T.E.S.T. Interview: Knitty Little Secret

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 26th in our series with Lindsay of knittylittlesecret.

Tell us about yourself and your background. How did you come to start knitting?

I grew up in PEI and when I was 17 I moved here with my Mom. I had always felt like a big city girl in a VERY small town (25, 000 people vs 2.5 million). After moving to Toronto I sort of felt like I'd come home and now, 16 years later, my heart is torn between Toronto and PEI. Three years ago I opted for the best of both worlds and we bought a house in Pickering, minutes outside the city. I feel now that I get the best of both worlds. I get a quiet suburb but still the vibrancy and electricity that a city like Toronto provides. I started knitting as a means to end my boredom at work. I work night shift and had wanted to try knitting for years so I thought I could knit at work to cure that. My kids (I have 2) brought home a Scholastic order form and it had a children's book on how to learn to knit so I bought it for myself. I figure if the book could teach children to knit, surely I could learn it, too.  

What do you like the best about knitting? What’s the worst part?

I love that I can create something with two sticks and a piece of string. I love that I can knit something and people say, "YOU made that?" It could be something as simple as a coffee cozy to a shawl, fingerless gloves to leg warmers. My favourite part, though, is when I'm in my groove, knitting and reading or watching a movie and I'm in the zone, doing a pattern from heart. I love that I can just escape elsewhere and only occasionally have to pay attention. It keeps me occupied. I find now, after 7 years, that I can't sit and watch tv and do nothing. Which is good, I suppose, because it means I'm not just watching meaningless tv and rotting my brain. The worst parts are the finishing touches. Weaving in the ends. I always worry that I haven't woven them in properly and they'll come undone. Or if I haven't properly joined two balls of yarn then whole thing will unravel after someone else owns the item and they'll think I'm the worst knitter in the world. It's the little things. I enjoy the sewing (except for the panelled ponchos - that's kind of a pain because there's just so many stitches to sew) but not the weaving.  

What is your favourite item to make?

I think fingerless gloves. They're a quick enough project that I don't get bored of making them and they're long enough to get me through a work day and leave me enough time to start on another project. Plus, I can do different things to the pattern to make it unique or simple, do stripes or not. Add lace to the cuffs or not. It's versatile.

How long on average does it take to complete a piece? Which piece takes the longest?

It takes about 6 - 8 hours to make a pair of fingerless gloves, start to finish, depending on the style. A hat can be anywhere from 2 hours or 6 hours, depending on the style. The longest piece was a sweater for my hubby and that took 3 weeks. His sleeves were too long (he's short - 5'5" but I was measuring against myself to make sure he had some extra room - I'm 5'8") but for my first sweater attempt it was pretty good. Second to that I'd say the scalloped edged poncho. It's knit in four panels and then you sew it up. That probably takes at least 3 or 4 days.  

Do you plan on adjusting the type of pieces in your store with seasonal changes? If so, how?

I used to have several other pieces that were spring, summer and fall related, not just with colours but the actual pieces themselves but I gave half my items away to a fundraiser in October of last year. I currently am working on items for a craft fair but when that's over I'm going to be knitting some beach cover ups and knit shorts as well as some brightly covered yoga socks (which are great for cool night and ballet flat shoes). I've always wanted to knit myself a bikini but, quite frankly, there's no amount of yarn support in the world for my 'girls' so I'll settle for knitting them for other people. Knitting for seasonal changes in Canada pays off pretty well. We have fall, winter and half of spring that tend to be cold so knitting works in cold weather. Knitting in the summer, though, causes some issues, especially in Toronto where it gets very humid!  

What did you want to be when you grew up and how do you feel about what you’re doing for work now?

When I was 3 I saw Karen Kain dancing in PEI and that was what I wanted to do. That fall my parents signed me up for ballet and I took it for 13 years, along with jazz dancing. Giving it up is one of the few regrets I have in life and I miss it still. Work now is just a means to an end for me. I need money to pay my bills yet I don't want to be a slave to work. I watch 9 - 5 ers and they spend an hour in rush hour and work for 8 hours, then spend another hour in rush hour traffic and by the time they get home they're too grumpy and exhausted to enjoy their time with their family. I work as a security guard. Truly, not a lucrative job at all (in fact incredibly boring!!) but it pays the bills. My husband works in the head office of my company and can technically be called my boss. We both work shift work and it works for us. We get a lot of time together as a couple and a lot of time with the kids. So while I don't appreciate people judging me based on my work position (because I don't judge others on their job title - your job is a job - it does not define who you are), I think we have it figured out and are happier than most, especially one couple we know who, despite making almost three times as much as us, they're struggling financially, struggling as a couple and are incredibly unhappy.  

Who is your model in your photos? She is adorable!

That's my daughter. Thank you!! She would tell you, in response to your compliment, "I know." I also have a 14 year old son. I think parenting either makes you stronger or clinically insane. I'm not sure which way my kids are forcing me to go but I'll let you know when I get there. He has ADD, she has Autism and my cat Persia has regular spazz attacks. It's sometimes a mental zoo.  

Where is your favourite spot to sit down and knit?

At work on night shifts. I'm very rarely disturbed while at work so I can sit there, knit and read a good book at the same time for 12 hours straight. However, I'm not a knitty snob and I'll knit anywhere. Transit, work, home, outside on a beautiful day. I'd knit in a fancy restaurant if they let me! My second favourite place to knit is at home but I've learned to put the knitting down when there's a good hockey game on because there's a visible difference in the stitches where the game gets stressful  

Where do you get your inspiration from in your day to day life?

Nature. My kids. My hubby. Random strangers who do something kind for others, not for recognition but just to be nice. I sort of feel like Gil in Midnight In Paris. As much as I love the perks that today's world has given me, I sort of feel like humanity has lost so much with technology and would love to live in a simpler time. So I take inspiration from different eras, as well. Just what society struggled through and survived. When they thought that life couldn't get any worse, that they could not possibly carry on, they did and things got better. I take inspiration in the strength of others, in the honest and truthful words of others and in my own errors.

 How do you feel living in Toronto has influenced your work?

There's an acceptance here that, maybe it's hidden inside you somewhere, but you have a talent. You are talented. You are capable. It really is the city that allows you to dream about great things, things that may never possibly happen, and things that you know you can achieve. For me, coming here at 17 from a rather vanilla province, I loved the skin colours. I loved seeing all shades of every culture. And I loved (still love) that these gorgeous people don't tone down their clothing but wear whatever they want. Growing up in PEI, where for YEARS and YEARS Sunday shopping wasn't allowed, the province was very much dominated by religion. Toronto is dominated by no one and anything goes. Every culture has their little neighbourhoods and walking through them, seeing the colours, seeing the shades of everyone's skin, makes me confident in trying bold colours or subtle colours that I may not ordinarily think of. Toronto breeds confidence in her citizens, even if they have NO clue what they're talking about or doing. Torontonians just believe in themselves and KNOW things are going to be amazing, if they currently aren't.  

What is it about Toronto that you think helps breeds the remarkable variety of creative individuals that sprout there?

The numerous cultures. In PEI there was only one first language for the kids I went to school with (though there were other cultures, they were vanilla-ized). When I signed up for school here in Toronto, the principal told me that there were 51 first languages. 51!!! That was amazing to me. And I think that sums it up. If you and I meet for coffee and talk about changing the world, we bring two sets of ideas and not much progress will happen. But if 51 people meet for coffee, you've got a wealth of ideas to choose from, a wealth of ideas that grows into something beautiful and strong and improvements are made. The fact that we have so many different cultures, colours, ideas. We're an incredibly open country and an incredibly open city. Heck, we were one of the first countries to legalize marriage across the board. Toronto GETS it. If you allow people to be who they are, you're going to allow people to be free and confident enough to try new things, or to create new things. Throughout Canada Queen West is known as THE place to shop. Is it coincidental that it's in Toronto, this famed Queen West? Toronto is accepting of you, regardless of your culture, religion, sexual orientation, size and gender. That mind frame breeds intellectual freedom which means it also breeds creative freedom.  

What makes you feel happier – knitting itself or knowing that people are enjoying your products?

Ooh tough question. First and foremost I knit for my own pleasure. If you and I were best friends and you fell in love with the shawl I made, I'd give it to you. I enjoy knitting because it's relaxing and kills boredom. That someone else could also possibly enjoy it makes what I do even better (and still surprises me). My friend Geri asked me to knit her a poncho six years ago. She still loves it to this day and still wears it. That, to me, is the perfect end to a knitting project. It's one thing for me to knit something and then toss it into a rubbermaid bin. But for someone else to fall in love with it and wear it, six years later? It's perfect.

How do you think your sense of humor has contributed to your work?

Well lemme tell ya. Sometimes, when you have to turn a skein of really ... Really ... REALLY thin yarn into a ball and that thin yarn gets tangled every 5 seconds? You really do need a sense of humour or else you'll go bonkers and throw your yarn across the room. Which isn't satisfying. Trust me. I think with anything, though, you need a sense of humour, no matter what it is. Whether it's something you love or something you hate, you need to laugh. Women have it figured out. There's nothing better than a good cry and a good laugh. As for how it's helped contribute to my work...well that's a good question. I think with any sort of creativity you need to be able to laugh at yourself. The silly mistakes you make, the frustrations that creativity can bring you. The silly mistakes that you make over and over again. The fear that creativity can also bring you. A good sense of humour can relieve your fears and your worries in creativity. It relaxes you and eases the tension you build in yourself and the confidence that may have been lost with one bad creative project.  

What is your creative process? Are you a careful planner?

My creative process is to buy LOADS of yarn, then buy MORE and eventually figure out what to make with said yarn. Halfway through a project I'll see more yarn, try NOT to buy it, buy it anyway... My process will either start with yarn or a project idea. I've had numerous failures (like a pair of ballet slippers that looked so promising but were a big fat bust). After I figure out what yarn I'm using I just jump in. I once had a gorgeous yarn for a scarf and, on my way into work, attempted 3 different scarf patterns, none of which I had the mental faculties to attempt at that time of day, and instead made a pair of fingerless gloves. So most of the time I just roll with whatever the day brings me. There are days when no amount of planning will work, you just do whatever your craft tells you. Then there are days where you're so efficient that you shock yourself. Oftentimes, though, I'll fall in love with a pattern and then knit it to death, just because it's such a joy to knit. Trying to get out of ruts like that can be difficult because while I'M enjoying myself, what am I going to do with 61 coffee cozies.

How do you ensure that your designs are not only beautiful, but practical too? 

People like Jackie Kennedy and her sense of style, they endure because they go for clean, simple lines. It's the same reason that Kate Middleton is such a style icon. Clean, simple lines and add flair afterwards. Trends and styles change every year. Every year we have some famous designer telling us what the next season's "it" colour is going to be. Some styles are just hideous and some are incredibly fun. Keeping to the basics will ensure something lasts not just through the years, but through the trends that other people decide on. You can always add the flairs after. This year's colour is Tangerine so I would knit simple things (hats, shawls, scarves, for example) in different shades of tangerine with very few changes. Maybe add beads to a hat, a simple lace pattern to a shawl and a ribbed pattern to a scarf. I also think, deep down, people want to own things that will endure. That's why we love the Kennedys, Hepburns and Grace Kelly. We love styles that endure through the stupid and the silly.  

And...where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Oh man. Either in Maui as a famous writer or owning my own yarn store. Or both!! I would actually love to work in a yarn store and teach knitting classes. I'd also like to have my book finished (not for publication but just for the sense of accomplishment). And I'd also love to hone my skills as a photographer and travel to Europe and go back to Hawai'i.  

You can find more of Lindsay's work in the knittylittlesecret Etsy shop, on her blog, or at the knittylittlesecret facebook page.

Interviewed in April, 2012 by Krystyn of CalliopeKitten.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails