Friday, 25 April 2014

Materials And Techniques - 'Babywear By Babs'

I see a common thread when I talk to other crafters about their art - everyone loves to explore different techniques and materials, experimenting with new crafts. In this series of interviews, I have a fortnightly chat with another artist about what they do and how they do it. Today I am talking to Barbara, another EtsyKids member in the US. Her craft is knitting. Barbara makes baby clothing, including oodles of booties, for her store Babywear By Babs.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area of California but grew up in suburban Philadelphia, so I am a bi-coastal gal. I have been knitting all my life but picked it up again about five years ago and have been knitting and creating ever since. I love to design and knit baby and toddler sweaters because they look so cute when finished and I love to see babies wearing interesting clothing – don’t we all deserve to wear designer clothes? My booties are really fun to knit and have become so that popular I have less time to work on my sweater line, but I love designing booties too.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I love to use wool and acrylic yarn. People hear acrylic and they go “Yuck!” but acrylic has so many wonderful features: it is warm, easy care, and isn’t as scratchy as wool is on tender skin. I really do not like to knit with cotton. It has no elasticity and isn’t really all that comfortable to wear. The American Cotton Board has done an amazing job advertising the virtues of cotton but I really don’t think it makes a good yarn to knit with.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

Knitting takes time. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I would love to commit to a finished product, but it takes time to find the right colour combinations, work out the design, knit a sample gauge, and finally knit the finished product – usually with several tear-outs along the way. So time is my biggest challenge. There is no solution to time except creating a time machine.

What drives you to create?

I think my need to create comes from working in a very number-based profession. In my profession, there is little room for creating and I like to nurture that side of my brain. I have been creating all kinds of needle craft my entire life starting with sewing and knitting taught to me by my mother. I have also experimented with needlepoint, crewel embroidery, macramé, batik dying and quilting; I’m sure there are a few I have forgotten too. I started knitting again when the financial crisis hit and I couldn’t sleep very well so I would get up in the middle of the night and start knitting. It started with a few sweaters but it just expanded from there into socks, booties, mittens. There is no end in sight.

What is coming up next?

I would love to expand my product line in Babywear By Babs. I have started developing a mitten pattern that has a long cuff. Haven’t we all experienced snow or freezing wind in that gap between the mitten and the end of the jacket sleeve? I have a line of mittens that has a very long cuff to eliminate that problem. I also want to work on diaper soakers. There are so many mums using cloth diapers these days and knit wool soakers make a colourful cover to cloth diapers. I am still working at a full time job so I hope to keep my shop open and full until retirement when I can concentrate full time on my designer line.

All images provided by Barbara of Babywear By Babs.

Please post a comment below if you would like to share your craft with us. Read up on more crafts in previous materials and techniques interviews.

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