Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Friday! Get Inspired!!

For the last day of our knitting week, we asked Erin Mapes to talk to us about what inspires her to create the beautiful pieces in her shop, Designs by Erin. This is what she had to say:

As crafters, we all end up with leftover materials. A few yards of yarn, single beads with no matches, small scraps of fabric…and they usually just sit around, in bins, in boxes, not serving any purpose, not sparking any new ideas. Sometimes they sit there for months, or years even, before getting used, if they are used at all. Lonely and unloved leftovers.

Part of what I call my “environmentally conscious” philosophy, along with careful selection of natural materials and sustainable business practices, is a policy of producing as little waste as possible. So whenever I have a bit of yarn leftover after a project, I put it in a special bin for leftovers, which I use for everything from packaging my sold products to actually creating new products.

Recently, I’ve been working on a new line of products based on one of my favorite items, the leaf lariat. It has been pretty well received, so I decided to expand on the idea. I have a bunch of leftover organic cotton yarn from the washcloths I make, which had just been building up, but now those leftovers are being made into organic cotton versions of the leaf lariat! And, even more exciting for me, I’ve also been making knitted leaf earrings! There are two different designs that I’m getting ready to roll out, one that matches the lariats, and one that is slightly more elegant, with a bit of a lace pattern. There’s a third design that incorporates jewelry wire and laceweight handspun leftovers in luxury fibers like tussah silk and mohair, but knitting with wire is quite different from fiber, and I need some more practice before showing those to the public.

Working on this new line has been really inspiring to me. Nature has always played a big role in my work, from providing me with the materials I use to inspiring the names of the finished products, but now nature is working its way into the designs themselves. I think the idea of knitted jewelry is pretty awesome, and it’s been fun to work on a smaller scale than I’m used to. I also get to use materials that knitters don’t usually work with, like sterling silver. And I love that I’m using up my leftovers! I am such a nerd when it comes to things like that. I don’t know how to explain it, but whenever I can find a use for something that was previously sitting around and collecting metaphorical dust, I get really excited.

So I propose the following to all of you reading this article: Go and find your leftovers, whatever they may be, and turn them into something! Play around with a new idea. Experiment with new combinations of materials. Who knows, maybe you’ll hit on something really unique and original. And if not, at least you are putting those things to use.

Now go make something! Have a great weekend!

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