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10 Crafty Questions · Emily / Make.e

When I first discovered Instagram, Emily – known on social media as Make.e – was one of the first makers/designers that I fell in love with, no lie. Her buzzing creativity, eye for colour and honest approach to crafting and life was and still is so inspiring! Whether it’s knitting, crochet or handcrafting crochet hooks and notions, she’s always making something unique and fabulous. It’s Make.E, need we say more?
In this interview, Emily talks 90’s bags, staying true to yourself (amen) and crushing on Tom Cruise. No judgement Em…

When did you first discover that you had a knack for making stuff? I have always made stuff, from a very young age. I’m sure any maker starts very young, I used to watch Blue Peter only for the ‘craft’ section, you know, where they would show you how to make a paper mâché money box, or stick plasticine on a frying pan to make faces (I remember doing that one for hours). I’m not sure I really realised I had a knack for making things until I was a lot older, I think it was probably when I was given my first sewing machine for my birthday. We had sewing lessons in D&T at school, that’s where I learnt to thread a machine and sew ‘properly’, as soon I got my own machine I would sit in my room sewing stuff for hours. I remember being about 15 years old, making a small rucksack out of this cotton fabric that was white with a blue stripes, I put in a zip that almost went the whole way round the bag because that’s what I had available to me at the time. I added extra long shoulder straps so the bag sort of sat at the base of my spine, it was very 90’s, I loved that bag. Then my best friends very cool big sister asked to borrow it to go to out to a club and I think maybe it was then that I felt that something inside me knew I had crossed a line and I might actually be alright at this making thing.

How important would you say social media is for budding designers, makers, creative folk and those of us who want to try and make a living out of a ‘hobby’?Instagram has been hugely important to me as a designer/maker. When I joined instagram there is no way on earth I would have called myself a designer. Making is my passion and its what I would do even if no-one was going to see it. Instagram is a great way to join a community of makers and crafts people, many of which share their craft and offer tutorials giving you access to an unbelievable amount of inspiration. I had absolutely no idea I would be welcomed into insta land as I have, instagram has been an incredible platform for me to share what I do, it just so happens people think I’m good at it and I can turn my passion into some kind of earnings. To make a ‘living’ out of a hobby is something I think most people would love to do, but let me just ask this question ‘what if your hobby became a chore?’ That sounds really dramatic doesn’t it? sorry to bum you out. Instagram can give you the opportunity to turn your hobby into some kind of earnings, its just what you want that to be? To make the real money as a maker takes serious hard work. To turn your hobby into a side hustle, instagram is fantastic, link yourself up to an Etsy shop and you can test the water that way, you never know where it might lead…..

If you could only sew, sculpt, knit or crochet for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oh god… Serious?… Urm…. Damn that is hard… Ok, so crochet is what I suppose I’m best known for, but having learnt to knit last year I feel like I can’t just ditch that… And I do love me a bit of fimo and clay… Sewing isn’t something I really make time for so much, I find it too stressful with kids and dogs and all the pieces… It’s making me anxious just thinking about it! Can we make the question Snog, Marry, Date and push off a cliff? I’d snog knitting, Marry Crochet, date sculpting, and push sewing off the cliff…. Though I would probably divorce crochet and marry knitting later on….

Your hooks and notions bags are iconic at this point.I was lucky enough to nab a bag last year and it always gets a lot of compliments! What are your favourite hook/project bag styles that you have made so far? OMG, stop it….. The hooks and bags are so fun to make, I have to be in the right mood though. I find if I make because I ‘have to’ then I don’t produce work I’m proud of or happy to sell. The hooks and the project bags are really personal to me, they mark my growth as a maker. I love looking back at my earlier hooks and seeing how my style has become more refined and much more of a reflection of me. My favourite hooks are probably my crystal hooks.. mainly because I’d had the idea in my head for so long but wasn’t sure how they would work. I love the project bags, I actually love it when the project bags are all different, I try not to repeat a dye combo too much, I love that each one has its own personality. I have some new bag ideas that I hope to introduce soon….

What is important to you as a designer and brand? Being me…. This is absolutely the most important thing. I make things that I like. I don’t want to be a performing monkey, I want to explore and have freedom in my craft. I hope that comes across in my work and to my followers. 

Back in the day, children learnt skills like knitting and sewing at school. Is this something that you think should be brought back as part of the curriculum?100% yes… Im teaching my girls at home how to sew, knit and crochet, that’s when they want to of course. There is so much to be learnt from making, it’s problem solving, creative, mindful, imaginative and perfect for self expression. 

Describe your ‘happy place’ Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Ahhhhh, my happy place. As a family we LOVE the mountains, we have a small apartment in the Alps which we visit as often as possible. We kayak and paddle board on the lakes, we go rock climbing, walk, explore, hit the trails on our bikes and ski and snowboard in the winter. We are all so happy there. I think it is safe to say that is my happy place…

What’s usually going on in the background when you’re crafting? Do you need to have music, the telly or a series on or are you happy sitting quietly? Depends… if its something where I need to concentrate then I will probably put on some calm music. If its a more repetitive easy project that needs me to look at it while I make it then I love a podcast, I love the ‘Off Menu’ podcast and also ‘Films To Be Buried With’ is a bloody good listen, oh, and Ricky Gervais ‘Deadly Sirius’ has me in stitches. I also listen to a lot of Radio X, and of course Netflix is a staple for crocheting and knitting.

Has there been any craft you’ve tried your hand at and, well, been rubbish at? I’m sure there is… Spinning… Damn that shit is hard! Anything that is super intricate seems to go to pieces for me… I mean, I’ll try anything, but I am that annoying person that will just keep practicing until I get it… Urgh I hate myself!

…And how about a craft you’re dying to try and haven’t been able to have a crack at yet? Urm…. Basket making… Y’know, with willow sticks… I’d love to give that a go…. Oh oh oh, and whittling… Fuck, I’m slowly going full hippie….

Finally, which celebrities would you snog, marry and avoid? Ok…… so I don’t have any major current celeb crushes right now. I feel like I’ve let the team down. I could confess my past celeb crushes? When I was about 14 I had a real thing for Tom Cruise (oh god, the shame), I loved, loved, loved, Michael J.Fox, oh and there was the awkward Jim Carrey phase…

You can follow Emily on Instagram here and visit her Etsy shop here.

Thank you so much to Emily for her time and awesome answers. Stay tuned next month when another amazing crafter gets the 10 Crafty Questions treatment!

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10 Crafty Questions · Tiam / Knit Safari

Starting from well, NOW, every month I’ll be interviewing some of my favourite crafters, makers and shakers that really light up my feed every time I see their designs. This month I’ve been fortunate enough to get to chat with one of my absolute favourite designers, the wonderful Tiam of Knit Safari.

When I opened my Instagram account, Tiam was one of the first designers I followed. I just loved (and still love) her modern, chunky designs, stylish garments and honest approach to making and motherhood – perfection! Whether it’s her craft process, morning commute or beautiful travels around her native New Zealand that she’s posting about, it’s always a treat to stay up to date and follow this talented garment-making goddess! Today Tiam and I chat flabby bits, shoving yarn into garden sheds and the living nightmare that is frogging mohair yarn… The horror!

Tiam, when did you first realise that knitting (and crochet) design was ‘your thing’?

My mum taught me how to knit and crochet (and sew!) when I was really young, and I always dabbled in crafty things. After a long break from anything yarn related, I was at a really stressful job and was finding it difficult to stop thinking about work in the evenings. I had also recently moved back to the UK and brought some peach mohair and knitting needles from my mum’s house with me. I just started knitting – no pattern, the wrong size needles, I didn’t even sketch out what I wanted to make. I just started knitting. The focus shifted from worrying about the day ahead to thinking about how to solve my next knitting conundrum. Do I remember how to cast off? How do you shape a neckline? Is this going to fit? It didn’t matter, because it was something different to my 9-5 to think about, and at that time that’s what I needed. The peach mohair jumper was a giant failure. Too dense, a weird shape, made me look like a blob and it was insanely scratchy. So I frogged it. If you have ever unravelled mohair, you know that’s not an easy task. Long story short, that was over 10 years ago, and I basically haven’t put down the yarn since!

You’re a mum and all of us parents know how hard it can be to balance parenting with crafting and designing. How do you manage your time in order to find moments in the day to run Knit Safari?

I use a project management tool for my longer term Knit Safari goals, plus I write a to do list in my notes app every Sunday night for the week ahead for my day-to-day life, from housework and food prep to social media content and pattern development, and try to focus on those tasks that day (but also not beat myself up when I don’t tick it all off!) Some days, I get nothing done. Other days, I’m super productive and tick everything off. It’s always a juggling act, and I’m still learning how to balance mum-me with yarn-me.

What’s been your proudest moment as a designer?

I pitch ideas to magazines and publications constantly, and a design kept getting rejected. Lockdown happened in the U.K., and I had a gap in my project calendar, so I decided to just do it. The response has been absolutely incredible and has made me realise that I need to back myself more!

I really love seeing your experimental makes pop up on the feed – your loopy cardigan is dreamy – but have you ever had any times where you’ve had a good idea for a project in your head that didn’t turn out the way you wanted in real life?

Well to be honest, not since my peach mohair saga! I pin loads of ideas on various Pinterest boards constantly from shapes to colour trends to stitches, I sketch things and draw size schematics before starting a project (ok not always…) and I don’t tend to unravel things because it’s all mapped out at the start. I learnt from my transgressions – frogging mohair was the kick up the butt I needed!

Do you ever suffer from ‘crafter’s block’? How do you get the inspiration back when it hits?

Definitely, we all do. Especially if I’m submitting to a publication and the moodboard and brief is too vague or too specific. I always go to a “palate cleanser” like some knit socks, to let ideas bubble about in the background. Sometimes, not thinking directly about a thing helps you figure our that thing!

Are there any knitting/crochet skills that you’re yet to master?

I have tried everything (I think!) but haven’t done much Tunisian Crochet, and I have to really focus to do intarsia on my knitting machine so now that I don’t have time to focus, that isn’t something I’m doing! 

My husband can best be described as ‘baffled in a supportive way’ when it comes to how he feels about my yarn and making addiction! How does Mr. Safari deal with the mountains of yarn in your house and does he know how to knit?

Yarnia (my stash) is in the “chalet” (our garden shed!) so it’s sort of hidden away, in giant plastic tubs. Sometimes I’ll get a bunch of yarn support deliveries all at once and he raises a brow, but he is super duper supportive and has made some design suggestions recently that have made things go from blah to wow.

Whats your favourite yarn composition to work with? How about a yarn type that makes you see red?

I love all types of yarn! I’ve seen some rose and mint fibre recently that looks fun to use, but I don’t know how to spin my own yarn so that’s out of the picture for me right now.

Regarding social media, how important is it to be yourself? Do you think sharing your real-life persona is important when running a brand or should us designers put a lid on it and focus on the crafting?

For me, personally, it’s another balancing act! Do I pick the most flattering photos for the grid that don’t show my undereye bags or grey hairs or flabby bits? Of course! Do I also share the explosion of toys, the after-exercise schvitz, or the non-yarn things I do in stories? Absolutely. 

Okay, for the last question we’ve got a bit of a Desert Island Knits situation: which four crafty bits & bobs would you need if you were stranded on an island Wilson and Tom Hanks style?

Oh… hmmm… some circular knitting needles, some good scissors, a crochet hook, (maybe 6-8mm?) and I can’t think of a fourth! Maybe a giant bale of cotton/silk blend yarn? Like enough to knit some glam tropical island outfits while I wait to be rescued. Would that be allowed? 🙂

...Definitely!

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Tiam!

Don’t forget to follow Knit Safari over on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and shop amazing patterns over on their website.