Maker Monday v. V and Giveaway - Libby of Truly Myrtle

I know I say this every time I post an interview, but I am so incredibly excited to share this with you all. Libby of Truly Myrtle is such an amazing knitter and generally sweet person. Her podcast is one of my favorites, and her designs are beautiful! I have knit one of her shawls and will share it with you all once I (finally) block it. Anyway, I hope you love "meeting" Libby as much as I did!

1.       If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither?

If they sold it, I’d be drinking dandelion root tea. I’m quite addicted!

Ooh, I've never tried dandelion root tea! I'll have to try some soon. 

2.       Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path? When did you first become interested in knitting and handmade?

I’ve been playing with yarn since I was a small child after being taught to knit by my grandmother. My mother knits everyday and I grew up with the idea that this was a perfectly usual thing to do! I remember making up my own stitch patterns and experimenting with colourwork when I was about 11 or 12 but had no notion that this was what I was doing. I knitted and sewed throughout my teens and early twenties but as my legal career grew and I traveled, I experimented more with cooking than crafts. It was with the birth of my first baby in my early thirties that I rediscovered knitting and sewing and I haven’t looked back. I began blogging about knitting and sewing in 2012 and loved how many like-minded people I met from all over the world. Slowly things have evolved and these days I live in New Zealand with my husband and our four children aged 14 to 6 and enjoy designing knitting patterns and making most of my own clothes.

Your dedication to creating more of your own clothes is so inspiring, and I've loved your "Our Wardrobe Stories" series on your podcast.

3.       Your podcast is one of my favorites. How did you first get into podcasting?

Thank you! I really enjoy podcasting - maybe it’s because I enjoy talking! I’d been thinking about podcasting for a while before I plucked up the nerve to have a go. I thought it would be a cool way to reach my followers - there’s something intimate about speaking directly to people and I really enjoy talking about knitting, sewing and all things crafty. I never run out of things to say!

4.       Where do you go for inspiration?

Definitely the car. I should drive more often!

I always seem to have the best ideas while driving. It's a shame it's so hard to record ideas while driving.

5.       Where do you most like to create?

I have a little space in the alcove of my hall for my sewing machine and my computer and I do lots of sewing and designing there. But I love to sit outside and gaze at the view from my back veranda while I knit or curl up on a comfortable sofa and knit while listening to a good podcast. Having said that, nothing beats knitting in bed ;)

Knitting in bed is my favorite, too. It's just so cozy!

6.       What are some of your favorite items to create?

I am driven to make useful things like clothes, accessories and bags. I make all my kids swimming bags and our dishcloths and love making gifts for kids parties. I get a lot of pleasure designing knitting shawls and wraps because of their endless possibilities but my true love is cardigans so I’m planning to release some garments soon too.

I can't wait to see your garment patterns! Your shawls and other designs are so lovely, and I am sure anything you make will be stunning.

7.       Lastly, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit my dear friends in Cambridge, UK. We lived there for a very long time and our last two babies were born there. It’d be so wonderful to see everyone again.

Libby, thank you so, so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

If you would like to read more about and from Libby, you can check out her blog, and Instagram (@trulymyrtlephotos) as well as her designs on Ravelry

And now, a surprise for you! Have you ever knit any of Libby's designs? If not, which is your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know! If you do, Libby has generously offered to gift a pattern to one randomly chosen, lucky commenter! So, leave a comment with your favorite Truly Myrtle design and your Ravelry username or e-mail to be entered to win! I will be choosing and announcing the winner next Monday.

Maker Monday v. IV - Gabrielle Knits

Happy Monday, friends! I hope your are having a fabulous week so far.

Today, I am excited to share another interview with you! Gabrielle Vezina of Gabrielle Knits is a Canadian pattern designer. She creates stress-free patterns of all kinds, from sweaters to hats to shawls and more. So now, without further introduction, here's my interview with sweet Gabrielle!

If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither?

Definitely tea for me.  I love coffee, but I have a ridiculously speedy heartbeat so I avoid it.  I'm a huge fan of all teas and am always happy to try new ones, but my all time favorite is a good old classical Earl Grey.

Earl Grey is my favorite, too! It seems to fit every day and mood.

When you were younger, what did you enjoy creating and making?

My mom was a sewing teacher so I started sewing at 5.  I loved spending days sewing with her!  We were making most of our clothes, and at about 12, I was able to design, make the pattern, cut the fabric and sew whole garments all by myself.  I can’t say they were all pretty — especially when I was a teen and did lots of experiments! — but I was loving the creation process.  What I didn't enjoy so much was the sewing itself... So I tried pretty much all arts and crafts to find the perfect one for me.  Before discovering knitting, my two favorites were drawing (I used to draw non-stop during all classes), and playing the cello which I studied for 10 years.

It's so cool that you were able to create so many of your own clothes!

Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path? How did you first start designing your own patterns?

I started knitting and crocheting when I quit smoking in 2009.  For some obscure reason, I was thinking that the best thing I could do to keep my hands busy was to crochet an army of hamsters.  I only made one hamster but had an aha-moment while making it — after all these years of trying every craft, I had discovered the perfect way to express my creativity.  Once I mastered a decent knitting technique, it was natural to create my own patterns as I already knew a lot about garments, gradation and pattern-making.  And now, I simply can't stop!  I enjoy making pretty much anything, winter accessories, lace shawls, garments, stuffed animals and more.  I love when my patterns are fun to knit and easy to wear.  Shawls are really satisfying projects as they are rather easy to knit while they can be very graceful.  I also love creating cardigans and the maths challenge they represent.  I live in Montreal where winters are harsh, so anything really warm is a winner for my wardrobe!

 I live in Maine, so I completely understand the need to warmth! Knitting is a wonderful way to stay warm, for sure.

What are your dreams for the future of your business?

I've been designing knitting patterns for quite a few years now and I recently realized there is a world out there who actually likes what I do.  I was doing it mostly for my own sanity and all of a sudden I'm not so alone in this journey.  This is awesome!  I love interacting with people, getting to know them and what they like, and I do my best to offer them patterns they will enjoy.  I hope it will continue that way!  Just like most pattern designers, I would love to be able to make a decent living out of it but it's not an easy career and I'm far from being there yet.  Until then, I am thankful for being able to work half-time on my "real" job so my designing activities can get a lot of dedicated time.

Where do you most like to create? What does your creative process/daily routine look like?

I don’t have a specific place where I like to create, but in summer, I love to knit at the dog park while Alie is having fun with her pals.  I think about designing all the time, everywhere, no matter what I'm doing (it can be quite overwhelming sometimes)!  Anything can be a source of inspiration, from people I see on the streets to the peacefulness of the trees when I go walking in the woods.  I very often go to bed thinking about new patterns, and I wake up with concrete ideas.  I find that my creativity is at its best when I'm tired or very relaxed.  I try not to constrain my creativity and let it be the boss of my knitting.  It is so satisfying, in our busy world, to have one thing that is not led by rationality!  

I love the way our brains work. It's amazing that you're able to come up with ideas, even while you're sleeping!

Any tips for someone looking to start their own business or design patterns?

I'm a strong advocate of independence, self-confidence and being forgiving to yourself.  Do what you like to do, and give yourself the right to do it the way you like it.  If you are passionate about your business, genuine and true to yourself, you'll have the drive to go where you want to go.  But also, give yourself the right to fail.  If you don't feel at home, keep looking for your place or change what feels wrong.  Everyone has great talents and qualities, and no one but you can find the perfect way to make them shine.  Give you the right to be where you belong, and you'll shine, inside and out!

This is such inspiring, amazing advice!! Thank you!

Lastly, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love visiting cities!  I already visited many inspiring ones, and I hope someday I’ll have the chance to see Helsinki, Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Chicago (that last one should quickly become a dream come true)!

Gabrielle, thank you so much for your wonderful answers! I so enjoyed reading them, and I am sure everyone else will, too.

You can find Gabrielle on her website (since Gabrielle is bilingual, you can access her site in both English and French),  Ravelry, Instagram, and Facebook. Gabrielle currently has all of her patterns on sale, so be sure to browse and purchase a few. But be quick - the sale ends tomorrow!


Maker Monday v. III - Liesl of Buckaloo View

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your week has been off to an amazing start. 

I am so excited to share this Maker Monday post with you all. This week's creative is Liesl from Buckaloo View. I first stumbled upon her work on Instagram (Instagram is seriously amazing when it comes to discovering amazing people!). As I looked through her blog, I fell in love with her whole aesthetic and how she used natural dyes to hand dye yarn. I hope you enjoy learning more about this amazing woman!

If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither?

I'd say coffee. I like mine with a lot milk. 

The only way that I will drink coffee is with a lot of milk, as well. :)

When you were younger, what did you enjoy creating and making?

It's hard to say one specific thing, especially as I was younger. I actually drew more when I little. As I got older, I kind of fell in love with drawing up floor plans for houses. Then I got into sewing. I really enjoyed embroidery. I used thread since I didn't have any embroidery floss. Older people would tell me I had so much patience. At the time, I thought they were silly. Now that I'm older, I get what they were saying! You look at your time very differently when you are young.

I used to love drawing floor plans as well! I always made sure to include some sort of trap door or secret room. Like you said, you look at things differently when you're young.

Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path? What first interested you in natural dyeing?

I started sewing when I was in my late teens, then tried to learn to knit many times through my twenties but it just never stuck. When it finally did, four years ago, I became obsessed. Then wondered what it'd be like to spin yarn and especially to dye it. Since I've always had a love for the natural world and gardening, I guess I wondered what it'd be like for yarn and plants to meet. Right now, that's what I'm focusing on mostly. I do sew a bit still but mostly I knit, dye and now design knitting patterns.

On your blog, you talk about your grandmother and your farm. What role do they play in your creativity and inspiration?

Up until a couple of years ago, I don't think they played a very large role. But my life has changed dramatically in the last couple of years and so have my perspective and goals. I realize I want to make a future here, bring my family farm back to life. It's hard not to be fueled by the people that lived and worked here on this farm before me, living a simple but full life, gently, with determination and pride.

What are your dreams for the future of your farm and business?

Diversity. I have a lot of different interests and things I'd like to do here in the future--like raising honey bees, milking goats and making soap, raising sheep for their wool and offering home raised fiber and handspun yarn. Overall, I want Buckaloo View to be a modern take on a family farm. So many of my family members and friends have a deep history here and I want them to feel like they are part of the future here, too.

This sounds like such a wonderful dream! I love how you want to include your family and friends as well.

Where do you most like to create? What does your creative process/daily routine look like?

I'm a classic Taurus--when I work, I work hard. And when I'm lazy, oh boy am I lazy. So in the summer, I love being outside. I usually get a dye pot going early, just outside the barn and while it simmers, I tinker away in the barn or work in the garden. Then, come winter, I sink into a cozy armchair, with a dog at my feet and a cup of tea or coffee within arm's reach and just knit knit knit.

Any tips for someone looking to start their own business?

Know your worth. I spent too long undervaluing myself, not charging enough for my goods. It's surprisingly easy, when you love what you do. If you work for yourself, especially from home, make rules and schedules, and stick with them! It's so easy to have the lines blur and you could be wasting time working when you should be spending with family or you could find yourself procrastinating work, and instead busying yourself with household chores. 

Lastly, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Northern islands have always intrigued me: Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Faroe Islands. As well as all of Scandinavia. The landscapes in these places are so beautiful and the resilience and hardiness of the people impress me.

Liesl, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I so enjoyed getting to know you better, and I am sure anyone who reads this will agree.

If you liked this interview, you can check out Liesl's shopblog, Instagram, and pattern designs.

Maker Monday v. II: Abby of Goodstitch Fibers

Hello, all! I hope you are having a lovely start to your week. I know that sometimes Mondays can get a bad reputation, but I like to make them as nice as possible for myself. This interview is one of those "nice things" that happened today. Our guest today is Abby from Goodstitch Fibers, a self-described wool lover and homestead wannabe. She knits, spins, and even sews! I first discovered her lovely work on Instagram and fell in love with her stunning feed. I then began to follow her blog and her Etsy shop. I actually purchased some of her yarn recently (I mentioned it in my post on Friday). So, without further ado, here is Abby!

                                              Abby modeling her recently completed Fen dress.

                                              Abby modeling her recently completed Fen dress.

1. If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither.

Although I do love tea, I would definitely be drinking coffee! My favorite drink I've ever gotten from a coffee shop was a lavender latte. Sometimes for a special treat I'll make lavender syrup at home and have it in my morning coffee :)

2. Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path? What first sparked your interest in and desire to create a sustainable, local product?

Goodstitch Fibers is a business I launched this fall with the desire to make domestically sourced handspun yarns. The journey that I took to get me here is long, starting with a high school interest in knitting. For many years, that was my main craft, but 3 years ago when I moved to North Carolina I had the opportunity to meet local farmers who raised sheep for a living, sold their yarn at farmer's markets and had a beautiful passion for living of the land. The carbon footprint of most commercial yarns is so huge, yarns flying between several continents before they land in your local yarn shop, processed with petroleum, chemical dyes and treated to lose a lot of their beautiful, wooly properties. With so many wonderful people in this country raising sheep, alpacas, bunnies, goats, it just began to seem crazy to me. 

3. Where do you go for inspiration?

This may be very obvious to many people, but Instagram is a huge source of inspiration for me. I've gotten to connect with and meet so many beautiful people through it and am always following new makers, weavers, potters, embroidery masters and many other artists who have created a beautiful aesthetic there. Right now, I'm also living with my husband in this tiny house off of a huge road in Chapel Hill that backs up to the woods. It's simple and beautiful and very inspiring. North Carolina has so much to offer agriculturally, and is a huge source of inspiration for my natural dyeing practice. Last year I foraged mushrooms and marigold near where I live, and I'm excited to plant a dye garden in my back yard and see what comes of it. 

I love Instagram as well! I enjoy following people who participate in a variety of creative pursuits and getting inspired and excited to create every day after seeing their gorgeous work.

4. Where do you most like to create?

Among friends. I have a beautiful knitting group that meets weekly, and I love when my husband and I are in our home working on different creative pursuits together. 

5. What does your creative process/daily routine look like?

I have a notebook where I keep ideas for future yarns and projects, and the list just seems to keep growing, which is wonderful! Most of the yarns that I spun are plied, and there is a time-specific process for most of them. I'll spin singles one day, then ply the next. I have a hard time just working on one project at a time. Currently I have 3 knitting projects and 2 spinning projects in the works, just for myself, not even for the shop! :) I try not to let my moods dictate my schedule in terms of what I'm making that day, but it's pretty cool when you wake up excited to work on a particular project, feeling inspired by what is going to come off the bobbin. I can spin for hours at a time and not get tired of it, it's very therapeutic. 

I love the idea of having specific activities for each day. I, too, always seem to find myself with multiple projects going on, not counting my basket of unfinished objects. 

6. Lastly, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Japan! I've always been interested in Japanese culture, and their knitting patterns and design aesthetic as a whole are amazing. Plus, anywhere that I can eat sushi at least twice a day is the place where I want to be. 

Abby, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved reading your answers! Be sure to check out her lovely blog, Instagram, and Etsy shop.

Natural, American made fibers are something I am slowly learning more and more about, so I always enjoy discovering artisans and creatives who are pursuing their passions for beauty as well as sustainable fiber.

 

 

Maker Monday v. I: Rachelle Marie

     Welcome to the first post in my "Maker Monday" series! The goal of this series is to introduce you to other creative people and small business owners that I have had the pleasure of "meeting" online. There are so many amazing people currently creating amazing products, and I am excited to share some o them with you!

     Also, I do realize that Monday was yesterday, but I was so excited to share this interview with you that I couldn't wait another week. 

     This week, I want to introduce you to Rachelle. I first "met" her through the wonderful ministry of Delight & Be. As I browsed through her shop and her social media accounts, I fell in love with her artwork and her whole aesthetic. She kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me. I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did!

 

1. If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither?

I would most likely treat myself to coffee as this is a special occasion and I can always do with a little more caffeine in my day.

2. Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path?

I do a great many things and the list seems to be only growing longer. My primary passions are photography, cinematography, painting, adventuring, and music. I especially enjoy bringing together my passions for photography/cinematography with adventures and, in the case of cinematography, music. I do a great deal of watercolor illustration for my etsy shop as well as for the pure enjoyment of it. My family is full of creatives so it is something that I grew up around and in turn came to love. My parents used to run a photography business and they have been kind enough to let me borrow equipment and a lot of helpful advice in my pursuit of photography.

3. Where do you go for inspiration?

For me, the most inspiring place to be is outdoors. I constantly crave the mountains, the sea, the forest, and the open road. That, and people. And Jesus. Especially all three together. Music and the work of others also inspire greatly. I love seeing what other people have created and learning and taking inspiration from that.

4. Where do you most like to create?

For painting and any other type of illustration, I like to create right from home. Usually I'll set up my creative space at our kitchen table or at my desk if I need a quieter space. As for more active creative fields like photography, I love to go outside and explore. In that creative process, I like to think that the world is my canvas.

5. What does your creative process/daily routine look like?

In all honesty, there are many days on which I don't create at all, even if I'd like to. I go through frequent droughts of inspiration and sometimes don't paint for weeks at a time. So I can't say that I have daily creative processes - but, during the wonderful days when creativity is in abundance, I do have a few little routines! With painting, I first think up an idea. Oftentimes this looks like browsing Pinterest for inspiration, sketching, or even simply painting the first thing I happen to think of. I like to set up a space with my water jar, a cloth, my paints, a few sketchbooks, and some good music playing. As for filming and photography, I sometimes have visions for what I want to capture, but more often than not I try to keep an open mind and be willing to work with whatever I find. It is a messy and exhilarating process!

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Oh, boy. Is my answer allowed to be 'everywhere'? Well, there are a few specific places that I am longing to visit. One in particular is southern France. I don't know much about the region, but I do happen to know that the landscapes are incredibly picturesque and there are beautiful seaside highways. Yes, please! Another place is Norway. I'm not always one for colder weather, but Norway is so ridiculously gorgeous that I don't think I'd mind a bit! I also have strong Norwegian heritage and would love to visit some spots that I've heard of in old family stories. And the opportunity to snap a few photos of landscapes would be wonderful!

Thank you so much for the wonderful chat, Emily! The coffee was delicious and so caffeinated that I fear I've talked up a storm. wink emoticon It has been grand!

     Thank you so much, Rachelle! You can find her shop here, or scroll through her blog, Instagram, and Pinterest