Thursday, July 7, 2011

Etsy Seller Q&A - Meet NattyKnits

Why don't you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself
This is a difficult question. I wish I could say that I am an elderly woman who lives in a gingerbread cottage in a dark forest, I used to eat children, but designing and knitting toys has helped me to reform. Now I just sit in a rocking chair on the porch knitting and thinking about the good times, the tasty, tasty good times. The truth is a lot less interesting. I'm a stay at home Mom with a four year old boy, I'm English but live in California, I'm quite an adventurer and I've had a lot of life experience, some of it almost as unbelievable as the child eating old lady story.

{Toy Hug Monster}

How did you get started with knitting?
My Mum taught me to knit when I was 7 years old, I thought I’d forgotten it but when I came back to knitting 5 years ago I discovered that it was all still there. Because I already had the basics, I was able to concentrate on understanding some more obscure knitting techniques. I love to knit in 3D and around corners, so I use knitting in the round and short row shaping in many of my designs. I'd also prefer not to sew lots of pieces together, so my knitted toy designs have as little sewing as I can manage.

{Plush Toy Sheep}
 Describe your studio...
I don't have a studio! But all day, every day I'm thinking of designs, construction ideas or stitch patterns, I write them down and make sketches in a little moleskine notebook that I carry around with me, so that's what I've taken a photo of.

When the little guy goes to bed I start the hard work. I knit in front of the TV. It's scandalous and a lot of people can't understand how the TV is not rotting my brain. But it takes a long time to knit something. I can have a design idea and need to knit for an hour before I even get to incorporate it. I don't have to see what I'm knitting, so I may as well multi-task. I watch very escapist TV, reality dance shows and sci-fi or fantasy, nothing that requires my concentration, just something diverting and fun.


How soon after you started creating did you decide to turn your craft into a business?
I had been knitting from other people's patterns for a few years when I decided to start knitting up my own pattern ideas. At that time, I worked in a bookstore and the staff were really creative. Without them I would never have known about Etsy or probably even considered that I could make money this way.
{3 Little Toy Rainbow Fish}

What else do you like to do when you're not creating beautiful things?
Go on long walks with my family, California is stunningly beautiful all year round and perfect for that. I also love music and try to keep up with the indie scene in the UK, much harder than it sounds from this distance. Oh and I just started a new part time job in a craft store, they train the staff in everything which is keeping me very busy at the moment, I have a lot to learn about non fiber arts.

What has been your favorite crafty project thus far (big or small)?
My favorite one is always my most recent design. So right now it would be my Shark Knitting Pattern. I love how I've managed to make something which has so many pieces but so little sewing. I'm also immensely proud of those teeth.

{PDF Shark Pattern}
 What is the most difficult and your most favorite part of crafting as a business?
The most difficult part is that there are only 24 hours in a day. Knitting and knit design are both very slow processes. I have an idea, I write up the pattern whilst I knit it for the first time, often needing to make revisions as I go. Meanwhile I'm also researching the yarn I'll knit the final version in. The pattern is tested by independent knitters, then it's tech edited, I take photos for the tutorials and I write a special hints and tips blog post too. Finally I knit one more version, just to be sure. It takes me at least a month to develop a knitting pattern from concept to completion. It's always difficult to get a balance between creating and running the business, I think a slow craft makes it more difficult.

My most favorite part is seeing how other knitters make my patterns. I love it when they modify the pattern or come up with a new idea. There's a great knitter's forum website called Ravelry.com where people can share photos of their knitting projects, I often sneak a look at the finished toys on ravelry. I've sold around 500 copies of my Christmas Tree pattern and I love knowing that my little trees are now all over the world.

What is your favorite:
a) scent?
Persil Non-Bio washing powder (laundry detergent). It's not available in the US, so it smells like home to me.
b) movie?
Serenity. It's not the best movie ever made, but it means a lot to me. I watched a preview of it in a tiny cinema in London and afterward Joss Whedon and Summer Glau took questions, in person. It's the only time I've ever been awestruck by someone famous. Whedon is a storytelling genius.
c) blog/website?
OK, I confess, I don't read blogs. I love Facebook for personal stuff, when your friends and family are half a world away it's nice to be able to connect with people so easily. But at the moment, my fave website is www.spiralknights.com/ it's a free MMO game, my husband and I play it together, we call it “hitting things with swords”. It's very cathartic.
d) guilty pleasure?
Apart from playing MMOs? I tend not to feel too guilty about anything I do.

{Plush Toy Rabbit}
 Lastly, do you have any advice for fellow crafters/entrepreneurs just starting out?
Probably too much advice to be honest, so I'll stick with something basic. Etsy is your friend. Etsy wants good crafters, designers, makers and artists to succeed, they want you to make more money so that they can make more money. I see so many Etsians wasting their time and energy on conspiracy theories and hand waving freakoutery, which in the end benefits no-one. Yes, Etsy is constantly evolving, so grow with it. Yes, sometimes we do see the same sellers on the front page time and again, so ask yourself what they're doing right. Yes, it does take guts to join a team rather than post and run in a forum, so man up and join a team, see what it's like.

Etsy offers so many ways to help the new crafting entrepreneur, read the blog, make treasuries, join teams (especially treasury making teams or one of the teams administered by the Etsy Admins, like “Etsy Success”), get a mentor, be engaged and grow yourself, your craft and your business.

Great advice!
You can find NattyKnits on Etsy
Check out the rest her adorable knitting patterns and plushies!

5 comments:

  1. Cute stuff and great interview. Thanks for sharing, I am off to check her shop out :D

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  2. This is a freakin' fabulous interview! You and your shop are just rad. <3

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  3. very very nice:)
    I love that you added a pic of your sketch pad:)
    Molly

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  4. MondayMorningStudiosJuly 8, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Awesome! I love natty's work!

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  5. What a great interview! I really enjoyed this! I wish I could knit without looking:)

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