Have you ever fallen head over heels for something while browsing on Etsy, and then you get to know more about the person who makes it and you like even more what you already considered a favourite? That happened to me with Ashlee of Smash Knits, one of our newest and most enthusiastic team members. In this interview we learn where her DIY love comes from and why she decided to open an Etsy store after years in the making. She also describes a day in her handmade life, shares her "I'm not cluttered, I'm creative" motto with us and much more! Enjoy...
How did your love for DIY got started?
I am a "hands-on, hands-dirty" kind of girl, through and through. Ever since I was little, I’ve been surrounded by crafts and DIY hobbies. Growing up, my Mum was constantly making something, be it sewing, knitting, baking, ceramics and beyond. My Dad was handy around the house, doing construction and some small building projects, and those traits have certainly been passed on to me! As I got older, I came to appreciate the sense of accomplishment I'd get after I finished making something. And I won't lie: being a true Winnipegger at heart, saving a few bucks along the way never hurt either!
Why did you open an Etsy store?
After a few years of knitting and sewing up a storm, I started to build a little bit of a stash and wasn't sure what to do with everything. I couldn't validate just making a bunch of items without an intended recipient. At the urging of friends and family, I decided to start selling some of my items. I created my shop on Etsy in late 2009, however I didn’t list my first item until November 2011 due to life getting in the way. So it has been a few years in the making! I love everything that Etsy has to offer; the variety & creativity continues to awe me on a daily basis. I'm so happy to be able to be a part of such a fantastic movement!
Which are your favourite tools to work with?
I tend to have a little bit of crafting ADD, so my favourite tools vary from week to week. One thing that is constant: I LOVE working with bold, jewel-toned hues, no matter the textile. I recently said farewell to my trusty, vintage industrial Viking sewing machine which has been a dream to sew on... in order to make way for a brand new machine as a result of a fantastic Christmas gift (aaaaah!). I'm certain it will soon become a new favorite :)
Describe a day in your handmade life...
I tend to get a bit cranky if I don't have a little time carved out on a near daily basis to create something. Winter weather is perfect for curling up for an hour (or three!) in front of the TV with one of many needle projects. I'm fortunate enough to have a great room entirely dedicated to sewing & crafting, so I like to spend time in there often, even if it’s just flipping through pattern books … though right now it's a bit of an organizational disaster, shhhh! Without question, I need to have some form of creativity in my day to day life.
What is your favourite item in your shop and why?
Ooooh, what a tough decision. Currently, I love these gigantic & bulky crochet cowls and I'll always love my big bow headbands, especially in yellow.
Long term aspirations for your shop?
I hope to continue to develop a distinct style as I create more pieces for my shop. I plan on adding several knit/crochet accessories specifically for the summer months, so I'm excited to see how those will be received. I'd love to get involved in more local craft markets, and continue to broaden my horizons online. Not to mention, I'm so looking forward to connecting with all of the other local talent on Etsy.
I like crafting because: It's therapeutic - and a lot cheaper than therapy ... well, most of the time :) It allows for so much individuality and self-expression. It's nice to have something to come home to after a day at the office, and I love being able to "get back to the basics" in this high tech, fast paced, go go go go world we live in. It's also an awesome feeling to be able to make things for myself and not have to rely on buying them at a store. As a newer homeowner, my DIY attitude is coming in VERY handy!
Some of the crafts that I make aside from knit/crochet accessories are: I sew clothing, shoulder bags and home decor pieces, knit/crochet any and everything, embroider, dabble with jewelry design, scrapbook, re-upholster and refinish furniture (LOVE Kijiji for this!). I have a pair of leather mukluks that I have been working on with a girlfriend for two winters – sewing leather is tough, but I can’t wait to finish those puppies! My friends like to tease me that my answer to almost everything is "that's so easy, you could make it." While this is certainly an exaggeration, I do like to try to make something before dropping the cash for it. I am plotting a veggie garden for the very first time this spring/summer, so I'm very excited to try my hand at canning in the fall. Also on my list: pottery and screen-printing.
I choose handmade because: Simply put, it's amazing. It’s great being able to make the perfect gift for the special people in my life. There are so many talented artisans out there, and I love the idea of a handmade community, so I try to buy handmade when I can. Why settle for something that millions have when you can find or create something unique and personalized? I also believe in the importance of recycling and upcycling where applicable instead of buying new, and try to incorporate eco-friendly practices into my life. Always room for improvement!
I am currently reading: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. After reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett when it first came out, I was hungry for more books about this part of history. This book absolutely fits the bill, and I definitely recommend it!
I am currently listening to: King by O.A.R (Of A Revolution). I don’t know what it is, but I really dig the lead singer’s voice and have for years. I always wish for summer when I listen to them. Five more months to go!
I combat creative blocks by: Creative blocks are not an issue for me (knock on wood). Usually, it's quite the opposite: too many projects on my list and not NEARLY enough time!! My hope for 2012 is to work at a more tidy studio; my motto of "I'm not cluttered, I'm creative" is wearing thin with my main man, hehe. Hopefully an organized space will inspire me even more! I do cruise other Etsy shops, Ravelry, Pinterest and Craft Gossip on an almost daily basis to drool over everyone else's creative prowress. Being active or just getting outside for some fresh air is always a nice breather, too.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a little bit of myself with everyone! It's so wondeful to be welcomed to the W.E.S.T. with such open arms. I love how many doors the handmade community has opened, and all the new and talented folks I've met and continue to meet. Here's wishing everyone a very creative 2012!