Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chalk Talk with Daisy Head Creations

It has been awhile since I've done an interview, and I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you all to Connie, creator of DaisyHead Creations.

How long have you been knitting?
st st ruffle bum (2) My yarn addiction began 34 years ago. That makes me sound really old, doesn't it?! I taught myself to crochet when I was 8 years old. I had no one to teach me to read patterns, so I just made them up myself. My great aunt taught me to knit a couple of years later, but I hated it. Hated it!  Then four years ago, when I was expecting baby number five and preparing to break out the cloth diapers again, I discovered these weird things called wool soakers. I tried a crocheted soaker after baby was born but didn't like it. I wanted more stretch in the soaker. So I decided to endure the pain of knitting. I loved the knitted soaker! So I started knitting all the time. Then I realized that I actually liked knitting! So I have been knitting all the time for the last three and a half years.

Any tips for newbie knitters?
My #1 tip is tools. In knitting, tools are really what make knitting more enjoyable. Row counters, stitch markers, and a ruler are indispensable! Use your tools and you won't kill your brain while trying to count every single stitch in your project. Don't be afraid. Try new things. Try your hand at a technique you have never tried before.  Make and Knit Picks tutorials your friends. They have great videos for just about every skill you may want to learn. I recently started a newsletter for knitters and crocheters called The Brave Creative. The welcome series of the newsletter includes my favorite knit and crochet tips. Many of the tips are great for beginners to the crafts. The newsletter also includes free patterns! I love free patterns!

What are wool soakers?
Wool soakers are diaper covers for cloth diapers. It seems bizarre that a cover for a diaper that is made from wool yarn would actually keep all the wetness on the inside with the diaper rather than leaking all over momma. But they really work! They are completely breathable, antibacterial, and self-cleaning. I only have to wash my soakers about once every 2 weeks!  My favorite type of wool soakers are called longies and shorties. These are just like they sound. They are pants or shorts that are made with 100% wool. They are a diaper cover, but they are also baby's clothes. Double duty! And they're adorable!

How do you care for them?
Caring for woolies sounds complicated but really is quite easy. When it's time to change baby's diaper, take off the soaker and lay it aside to dry out. The outside will be dry. It may feel humid, like you can tell that it's wet inside, but will be dry to the touch. The inside of the soaker will feel wet. If the woolie is only wet, let it dry and use it again later. When it's dry it will not smell like urine. If the woolie got some poo on it, you can spot wash it and let it dry. I like to have 4 to 6 woolies in rotation at one time. When the woolie gets very dirty or stops holding the wetness inside, it is time to wash it and re-lanolize. The secret to how wool soakers work is that you put lanolin (oil from the sheep) back into the wool (called lanolizing). You must wash and lanolize by hand. You cannot put them in the washing machine. If you do, you will have diapers for baby dolls. You can find step by step directions for the whole washing and lanolizing process on my knitting blog. 

When did you first decide to open an Etsy shop?
Bloomers Large - Etsy (7) After I had been using soakers for a while, I decided that I wanted to try longies. At the time, patterns for longies and shorties were very expensive. I didn't want to spend that much for a pattern and not like them. I found a free pattern and figured out how to add the other features that I wanted. I loved them! I decided that I would like to start knitting and selling woolies. Not long after this, I started looking for a pattern for a pair of bloomers that were also wool soakers. I had little cotton bloomers with ruffles around the legs that I would always put under my little girls' dresses. I wanted a pair that would also be her diaper cover. I could not find a pattern anywhere!  I was still pretty new at knitting, but decided that I would write my own pattern. I experimented for several months before I got it right. When I was finished, I decided that it would not be much harder to write the pattern up in all the sizes (I would want them anyway) and share it with the world. I did the same thing with my pattern for longies and shorties. So I created my business, DaisyHead Creations, and opened my Etsy shop. When I opened my shop, I quickly decided that I would offer a cottage license for others who wanted to knit and sell soakers.  The funny thing is that I started all this pattern writing so that I could knit and sell woolies, but I have ended up selling more patterns than woolies! I discovered that I really love designing and sharing patterns, so my business kind of morphed into mostly a design business.

What kind of things do you sell at your shop?
At my Etsy shop, you can find my patterns (soaker and non-soaker), cottage license (a $10 one-time fee that allows the purchaser to sell from any pattern that they buy from me), and knitted woolies. I actually sell mostly custom soakers, so you won't always see soakers listed. Most often people contact me with a specific item they would like knitted. Other items come and go from my shop. You may find hemp stitch markers, bags or back packs, facial scrubbies, and hats for the whole family. You can also buy my patterns at my knitting blog and on Ravelry.

I saw that you hand-dye your own yarn. Is there an easy way to do this? (I'm not a knitter, but we use lots of yarn for crafts).
 I love dyeing wool yarn! It is so fun! Wool is basically hair, which means that you can dye it with food coloring. The easiest way to do this is to:

1. Soak the yarn in hot tap water and a glug of vinegar. Don't slosh it around or you'll felt the wool. Then it will just be a lump of stuck together yarn. Let it soak for about half an hour, then put it in a crock pot.

2. Cover the yarn with hot tap water, then add the dye. To make the dye, you mix a small glug of vinegar with a packet of Kool-Aid, some Wilton's Icing Colors, or some plain food coloring. Add some hot tap water and stir until it's all dissolved. Pour the dye into the crockpot. You can use more than one color. Don't pour them all in the same place. Pick one spot to pour each color. Don't stir it! Just pour in the dye, put the lid on, and go away.

3. Put the crockpot on low and leave it for 6 or 7 hours. Don't lift the lid, if you can help it. But you do need to make sure that the wool doesn't boil. When it looks like there is no more dye (or almost none) in the water, turn the crockpot off and leave it for another 6 or 7 hours (or overnight).

4.  When it's completely cool, you can lift the yarn out and rinse it with lukewarm water. (Remember, no swishing or scrubbing.) Squeeze out all the water (no wringing) and hang it up to dry.

I know this sounds really cryptic. You can find better examples on my knitting blog under Yarn Dyeing. I love to post instructions for specific yarns that I have dyed. I hope to put up a more complete tutorial for different types of dyeing very soon.

My name is Connie Stults. I'm a wife and home educating momma. With 5 children ages 17 through 3 years old, I'm never bored! We have homeschooled from the beginning, so this is my 13th year. I blog about mothering, homeschooling, and living simply at the daisyhead. Two years ago I started my own business, DaisyHead Creations. I am a knitwear designer, and I also knit items to sell in my shop. In other words, people pay me to play with yarn. What could be better?!

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