Conversations with Vaiva and Liudmila

Oftentimes, families pass down knowledge and stories of crafting from one generation to the next.  The handmade works become a symbol of family history.  Mother and daughter duo Vaiva and Liudmila run the Etsy store Woolspace.  Here’s what they had to say about doing business together and how their culture shapes and influences their approach to work.

How did you learn to knit and crochet?

L. Strange, but I learned knitting naturally. My mother didn’t knit so I learned it myself, of course it was very simple, only knit and purl. Later more skills were gained reading books. And I don’t like crocheting:)
V. I remember I had to knit something at school but my mother did it. I learned knitting not a long time ago about a 4 years ago when I saw my mother’s beautiful intarsia knitting. I asked her to teach me how to hand knit and since when I’m still in love with knitting.

What inspired you to begin a business?

L. At first I hand knitted socks only for family members but my neighbours noticed it and asked to make something special for them too. I made more socks then needed so idea of selling socks for others came naturally. Probably our story is similar to many others who make extra money from their hobby.
V. At first my mother sold socks in local markets. Later I suggested to start selling on the Etsy as seemed the best place to fit in:)

What are the benefits and disadvantages of working with family?

L. For me it’s only advantages. We think very similar so there no arguments.
V. Well, yes, I don’t see disadvantages too. Everything is simple as we don’t keep it bussiness. It’s still more hobby for us.

Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

L. Inspiration is a process of creation. I like folk designs and try to make something unique mixing or changing them.
V. I’m only a beginner so I play more with colours as reading design charts and adopting them to certain sized socks is not so easy. Nature is my biggest inspiration.

What has been the most technically challenging piece or design that you have knit?

L. My first pair of socks with intarsia design. It took almost a few weeks!
V. Every piece is challenge. Sometimes the simple design can become nervous wracking.

What do you think is the key to a successful Etsy store?

V. Hard to tell where lies the treasury of success. Of course nice Etsian style photos have influence if the items looks attractive to customers. Still it’s not the main key. After trying various strategies with photos, descriptions, prices I can say that main key to success is to follow you sixth sense. Sometimes no matter what and how other shops sell the only important thing is follow the way you feel it’s your way.

How did it feel to make your first sale?

Oh, our first sale gave so much joy. Every sale gives a piece of happiness too.

Any advice for those looking to start their own crafts-based business?

V. Best advice – do what you want to do and forget about others as it might distract from your way.

Are there any other Etsy stores that you love to follow or often browse?

V. I try not to browse other shops which sell similar items to ours. I don’t want to start comparing other made pieces with ours and there’s no need to bother my head by seeing copies of our made designs or stolen ideas of description, photos etc. Nobody can stop stealing ideas so only thing we can do is to change our feeling about it:)
But there are so many amazing creators in Etsy. I like browsing shops who sell unique pieces, sometimes I can’t believe how creative people are. It gives a lot positive emotions.

How did you come up with the name Woolspace?

V. This name suddenly popped into my head and without much thinking we named our shop WoolSpace.

It’s interesting to note that while their store does well as a business, the pair value their mother-daughter relationship first and foremost, rather than as business partners.  The innate familial bond boosts great teamwork and supports creative intuition.

All images via Woolspace

Sweater Bloggers 21.Nov

A harsh dip in temperatures swept through most of North America this past week.  Here’s a look back at how U.S. bloggers bundled up in the arctic chill.

Feathers add lightness to a sweater dress look from Wendy’s Lookbook.

Cozy in socks and sandals on Sea of Shoes

Peekaboo knits seen on FashionToast

The perfect sweater according to Kendi Everyday

The never-fail chunky knits and boyfriend jeans combo from Song of Style

Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Carol Milne

When describing the tactile elements of knits, words evoking softness, drape, and coziness come to mind.  Artist Carol Milne has created works that have us re-considering that notion of knitting.  Her pieces showcase knitting, but with glass as the medium.

Milne has come up with a revolutionary method of glass-making to create the base sculpture.

She then painstakingly chips away at the piece to create the final artwork.  Therefore, all the yarn loops and textures have been sculpted by hand afterwards.

View more of Carol Milne’s works at her gallery site.

Conversations with Emily

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily from the Etsy store Nothing But String this week.

Nothing But String carries fun hand-knit trompe-l’œil mary-jane socks and owl gloves among other creations.  The items are bright, cheerful, and showcase Emily’s incredible skills.

How did you learn to knit and crochet?

I originally learned to crochet from my Italian grandmother. I was about 7 when she first started teaching me. She was a master crocheter that made handmade dresses, skirts, jackets and sweaters for her clients. This was a good 60 years before the internet so her client base were the folks that lived in town with her. Word traveled fast about the wonderful work that she did.

As far as knitting goes I’m totally self taught. As a teenager my mom couldn’t afford all the cool sweaters that I wanted, but she could afford the yarn, so I learned how to knit my own sweaters. This was in the early to mid 70’s (I’m showing my age here) when it was really uncool to knit or crochet, so I kept it to myself, but I had some of the best sweaters going.

What inspired you to begin a business?

I had actually opened my Etsy account in May of 2008. One week before Christmas I was laid off from work. I started applying for a new job right away, but January, February, and March are the worst times of the year to go job hunting. I was getting pretty discouraged, when I remembered my Etsy account. I figured well it couldn’t hurt to start selling some stuff, maybe I’ll make a little money. Well one thing led to another, and I never did get another job. Etsy became my full time job, and I’ve never looked back since.

What do you think is the biggest difference between designing for men and for women?

The biggest thing for me is color. I’m a very bright and colorful person (as you can see from my shop). I find it exceeding difficult to stick to the more traditional male colors, black, grey, brown etc etc. I’ve resorted to asking my husband if he’ll wear a certain color and I go from there.

Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

Inspiration is a funny thing for me. Things just seem to pop into my head. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, and I’ll have to write it down before I forget it. My problem is that I’ve got too many ideas and things that I want to do and not enough time to do them all.

What has been the most technically challenging piece or design that you have knit?

Several years ago I made a knitted block blanket with over 100 blocks of unique knitting stitches. No 2 blocks had the same stitch, and it took me over a year to complete it. When I was done I gave it as a wedding present to my favorite cousin.

What do you think is the key to a successful Etsy store?

The key to a successful Etsy store is 3 fold: great pictures, titles and tags that get you found in Etsy search, and adding new items to your shop constantly. Never ever stop creating and designing. I can’t tell you how many duds I’ve had over the years. You try something, if it doesn’t work, try try again. Don’t give up because something doesn’t sell, go back to the drawing board and try again.

How did it feel to make your first sale?

My first sale was amazing. I actually did a little dance around the house. It showed me that I could do it, and that people actually liked my designs. I still get that same feeling every time I hear the cha-ching sound from my Etsy app telling me I made a sale.

Any advice for those looking to start their own crafts-based business?

Be prepared to put in a lot of hours and learn a lot of things that have nothing to do with your craft. It isn’t a 9-5 job. I work my shop everyday from 8AM to after midnight most nights. I’ve had to learn about SEO, how to take better pictures, how to write relevant titles and tags, and descriptions that tell the buyer everything they’ll need to know about the product. You’ll also need to become a shipping manager, supply coordinator, and bookkeeper.

Are there any other Etsy stores that you love to follow or often browse?

Subrosa is my all time favorite crochet shop. Her designs and use of color is amazing.

Pixiebell is my all time favorite knit shop. This shop is run by a husband and wife team that are just phenomenal. The amount of product that they manage to put out is unbelievable. Some day that’s going to be me.

All images via Nothing But String

Nothing But String on Etsy

Ita Vero on Etsy

Sweater Bloggers 14.Nov

Sweater looks that your favorite bloggers were wearing this week:

Carrie from Wish Wish Wish showcases the coziest sweater in a lovely autumnal setting.

Native Fox proves knits can be sexy in a chunky belted sweater

A crisp white textured sweater pairs well with a light and breezy skirt.  via Stockholm Streetstyle

Matchy matchy vintage chic at What Olivia Did…

Phat Knits

I love a cozy chunky knit sweater, and they seem like a trend that is here to stay.  Thicker yarns create much texture and dimension, but Rotterdam-based artist Bauke Knottnerus has taken it to another level.

The threads are knit together using large scale needles operated by two people.

These works are often in cartoon-like proportions and set up in interior spaces.

More of Knottnerus’ work can be seen on his official site.

Sweater Bloggers – 7.Nov

Featuring a new weekly series of the best knitwear picks as seen on your favorite style bloggers!

Barefoot Blonde’s chunky fisherman’s rib sweater in a refreshing hot pink color.

A simple cardigan in a bright red gives a pop of color to any outfit.

Pink Peonies

Fun contrast whipstitch detailing along the sleeves, as seen on The College Prepster

Bundled up in an oversized scarf on Late Afternoon

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

I started Ita Vero from humble beginnings in a cramped New York City apartment earlier this year after a sudden burst of creative energy and motivation.  It began as a small knitwear line, but with the aid of Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media accounts, I realized the Ita Vero brand encompasses more than just accessories.  Ita Vero brings together inspirations and stories from the art and crafting worlds, among many other creative outlets.

While the blog has been on hold for the past few months, now is the time to expand on these unique perspectives of these inspirations and to share them with all of you.  Please stay tuned!

Wisdom Wednesdays

This post is all about some basic knitting supplies.

1. Graph Paper

Much like algebra and long division, knitting involves many calculations.  The neat squares make it much easier to jot down stitch and row counts, and other various notes.  It also provides a great template for creating your own knitting patterns and fair isles designs (tutorial coming soon)!

2. Stitch Markers

I will demonstrate how to use these in a future tutorial, but these rings can be placed anywhere in your knitting, between stitches.  They are used to divide the knitting for reference purposes.  I also use them to help count stitches for very wide pieces of knitting.  There are actually many uses for these markers, so I might just dedicate an entire post to them sometime!

3. and 4. Cable Needles

Although shaped differently, these cable needles are used in same way.  There are variations on cable needles depending on the yarn size, but it is not as specific as knitting needles.  Cable tutorial to come as well.

5. Stitch Holder

A stitch holder is basically a shorter knitting needle that has an extended spring on one side.  It works much like a safety pin to hold sections of stitches when you are not working on them.  Oftentimes, I use stitch holders for old projects that I am putting on hold.  They are useful for neckline shaping and asymmetrical knitting (one day I hope to show you those techniques as well).

6. (Tapestry) Needle

Different from the knitting needle, this tapestry needle is used for sewing together projects at the seams.  It can also be used for binding off and finishing techniques.  A true tapestry needle is thicker than a sewing needle, and is curved at the point (the one pictured is not of this variation).

7. Circular Knitting Needles

This type of knitting needle has both needles connected.  Circular knitting needles are used for circular, or seamless, knitting.  For example, you would use the needle often for knitting socks, cowls, turtlenecks, etc…  I use them sometimes also for wider pieces of knitting.

8. Knitting Needles

These straight knitting needles come in different sizes, depending on the yarn size.  They do not knit seamlessly.

9. Ball of yarn

There are so many types of yarns out there that have different textures and variations.  I need to do a feature on different yarns out there sometime!

I know this was such a lengthy post, but I hope it provides some basic knowledge of what tools are out there and how they can be of use.

Questions, comments, requests are all welcomed!