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.