Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interview with new Boston Handmade Member Carrie Strine

By Carrie of HandMeDowns

BH: Tell us a bit about yourself.

HandMeDowns: My name is Carrie and I'm a knitter, designer, and yarn lover. I'm also a photographer, and I moved to Boston a few months ago to attend Massachusetts College of Art's MFA program. I mostly divide my time between these two things, while making time for family along the way. It helps that my mom is into quilting, so we can get our creative fix together when I visit her.

BH: How long have you been knitting and designing?

HandMeDowns: Well, my grandma taught me to knit when I was maybe 10 or 11. For awhile I was satisfied knitting scarves in garter stitch or simple ribbing, but then sometime in Middle School I remember attempting mittens. They were a disaster... double the size they should have been! I put knitting on the back burner for a while until I was a Junior or Senior in high school. Then I really kicked it up, and started knitting sweaters and socks. I really didn't start designing until I worked at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia while in Undergrad. Working in a yarn shop taught me so much. All of the sudden I didn't want to knit anything I didn't design myself.

BH: What are your favorite materials?

HandMeDowns: I love wool. I wear it almost all the time October-March, and if I could I would knit with it exclusively. Well, that's a lie, maybe I'd need a little cashmere here and there. I know some people aren't into wool, so I compromise and knit with natural fibers only. There are some great non-wool alternatives out there now, like bamboo, linen, and modal. Most of all I love these combined with cotton, although I do knit with 100% cotton for some things.

BH: Describe your work.

HandMeDowns: I'm really into texture. I like to do some color work, or fair isle knitting, but mostly... I'm just into cables and lace. I'm not a really feminine girl, but I think I get my feminine fix with my knitting. I think my designs are a touch of vintage and a little bit girly. I love looking at vintage knitting patterns and magazines for inspiration, and I think the part I love most about these old patterns is the shaping. I think my love of texture is what attracted me to spinning my own yarns too.

BH: Any tips on selling handmade stuff?

HandMeDowns: First off, make sure you're charging enough for your items! The right person will pay for your time and the cost of making the item. It's too easy to get burnt out if you don't charge enough for your items, and no sense in doing that to something you love! I just try to remind myself all the time that if something doesn't sell it will make a great gift to a friend or family member who loves what I make! My other suggestion is that people use their knowledge of their craft to push their imagination. Innovating new techniques or designs is challenging, but incredibly satisfying when successful! In the same breath... design failures happen all the time. It's just part of the process. I think art school has given me a great appreciation for that, and it's a really important thing I like to tell my photo students too. A failure or mistake along the way will only lead to your next great design/photo/idea whatever it is!

BH: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

HandMeDowns: Learn about taking good photos, and treat yourself to a nice camera. OR find someone who can help you with their nice camera! I've also found after two years of bumbling around on etsy that trying to create a "feel" with your items and photos REALLY makes a difference.

BH: Name your favorite books, movies, and musicians.

Books: The Bell Jar, East of Eden
Movies: Amelie, The Royal Tennenbaums, Rear Window
Musicians: Iron and Wine, Bob Dylan, Neko Case

BH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art?

HandMeDowns: I'd like to be supporting myself and my photography with my knitting designs and teaching photo classes. Simple living, and always making.

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