Friday, March 20, 2009

Portrait in Yarn: the Etsian

This is the first in a series of occasional postings that look at how knitting and crocheting fit into people's lives. We're starting with friend-of-the-blog Esse who has turned her addiction to yarn into a source of income through her store on Etsy, ekneverfeltbetter.

freshpurls: How did you get started knitting?
Esse: For me, it started about 50 years ago! I was 9 or 10 years old. My mom got the urge to make a needlepoint piano bench cover. The canvas had a beautiful large colorful floral pattern on it and my mom's job was to fill in the background with lots of black wool. Not the most patient person in the world, Mom got through about 2 skeins and stashed the other 15 skeins along with the canvas, an old pair of #8 knitting needles and a beginner's knitting instruction booklet in a shopping bag in the back of a closet. Being the rummager that I am, I happened on the shopping bag -- and took it upon myself to put it to good use. A perfect example of one woman's trash being another child's treasure!

I taught myself to knit...sort of! I got the casting on down pretty well; even was able to knit some stitches although I never ended up with the number I started with, but the kicker was trying to purl. I must have missed where it said to bring the yarn forward before you purl. I made one frustrating attempt after another but it wasn't until I asked a kind neighbor what I was doing wrong that it all started to come together. Many years passed while I was raising my children (3 daughters) and I did very little knitting. But 11 years ago when the first of my six grandchildren was on the way, the passion took over again and I feverishly started knitting one baby sweater after another. I haven't been able to put down the needles since!

freshpurls: How did you get started on Etsy?
Esse: The babies didn't need anymore sweaters but I was obsessed with buying yarn and knitting things, so I branched out to try and pay for my habit. I listed some items on Ebay and some very kind buyers told me about Etsy. I joined Etsy in June of 2007. I came up with the name "Never Felt Better" after I discovered how much I enjoyed felting! I am also a Stage 3 Breast Cancer survivor (10 years now! Hooray!) and the name just seemed to be a good fit. I contribute a portion of what I earn through knitting to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure foundation.

freshpurls: How do you decide what to knit for your shop?
Esse: I like to offer items in the shop where size isn't usually a big consideration; baby things and felted bags are a pretty safe bet! Offering custom items in my shop is another good way to avoid a large inventory. Most customers don't seem to mind waiting a couple of weeks if something is being made just for them. I really like the Alchemy feature on Etsy.* It's wonderful when customers tell you what they want and when they provide the yarn & pattern, it's a joy! Then they know exactly what to expect and there are no surprises!

Before the Alchemy feature was offered on Etsy, I would try and figure out what the heck to make next. I didn't want to make something that wasn't going to sell yet at the same time, I just had to have a project to work on. I think it's an addiction!

*note: Alchemy is a feature where buyers describe what they want and Etsians bid on the work. Esse knitted the Cables and Lace Tunic for shopowner Karen after she put it out to bid on Alchemy.

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