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.


  1. What a nice interview story. Great job!

  2. Thanks Dianne for highlighting my shop! It is such a nice thing that you do in helping our Knitting Team to get acquainted with one another!

  3. very nice interview and inspiration.

  4. Great Interview! Nice to meet you, Jo.