Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weekly Win It-Awkward!!

Today's fabulous Weekly Win It Etsian is Bran from Awkward! Bran makes amazing knit pieces that I only wish I could create! They are absolutely ethereal and beautiful!

I haven't the patience for anything involving needles, be it embroidery, crochet, needlepoint or knitting. I'm not sure what it is but my mother has tried to foster that interest in me to no avail. Fortunately, there are plenty of artists out there who can work some magic with a needle and Bran happens to be one of them. Her delicate scarves are my favorite and I am in awe at the beautiful hand spun yarn that she offers in her shop (makes me wish I could knit!). Let's meet this great artist and learn a little more about her and her craft!

Where did you learn how to knit? How long have you been creating your beautiful pieces? I taught myself to knit in 2001 or 2002, because I wanted to make my baby sister a Harry Potter scarf. The bad bit about learning from a book was that I learned to do it almost completely backwards, and somehow, for months, I could only knit in the round, with double-pointed needles (that’s the technique used to make things like hats without any seams), because otherwise I would twist every stitch.

After I took up spinning, I had a much wider assortment of wools and silks and exotic fibers to work with, which inspired me to create more elaborate pieces. I’ve never been comfortable knitting from patterns (something I’ve only learned to do recently), but I’m very enchanted with learning new techniques and then using those techniques to create something on a whim, or by memory.

You sell yarn in your shop…do you make this yourself, and, if so, tell us a little bit about the process? All the yarn up in my shop currently is handspun, and made by me. For the most part, I spin from commercial top and roving, which is prepared fiber—washed, sometimes dyed, and combed. Sometimes I make my own blends with handcards, which is intensely time consuming. And even when the wool is commercially blended, it still requires further preparation by hand before it’s ready to spin.

I often make plied yarns, which means that in order to make a 100-yard skein of handspun, I have to spin 200 yards of singles and then put them together—the same 100 yards passes through my hands two or three times before it’s done!

As a final step, I gently soak the yarn in a wash to relax the fibers and set the twist, which leaves the finished yarn fluffy and ready to knit with.

I have to ask, what was the inspiration for your shop name? When I was first learning to spin, I was extremely concerned with the quality of the yarn I made, and very interested in getting yarn that would knit and wear well. I noticed that other spinners who felt that the handspun yarn in knitting shops wasn’t up to their standards would describe it as “young” or “awkward,” and was completely mortified at the possibility of drawing that sort of criticism—so I coped by spending two years refining my skills before offering my own work, and then adopting “awkward” as my business name, so that someone could remark “This is an awkward design” without being disparaging at all, and in fact responding to it positively. Apparently I was hoping to create as much confusion as possible.

What made you decide to start selling your items on Etsy? After refining my craft to the point where I felt comfortable with it, I became smitten with the idea of mitten-funded travel. Etsy seemed like a good place to develop a microbusiness without neglecting the professional aspects of running one—or compromising the nonsense and idealism that motivates it.

As I’ve gone on with Etsy (I’ve only been there for a couple of months) I’ve become really fond of it, and of the community there, and the excitement of all the different shops working together to show each other off—things like treasuries and independent ideas such as your weekly contest.

How long does it take to finish one of your pieces?
Anywhere from about an hour to ages and ages. The scarves I make can take several hours to knit—the handspun ones can take more than 10-12 hours to spin and knit, because I design the yarn that goes into them.

What is your favorite thing to make and why? I like making open lacelike scarves, because they’re such a purely tactile process. Handspun yarn behaves differently from commercial yarn, often having more bounce and energy than comparable millspun yarn, and I like sneaking in any opportunity I can to spin for my own designs just so I have the excuse to knit with fine wools and tussah silk. Aside from scarves, my favorite thing in the whole wide world to knit right now is anything made with ridiculously tiny needles and little stitches.

Wow! So talented!! I just absolutely love the lace like quality of her scarves!!

Okay, Bran has graciously offered one of her beautiful hand knit Single Button Wristcuffs and the winner gets to choose the color!! So cool...these would look fabulous with a funky jacket or even with a short sleeved shirt! I love it!!!

Shipping on your prize will be included if the winner is in the U.S. There will be a small fee if the winner is international. Please check here for contest rules and regulations!!

Bran is also offering $5.00 off handspun yarn (excluding samplers) and scarves to all the JLC Studio readers. Just mention this blog contest in your message-to-seller space!! Don't forget to check out Bran's Etsy shop, Awkward, maybe you'll see something for Mother's Day!! Thank you so much Bran for your lovely interview and offer for this week's give-away!!


Jane said...

This week's give-away is right up my alley! I will definitely be shopping at Awkward. (please enter my name for the contest!)


Cindy said...

I am totally loving those cuffs! If I don't win I may just have to purchase one for myself (it would look great with what I'm wearing today:-).

Anonymous said...

Very interesting feature! Of course anything to do with yarn/spinning/knitting is going to hold my interest!

jessicajane said...

lovely interview, and lovely work!

Melissa Lewis-Off The Wall said...

I just love the delicacy of the work in the second to last picture. SO pretty.

Are all you "Weekly Win It" interviewee's Etsians? Just wondering:)

Gina (mosaico) said...

Wow! such beautiful work. Great interview. I love the part about learning from the book.

windycindy said...

Gorgeous creations! I love the name of her site. Her open lace scarves are incredibly beautiful. Please enter me in your drawing. Thank you,

Marjorie said...

Ohhh, I love thse cuffs! Please enter me. Lovely yarns, too. Marjorie

************************************* said...

I love cuffs and would love a yarn one to add to my collection! Thanks for finding this etsy artist.

************************************* said...

I love cuffs and would love to have a yarn one to add to the collection! Thanks for finding this etsy artist!

designsonawhim said...

What a cute gift idea! Please enter me in the contest.