15 Mins with..... Fall for DIY

A new feature just for the blog!

For a long time, I've been pondering how to share more stories of people who inspire me. I host 2-3 interviews a month on the podcast but have always been a little sporadic about doing so on the blog. I think I felt more at ease with interviewing in 'real time'. 

Well, that's about to change and my first '15 Mins with' guest is the perfect person to help me launch this new feature. 15 minutes with Francesca had me itching to make, create and cheerlead others who do too. Francesca couldn't be more perfect for today's playful moment if she tried. She's just launched a kickstarter to encourage everyone to get creative and she gave me 15 minutes to find out what the We Make Collective is all about:

Fall For DIY's Francesca

Fall For DIY's Francesca

Please introduce yourself and what it is that you create.
Hello! I’m Francesca. I write the DIY/Crafts blog Fall For DIY which is place to explore my hands on side and my life long love of making. I have always believed in combining craft with design to create something that is desirable and useful, and this ethos is a recurring theme throughout my blog. I create anything and everything from jewellery, fashion and accessories to easy artwork, furniture and interior DIY’s. I’ll try my hand at pretty much anything and I’ll always find a way to write about it on Fall For DIY!

We Make Collective

You have founded the 'We Make Collective', what is the idea behind it?
I decided to start We Make Collective after meeting far too many people that don't believe in their own creativity. Creativity is something we practice and learn. Not something we're gifted with. This idea is one that many of my readers also feel strongly about, so in response to this need for easy access to skills, materials and inspiration I am launching the We Make Collective - a site to share what we do and what we love online and in real life. We Make Collective will bring together: the bloggers, the makers and the dreamers. Anyone with just the glint of creativity in their eye in a new way to boost each other’s creative journeys.

Fall For DIY Quote Banner

How are you collaborating with other women and supporting them in their making?
We Make Collective is all about collaborating and working together to increase creativity. We’ll be collaborating with independent businesses to stock the materials kits. Our first box of goodies comes from two indie businesses run by incredibly creative women. Working Clasp is a laser cutting service and Rebecca makes off the rack jewellery as well as bespoke pieces. We’ve worked together to design and create a travel loom for the first kit. We’re also working with Kim Smith from Alterknit Universe in Bristol. We’re hoping to include some really interesting recycled yarns to use on the loom. It’s all very exciting! As well as working with other women to create the kits we’re enlisting the help of some of my favourite bloggers to inject masses of creativity into the site. Each kit will include exclusive access to tutorials created by these amazing women to encourage ideas and experimentation. 
The site is also going to include a section to share links to how you have used the kit. Whether you write a blog post about it or just take a photo on Instagram you can share with our community and help inspire others. I really want to create a hub of ideas that we can all work from and interpret in our own ways which will hopefully help more people find their creative voice. 

Raw Stone and Silver necklace (a  Fall for DIY tutorial )

Raw Stone and Silver necklace (a Fall for DIY tutorial)

What have you learned through establishing this collective?
We’re just getting started and I’m sure I will have so much yet to learn, but so far to biggest thing I’ve learnt is that so many people are scared of getting started. I can really connect with this feeling. Even during this project there are times I have put off jobs because I’m scared of the results. But the more I put myself and We Make Collective ‘out there’ the more positive feedback I receive. I hear more ideas that can make the Collective stronger and I find better ways to help others make those initial steps. 


What can we expect to see from the collective? How can people join in?
We’ve just launched our Kickstarter campaign to welcome on board the early adopters! Everyone who signs up here is guaranteed to receive one of our limited edition, first ever material kits. They will also be sent their kits a week earlier than everyone else with full access to the We Make Collective project site before anyone else. Once the Kickstarter has finished we will be selling a very small amount of kits to anyone who missed their chance. We will need a cut off point so that our partners have time to put together all the beautiful materials in time for sending out!
We completely understand that some of you might want to source your own materials - which is totally fine of course! Once the site goes live for everyone will have access to a few of tutorials for free and if you want even more there is the option of paying a small subscription to get full access to the whole site!

Fall for DIY

You have such a strong voice from your online home, Fall For DIY, how has your making and sharing your projects with the world helped you develop that? 
I’ve been blogging now for almost five years in total. For a long time I was terrified each time I pressed publish on a blog post. I always loved sharing the projects but I was scared people would think I wasn’t good enough. Over time I started writing more and my readers started commenting more on the posts. This really helped me realise that even though it was scary to do, opening up and showing my personality was the best way to reach out to and connect with my readers. Even though I still find it difficult I try to write each post from a personal place.

What does the term maker mean to you?
To me, the term maker means anyone with an idea. You don’t need to be well practiced to be a maker you just need to start making! Everything else you learn along the way.  
 

Focus on Design: Designer Inspirations

This post is the first of a week long focus on design ideas and inspirations for new knit and crochet designers. Now things are getting close to submission for the Designalong, I thought I'd have a week where I share a post a day with useful tips for budding designers. If you've been thinking about entering the Designalong (more details here), but have not been too sure about where to start, how to communicate your ideas or perhaps nervous about next steps after publishing, I'm hoping this helps. Even if you're not entering, I hope this might inspire some of you to commit your design ideas to paper and get pattern writing!

 

Meet Louise Tilbrook, a British designer with a portfolio that's full of textured designs showcasing some of the best hand dyes and independent producers out there. I asked Louise to share her insights into the design process. 

Rosthwaite Socks  by Louise Tilbrook

Rosthwaite Socks by Louise Tilbrook

What inspires you to design? 
"I love to create sock designs which are beautiful, unisex and which are fun to knit. When I first started to knit socks for the men in my life I was struck by how comparatively few designs were truly unisex. As with a lot of knitwear, in general there is an amazing choice for women and much less so for men.

What key skills have you developed? 
Focus and persistence I think. By nature I am a ‘flitter’ - working on project after project but in reality achieving very little on each of them. Designing has forced me to develop my focus - working on a particular project through to completion - and persistence to keep on going even when things aren’t going to plan.

Silver Birch Socks  available via pom pom quarterly

Silver Birch Socks available via pom pom quarterly

Any tools you can’t live without? 
Probably my Moleskine notebook. It is my bullet journal, diary, project planner - my everything. Oh..and my smart phone.

How do you start committing a design to paper? 
I normally swatch a few ideas to start with and then the most promising gets charted out on old fashioned graph paper so that I can tinker with spacing and layout of the design elements. As I have got more patterns under my belt I have created my own style sheet and also a pattern template. The template is great for getting me started as all the headings and different sections are already there - I just need to start adding the specifics into each section. Again - it’s all about the focus for me.

Advice for designers 
Read Kate Atherley’s book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers - seriously. It is so comprehensive and contains a wealth of knowledge that you didn’t know you needed, until you read it.

Study other patterns too - work out what it is about the layout and style of particular patterns that appeals to you and also think about who you are hoping will buy your patterns. If writing a pattern aimed at beginners you may well structure it differently than if you are aiming it at the more advanced knitter. 


In the end though, the best advice I can give is just to go for it. We all have a natural inclination to censor ourselves and to negatively compare our work to others. Putting your work ‘out there’, on show for all to see is daunting but the rewards you get back from seeing your work in print and completed projects repays you many times over."

 

A huge thank you to Louise for taking the time to answer these questions and inspire us all. Tomorrow's inspiration will have you feeling passionate about spreadsheets and eager to swatch- honestly! 

'Online Marketing for Your Craft Business': A Review

I received some pretty exciting post this week and I wanted to share the book that has eaten all my free time this week as I've hungrily gobbled my way through it. If you are thinking about a career change into the crafting industry, already dabble but want to make the full time jump or already run your own business but have been unsure how best to connect with your audience, then this is most certainly the book for you. 

Hilary Pullen's 'Online Marketing for You Craft Business' is an essential manual for all craft businesses with clear steps laid out of how to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet. Hilary knows her stuff- she's been creating communities, managing social media and creating blog content for some time and is well respected in the industry. If you're a craft blogger in the UK, you might know her from her personal website, CraftBlogUK, a directory and one stop shop that brings together the Craft Blogging Community within the UK. 

Picture courtesy of Hilary Pullen (c)

Picture courtesy of Hilary Pullen (c)

It's fair to say I was excited when my preorder of the book finally arrived as I've read several articles Hilary has written about her work and have always felt highly inspired by the possibilities that a strategic approach to online marketing can bring.  The benefits are huge and not just in terms of bigger sales either. A great online strategy will provide you with loyal fans, product feedback, better rankings in search engine results pages, a better awareness of your work and most importantly perhaps, a greater interest in your brand of products. Hilary skilfully outlines this is a way that is supportive and encouraging and the actions you will need to take are neatly laid out in a way that's not overwhelming but achievable. 

I wouldn't need to be massively experienced in the ways of marketing to access this book. Hilary's writing style is friendly and accessible without being too distracting from what I need to know.  Each page is beautifully presented too with plenty of white space and pleasing layout that draws my eye to reinforce key ideas while making things bite size and easy to digest. I love the graphic design and illustrations throughout that stop this being dry and unwieldy. 

Hilary knows a lot of people in the business and she peppers her book with useful tips on how to make online marketing work best for you as well as inspiring quotes from the likes of Tilly and The Buttons, Patricia Van Der Akker (of The Design Trust) and Timothy Adam (of Handmadeology). This isn't just showing off her formidable network of contacts, Hilary is showing you just what it takes to make it work. Making it work has been very much on my mind lately as you'll know if you took part in our #makeitwork Twitter hangout

The book is laid out in a really logical way, building from why you'd use these strategies, to the nuts and bolts of how each element works, through to how to have a cross channel approach. The part I really liked most though was that you can easily navigate to one particular section and start there. The book works as an entire learning journey but also allows you to cherry pick a topic that particularly resonates at that moment for you. Anything she cross references to previous sections is easy to find so it doesn't just become a load of marketing jargon that feels cold and unfathomable. 

I feel that for £14.99, you're getting a lot of useful information that you can come back to and review time and time again when you feel like you're missing something, or are ready to take it up a level. If you're really thinking about getting your hands on a copy, Hilary is currently offering 20% discount on signed copies

I was so impressed with what I was reading that I reached out to Hilary and she will be joining me for a special podcast episode that will go live on the 18th October 2014. Tune in to hear from one of the leading experts on how best to market your online craft business and get an insight into what some of your favourite craft brands are doing behind the scenes to inspire you. 

I bought my copy of 'Online Marketing For Your Craft Business' from Amazon

 

Update: Wow what a response! I need to add a few details for those asking:

1. Yes, there will be a digital version. I will update when I know the release date.

2. US version is likely to be released on 21st November 2014- save the date!

Making it Work with Karie Westermann

Last week, Karie and I began a conversation about what it is like to be a freelancer in the Fibre Industry. It was inspired by Karie's series called 'Making It Work', a helpful collection of posts that cover topics such as how to submit designs to magazines and pattern layout tips. To keep the ball rolling, I invited Karie to answer some of her thoughts on freelancing full time and next we're taking the conversation to Twitter with an AMAZING bunch of fibre types. More on that later though. First, here's Karie:

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

You describe yourself as a freelancer within the industry and I’d like to know what that looks like to you. What different roles does that encompass?

I think it's important to establish upfront that most people working within the fibre industry tend to have a lot of roles. I work as a knitwear designer, I teach classes, I do technical and copy editing, and I translate knitting/crochet patterns. I also lend a hand in various editorial contexts from time to time. When I self-publish, I also deal with layout, styling and organising photo shoots, marketing and customer after-care. The creative control is great but it does add a lot of extra work!

I'd love you to tell us about your transition to professional full time freelancer. What did that transition look like and what things really helped you?

I think it may have looked pretty much overnight, but I worked part-time in the industry for nearly 5 years before making the jump. I worked for a yarn company part-time which helped me learn the ropes. In 2011 I released my first self-published pattern and gradually designing began taking over more and more of my working life. By early 2013 I was working around 70 hours a week and so I started looking into how I could make my working life make more sense. I spoke with other people in the industry, I looked at freelance websites, and I spent time looking at business advice. My decision came when the yarn company wanted me to step up into a new role when it would have collided with too many other commitments. I'm now three months down the line as fully self-employed. 

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

One thing I often find when working with those who are self-employed is that it can be hard to set goals, reflect critically, set boundaries and keep momentum when it’s just you. Many freelancers reach out and develop mentors, alliances and communities that help with some of these. If this something you have done too?

I am lucky to have a handful of mentors in my life ranging from knitting professionals to people working in marketing and human resources at a very high level. I've never sought creative guidance or looked for work from them - I think that is really important to underline - but they are great at asking difficult questions and pushing me out of my comfort zone. 

So, for anyone trying to make the same transition, I'd say: find some mentors (or let your mentors find you which is how it worked for me). Have somebody who you trust to challenge you and support you. Do not use them to find work - but have them guide your way, encourage you, and challenge you. 

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

How do you plan ahead? Do you have any tools or techniques for looking at your ideas, inspirations and commitments and making it come together? (Fairly sure we’re touching on time management here too)

I pretty much know what I've doing creatively until summer 2015. It's experience telling me how long things take and how much creative work I can take on. For my self-published work, I tend to think in collections which helps me organise my ideas. Pinterest works well for this and I also find that my ideas are so opaque that I don't have to worry too much about keeping my boards secret. I do plan meticulously for my own work but it's really important that I allow some flexibility into my working life. It's not a job with fixed hours and you do tend to work a lot when other people are off. 

As you’ve grown as a freelancer, what lessons have you learned or even, what lessons are you still learning!

Lesson #1: Know who you are as a creative. Spend time figuring out what makes your work yours. 

If you want to make it in this business, you need a direction. Nobody can give you your direction (although good mentors can guide you along your way). You have to define it for yourself. Some people try to be all things to all people. I've never seen that work for anyone. 

Lesson #2: It is a really, really small business. Everybody knows everybody. Word spreads quickly if you are a dream or a nightmare to work with. Collaborations are one of the cornerstones of this industry and teamwork is essential. It also helps if you develop a sense of humour about your own work and don't take your own 'vision' too seriously. Everybody likes someone who brings them cake and makes them laugh. Be nice, in other words.

Lesson #3: You have to juggle several jobs/clients in order to make a living. I see a lot of people wanting to break into the industry because they think it means sitting at home knitting all day long. Working in the fibre industry isn't super-glamorous. It's a grind at times and it's actual hard work – it takes years to create a platform and a customer base. And you don't get rich from working in this industry. 

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

pictures courtesy of Karie Bookish

How do you balance your creative needs as an artist and designer with making this work as a paying job?

Goodness. If I could answer that, I'd be made! For me, at least, it seems that the work I find most creatively fulfilling is also the work that pays the best. I think it also helps that I genuinely like most aspects of my work. Also: diversification. Don't put all your eggs into one basket. Recognise your strengths and think about how you can employ those strengths in different ways.

How do you manage to constantly generate new material, while still supporting previous work so that you can (hopefully) develop a steady income in between periods of busy work?

This is where working part-time in the industry comes in handy. You learn to recognise when various things happens and adjust accordingly. Trade shows happen at a certain time of year. Yarn companies launch new products at other specific times. Fibre events are also regular occurrences. Magazines have calls at certain times of the year. All this information is actually out there and all you have to do is schedule your work around those things. Other things are less predictable – tech editing for indie designers varies considerably, for instance. 

Again, I think diversification is important. 

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Enjoying this discussion? Then come join Karie, myself and a panel of industry experts to take the discussion further. On 9th September 2014 at 8.30pm BST, we will be logging on to Twitter using the hashtag #makeitwork. Each tweet should contain this hashtag so that page will (in theory) fill with interaction around the 3 core questions that we will be covering. 

I'll be posting a blog post of the panel and 3 questions that we selected from suggestions on Twitter later in the week. I can't wait to show you who to expect- it's really special when big names are happy to help others make it work as freelancers too. A big thank you too for Karie for getting the ball rolling on this. I'm thrilled to be part of it!

Love Our Indies: Wild and Woolly

One of the original inspirations behind the Love Our Indies feature was meeting Anna, the owner of Wild and Woolly, a new yarn shop in Hackney. I visited there for the opening party and collected some audio for the podcast a few months ago. I was really struck by the unique way Anna had put her shop together. It's not easy running a bricks and mortar store and I love to see new stores open as it is so important for crafters to interact in *real life* rather than always online. How else can your queue grow explosively as you see shawls and sweaters in the wild, moving on real people?!?

So with that in mind, I invited Anna to tell us a bit about herself, her store and what it took to make it a reality.

(c) Wild and Woolly

(c) Wild and Woolly

Please introduce of yourself

I'm a 43 year old former website planner, with a long standing love of yarn and fibre arts in general, and knitting in particular. I'm originally from Norwich but have been living in Hackney, east London since the late 90s. I'm from a big family, most of whom live very nearby and I have two teenage children.

Why a Bricks and Mortar store?

For the last 15 years I've been supporting small non-profit organisations with their presence online by planning their websites and developing their online communications. And although that work was all about engaging real people out in the world with the issues my clients worked on, my role was always firmly located in the digital space. I used to find that an incredibly exciting place to be - with all its new possibilities, ways of working and opportunities for creativity constantly changing.

(c) Wild and Woolly

(c) Wild and Woolly

Equally, it can feel like a very intangible place. And over the last years (and in spite of the amazing work of my web clients), the web's lack of texture, hold and warmth, started to disappoint and then frustrate me. I responded by using new-found free time (from kids getting older) to explore personal fibre passions with short courses at the City Lit and a much longer and more involved City and Guilds course with the knitwear designer, Loraine Mclean. I also began volunteering with the knitting group for clients of the Helen Bamber Foundation. With hindsight I can see I was gradually working a new section of my life:  Proper learning of stitches and techniques, inspiring class outings to examine antique knitting in the vaults of the V&A, spending more time with really serious knitters, teaching stitches that I could see soothing the troubled hands of refugees, and of course all the time working through new creations with my needles at home. 

(c) Wild and Woolly

(c) Wild and Woolly

The contrast with the flatness of the online world I was dealing with in the office was not lost on me. And so this fantastical and rather ridiculous idea grew - to make a real place where knitters could come and squeeze and stroke and check and ask and offer and just be the way that knitters are. I imagined a space which would be real and inviting and which could respond out loud, with texture, form and colour to fill those gaps left by our lives online. 

How did you choose the location?

I wanted to be in a place that I was very familiar with, so that my local knowledge could be part of the shape and approach of the shop. My vision was a very conventional one - of a neighbourhood wool shop that local people could depend on for their knitting supplies and pattern support. I grew up with a little wool shop like that at the bottom of my street in Norwich. Later after we moved to North London when I was doing my A levels, I always had put-by yarn waiting for me behind the counter at ColourSpun in Camden Town. It's shops like those that have really been my inspiration. 

Meanwhile Hackney is where my children were born and grew up, where my mum and sisters are, also where my great grand parents lived and worked when they arrived as migrants over a hundred years ago.

So I wanted this shop to be a place that was easy for local knitters in Hackney to get to. And when I found the shop on Lower Clapton Road, it felt like the right size and location for what I had in mind.

(c) Wild and Woolly

(c) Wild and Woolly

What aesthetic did you go for?

The aesthetic came from working together with product designer, Gregor Timlin and graphic designer Raquel Dumas,  on interrogating values and themes which were central to my vision of a good wool shop. These included a slightly antiquated sense of 'expert retail', of modest industry and manufacture - where things are created on a small scale with an emphasis on crafting and grafting, a workshop-like space with an atmosphere that can cultivate a sense of industriousness and creativity. And from all of that, we gravitated towards a light industrial aesthetic, with echoes of a well stocked apothecary or tool shop. The design was also heavily informed by the constraints of my tiny budget and the understanding that everything during this early stage is experimental. So the shop you see now is a first iteration and there's an acknowledgement of that in the wheels that underpin all the wool cupboards, and the wooden tracks that support all the haberdashery display boxes. Nothing is fixed and everything can be altered and re-iterated as I learn over time what works and what doesn't.

What was the hardest thing about having a blank canvas?

I'm tempted to say that the absence of a blank canvas was a bigger challenge, and that reaching blankness felt like progress. The shop I moved into was an unloved, messed up place that had the scars of its previous series of hastily erected enterprises, all of which needed peeling way to get to the blank canvas that would form the base for my shop. And in some ways I feel that the minimal product design approach that we've taken means that that blank canvas is still visible and tangible beneath the wool and needles. It's part of what I hope can make people feel like there's space left in the shop to cultivate their own creativity.

(c) Wild and Woolly

(c) Wild and Woolly

Things you've learned already?

1. Knitters in Hackney/Clapton come from all sections of the local community.  At the moment I still can't point to any one dominant customer group. It's a complete mix of old and new Hackney, and of course all the different ethnic groups that Hackney is known for. I'm particularly pleased about that as gentrification in this area of London means that new shops can be quite divisive between old and new and at the moment I seem to be steering a course that includes both.

2. There used to be a wool shop 2 doors away at 118 Lower Clapton Road which closed 20 years ago and was much loved by lots of the people who now come into my shop. The Designer Yarns SE sales rep, Mike Cole, spoke really fondly of supplying 'Claire's' with Sirdar yarns for years.

3. Twitter is key for reaching the not-local knitting sorority. I was a Twitter novice when I opened up and was very reluctant about making friends with Twitter. I'm now a reformed character and have to acknowledge that Twitter really does reach the knitters other media don't get to.

4. Vegan knitters are a bit of a misguided bunch. Sheep and Alpaca fleeces are exploitative to animals but using up fossil fuels isn't????

5. Floro/neon yarn is in! I really don't like it but it's definitely on trend in Clapton. I'm going to have restock soon.

6. Knitted samples are crucial for pattern sales. If it's knitted and it's here, I'll sell the patterns.

7. I'm never ever going to have a complete and finite stock of needles, no matter how many hours I spend pouring over the wholesale cataglogues. Buying needles is a nightmare!

8. Yarn dyers are very special people. They have a love and knowledge of fibre that you don't find in anyone else.

9. That I love being a shop keeper!

10. Male knitters are very serious about their hobby

Favourite moment so far?

Hhmmm there are quite a few strong contenders for this spot..
- Having my former City & Guilds fellow students come in and praise my range of yarn
- Watching the smile spread around the face of the guy who bought a load of skeins of Jacob yarn after I put it on the swift and invited him to crank the wool-winder handle
- Listening to Linda Lencovic describe the properties of her yarns
- straightening out some muddled circular knitting for a customer who was struggling with a baby hat pattern, and getting them comfortable with their first set of dpns.

 

 

A big thank you to Anna for her inspirational answers. Please do go and visit if you're in the Clapton area and say hi for me!

Meet the Sponsor: Kate and YAK

One of the things I love about deciding to host sponsors for the blog and podcast isn't just the fabulous giveaways (huzzah!) but also sharing an insight into their personality and businesses. I asked Kate, the owner of YAK to help us get to know her and discovered that she takes her ice cream and lolly decision making very seriously. She might be my new favourite person as a result. 

Over to Kate....

Hello, my name is Kate, I am the owner of YAK, an independent yarn shop based in Brighton. I moved to Brighton about two years ago and straight away felt the lack of anywhere decent to buy good quality yarns. Like me, everyone - knitters and non-knitters alike - are astonished that there isn’t an independent yarn shop already in Brighton. And so, after a lot of dithering and a lot more planning I decided to open up a shop to solve the problem. We currently sell online but will be opening a physical bricks and mortar shop in central Brighton later in the year. 

Kate, owner of YAK and ice cream maven

Kate, owner of YAK and ice cream maven

And YAK?

YAK specialises in luxury yarns made with natural fibres. We have really tried to focus on getting our stock from British independent yarn companies and hand dyers but we also have some really special yarns from further afield. We also have a great selection of knitting needles, tools, notions and accessories. We really do have something for everyone. 

The Sirka Counter, one of many notions you can find at YAK

The Sirka Counter, one of many notions you can find at YAK

If you had a magic wand to create your bricks and mortar store, what impossible feature would you add?

I would have a live band, playing at all times. They would be able to do amazing covers of any song imaginable but their best feature would be that they would always just know exactly what I wanted to listen to so I would never have to go through the agonising pain of trying to decide. How is it when you have thousands and thousands of songs to choose from you just cannot do it?! Maybe they could be up on a mezzanine floor, like they’re serenading the shop from on high. But now I think I’m getting carried away...

What's your favourite thing about being an LYS owner?

I think it is probably the social aspect. I’ve met so many nice and passionate people through setting this thing up, it’s been really great. I had no friends who knit before, and now I do! It’s also the reason I am so excited that it’s going to be an actual physical shop as well; I am going to get so meet so many more. Also, as wonderful and amazing as the internet is there is something still to be said for being able to sit around with some likeminded people, beverage of choice in one hand, knitting in the other and having a chat about what is on your needles face to face. Similarly, a computer screen will never be able to capture the true fuzziness of angora or the subtle colours of a hand dyed semi-solid skein. For that we need to get hands on and I can’t wait to be the person to provide that space in Brighton.

Dye for Yarn exquisiteness- one of YAK's lovely yarns 

Dye for Yarn exquisiteness- one of YAK's lovely yarns 

Ice cream or ice lollies? Discuss 

I think both have their place. I love real gelato ice-cream but the sophistication stops there. I am a child when it comes to flavours; I always just want one ball of chocolate, one ball of strawberry, no fuss. But sometimes it’s just too hot and all that wafer does more harm than good or you’ve only got an ice-cream van. For those times I always go for a Twister, the best combination lolly, little bit ice-cream, little bit lolly.

Indie Untangled, Bags and More Giveaways

Happy Wednesday everyone! How are you all doing today? I'm sitting happily typing up posts and pinging back and forth emails with so many awesome giveaways and features right now. I love it when a winner sends a lovely message about the moment they realised they'd won- it leaves me smiling all day. It keeps me motivated to keep finding more and more people to share with and for you to enjoy. 

Well, I have another feature and another giveaway for you. Remember the Love Our Indies post from Lisa of Indie Untangled? I thought it all sounded really interesting so I invited Lisa to share some more insight into her knitting world and she threw in a giveaway for good measure. Don't you just love it when people share?

Lisa, Founder and Creator of Indie Untangled

Lisa, Founder and Creator of Indie Untangled

Over to Lisa...

I grew up on the South Shore of Long Island, New York, which is also where I went to college before moving to the city and starting my journalism career. I’ve always loved reading and writing, as well as crafting (the box of childhood mementos at my parents’ house is filled with projects from the Girl Scout troop that my mom helped lead). For more than ten years, I commuted from the city — the two hours on the train each day gave me a LOT of knitting time — and covered local communities in coastal Connecticut for a few daily newspapers there. About a year ago, there were staff cuts, and so I started working as a freelance writer. During that time, I was hearing from some of my knitting friends, who are also dyers and crafters, about how it was getting harder and harder to stand out on Etsy. That gave me the idea for Indie Untangled, and I set about launching it late last year.

When I’m not knitting or writing about yarn, real estate or health care, I like going to Broadway and off-Broadway shows, finding cool new restaurants and trying craft beers. I love to travel when I can, and I spent the fall semester of my senior year in London through a program called Friends World, now LIU Global, which has small centers in several countries. 

 

What IS Indie Untangled?

Indie Untangled provides one place to go to discover new fiber artists and find out when your favorite dyers are updating their shops. The Marketplace acts like a blog, and artisans post there when they’re coming out with something new, like a special series of colorways or a collaboration with a designer, and if they’re having a sale or opening yarn club sign-ups. Every Friday, I send out an e-newsletter and blog about all the things that you should stash that week. I also run Q&As with the artisans.

I love Ravelry, and the dyer groups are a wonderful resource, but I think it gets a little overwhelming to keep up with what’s new on there. Indie Untangled will tell you about all these new products so you can spend more time participating in KALs and other fun discussions, and working on projects.

 

You're a native New Yorker, who are your local artisans that you love to support?

There are SO many, but if I had to narrow it down to a few… First would be Wabi Sabi Brooklyn. She’s the artisan who created decoupage jewellery out of coins and paper that I mentioned in my blog post. MaryAnne Loverme no longer lives in New York, but she moved to L.A. and I learned that she recently opened a  gift shop there that, appropriately, sells locally-made artisan goods! 

I also have a couple pairs of earrings from Amy Lapierre of Birdhouse Jewelry, who I discovered at the Brooklyn Flea, one of the city’s best handmade and vintage marketplaces. The Flea also has some great food vendors, and I occasionally treat myself to fennel olive oil cookies or cardamom marshmallows from Whimsy & Spice. I’ve also become addicted to all the jams from The Jam Stand. I’ve also purchased many cards from Seltzer Goods. Their products used to be sold at a small mom and pop card store across from my apartment that’s sadly closed, but they’re available at other non-chain book and stationary stores around the city.

As for New York fiber artists, the skein I bought from dyer Lisa Roman of Roman Hills, with a colorway inspired by the character Bates on Downton Abbey, and which I got at the BUST Holiday Craftacular, is one of those treasured skeins in my stash. I’m probably going to make Beth Kling’s Momijigari with it.  

What's your favourite non yarn knitting/ craft treat? It can be a notion, tool or other...

Definitely my drawstring project bags and notions pouch from Vicki of That Clever Clementine (and I’m not just saying that because she made the yarn ball pouch for the giveaway!). I have a small bag made out of fabric with a map of New Orleans that was part of a limited-edition shawl kit she collaborated on with Margaret of French Market Fibers and that I was lucky enough to score. I also have another bag with fabric that has Nancy Drew from the old books. And my Snapdragon notions pouch is probably the most awesome of all: the fabric has devils knitting and the phrase “Idle Hands.”

Clever Clementine Bags featuring customised fabrics just for Indie Untangled (and you)!

Clever Clementine Bags featuring customised fabrics just for Indie Untangled (and you)!

You can read more about the exclusive bags that Lisa has developed with Clever Clementine here. Fancy winning this bag? Well you can! Please leave a comment below telling me one Indie you just love from Lisa's cohort, along with your Ravelry ID by midday Monday 23rd June 2014 and I will select a winner by random number generator. Good luck!

ppppsssstttt I'm also guest blogging over at Indie Untangled today about why I love Indies and my job so much. Thanks for the invite to be part of it all Lisa!