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