I am a member of the SF Etsy team (made up of Etsy sellers living in the San Francisco Bay Area), and one of our activities this month was a blog interview swap with some of our team members. I was paired up with the lovely Even Howard, who makes handmade crochet art jewelry under the Nadene label. I love her shop tagline - "little dreams becoming string", and was excited to get to talk to her. Even is also one of the team co-captains, so it was a double honor for me to be paired with her. Let's get to the interview then, shall we?
How did you get into crocheting? How many years have you been doing it for?
I first wanted to crochet when I was about 11 and my mom made a little sleeping bag for one of my tiny animals. I had seen her make gorgeous baby sweaters, but this was the first time that I understood clearly that if you know how to crochet, you can just materialize any cozy thing as soon as it's needed! I tried to learn then and only succeeded in making a very tight knot. Within a few weeks, I had some library books and followed them step by step and I was on my way. I made a lot of gifts and daydreams and it's been over 20 years of doing the same.
Do you dabble in any other hand crafts?
Oh yes. I sew a lot and used to make almost all of my own clothes. It's almost weird to me now that many days can go by and I'm not wearing something I sewed. I'm a slow knitter so I don't knit commercially, but I do make accessories for gifts and a sweater about once a year. I have a pretty extensive background in ceramics and love creating large coil based sculpture works like fountains and things that live in the garden. Woodworking is a big interest of mine, but I really don't understand most of what the materials can do as well as the tools so it's a long term project of mine to learn slowly. I did build my own boat two summers ago. It was pre-cut, so the woodworking was basic and my general craftiness made the fiberglassing a dream.
I'm always drawn to greens and reds when I'm knitting or designing. Are there some colors you are drawn to whenever you are working?
I love finding the ways that a gray lavender and a rosy peach can connect. I also always love seafoam and teal shades.
A lot of people usually knit or crochet to relax after a hard day's work. Since crocheting is your hard day's work, what do you do to relax? Any other hobbies?
I knit on easy projects, occasionally paint, and I draw a lot. I like yoga and teach yoga. I think one of my hobbies is browsing Etsy and seeing what new things our team members are creating! (Such a great co-captain, right? Keeping up to date on our progress.)
When did you make the leap to make your crocheting into a business? What motivated you to make that decision?
I used to live in Japan and I became a founding designer with the site www.crochetme.com so that helped me launch as a crochet designer. Because I lived abroad and most submissions were not by email then, I had a stifled wish to be more involved in crochet design for print. Those built up hopes gave me the motivation to be involved more when I returned to the US and I was offered publication in magazines and books. I started doing small finished works for sale as my interest moved into getting ideas out faster than it takes with those publications. I still like creating patterns and kits; it's a challenge for me to finish such big projects on long timelines though. (I know what you mean. The publication lead times can make waiting so hard.)
Where would you like to see your business go?
This is actually a really deep issue for me. Many makers and small business owners are encouraged to expand and eventually move into manufacturing or being picked up by larger companies. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that and continually re-evaluate the purpose of my business. Fundamentally, I seek to create within my talents, expand my creativity, and offer the results of that to a community that is also doing the same with their own ideas. All of this can happen on a "human-scale", meaning that I don't actually need to create large volumes, just create what I can within a healthy lifestyle and I'm encouraging others to do the same. So I know my business will change over time and maybe even grow, and I look forward to being reflective and caring about that process. I'm more interested in the lifestyle and outlook my work creates than the scale or scope of my business. (Very inspiring. I'd never thought about it this way.)
Care to share your stash?
Haha! I was gifted yarn from my step-grandmother's long ago job in a yarn shop as well as more recent collected skeins. I'm on Ravelry as evenhoward if anyone would like to see! I still buy yarn though, especially for big projects and I recently came home and told my boyfriend how glad I am that I don't have to hide my yarn purchases (other knitters and crocheters will know about all the jokes and seriousness along those lines!). (Oh yes! I've stopped commenting on my stash and my hubby has stopped "noticing" the pile of bags and boxes from yarn shops in our house.)
How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
I've been here since 2008. I moved here to be close to my love. :) (So sweet!)
How long have you been a member of SFEtsy?
I think 2008 or 2009. Wanting to be a member of SFEtsy helped me improve the quality of my shop and work online because I wanted to show things I could be proud of and make some new friends. Mission accomplished, thanks team!
Anything else you'd like to share?
Thanks so much to you Denise! It's really great getting to tell some stories and I look forward to the connections we make.
Thank you for taking the time to interview with me Even! Please check out her Nadene Etsy shop for some lovely handmade crochet art jewelry. Have a lovely weekend!