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.