Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Natalie Redding American handmade artisan

I am so glad that I have had to opportunity to get to know Natalie Redding of Namaste Farms. She is an incredible artist, and can be found on facebook as Namaste Farms. In my secret "Walter Mitty" life, I would be doing what she does. But, as it stands, I will be buying her yarns, and making my items from it. That, in itself is a dream come true. You can visit her farm on line by clicking on the title of this post, or you can see some of her yarns by copying and pasting this link into your url

Natalie, you knit, spin your own wool, and breed your own sheep and goats. What brought you to the world of breeding?

I am an Animal Scientist with a B.S. and M.S. from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I have a deep affection and love of animals. Unlike many fiber fanatics, I started with the animals, and then fell in love with the fleeces.
Oddly enough, I learned to trim feet, and shear (and everything relating to flock management) before I ever spun a skein. I actually did not learn about fleece sheep in school...only meat breeds. I purchased Wensleydale Longwools quite by accident. It was then that my love affair with fiber began.

You are truly a made in America artisan from start to finish. What is your business philosophy?

I am a terrible business person. I would give everything away if left to myself. If it were not for Deborah at I would not have near the success I do. I mean this sincerely. She keeps me on track and has a lot of patience for my artistic idiosyncrasies. Her mantra to me is, "Make whatever you want and we will sell it." It is pretty hard not to be successful with a company that embraces everything you do.

Your sheep and goats have won show awards. Why are so exceptional?

My husband and I came from owning Thoroughbred racehorses. Conformational principles are very similar within animal species. This made it very easy to choose animals that were structurally sound. When it came to figuring out great fleeces; we ALL know, it is in the handle. How good does this fleece feel? I definitely had some help from experts in the beginning; the rest was having a very good tactile sense. My biggest mentor is Sharon Chestnutt (Cloudspun Farm). She is a very well known Angora Goat breeder and is a dear friend to this day. She was great at pointing me in the right direction and teaching me the basics.

You have recently become a certified member of the Cherokee nation. Would you share your journey in achieving this goal?

I recently was granted my tribal membership to Cherokee Nation. My children are also tribal members and it makes me feel so complete. My grandfather was a Cherokee and lived in Oklahoma. He died in the late 1970's from a self inflected gunshot wound and his entire legacy was not well regarded by my family. Because of this, I wasn't even aware that I was 1/4 Cherokee until the 1980's.
About 4 years ago my friend's mother (a Lenape Indian) told me I should enroll with Cherokee Nation. I found my grandfathers name on the Dawes roll and began the process.
Seriously, it was seemingly endless paperwork, but as of Dec. 21st, I am a full fledged member of Cherokee Nation. It is so funny that it made me feel so purposed. It also feels like my love of animals, agriculture and nature is truly in my blood.

How would you like to impact home-grown business in America?

I really want people to understand how important it is to appreciate farming and the importance of fiber arts. I have met so many amazing artists doing crafts I did not even know existed. I don't think the general public realizes how much time and effort goes into these arts. Much of this is because the US has relied on imported crafts and goods. I feel like this trend is starting to shift and American made goods and services are making a comeback. That's a fantastic thing.

Drop by and get to know Natalie and her products. They are made in America from American sheep and goats.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Handmade in America

I have always been a watcher. I watch everything, and it began at an early age. I remember thinking, at age 9, when the gov't reduced the amount of silver in our coins to almost nothing, that the money was almost worthless. From that point on the prices of things began to rise. I remember thinking, in high school, when Nixon took us off the gold standard, that since there was absolutely no standard for the printing of our money, that from that point on it was worth exactly what the gov't. would manipulate it to be. If they decided to print more of it, it would be worth less. If they decided to print less, it would be worth more. We were then under the whim of the gov't. To add to this, America makes almost nothing to sell to each other and to other countries, and what we do own is now micromanaged by the gov't. Those who produce handmade goods in the US experienced this in a big way this year as the hammering out of the new CPSIA regulations have been taking place. We had to fight to be able to produce anything for children at all without having to pay for outrageously expensive testing on all materials. My beef: if the offending materials come from outside the country, then why do we have to pay for it. Why not do the testing at the ports, and make the offending companies pay for it. Not feasible you say, I say it's more feasible than making every small business or crafter in this country pay to have it done every time a new batch of materials is purchased. After all, these companies make millions on sweatshop labor, and flood our market with cheap goods that become a lot more expensive because our sellers have to pay for the testing of their harmful products. I have to ask, if the price of children's products are going to sky rocket (and they will) as soon as, CPSIA is fully in effect, then why not spend the same money on a domestic handmade product. This country might even be allowed to produce again on a large scale.

I don't grieve over imports but, to have an economy that will thrive, you have to make something to sell. Since, we buy so much that comes from sweatshops, we are use to paying little for what we have. The only problem with that is that since we have little industry to make our money with, and the money we do make has been long spent by the gov't, their only answer is to print more causing us to spend more for everything. My answer to this is to buy made in America. Imports are not bad, but we must have some support for our own industry.

Since, I am not a person capable of starting a manufacturing plant in this country, my answer is to make what I can with my own two hands, and sell, or trade it to someone in this country or another. The point is that it was made in this country. I have always enjoyed using beautiful yarns made in other countries, and at times will continue to do so. But, I have made this decision: I will begin to buy yarns made in this country. Since there is only one place in this country that manufactures yarn, I will buy from them, or HANDMADE IN AMERICA by someone who spins.

There are many venues now to buy handmade. If you click on this blog title, it will take you to my shop. If I don't have anything you like, you can find almost anything on Etsy. And, just to list a few, there are Artfire, Zibbet, Cargoh, and more. You don't have to buy handmade (although it's almost all we have left), but buy American. I invite anyone who makes products in this country to post your business name and product in the comments section. If you are looking for made in America check out those who list their businesses in the comments. In the future, I am going to be blogging about made in America businesses. If you come across businesses handmade or otherwise list them in the comments. I will blog about some of them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Bobbi of Kitty Grrlz makes bright, colorful novelty and art yarns. When I browse her yarn shop, I feel like a kid in a candy store. She also has a shop full of beautiful knitted items made from her beautiful yarns.

Tell us how and when you learned to knit

I learned how to knit at the DIY Trunk Show in Chicago, Illinois ( I was making jewelry at the time and did the show as the "Crafty Librarians". I had beautiful items from several librarians from across the country! It was a great show and I learned how to knit there.

The local Stitch n Bitch group was giving lessons up on the stage in the Auditorium. Our spot was very near there and since it is was quiet at first (and, a fellow librarian was there helping me) I went up to get my free lesson. They provided acrylic yarn and metal needles. They showed the cast on and then the knitting. I was all thumbs, seriously. I never thought I would get it! I felt like an idiot and was sure the girl trying to teach me thought I was too. BUT . . . when I got home I went out and bought some purple yarn (they had given me yellow, not really my favorite color) and started knitting. I just knit and knit and knit . . . I ended up knitting a long rectangular object that today most resembles a table runner (yes, I do still have it!).

THAT was the beginning. I jumped into knitting full speed ahead and by the next year at the very same show (2005 DIY Trunk Show), I was there with HAND KNIT items. Lots of them. AND, I wore the SWEATER that I knit. I still have that sweater and try to wear it to shows (though it doesn't fit as well as it did back then - I think it's time for me to knit a NEW sweater!)

You spin your own yarns, which are your favorite to work with?

My favorite fibers to work with are soft wools like merino and merino blends. I love merino/silk but lately have also really enjoyed spinning merino/tencel - the tencel adds a bit of shine to it but is still very soft. I enjoy spinning bamboo, too, because it is so soft and smooth. Sometimes spinning wool is tough on my hands, but the bamboo just slides and slips right through. My favorite yarns to spin are my "FunctionArt" art yarns, because I really get to play with colors and textures. I also get to use my large stash of novelty and specialty yarns for these types of yarns. (You can see them here - )
Really, though, I love spinning all types and like to go back and forth for variety.

Would you rather spin, or knit?

Most of the time, I think I'd rather spin, but there are times where I get into the "knitting zone" and all I want to do is knit. This usually happens in early Fall, or sometimes, in the middle of summer. I don't remember if it was last summer or the summer before, but I just started knitting, even though it was June/July. I knit up a bunch of my art yarns into cowls/neckwarmers, which are my favorite thing to knit since they are fairly fast and I don't have to do anything too fancy - the art yarn does it for me. Right now, though, I'm definitely in a spinning mode as I'm preparing for a big show in July (Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair - )

If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?

Hmm, when I was in college the answer to this would have been the 60s because of the music and all that was going on at the time. But, now, I'm not sure. I'd probably be pretty content just living in THIS time. (The odd point is that if I *could* I'd just like to go back to my college years - the early 90s! Better music, less responsibility. ;) )

Tell us about Bug Juice.

Bug Juice is my boss! No, just kidding. She thinks she is, though. She is my second cat and one of the reasons for my name - Kitty Grrlz. When I was in college, I had a cat named Jinx, and she was the original Kitty GRRl, but then when I was working out in Roseburg, Oregon, the director brought a kitten into the library - a stray that she found by her house but couldn't take in since she had several cats already. The director was hoping to find a home for this stray kitten and even though I knew Jinx wouldn't be happy, I brought her home. That's how the Kitty Grrl became Kitty GrrlZ - and Bug Juice joined our household. I don't know what I would do without her - she keeps me company while I spin late into the night - her favorite spot is underneath my spinning chair. (You can see pictures of them both here -

You can get to Bobbi's shop by clicking on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade. But you can get to her Etsy knit shop here. Her blog and her website Please do check them all out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Have you ever thought that you would like to keep your laptop looking really good? Well, Brenna, of Raven Haired did, and it took her into a new world. After getting to know her, check out her shop by clicking on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheter on Parade."

Your profile says you knit for family and friends. What do you make for them?

When I was first learning all I would make were scarves. Then I eventually branched out and started to make gloves and mittens, little stuffed animals and colorful blankets.

How did you come to the idea of making laptop sleeves?

On my last job my old laptop broke and I had to hurry and get a new one for work. The work I was doing was a lot of long hours and traveling. I was always on the go and often tired and it seemed like my lovely new laptop was always in danger of being dropped or getting scratched when I shoved it in my bag. A laptop is an expensive investment and I wanted to keep mine in good condition so soon enough I found some time to knit myself a sleeve for my laptop. Not long after that my friends and co-workers started to notice and ask me where I got it. The next thing I knew I had discovered Etsy and decided to give my little shop idea a try.

Do you sell your items on other venues, beside online?

I don't, yet. I have considered getting involved at art fairs and such but for know I'm just concentrating on promoting my shop online.

What interests you beside knitting and crochet?
So many things, but I have to say my passion next to knitting would have to be food. I love to cook and to grow my own food. And I love to eat, of course. Right now I'm living in an apartment with a small patio and it is covered with pots of herbs and peppers and lettuce.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

There are too many wonderful places in the world to choose just one. Hopefully throughout my life I'll get to try many new places but for now I'm thoroughly enjoying life in Fort Wayne, IN. It's finally warm here, my boyfriend and I are loving all of the great farmers markets and two wonderful yarn shops. What more could a girl want?

Lol, a local yarn shop does go a long way to make us happy!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

I really enjoy the amigarumi of many of our Etsy knitters, and that includes those featured in Bonnie Limberg's shop BL Beans. She also has terrific bags and purses. You can browse her shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.I think you will like it as much as I did.

Your profile says that your grandmother taught you to crochet when you were nine years old. What was it that inspired you to take up knitting?

Actually it was my mom that taught me crochet at the age of 9. She did tatting too but I never got around to learning that before she passed away. My knitting started with a neighborhood mom that was taking a night class in beginning knitting. I was friends with her daughter and she taught us both as she was learning. I was about 13 years old then and I really liked working with 2 needles opposed to one. A little challenging at first trying to get my stitches so they didn't squeak when moving across the needles. My knitting was just a little too tight at first. With practice I got the hang of it. Once I started with baby booties it was on to baby sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves and adult sweaters. I like creating something plus it is relaxing for me.

What is your favorite fibre and why?

Favorite fiber..........that is a good question. I enjoy crochet and knit and I really like wool because of it's felting ability and end result from the hot water soaking. But for the feel and flow of the yarn in my hands as I work it I would have to say a yarn called I Love This Yarn. I find it at Hobby Lobby and it is so very soft to the touch and a dream to work with when I'm making critters/animals or sweaters for the grandkids.

What keeps you busy outside of knitting?

Besides knitting I enjoy reading by a variety of authors such as Dan Brown, Vince Flynn, Kathy Reich, Dr. David Jeremiah (to name a few) you can tell my reading varies mostly by mood and interest at the time. I love spending time with my grandchildren, all 6 of them, and being an active part of Celebrate Recovery/GriefShare at my church. Getting together with friends for dinner and coffee is a weekly occurrence, plus my weekly knitting group, a small Bible study group for new believers, and soon it will be gardening season here in southeastern Wisconsin. Grass cutting season is already upon us and I really LOVE cutting grass. I get out my iPod with my tunes, my ear protection, sun-visor, sunscreen, water bottle, and then it's just me and the lawn tractor for about 2 1/2 hours. Good thing the neighbors can't hear my singing over the lawnmower. Me, Abba and the open yard.......bring it on!

If you could change anything, what would it be and why?

What's with the hard question here? Ok, what would I husband. Now don't take that the wrong way. My husband is the love of my life and it took me way too long to find him. He has health issues that prevent him from doing things we would like to do like traveling and going for long walks. My life is very good and very blessed, but my husband being able to travel and walk with me ........well that would just be the icing on the cake for me and him.

What prompted you to start an Etsy shop?

My shop interest started about 3 years ago when I had been knitting more again and started making felted purses. I gave a few away as gifts and one of my friends said why not sell them. When I was getting compliments from strangers on my own felted purse, it was time to take the advice of my friends. After some thought and internet searching I came across the Etsy website. I couldn't believe there was such a place and the number of artisans on it was mind blowing. After checking Etsy out further and really liking what I saw I was ready to take the plunge. In Fall of 2009 I was finally ready to launch BL Beans.

And I am so glad that you did, Bonnie. Your knit and crocheted items are beautiful

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Suzette Lenzen is an enthusiastic knitter, who makes the cutest hats and accessories. After felting many of her items, she uses inspired embroidery talent to make them exceptional. Check out her shop KNITANDCURL by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Your profile says that you were six or seven when you learned to knit. Who taught you?

Mom mom taught me to knit when I was six or seven.

What was your first project?

My first project was a potholder, then I made doll blankets and Barbie clothes. My first project for cash was a red-white-and-blue jumper for my seventh grade teacher's daughter. It took me three weeks to complete and I got a check for $25.00. I was hooked!

What is your first priority in life?

My first priority in life is God; my husband and family are second. If I have those things in order, everything else falls into place in my life and things go more peacefully. If I'm out of whack - life is chaotic and stressful.

What would you do if you if nothing in the world hindered you?

If nothing hindered me, I'd go back to school and finish my degree.

Where do you see your shop in five years?

In five years, I'd like to be able to quit my regular day job (medical transcription) and only work part-time so that I could devote the rest of my day to creating beautiful things to sell in my etsy shop.

Suzette says she used to marvel at people who said you never work a day in your life if you love what you do. And now she's found it! She loves making things by hand to sell to others. "What a rush when I have a sale and get good feedback. It makes me want to stay up all night and finish my latest project so I can list it right away." I think that would describe most of us knitters. We love what we do, and certainly so does Suzette.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Jennifer Smith of JayCee Originals makes gorgeous baby clothes and sports them on models that grab your heart. After you have met Jennifer please click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade to check out her shop and her models.

You knit beautiful baby clothes, are your three sons your models?

I discovered Etsy in the months following the birth of my youngest son Steiven and while considering what to put in my store my Mom suggested that I photograph him in his home-knits and replicate them as a base stock for my store. Sometimes I think it can help a potential buyer to visualise an item of clothing better if they can see how it wears. My second son, Nicholas lent his cheeky grin to the hooded afghan. Unfortunately for Michael, at the grand old age of 5 he is far too big to model any of my current lines (although he tries very hard to prove that he could model for me by squeezing himself into his younger brothers’ sweaters). Hopefully, safe arrival permitting, I will have another little model in around 5 weeks.

What kinds of things do you do to get such great happy photos of them?

The little ones are all fantastic, they seem to have been blessed with amazing self-confidence, and it’s not necessarily that the camera loves them but they certainly love the camera. There is never any need for bribery or distraction, they were born to pose. Nicholas in particular is very charismatic and flirts constantly with anyone and everyone – just a momentary glance, the hint of a smile and perfect strangers are instantly smitten!

Tell us how you came to learn to knit?

I learned to knit from my Grandmothers and my Mom initially and was confident in the basics (cast on, knit, purl, cast off) by the age of around 4. Needless to say my dolls were always the best dressed “babies” in town! As soon as I was able to read, I was following patterns and plagued relatives and friends with various knitted gifts and ensembles, in addition to beginning to support charity knitting projects. I took something of a well-earned rest from my mid teens until first falling pregnant in my early twenties during which time I focused all of my energies on cross-stitch and needlepoint (in addition to the whole school – college – university thing of course). Craft and creativity is a fantastic juxtaposition to formal academic study because it maintains focus while at the same time providing the brain with some valuable down-time!

Having filled the wall space of my own home and that of my parents with beautiful needlecraft creations including a beautiful baby afghan and birth sampler for the imminent arrival, I returned to two needles in preparation for a December baby. Since then I have had great fun playing with knitwear design and learning as many new techniques as I can find. About 6 months ago I finally got around to figuring out how to crochet and am getting plenty of practice creating hats for preemie baby charities. My “Knit List” of important things to do includes taking the time and effort to transcribe and test some of my favourite design ideas into marketable patterns. Despite always beginning a project with good intentions of writing EVERYTHING down I never quite manage to get past the completed garment accompanied by some half-hearted instructions which in no way could be of use to anyone trying to recreate my design (and in some cases I get sidetracked and never actually reach the completed garment stage).

With three boys, I would like to know how you find time to knit. Do you have a secret way to keep them busy?

My trade secrets are routine and of course prioritising. Despite this, it’s a painfully slow process updating my stock! With three (almost four) children so close in age there is no chance for knitting during the daytime hours. While they all play so well together and help to occupy each other, my full attention and input is still demanded at all times. Even now at 8 months pregnant I still have to run around the park kicking a soccer ball just as lively as ever! If the younger ones take a nap I catch up on study and household chores but bedtime is 6pm for all and is strictly observed. We have tried to treat the boys to late nights on occasion but the fall-out the next day makes it a waste for them as they really don’t cope well with over-tiredness. By the time I have cleared away after dinner, there is precious little time for relaxing but I look forward to that well-earned evening break with my needles and yarn.

Beside raising boys and knitting, what is your passion?

Ooh, excellent question! I love life, there is so much to learn, so much to try – I am never at a loss for something to do and it never ceases to amaze me how many people waste precious time waiting for life to come to them when all along they could have been out there doing something. The dominant factors in my life besides my family and knitting are a love for learning and cooking. I hold two Degrees in Medical Physics, have had my associated research published and hold all manner of other qualifications including a Diploma in Egyptian Sugaring! I am currently writing a thesis to complete my Diploma in Life Coaching and will eventually return to full-time study in pursuit of my Doctorate. Food-wise I love to grow it, cook it and of course eat it. I have an enormous collection of recipes and am constantly inspired by food (note the food-themed names for many of my knits). Cooking and baking are great family activities and help the children to appreciate not only the origins of their food but also how the combination of different flavours and ingredients come together to create delicious dishes.

Jenner also has a gift bag shop, Jaycee Thoughts. You can check it out here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Missy Littell has had her shop Littelme and My Knitting since November 1999. Her shop has truly unique knitted jewelry, as well as, scarves and other items. I was captivated by her and her items. To browse her shop, just click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

You have been knitting for four years. What motivated you to learn to knit?

Actually, a library conference. I'm a part-time children's librarian, and at this conference there were several knitters. I don't know how many people would go to a library conference, see some librarians knitting and think, "Oh my gosh, I must be a part of this," but that's what happened to me. The portability of the craft, the idea that what started out as just a ball of yarn could be turned into something useful, wearable, beautiful--a creation that would probably outlive its creator. I was hooked. I didn't know any knitters at the time, so when I went home checked out a knitting DVD from my library and would use online video demos whenever I got stuck on a particular stitch. Within weeks, I had produced my first scarf.

Where did you get your inspiration for your beautiful knitted jewelry?

Books. As a librarian, I have immediate access to the newest, most modern knitting titles as well as the knitting classics. I find them in catalogs, put them on hold at the library, pour over them, save away patterns to make later, make little tweaks here and there. I also have a lot of knitting friends I have made in the past few years that will e-mail me new patterns or drop off knitting patterns at work for me. In this way, I am able to find a lot of unique patterns and ideas.

Any recommendations?

I've been really impressed by the "One Skein Wonder" series. They have lots of patterns that are easy to make, but the end outcome is really unique. I like anything by Debbie Bliss, I think she is an amazing knitter. For some lighter reading, "At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much," was great, even made me laugh out loud! All knitters will relate. I also checked out "A History of Hand Knitting" by Richard Putt. It was quite texty, but full of interesting knitting history and just a fascinating read. There was a photo in that book of a sock that was dated back something like 1500 years. All I kept thinking was, I wonder what this knitter would think if he/she could have known that 1500 years after creating that sock, a girl would be sitting on her lunch break eating a sandwich and reading about it!

Your bio says you love crafting. What other crafts do you engage in?

My aunt taught me to cross-stitch when I was 5, though I pretty much folded that away once I began knitting. I sew and do scrapbooking and I dabble in writing and photography. I am currently teaching a series of classes on digital photography for my job. It's kind of a compulsion for me--I simply have to be creating something at all times. I taught myself to knit without looking at my project so that I can knit while watching TV or in a dark theater or a long car ride. While I was in the early stages of labor with my son, I knitted a scarf, which is no small feat with an IV in your hand. The hospital staff must have thought I was out of my mind.

If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be and why?

Well, with a part-time job, a husband who is a minister, a private voice lesson business and an active toddler, my first inclination is to say "a good night's sleep." But I guess what I really want is more time. More time to spend with my family, more time to serve in the church, more time to learn to be a better mother, wife, friend, worker, teacher. More time to live a healthier life and take better care of myself--and, of course, more time to knit! I don't know if this is normal, but the older I get the more I feel like I am capable of accomplishing anything, if only there was enough time...

Where do you see your shop in five years?

Hopefully an expanded version of what it is now. I am dying to add more items to my shop, but as I have already expressed, my time is limited and I do the best I can with the time I have. In five years I hope I will have discovered new and amazing treasures to add to it, or made up something entirely new and different on my own.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Pamela Ziemlewicz of Most Favorite Aunt opened her Etsy shop in February, 2008. Her shop sports many accessories, as well as, coffee cozies and doll clothes. Check out her shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Pamela, you are an engineer. What area do you work in?

I'm a Quality Engineer. The company I work for makes ATMs. I make
sure they're right, and lay into contractors to make sure they stay
that way.

Your bio says that you are overworked. What do you do away from work
when you are not knitting?

I travel ~70% of the time. I used to split travel downtime between
knitting and reading. Recently, the lovely folks at TSA have decided
that aluminum needles are a potential weapon, so I've been doing a lot
more reading.

When did you learn to knit and who taught you?

My grandmother taught me when I was very young. I re-taught myself
w/ youtube after college.

If you lived in the tropics, what would you knit?

I'd probably still knit scarves... then sell them to the blustery
cold North. I love when guage isn't a requirement for the pattern.

How has your shop changed since you opened it in 2008?

Not really. When I opened up it was a lot of baby hats, and adult
scarves. Still true to form.

It seems that grandmothers are a common teacher of knitters. Yay for grandmothers. I thank your grandmother for teaching you, and you, Pamela, for sharing with us. You can follow Pamela at

Friday, February 5, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

As I have interviewed Etsy knitters, I have come to realize how much I find in common with them. However, it seems that many of us share participation in performing arts, homeschooling and broadcast media. Deborah Long of Anytime Accessories says she grew up a military brat - living between Fayetteville, NC and Panama, Central America. She graduated from East Carolina University in 1995 with a BS in Communication and Minor in Theatre Arts. That's where she learned to sew.

You have had your shop on Etsy since October, how did you come to the decision to sell your work here?

I have been selling my handbags and scarves locally for about three years. With lots of encouragement from family and friends, I decided to take my items to a larger market. I had visited Etsy before and was impressed with all the talented artisans and their shops. I just thought I would give it a shot. It’s been slow going, but I’m determined to make it a success. I get excited when I finish a new item and showcase it in my shop.

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

I learned to knit more than three years ago thanks to my mother-in-law. She’s an avid knitter. She got me started by giving me some of her yarn, needles and a how-to book on knitting. I was addicted from the first cast-on. One of my first projects was a simple handbag. After that I knew I had found my niche. I now create my own patterns.

You have a background in TV news. In what area did you work?

I got my start in television news while I was in college. My first job was as a tape editor at WITN TV-7 in Washington, North Carolina. After graduation I worked my way up to newscast producer. Shortly after that I became a reporter/anchor. I’ve covered everything from bank robberies and car accidents to hurricanes and floods. I’ve interviewed lots of interesting people - from actress Beth Grant to former presidential candidate John Edwards.

If you could pick one thing to make huge impact on the world, what would it be and why?

I really think the concept of re-use could really make a difference, instead of using something one time and then discarding it. I am amazed at the artists who create beautiful items out of something old and drab. Recycling in general is important to me. I live in an area where it is not mandatory. But we do it in my house. I want for it to be second nature for my kids. I want them to always think “can this item be used again?”

What do you do when you are not knitting?

I am a stay at home mom so my days are filled with diapers, dishes, laundry, homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime. I literally do all my knitting at night. At times I sew for my kids. In the near future I plan to take a break from yarn and work on some spring dresses for my girls.

You can find Deborah's shop by clicking on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Nevena Mileva comes to us from across the pond with some wonderful talents. You can visit her shop by copying and pasting her link below or click on the Title Etsy Knitter and Crocheters on Parade above. You will love her textured and beautiful scarves and baby items.

How did you hear about Etsy?

I live in Bulgaria, it's a small country in south-eastern Europe where
only a small number of people know that there is such amazing place
like I have a great post with videos about Bulgaria on my
Last year, a friend of mine was searching for online stores for good
Christmas sales. She told me about this place. When I started
searching in etsy stores, I got lost in so rich choice of handmade

What made you decide to sell on Etsy?

I always wanted to open a store and sell my hand knitted scarves and
baby clothing. However, my full-time job, and pregnancy didn't bring
enough confidence in this picture.
When my beautiful baby daughter came to the world, she brought new
hope and faith in myself. I found knitting section and crochet
section and I was happily surprised that someone is selling so many
handmade creations. At that time the idea that is an easy way
to create and maintain shop came into play. With etsy, I figured, I
wouldn't have to care about renting and maintaining a physical shop,
and at the same time I'd have flexible working hours. Now I stay at
home as mother, enjoy spending time with my baby daughter, my
knitting, and promoting my shop via interesting online tools. My shop

How did you originally get into Handknit and Gobelin making business?
I learned to knit and make gobelin tapestry, when I was a child. I
went to my grandparent's home, during school offs. My grandmother
thought me different handmade techniques, such as knit, crochet, sewing
and others. During the years, I was paying more attention to knitting
and gobelin tapestry, and found I enjoyed it a lot. It became my
hobby, and after my daughter's birth I decided I was determined to
share the products of my passion with people around the world.

What motivates and inspires you to create?

Winter scarves... When I was young girl, my mother kept telling me to
wear scarves so I wouldn't get cold. I hated scarves! That is, until
the day I knitted myself a very colorful, soft, and pleasant to touch
and look at piece of happiness (yes, a scarf!). My classmates loved
it. That motivated me to make more scarves, because I found scarves
could be joy, emotions, and good looking fun - yes staying warm became
not so bad experience after all :)
Inspiration sources have been changing during my path in life. At
some point in time, I enjoyed to come back home, and to get calm and
be all by myself while making my needlepoint tapestries.
At other times, inspiration was there, but I couldn't tell where it
came from, so I'd like to think of it as coming from deep within the
human soul.
Now I am motivated from the smile of my baby daughter and the look of
her eyes. In addition, when I look and reflect on the results of my
hand made creations I've made during the years, I get a good feeling
of accomplishment, and I want to do more. I'm proud of my winter
scarves, my gobelins, and last but not least my baby clothing.

What do you like most about being a seller?

Being a seller is something new for me. I like to learn new things,
find information too. I learn how to sell by reading a lot of articles
from experienced etsy sellers. It is not easy work, I love to create,
but honestly, I don't know how to sell my creations. It is something I
want to learn to do. Being a seller is a new opportunity to bring joy
to people.

What are your interests outside etsy?

I like the Human Resources area and I am finishing my masters degree
in Human Resources management. I enjoy interacting with people.

I love to travel and regularly organize small trips through my country.

I think Nevena has found her niche, don't you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade

Jolen, of Knits by Jo, is a very energetic and busy lady. I think you will find her and her shop to be very interesting. Take a minute and get to know her and then check out the beautiful entrelac in her shop. Just click on the title Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade.

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

While working at a school about 4 years ago, I became good friends with a 4th grade teacher. She was teaching two of her students to knit after school and I got excited telling her that this was one of my "bucket list" items! She told me what type of needles to get and I borrowed some scrap yarn from the after school program's craft bin.
Miss Hagstrom was so nice that she volunteered to stay with me at the school after all the kids left from 6-8 p.m.! In those two hours, she taught me how to cast on, knit, purl, bind off, and even seed stitch. I picked up on it quickly and went home to practice in every spare minute I had. From there, I learned everything else I know by looking in books or online and teaching myself.

Tell us about your time in AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps was my first job out of college. For those of you who might not know much about it, it's a one year commitment to work for a stipend. The amount of that stipend depends on how many hours you commit to do in that year. The amount, of course, is not much, but they pay some of your student loans when you are all done. Because of this, I was also working a second job beyond this full-time position with AmeriCorps. It was a busy time!
I was placed in an after school program, taking the secondary lead position. Before even starting, I was asked to begin a science club, which I took to three different schools each week to children in grades K-5. It was that spring that my friendship with that 4th grade teacher turned into a knitting session.
While continuing my commitment at the local YMCA summer program with the kids, many of them saw me knitting during their free time. I simply could not accept all the requests to knit them all something (there were 27!), so I told them I would teach them instead! I started a sign-up list and the most committed ones signed up, two a week for seven weeks. For some of the younger ones, it was more of a lesson in mastery of hand-eye coordination, but some really took off with it!
While all this was going on, I was interviewed in the local newspaper for my time in AmeriCorps. I just happened to be teaching a 6 year-old at the time how to knit so that ended up being the picture on the front page. That picture is the one you see with this interview.

What is your favorite material to work with?

I'm a pretty simple girl when it comes to materials and base it more on colors than I do on the actual material. I have to admit, my favorite material I did work with in both texture and colors was a Lion Brand wool when I made my Raspberry Mocha Entrelac Scarf.
I have tried all kinds of things however, even "larn" (plastic bags cut to a yarn-like consistency). One thing I have been thinking about but have not delved into yet was making a "yarn" out of old t-shirts. I'm all about reusing if possible.

You are spending time with photography. What is your favorite subject to photograph?
I have not done as much since I've moved to South Carolina, but my passion in my very amateur photography adventures is always the small stuff. I love taking photos of very small things in nature, and I love doing it close up (almost always using the macro function) so that I get all the detail you don't usually see. I think this comes from my love of the outdoors and outdoor education and the fact that I don't care much for a vista view, but rather a highly focused detailed one.
I took many pictures while living in Wisconsin at a YMCA camp for two years. I would get up early and go out in the woods and just shoot anything that came into view that I thought might be interesting. It almost always came out to be more interesting in the picture than it seemed to be in real life!
After I gathered a somewhat large volume of these pictures from the camp and other various locations in Minnesota's Twin Cities area, I started a "Life in Detail" series in my Facebook page and a little section devoted to it on my blog (
Life in Detail-flowers:
Life in Detail-other plants:
Life in Detail-winter:

If you could invent anything, what would it be and why?

Wow, what a big question?
When I was a kid, I always thought that the best thing would be to have hover crafts instead of cars, and I would invent an entire highway super structure that would feature air holes that blew up from the ground to keep you all up off the ground and Plexiglas between the lane sort of like a big vacuum tube. This way there would be fewer accidents?right?
Now that I'm an adult (although I think I still see the world as a child in some ways) I don't think I'm quite as creative!