her shop.

Needle Bling is such a cute name for stitch markers. How did that name come to you?

I love the term 'bling' for jewelry -- it's so descriptive -- and at some point I saw a post that referred to stitch markers as 'jewelry for your needles'. I thought 'needle bling', and when I was looking for a name for my shop, that just seemed perfect.

You sometimes sell hand dyed yarn in your shop. Do you own sheep or have access to them?

No. Actually, I'm allergic to sheep's wool in even the smallest percentage. And it really is the wool I'm allergic to -- I use a lanolin-based hand lotion regularly. At one point, someone sent me an angora/wool blend yarn, not knowing that I was allergic to wool. I thought she did know, and since angora is one of the fibers I want to play with when I'm rich and can afford it, I took the yarn out of the package and fondled it for a couple of minutes without checking the ball band. The angora was 80% of the yarn, and it made the yarn so soft I didn't feel the wool itch right away. Once I felt it, I checked the ball band, said a few nasty words and washed my hands. About an hour later, I had small white blisters on my fingers. Anyway, the yarn I sometimes have is usually alpaca. When I sell yarn that I've dyed, it's usually because I was trying a new technique and the results aren't my cup of tea. That doesn't mean it's ugly yarn, just not one that I'd knit with. I recently dyed a couple skeins of llama/silk blend yarn that I purchased at the local knit and crochet festival, and I'm not immediately thrilled with the result. I'm giving it a bit of time before I decide, but it may end up in the shop.

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

I learned knitting in grade school from my mom, but didn't know about knitting patterns, or stitches other than basic knit and purl. I made a lot of scarves! I tried it again in college, but again, only knew knit and purl, so lots more scarves. A couple of years ago, I was looking for something creative that would be new to me. I was in JoAnn Fabrics and happened to wander into their yarn department. I found books of patterns and different stitch patterns and the knitting bug bit again. It had been long enough that I literally had to re-teach myself how to knit.

I had never tried crochet before this year. I went to the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in February, and they had a free 'Teach Me to Crochet' class. I've made one crochet project so far, an afghan to raffle for a science fiction group I belong to. I literally finished it the night before the weekend get-together it was being raffled at. It took 3 1/2 months, and it will be quite a while before I tackle another crochet project. Knitting is my favorite!

You stated in your shop bio that you are having so much fun knitting. What motivated you to make and sell stitch markers rather than knitted and crocheted items?

I enjoy knitting, but I prefer to knit for myself, my friends, my family and charity. Years ago, I made glassware decorated with fine sterling chain and semi-precious gemstone beads for the art shows at science fiction conventions. I still have a lot of the gemstone beads, as well as the wire and silver accent beads. I've some of the chain, too, but that doesn't lend itself to stitch markers. I started by making stitch markers for myself, and for the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry. Then I found out about Etsy, and things just grew from there.

Are you considering selling knitted and crocheted items?

No, I'm a slow knitter, and I'd rather give the items I create to people I know, or knit them for charity.

What kinds of things do you like to knit?

I like small one-skein projects like fingerless mitts and hats. I just recently found alpaca sock yarn with no sheep's wool at an Etsy shop (Wild Fire Fibres), and purchased 4 undyed skeins. Once they're dyed, I'll be teaching myself to knit socks!

You live in Pennsylvania, have the Amish had any influence on your craft?

Not really. In Pennsylvania, the Amish are primarily located near the center of the state, and I'm in south western PA, near Pittsburgh.

Currently, I'm playing with dyeing silk scarves. I'm probably going to open up a second shop on Etsy to sell them, since they don't exactly fit under the name 'Needle Bling'. I'm looking for a great name for the shop, but I'm having problems with it. Any suggestions? :)

So if you need some stitch markers, her url is

Friday, June 19, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

If I had known how much fun it was going to be to interview Etsy knitters and crocheters, I would have started this series a long time ago. Jo Anderson of Nannas Knitting just can't stop saying nice things about everything. I think I will e-mail her everyday just to get some compliments to make my day, lol. I was just thrilled that she sent me the picture of her knitting on the porch as a child. Isn't it beautiful?
Jo's shop has an assortment of scarves and scarflettes that will keep even those who live in Minnesota warm. They are all knitted except for one very pretty crocheted Floral Petal scarf that is strictly for looks.

You raise collies to herd sheep. Do they herd your sheep or someone else's?

The only herding going on at my house was last week as our Collies were busy caring for our little lamb of a Grandson out in our yard and yes, they attempted to herd him directing him where they thought he should be in the yard. We had our first litter of Collies just last Summer. They are such gentle and smart companions. One of them went to Washington State and he is taking herding classes. It is so nice to know that one of them is doing what they have actually been bred to do though lucky him, he gets to herd the sheep and then sleep in the house at night. I don't have sheep though I do love animals. I collect sheep the kind you can put in each room to look at. I think that from the time I first heard a dear older woman named Gunhild Hallquist tell a sweet story using characters on a flannel graph of this incredible Shepherd who had 100 sheep and one of them was missing and he loved these sheep so dearly that he left to look for the lost sheep and carried him back to the flock in his loving arms I was hooked. Hooked on a Savior named Jesus that cares enough to rescue the lost. And hooked on sheep soft, fluffy, wayward and not making the smartest of decisions.. So my sheep collection is in my home and when I see them it reminds me of how much God loves me. As for my love of knitting it just doesn't hurt that sheep also provide the wool to knit with and my love of Collies who by instinct care for the sheep just seemed to be the perfect dog for me.

Do you spin and dye your own wool to make your scarves and scarflettes?

No I do not. I am so pleased that someone does this and I think it sounds so interesting but for now I will just work with their finished product.

What part of the process do you enjoy the most?

That would be hard for me to say. I love the whole process. When I was young my Aunt took me to a yarn outlet and from that point on I have just felt such joy when I am looking for yarn. I love the colors and textures. I love to try to figure out what I could make from each type of yarn. Like most people who love working with fiber I have to do a touch test to see if it is soft, I guess this is just part of the whole process. I love the knitting too, it is just so calming to me. Then the finished project when I look at it and think that I made every single stitch that is in the finished item it gives me a feeling of satisfaction, contentment.

Do you crochet?

Yes I do and it seems that I can understand how to make a pattern and dream up projects of my own much easier with crocheting than with knitting. I would say that knitting is my first love but that crocheting gives me a break once in awhile to play with something different and usually I can complete a project faster when I am crocheting.

Who taught you to knit, and how old were you?

I found a photo that my Mother had taken of me knitting on my back porch with my cat named Puff lying next to me with that tempting string of yarn right in front of her. The photo looks like I was almost 10. So when I think that I have been knitting for most of my life it is quite a realization. My cousin Debbie lived next door to my house when we were growing up. Her mother and sister and she would all knit during Summer afternoons. I really thought that it looked like such a wonderful thing to learn. Debbie taught me how to knit as we sat together on her front porch steps. I can still envision this memory today as I was so busy concentrating and she was so busy teaching. She is only 10 months older than I am so I am always impressed that she was able to teach me at such a young age. It makes me smile when I think of my first attempts as I made slippers for my Grandmothers for Christmas gifts. The loose then tight tension and as I dropped stitches I would either take everything thing off of the needles and marvel at how quickly it all comes undone compared to how long it takes to put it together. Or I would run next door and interrupt my Aunt's day to ask for help and watch with amazement as she could figure out the problem and then correct it. A remarkable woman indeed! As I knit today it is always very dear to my heart that I learned this skill from someone that I loved so much. Knitting is such a great heritage to pass down through the generations though in saying that I must confess that I haven't been a very good teacher in passing this skill on to others.

I am intrigued that as a jewelry crafter, you also like to knit. Is it because the weather is so cold in Minnesota, or is there another motivation?

I do like to make reference in my Nanna's Knitting shop about how cold it is in Minnesota and to remember to put your scarf on so you don't catch a chill! My small attempt at Grandma ism humor. I guess I just want to whine a little about it being -31 and I'm not referring to wind chill factor in the Winter in Minnesota. I'm just looking for a whole lot of sympathy! Actually my motivation is just the joy of being able to get out of bed and do something that I love. That is quite a blessing indeed! I didn't even know that I could make jewelry until a little over a year ago I started playing with beads and wires and clasps in a kit that my sweet husband purchased for me so that I would have something fun to do. Neither of us knew that it would develop into quite a passion for making jewelry. I am so happy to have had a friend recommend Etsy to me. I did not know that it existed. To be able to create my jewelry and knit or crochet and then have a place to share what I make and to be able to have a way to help with my family's income is just truly a joy and a dream come true! In the past twelve years my health took quite a hit. I have come from a time of being totally flat on my couch or in bed. I have a combination of Chronic health problems that involve body pain, difficulty sleeping and have had a long recovery from a serious surgery all of this combined has caused a great deal of discouragement. When I finally reached a point of being able to sit up for a period of time one of the first things that I attempted was to pick up my knitting needles. Because I suffered from so much neck and shoulder pain I had to take my knitting sessions in slow and limited time frames. I started making scarves for my family and friends. I can't even express how much it meant to be able to do something that was so much a part of me. Now that I am stronger I can knit for longer periods of time, and I was also able to start making jewelry. To have two things that I enjoy so much and that give me a feeling of accomplishment makes me happy indeed! Having gone through this I would just encourage those who are suffering to try to pick up your needles and knit or to try to remember something that brings you joy and just take small steps in attempting to get your life back. There isn't much that we truly have control of in our lives but knitting for generations has been a form of therapy to calm us, well that is unless we drop a stitch or have a cranky pattern before us. It can give a feeling of peace, of accomplishment, of joy and can get a person through both good and bad times in their life. I am just so thankful for a cousin that taught me a lifelong skill and joy.

If you had all the time in the world (and all the yarn), what would you knit.

That is such a great question! I would have to give two answers for this question. I would knit blankets. Soft beautiful blankets! And I would knit scarves. Soft warm scarves. Blankets to greet newborn babies and blankets to cover the homeless and the hurting in warmth and love. There isn't much that says love better than a soft, clean, warm blanket. Both of these ideas are pretty dear to my heart but when you suggested all of the time in the world and all of the yarn! Wow! Does that ever get my brain going! I have participated in knitting for the Warm Up America! Foundation where one can knit rectangular blocks that are 7" x9". They can be knit in any pattern with acrylic medium/worsted weight yarn. The rectangles can then be sent to Warm Up America! Foundation, 2500 Lowell Road, Ranlo, NC 28054. The rectangles are then stitched together to make blankets for the homeless. It is a great way to use up those little amounts of yarn that tend to collect in the yarn stash. Though if I had all of the yarn in the world I wouldn't have to even think about the yarn stash would I? I would also knit scarves. For several years now I have been knitting scarves as I love fast, simple, relaxing knitting, and I would call them a Hug Around the Neck. I made them for my loved ones, which included family, friends and those who were going through a time of ill health or suffering a loss in their life, and I would send them off with a Hug Around the Neck note. As I made these I would pray for the person that I was making them for. It was a great way to feel connected to them and what they were going through in their lives. I also knitted scarves when my daughter was attending North Park University in Chicago. She was involved in some service projects at this school and so I would send scarves back to school with her after she had been home for a visit for her to give to the group that gave care to the homeless in the Chicago community so that they could distribute them for me. That would definitely put a smile on my face to be able to knit to welcome newborns into the world, to care for loved ones, and to be able to give a loving gesture to those who are suffering. Well, plus all of the yarn in the world! Wow that really puts a smile on my face!

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I guess that would tie into the previous question when I think of the possibilities to comfort another person. Creative juices about knitting itself is that it is a very tactile form of creating for me. The sight of the beautiful colors, the tactile essence of the texture and stitches that are chosen. Then of course as I am finishing one project, there are usually a couple more on my needles in beginning or mid stages of completion and something going through my head about the next yarn that I want to purchase and what I think that I want to make with it.

Drop by and check out Jo's warm winter wear, or click on the title which will take you there.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Purple Bow Crafts, owned by Cheryl Burke, has been open on Etsy since February 17. Cheryl is a stay at home mom with an adorable little three year old girl (as anyone can see from the picture). Her profile states, "Knitting helps me stay sane when my three year old is being, well, three." I can relate to that, except when my boys were all little, there was precious little time for knitting. I might be more same today if there had been. Cheryl has been able to stay sane enough to be very creative and come up with some very innovative ideas. And, she tells us about it.

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

I learned how to knit in about 2001. I actually taught myself out of a book I bought at the craft store. I come by this talent honestly though as my aunt and both grandmothers knit. Had I not lived 1,000 miles away I am sure one of them would have been glad to teach me in person and I would not have knit my needles together. I'm better now.

Do you crochet?

Yes I do, but not quite as much. My daughter loves to play the colorful crochet hooks though.

How were you inspired to create knitted envelopes?

The inspiration is two-fold. I was watching Oprah around the holidays and she spoke of meaningful gifts. One of the gifts that she, and others, loved the most was the result of a group effort. Each person in the group wrote to each other person about why they were thankful for them, what they loved about them, etc. I loved the idea of having my family do this at Christmas. Since we all live so far from each other I thought that everyone would enjoy having ready reminders of our family's love nearby even if the actual people were not. Since I am a knitter, I decided to knit the card holders for each person and that is how the gratitude envelopes were born.

Do you have any other creative ideas in the making?

I'm trying my hand at knit necklaces and hope to have some more ready soon. I like the mixed media aspect of the necklaces. The one currently in my shop includes beads.

Can you explain your three stitch philosophy?

This is actually based on the prayer shawl pattern. When a prayer shawl is knit, the knitter prays into the shawl as s/he knits. I like the pattern but prayer shawls really aren't something that should be sold, they are knit out of love. Instead I knit health, happiness and wisdom into the shawls that I sell as these are universal needs. I really love how this pattern looks when knit on large needles, it is so simple but produces a beautiful and interesting garment.

Your daughter is very young, but has she shown any interest in your craft? At what age do you think would be a good time to begin teaching her?

Oh yes she has shown interest! She has been asking for the last 6 months or so for me to teach her to knit. I've purchased some child friendly needles and yarn. Every time she asks, I break out the supplies and show her how to cast on or knit. She "knits" for a little while and then goes off to her next 3 year old task which is frequently another crafty project. She'll be a knitter for sure but I think that she will need to be 5 or so to have the attention span and dexterity needed to really knit. Just this weekend I taught her 7 year old friend to knit and I took both girls shopping for more yarn just this morning! Not to worry all, the next generation is definitely interested.

What direction would you like to see your shop take in the next few years?

I plan for the shop to remain mainly a knitting shop but I hope to have a wider variety of items. I'm learning how to spin (slowly I might add) and I am looking forward offering items made of yarn I have spun. I am also a paper crafter and hope to include some of those items in the shop hence the name Purple Bow Crafts instead of Purple Bow Knitting.

I can't wait to see what new and creative thing will find it's way into her shop Click on the Title Etsy Knitters and Crocheter on Parade. It will take you to her shop. You know you have to have those envelopes for all your loved ones.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

I was checking the crochet listings to see where mine was when I spotted a T-shirt. It looked like just a T-shirt, but knowing that crochet must be involved for it to be in the crochet listings, I clicked on it. It took me to a shop with the cutest crocheted T-shirts I had ever seen. Well, the only crocheted T-shirts I had ever seen. They were so cute and such a great idea that I just had to send the owner a convo and tell her so. Through our conversation, the idea came to me that so far only knitters have been spotlighted, and this shop would be perfect for the next feature.

Vinette of Nique's Boutique is the mother of three, two very handsome boys and one beautiful daughter. She recently became unemployed when the company she had worked for for 12 years downsized. She has decided to make lemonade out of lemons by spending the time pursuing her passion to make beautiful things. I've loved getting to know her a little.

When did you learn to crochet and who taught you?
I started to crochet when I was a young girl living in jamaica, I learned by watching my older relatives crocheting.

Do you knit? If so, what do you knit?

No, I have never tried my hand at knitting, but I always thought I would try to see what I could come up with.

How long have you been crocheting T-shirts, and what inspired you to do so?

Ive been crocheting t-shirts over 10 years now, what inspired me to do so was to try something different from the traditional crocheting techniques.

What else do you crochet?

I also crochet bag, doilies, pillow cases, window valance and basically anything else that can be crochet.

What are your goals for your shop?

To sell my products to customers with a one of a kind taste.

Do you create for other venues such as charities or friends?

Yes, I have been making crocheted tops for my younger sisters since we were children.

What do you create that gives you the most satisfaction?

Just completing any crochet piece, and seeing my design come to life.

I have to confess that I'm going to have to have the red one in her shop. Drop by Nique's Boutique and see what she is doing. Those T-shirts are definitely out of the ordinary and would make great gifts.