This week we are feeling rather smug, but also completely shattered after setting up the Emporia Vintage and Craft Market pop up next door. It’s here and it’s finally open, and best of all it’s crammed full of absolute loveliness – if you haven’t had the chance to pop by and have a nose, then you are seriously missing out.
So as the pop up has launched and we are most definitely in the run down to Christmas – only 41 days left to go! – we thought we would share an interview with one of the crafters who is selling their wares next door. Lotte Jamieson is both a knitter and a sewing enthusiast and her stall features mini quilts, delicious coloured knitted beanies and Scandi style Christmas decorations – here she talks about her jump into crafting professionally and why there should be more Star Wars themed craft going on in her house.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lotte Jamieson and I am a writer, knitter, sewer, painter and all round crafter, who is generally willing to give anything creative a go.
How did you get into crafting?
I have always been a creative sort since I was very small and I come from quite an arty-crafty family, so I guess it was inevitable that I would end up with craft in my blood. My mum taught me to knit and sew, but I was never patient enough to do much until I had my own children and suddenly I felt the need to make things for them. I went to art college a million years ago and loved being challenged and inspired on a daily basis.
Who and what inspires you to create?
My children inspire me hugely with the things that they love, and I try to make them items they ask for: my son is a tad obsessed with Star Wars at the moment and has requested that I make him a cuddly Luke Skywalker, so that’s on my To Do list. But also because I think very fondly of the things that were made for me by friends or family when I was small (and now!), I think it is a very special thing to create something entirely from scratch for someone you love.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who can knit Fair Isle patterns as they must be the most complicated things ever to create. Come winter time I swoon over all kinds of woollen creations, but I particularly love chunky cables and creative knitwork that is inspired by the traditions of longstanding community knitting – like the patterns created on jumpers for fishermen and farmers all over the UK hundreds of years ago. Many of the designers from Rowan make amazing knitting patterns that completely tie in with this way of thinking. I’m also a big fan of Wool and the Gang’s designs, which offers a much more contemporary take, and many of them are made with super duper chunky wool that require seriously big knitting needles, which I also love.
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I haven’t fully made the leap yet, although my friends tell me I have! My work life has gone through so many changes since I had my children, as I became a freelance writer after my second maternity leave, so I am currently running two potential businesses. My first serious venture into crafting as a business has been the Emporia Vintage and Craft Christmas pop up, which I am very excited about. But if I do go all the way and create Lotte Jamieson the label, I know it would be immensely hard work, as well as being incredibly rewarding.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Support! Friends and family have been absolutely essential when it comes to having the confidence to start thinking about something which you previously viewed as a hobby, as a business.
Caution – I had been contemplating turning my designs into something a bit more serious for a while, but sitting on the ideas, thinking them through and talking to other people in the craft business definitely made me plan more carefully.
Inspiration – if you don’t have the ideas, you don’t have a business.
Passion – staying up late and sewing ribbons onto what seems like a hundred Christmas decorations before the opening of your craft fair, or stuffing eight massive fabric pumpkins in a row for an seasonal order can get a bit tedious. If you don’t love what you’re doing, then it’s probably not going to work out.
Determination, or just Hard Work. You don’t just have to work hard at making gorgeous products, you also have to work hard at your costs, your prices, getting to grips with all your figures, all the time. Although you should never feel like you’re in the middle of The Apprentice, once you’ve gone commercial with your crafts, it should feel like you’re running a business; so if you’re not making money, something has to change, and if you don’t have the determination to make those changes, you simply won’t make it work.
Name three of your most popular designs.
The three things which seem to be getting the most attention at the moment are my cabled hats in super chunky bright coloured wool; my fabric birds inspired by traditional Scandinavian designs; and my mini quilts, designed for children to carry them around without having to drag an entire bed quilt along for the day.
If you weren’t a knitter and sewer, what would you be doing with your time?
Either copywriting and editing – my other line of work – or doing the washing and cleaning the house … It’s amazing how quickly you can run out of underwear whilst knitting a pair of legwarmers.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I am taking some beginners knitting classes at Emporia this winter, in an attempt to get more people hooked on my own woolly passion. If these go well I will be back to teach cabling workshops and perhaps other quick projects for those wanting to learn more skills of the knitting variety in the new year.
What’s new with your craft for 2015? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
I am planning on continuing to push the cables with my knitting, and see what other products I can create with them in. With the sewing, I am determined to create my very first full size double bed quilt, which will require a lot of planning and a lot of courage to make the first stitches! If I’m successful, you can expect to see some of them cropping up in Emporia in the coming year.