The Fri-YAY Surprise presents… Woolly Rockers

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Posted on 1st March 2018

My name is Liz and I’m a crafter. I love yarn and fabric. After studying history of art and design I ended up working in a sewing shop where I learned dressmaking. I loved vintage fabric & prints, mainly really colourful psychedelic prints. I started making very simple shift dresses and a-line skirts. I was a Mod back then and my very first dress was white with a strip of red, white & blue ribbon down the front. 

I love knitting and crochet. My grandma taught me to knit when I was about five, so I’ve been doing it a long time. I adapted a ‘Little Boy Blue’ knitted doll pattern I made as a child into a set of psychedelic Sergeant Pepper Beatles with the braid & epaulettes. To cut a long story short… these were featured in Mojo magazine and I started to get a lot of orders for more Beatles & custom figures. I’ve done commissions for Mick Fleetwood & Jeremy Corbyn. It’s been amazing fun. 

My other knitting outlet is miniature knitting for Blythe Dolls. When I discovered Blythe I was hypnotised by her huge eyes and loved that she looks great in anything and is really fun to photograph and take to places. I have an Etsy shop and  sell at doll conventions too. 

Why do you create?

For many years I have worked full time but I’ve always bought fabric and yarn, just because Ive loved it and need it, or was unable to resist buying it, but I haven’t always had a lot of spare time to make it into anything. I have quite a stash of lovely vintage and cute craft fabric, so  Im trying to get it made into saleable vintage inspired items.

I like to keep my Etsy shop stocked up with new ideas for Blythe things these are small, easy to carry around and fun, so this is my travelling or train knitting. 

I’m always knitting. I knit all evening and sometimes all day. I can’t sit with my hands not doing anything. I can do it without looking in ‘automatic’ mode, because I usually have a lot I’d like to make.

What positives does it bring to your life?

I love having an idea for something to make and being able to execute it. I do eventually get things done. It’s satisfying and builds my confidence. I love watching something useful come from raw materials. The feel and colour and texture is beautiful.  

It’s also lovely to share.  I like creating things for other people that they are going to love and wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy off the shelf.

How has it challenged you?

For Blythe the biggest challenge has been to try to keep coming up with new ideas. In the doll community there is always an appetite for something new, but it’s knowing when to stop making the same things again and when to try something different… When do people not want the foxy faces anymore? 

Its also important to keep  an eye on designs and motifs out there is the world at large and incorporate some trends. It’s a balance between developing your own style and incorporating what people are likey to want. 

 What makes what you do unique?

I don’t think I’m so unique…There are other people who make custom dolls to look like people, or, writers, or rockstars & there are lots of other Blythe designers and vintage fabric lovers… maybe its having all those things together. I feel very lucky that when I’ve tried to turn a hobby into a profit, I’ve usually managed it. I’m not sure why…. probably because I’m still using the same craft skills I learned as a child, so I know that I can knit & sew… and I don’t have to worry, is it professional or good enough? 

Who inspires you?

I don’t know if there is anyone in particular, but if I’m looking for inspiration I might do a search for Mary Quant, or Biba, or I might end up looking at the Pre-Raphaelites or Peter Max!

I have a stall in the US for the first time ever, so I’ve given myself the theme of Vintage Hollywood Glamour, so I’m looking at the 1920s to the 1970s for ideas.  

I’m doing a stall in Brussles in the summer too. I’m looking at Art Nouveau for that… so lots of nature inspiration. I’ve already started with bees. 

This helps make it different and exciting every time. I tend return to the past for inspiration.

Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

Can I pick two… Either my Frida Kahlos of the Blythe Mondrain dresses. 

The knitted Frida Kahlo dolls were really amazing fun to do. I loved the effects of the wool embroidery on knitting which you don’t normally see. The pops of colour and as a tribute to a great artist. 

The sixties Yves Saint Laurent ‘Mondrain’ dresses were pretty cool. Very mod. Totally Sixties. Technically quite tricky. I was literally buzzing as I was working them out. I love that feeling.

If you could change one thing about your creativity what would it be?

I wish I could draw or paint….. but then its another thing I probably wouldn’t be able to fit in! It would be lovely to be able to come up with my own embroidery or applique designs or knitting charts or develop a style. I know its something I can do easily in an evening class. I think I know already that I’m not very good at drawing.

Favourite material and why?

Tough one.. yarn or fabric?? I think yarn, because you can do more with it. You can knit it into a fabric, crochet it into flowers or a hat, make pom poms! The list is endless. Sometimes fabric can be too lovely as fabric. I like to appreciate it as it is and don’t want to cut into it, in case it goes wrong as is wasted somehow. 

Sharing is caring; will you reveal one of your suppliers and explain why they’re great.

I don’t use a lot of regular suppliers but love browsing around fabric shops. My favourite place is Goldhawk Road near Shepherds Bush. The market in Shepherds Bush is great for haberdashery. I feel like the stall holders where I’d regularly buy Zips & wool became really important relationships. I bought stuffing in a wadding there from the foam so yes.. I’d chose The Sponge Man of Shepherds Bush as my favourite. I was intrigued by his life in the cave on foam! 

What tips would you give someone aspiring to lead a more creative life?

Don’t wait. Just go for it. It is possible to start small with very little outlay for materials. Use as many social media channels as you can and talk about what you do and what you would like to do. This is where opportunities come from. I’ve had so many experiences of making something and someone saying.. can you make me one please. That’s how things start, so make things and show people.

Tell us something fun that your customers won’t know about you!

I am a massive music nerd, probably where the Rock Stars came from. I love a lot of classic rock, pop, psych, folk & singer songwriters from the 60’s and 70’s. I have 2 guitars and I can play… even fingerpick. I love it but I cant sing. 

What’s the one thing in your workshop/craft room/creative space you can’t live without?

My sewing machine. I have pictures of the Bass player from Poco all over it. They were a Sixties Country Rock band that hardly anyone has heard of. It’s kind of a private joke. I bought my sewing machine when I worked in the sewing shop. My first proper job where I learned dressmaking. It’s been so useful. I would recommend learning to sew. It’s practical, creative an really useful. I can make my self a dress in a day for the price of a metre of fabric and a zip!


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