This week’s interview is with U.K.-based Dawn from ButterflyLove1, who creates fantastically creative knitting patterns and products. Many patterns are science-related, which makes them awesome gifts for science geeks especially (hint hint for Christmas!)
And now it’s time for an interview with Dawn to find out more about her life & her craft:
How did you get started in your handmade business?
I had my first daughter in 2008 and by 2009 had some free time on my hands. Painting was out as I never knew when my little baby would wake up from her naptime, but knitting is really flexible. Unfortunately, there’s only so many hats, scarves and jumpers a house can hold and my husband was starting to get a bit overwhelmed! A friend recommended checking out Etsy and before I knew it, I had set up my own shop and started to design toys, from that I moved gradually into designing science inspired plushes, as I love all things scientific.
What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?
I would say that I have always been an artist ever since I was very little. I have always drawn, painted, knitted, embroidered and taken photographs. I see no distinction between ‘art’ and ‘craft’. For me, they are all valid and equal expressions of creativity. Knitting is very much like meditation, so it’s my go to if I feel tired or stressed out.
Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a major fan of long, hot baths. I’m also trying to get fit at the moment so I swim and go to the gym three times a week. That’s pretty much all my spare time accounted for!
How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?
I would say that I’ve been creating art since my earliest memories. My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was about 6 and I set off with the ambition to create the world’s longest handknitted scarf – knit only by myself and funded only by my pocket money. I got pretty far, but no records were broken!
I took a career break from accountancy and tried to sell my paintings and drawings online in 2005, but didn’t make much headway. In 2009, when I opened my Etsy shop ButterflyLove1, people were much more willing to buy online, but I still only sold $82 in my first year!
How many different places do you sell from?
I sell my geek knitting patterns and plushes in my main Etsy shop, ButterflyLove1, and my non-geek products in another Etsy shop, EbonyAndTeal, which is part of my new focus to create functional patterns. I sell my paintings, photographs and drawings in a third Etsy shop, Floribundae.
Knitters can also get my patterns on Ravelry and Loveknitting:
If you had to recommend one movie, which perhaps isn’t so well known, which one would it be?
I would recommend ‘The Japanese Wife’. It’s about a man and a woman who fall deeply in love without ever meeting (spoiler alert). It’s sad and happy, and pretty wonderful.
What invention or new product would you love to be available in the future?
I often feel guilty about the impact we have upon our environment and try to have zero waste in my creation process. I would love to have a nanotechnology developed that would consolidate the microplastic in our oceans into blocks that could be responsibly disposed of, thus helping to protect the base of the oceanic food chain.
Any other handmade shops you’d like to recommend?
I love Mochimochi (mochimochiland.com), cheezombie (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/cheezombie) and NeedleNoodles (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NeedleNoodles), all of whom inspired me to write my own more creative and wacky designs.
What is your earliest memory of creating something you were proud of?
It’s not my earliest memory, but my Dad likes to reminisce about my first entrepreneurial venture. I made a huge pile of giant pompoms, complete with big cute eyes, and tried to sell them on a handmade cardboard box stall in our local town centre. Needless to say, I didn’t sell any, but it didn’t crush my spirit. 33 years later, I’m basically doing exactly the same thing!
Do you have any particular sale that stands out in your memory? Why?
Many of my sales are memorable as I am often contacted by people to create graduation gifts, thesis mementoes, even gifts for friends and family suffering from illnesses like cancer, to cheer them up and give them hope. I feel absolutely privileged to be able to create objects that will hold a special place in my customers’ lives. It’s an honour.