Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stitchy McYarnpants Introductory Q&A

by Debbie of Stitchy McYarnpants

BH: Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
McYarnpants: My name is Debbie Brisson, but I also answer to Stitchy McYarnpants. Seriously, you can call me Stitchy and it won’t be weird. I have 4 cats and way too much yarn and fabric. And probably too many cats. I’m an avid knitter, crocheter, sewist, embroiderer and general crafty gal. I blog at yarnpants.com, where I curate The Museum of Kitschy Stitches. It’s a collection of the best of the worst in handmade vintage fashion.

BH: Apart from creating things, what do you do?
McYarnpants: I’m a programmer at a financial software company in Framingham. I spend most of my days creating financial reports, so I really need all the creative outlets I can get. Also, my second book, Knitting it Old School, was just released. It’s chock full of knitting and crochet patterns based on vintage fashion (both kitschy and classic).

BH: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand?
McYarnpants: My brother and I were always crafty kids, my brother has always been the artist in the family and has been drawing since he was little. I always tried to keep up with him, but my pictures never did look like his.

My friend, Kim, and I were always making things, gluing stuff to other stuff, putting googly eyes on acorns and the like. But the first thing I remember making all on my own and that I was truly proud of was a series of uber-cute embroidered animals when I was about 8.

BH: Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc).
McYarnpants: I make two kinds of items that require entirely different frames of mind. When I’m sewing bags and snap wallets, I like to set up the iPod to the “Deb’s Afternoon” mix and spend the entire day cutting and sewing. Once I start, I don’t want to stop, so I can rarely just pop in and sew one thing. I always need to make sure I stop before I get tired, because that’s when I start making mistakes. Staying focused is key when I’m sewing.

When I’m making mirrors, keychains and other items using vintage images, it’s much more relaxed and I can do it while watching TV. I watched the first two seasons of Veronica Mars during my last craft explosion. (I was warned that the 3rd season would ruin it for me.) I sit on the sofa surrounded by piles of vintage books and magazines looking for the best images. I love flipping through the pages, reading insanely outdated articles and seeing what kinds of products were available back when lead paint was a revolutionary new idea.

BH: What do you love most about what you make?
McYarnpants: I use a lot of vintage fabric scraps and damaged old books and magazines that may otherwise be thrown away. I enjoy breathing new life into old things and can’t get enough of the amazing graphics from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

BH: What is your biggest obstacle with it?
McYarnpants: It took me a long time to be able to cut into the magazines and books, but they’re usually damaged or musty and will just go right back into a yard sale when I shuffle off this mortal coil. I finally decided that I may as well send them out into the world to be enjoyed rather than letting them get moldy in a box. I often set stuff aside that’s too good to use, so I do have some standards.

BH: Are there other mediums you’re not working in that interest you?
McYarnpants: Every time I see something handmade, I immediately want to learn how to do it! Pottery, bookbinding, jewelry, digital photography, glass blowing, anything short of taxidermy and I really want to try it. I find it hard not be interested in all kinds of mediums. Staying focused is always an issue and I do so love buying notions associated with any crafty endeavor.

BH: How do you promote your work?
McYarnpants: This is always a sore spot for me. I’m naturally very shy and have a hard time doing promotion. I’ve found ads on Raverly (for knitting-related items) and Facebook to be easy and occasionally helpful. I can make the ads and just send them out to do the work for me. I also re-list pretty regularly on Etsy to keep things fresh.

BH: Why should people buy handmade?
McYarnpants: Besides the fact that it’s awesome? I think there really is something to cutting out the middle man and handing money directly to the person who created something. There’s only so much love one can impart to a figurine as it’s whizzing past on a conveyor belt in a factory.

BH: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
McYarnpants: The one piece of advice I always give people is not to expect Etsy to bring you sales. It has great community, but you have to look at it as an online shopping cart and drive people to your shop yourself by advertising, joining groups, and getting the word out however you can.

BH: Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites
McYarnpants: this week, it looks something like this:

What I watch over and over

Galaxy Quest
30 Rock
Dr. Who
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

What I listen to over and over

Tom Waits
Elvis Costello
Andrew Bird
Dolly Parton
David Bowie

BH: Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
McYarnpants: People are surprised to hear that I’m really shy. I worked hard to teach myself how to pretend I wasn’t, and it looks like it worked! I was at a family reunion last year and one of my cousins said “Do you realize that I’ve hear you talk more in the last half hour that I did during your entire childhood?”

BH: In ten years I'd like to be...
McYarnpants: Living a productive, crafty life. I really love writing and making books and hope to be doing that more and more. So in the next 10 years, I would love to figure out how to actually make a living at it.

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