Knitting II

Loyal readers know this about me from this post, as the weather gets colder, I cannot seem to help but be constantly creating. I’m sure the long hours spent indoors are partly to blame, but already I find my little fingers itching for a needle and thread or crochet hook.

So today, we turn to Mona, spinner of yarn and another woman with busy hands, for a little insight into her world.

Why do you create what you do?
I have always enjoyed be creative. I have been creative since I was a child. I taught myself first to embroider, then crochet, knit, spin, and weave. It was just  a natural evolution. My hands are always busy, and sometime sore.

How did you to learn to spin?
I am a self taught spinner. I started out on a drop spindle, then went to a kick wheel, and finally to a spinning wheel. I learned a lot from videos on You Tube, and also from reading about spinning.

 Where do you find wool in the modern age?
I order most of my wool from the Internet. Sometimes I buy wool at Art Festivals.

What is your greatest challenge?
Finding time to get everything done, and taking good photos. I have so much to learn yet about taking good photos of my products.

What inspires you?
I let everything inspire me. The sights, sounds, feel, taste, and smell of nature. I get inspiration from books and movies also. I can really find inspiration just about anywhere.

How did you discover
A knitting friend told me about Etsy. I started my shop in January of 2009, at first just selling mitten patterns, and stitch markers. I add new things all the time. Etsy is a part time gig for me, I take care of my 1-year-old grandson, who keeps me very very busy! You can also find all of my mitten and sock patterns here.

Best advice?
Make what you love. Oh, and take good photos!

Biscuit Scout

Photo courtesy of

Have you experienced the phenomenon? You’re walking around your town and all of a sudden you see an everyday object covered in something bright… and fuzzy? No, it’s not graffiti, it’s yarn bombing.

Photo courtesy of

South African artist Lynn of Biscuit Scout has taken this idea to the next level, creating practical items for the home with whimsical knit covers. From light fixtures to armchairs, her modern chunky knitting style could make the perfect addition to your living room. Here she gives us a glimpse at how she got started, her challenges and advice.

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
My washing machine was really old and had rust marks down its front. It looked very shabby and I was trying to figure out how to disguise it. I couldn’t paint it. I didn’t have a sewing machine to sew an outfit for it so I thought I’d knit one! I knew how to knit but hadn’t done since I was a teenager. I lied when I went to buy the wool – I said I needed enough to knit a blanket. And that started me up this path of knitting large things.

Do you intend for your pieces to be functional or simply function as sculpture?
A bit of both – a knitted article is not suitable for high traffic.

How difficult is it to mold your knitting to a 3-D form?
My Mom taught me to knit when I was about 6 years old. The beauty of knitting with wool is that it stretches so can be moulded to fit once you have the basic dimensions and shapes.

How are your materials sourced?
I’ve found a range of local wools which have a lot of natural colours which I like to work with. I’ve only worked with these and have recently added a range of beautiful and brighter colour cottons (Vinni’s) which are hand dyed by previously unemployed women.

How has your work evolved?
I’m still finding new things to knit. I’m busy sewing my first knitted handbag together at the moment. I hope to finish it today.

What is your greatest challenge?
The shipping costs from South Africa. Yikes!

What inspires you?
This may sound corny, but there is inspiration everywhere – it just depends on how you look at things.
Tell us about your etsy business.
My friend Shelley told me about Etsy about 4 years ago. I joined in April last year. I would love this to be my full time job, but as it takes so much time to knit each object, the finished project is quite expensive and this limits my sales. And then there’s the shipping costs!

Aside from your etsy shop, where can readers find your work? (for South African readers – prices in Rands)

What advice do you have for new etsians?
Enjoy the community. There are so many amazing, talented and friendly people on Etsy.

Cornflower Blue Studio

Meet Rachel, proprietor of Cornflower Blue Studio and crocheter extraordinaire! I first fell in love with her coral/barnacle/fungus/seed pod organic soft shape sculptures, which she calls an obsession. A lady after my own heart, she crochets, knits and embroiders her own patterns, some of which she’ll share with you! Enjoy what she has to say about her etsy experience!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I consider myself to be an artist and a crafter. I love using craft techniques traditionally associated with women and am a bit obsessed with women of the colonial and pioneer eras. Practicing needlework and crochet techniques is my way of honoring their achievements, sacrifices, and contributions to history. The twist is that I use these techniques in a way that is modern and not always function-based.

 I make soft sculptures, decorative embroideries, hand embroidered notes, and I design patterns, too.

How did you learn your craft?
My mom showed me how to sew and make a lot of things when I was a child. She was always sewing and doing cross stitch, so I learned to love handmade things from her. I taught myself to knit from a kid’s how-to book and took off from there. After that, anything with yarn just made sense to me! The crochet and pattern designing evolved from there.

How has your work evolved?
When I started out on Etsy I was selling hand knit winter accessories, then I added a few artistic embroidery pieces just for fun. All the embroidered pieces sold and that really gave me the confidence to make and design more original art. I started drawing more and finding new techniques. Now I have my own unique style and enjoy filling my shop with colorful pieces!

What is your greatest challenge?
Fitting everything I want to do into the time I have each day! My shop is my full time job, but managing my little family (a husband and three cats) is also my other full time job! I pride myself on being a super efficient household manager, so I’m balancing wanting perfection in my home and in my shop. Sometimes the dishes go unwashed!

What inspires you?
I love the color palette and general vibe of all Wes Anderson movies, especially “The Life Aquatic.” And “The Royal Tenenbaums.” I love them both so much! I play albums by The Decemberists, Joanna Newsom, and Sufjan Stevens because they are full of imagery and have amazing lyrics. The song “Colleen” by Joanna Newsome is one my all time favorites. I browse the nature section of the library quite a bit and read a lot of Emily Dickinson poems. I cannot overstate how much I love Emily Dickinson!

How did you discover
I found Etsy through various craft blogs I was reading and signed up in 2008, although I didn’t really start my business until the fall of 2010. Now it’s my full time job and I’m focusing on growing my little business. As a new Etsian I had a lot to learn about writing product descriptions and using the tags effectively. Lesson learned!

Where can readers find your work?
My work can be seen on my blog and on my Flickr stream. It can be browsed and purchased through my Etsy shop, and my knitting patterns are also available through Ravelry.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
My advice for new Etsians is to read the Seller Handbook. Find all the articles about tagging, photography, marketing, and writing product descriptions. This is stuff that is important for your shop’s success! You won’t be perfect, especially at first, but stick with it and make adjustments as you go. If you have questions or feel lost, find a team to join! There are Etsy teams just for new sellers where you can find support and advice.