This week's interview is with Sonya of Kanelstrand on Etsy. Her gorgeous, hand-felted bracelets are unique works of art. Check out her answers below and be sure to check out her shop to see all her beautiful creations!
1. Why don't you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself.
I live with my family in a pine forest by the sea. That is where most of my inspiration comes from. I like the close touch of nature, the colors of autumn and the smell of the sea.
I try to live sustainably and to impact the environment minimally by using local, non-toxic or recycled materials. In my everyday life I actively reduce, reuse and recycle.
I run a handmade business on Etsy where I sell my organic felted jewelery with Scandinavian design.
2. I love the designs in your pieces. What made you choose to work with organic wool over other crafty mediums?
There is magic in wool which I don't find in any other crafty medium. The idea about the cooperation between animal and man fascinates me. Can you imagine that the ball of yarn in your hands comes from another living creature and with the help of needles, made by a human you can create any size and form of fabric just by intertwining the thread, isn't that a miracle in itself! And then, think about the process through which the wool goes while it is being felted - from fiber through a knitted form to a completely new object with different functionality. That is pure magic!
3. Describe your studio...
My studio is a warm and cozy place with a big window overlooking the pine forest which gives me inspiration every day, regardless of season or hour. From here, I can hear the waves when they are not as gentle to the beach and I can smell the fresh air.
Sometimes a curious Blue Tit comes in to check on my work and we perform the already established ritual of flying around the whole place, talking in our strange, invented inter-species language; maybe stopping for a second to check for some crumbles and finally tweeting goodbye.
And then, when I am left with my knitting and felting I open my mind to all moments spent in the forest, on the beach - at sunrise, at sunset, and all the forms and colors come out naturally and twirl, and combine by themselves on my bracelets.
4. How soon after you started creating did you decide to turn your craft into a business?
The designs you see on my bracelets have been brewing in my mind and going out on paper for more than 15 years but after my daughter taught me to knit I spent a very busy year of knitting, crocheting and felting before I took part in my first Designers' Market where my booth received quite a lot of attention and compliments.
5. What else do you like to do when you're not creating beautiful things?
I have diverse interests which tend to storm me and don't let me sleep. I am a photographer, so naturally I spend as much time as possible outside, taking pictures. In the winter you will find me on the ski slopes and the rest of the year I go traveling with my family, line skating, swimming, or just sunbathing on any of the beaches around our home. My family is very much involved in my creative outbursts, my husband supports me immensely and inspires me to search deeper in my soul and to develop, my daughter is extremely creative and often gives ideas which challenge my imagination. I love to bake, which kind of falls into the category of creating beautiful things, so I will not elaborate on that. I read a lot but since reading takes up the time for knitting, I have adjusted to audio books and now I can knit, crochet, felt or cook while listening to a good book.
6. What has been your favorite creation thus far (big or small)?
It is a challenge to pick just one favorite creation but out of the bracelets I have created so far, I would say that this one is my favorite:
7. How much time do you spend on a particular item? Let's take your favorite pick: "Freyja Impressus" as an example.
My felted bracelets are time consuming, they come to the world step by step, and are the result of much imagination, patience and care for detail.
The first step in the process is choosing the right yarn. I use local yarns (from Norway and Iceland) as they are clean, ecological, non-toxic and perfect for achieving durable products that are soft to the skin. Then I start the creative process by knitting or crocheting, which is the fastest part and takes no longer than 30 minutes for a single bracelet.
The second step is wet felting each piece, which could go on for an hour and a half, depending on the wool.
The third step is drying, molding, blocking and trimming, which takes about three days.
The final step is decorating by needle felting which adds about 3 more hours. You can do the math.
8. What is the most difficult and your most favorite part of crafting as a business?
In my view, the most difficult and the most favorite parts of the crafting business are closely related. The most difficult part is not to take things personally, which is hard because in the handmade world we are putting our hearts in our products and that is exactly what makes them unique and breathes life in them. But we have to learn to let go after we finish with our creation and to allow the recipient build a relationship of their own with our "babies".
9. What is your favorite: a) scent? b) movie? c) blog/website? d) guilty pleasure?
By coincidence, I love the smell of vanilla and the movie Vanilla Sky.
I have learned so much on the Internet that I wish to mention every single page that has helped me grow but I will not torture you with my massive RSS Feed, I guess the two most influential craft sites are Ravelry and Etsy. The blog I have been following daily since 2005 is www.soulemama.com/.
I don't believe that there is anything like a guilty pleasure, so I welcome them all. But most of all, I love chocolate.
10. Lastly, do you have any advice for fellow crafters/entrepreneurs just starting out?
Well, the web is full of advices, so I only have a little something to say to anyone who has set their foot on any new path recently - if this is your way, you will know it, so just listen to your heart.
Thanks so much, Sonya!
You can visit Kanelstrand on Etsy, here!
She's also having a giveaway right now! Go to her blog and enter to win one of her fabulous bracelets!