LuluKnitsNYC is a wonderfully talented, fresh new seller from New York City, quickly becoming known for her incredible unique designs and meticulous craftsmanship.
LuluKnits talks to us about texture and color inspirations, her music background, the japan relief efforts, and healing through crafting and art...
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Wooly wonder with the knitty gritty (OK that’s six words but ‘the’ isn’t quite a word, so it’s kind of 5 and a half!)
What made you want to become a crafter?
Arts and crafts have always been part of my life. My sister and I used to crochet, sew and knit clothes for our stuffed animals and dolls. I’m in general a pretty creative person. I also like to play jazz guitar and sing and my undergraduate degree is in music.
You're in NYC - I'm assuming you don't have Alpacas!
Unfortunately not. But I’ve loved meeting all the alpaca ranchers on the 1000 things Alpaca team, and am totally fascinated. I love reading their blogs and looking at the photos of the farms and the beautiful animals. They’re super cute and seem so gentle and lovable.
I also really appreciate seeing the animals being treated with such love, care and respect. As a knitter, a lover of natural fibers AND an animal lover, this means a lot to me.
Ever considered owning a farm?
As a city girl, the romance of country life and the connection with nature really appeals to me. So yes, a part of me would like to. On the other hand, I’m afraid that I don’t have a realistic view of farm life, and it would totally kick my butt.
Tell us about your business! How did you get started?
I sell my handknit creations which are my own designs. I have always knitted as a hobby, but never thought seriously about selling any of my handknits.
A few years ago, some coworkers started inquiring whether I could sell them some of my handknit hats, and from there, and word of mouth, I started getting sporadic custom orders. People started asking me for my card, and asking whether I had a website, which of course, I did not.
How did you find out about Etsy?
I had heard about Etsy and had looked at the site before I started selling on it, and honestly, I was a little intimidated, because of the high quality of a lot of the products (and the photography). But once I investigated it further, and saw how reasonable it is to list, I said to myself “what do I have to lose?”
I wasn’t really aware of any other site that catered particularly to handmade items. I have heard of Artfire since then, but don’t know a lot about it. A friend also told me about Folksy, which is similar to Etsy, but in the UK. There are a lot of great shops on Folksy!
Favorite thing about Etsy?
I have to say that an unexpected ‘side effect’ or maybe I should say ‘perk’ has been meeting a lot of great people! I had no idea that would happen, but I must say, there are a ton of really nice people on Etsy – and of course super-creative and talented.
How did you choose your Etsy shop name?
I named my shop after my cat Lulú who passed away in 2007 at age 18. I miss her so much. In the picture, she is relaxing atop some knitting.
The NYC of course stands for my adopted home of New York City – love it here!
What makes your shop or products unique?
I think my knitwear is unique simply in that I put myself into each piece. I think about it, I conceptualize it, and somehow it has a little bit of my personality in it. I like certain colors, textures, shapes, and my work reflects those preferences.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I prefer natural fibers, and love all sorts of handcrafted yarns. Like all things handmade, they are special, and have in them a feeling that only something made by hand contains... There’s a touch of that human being in there, that makes it unique, special, one-of-a-kind.
I love the softness of alpaca and the shimmer of silk.
Where do you get your inspiration?
A lot of times I find that I get an inspiration from the yarn itself. I look at it, touch it, and get an idea…
There are other inspirations also. The whimsical pixie, for example, was my husband’s idea. I don’t know if it was exactly what he had in mind, but he described it to me, and I took it from there.
What is your favorite item in your shop right now?
5 shops from your favorites list that you recommend?
There are SO many talented people on Etsy and so many shops I love. It’ll be hard to choose just five, but here goes…
I love the Ideal Board. I bought some handcrafted wooden buttons from him. They’re so pretty and really well made. I put them on one of my newsboy caps, but it’s kind of hard to see in the photo just how cool they are.
I also love Cathy Peng who does all sorts of wonderful things with her cat designs. I’m a cat fanatic, and proud owner of one of her “clever kitty” tees.
I’m just crazy for Jenya2’s doggie sweaters and stylish doggie sweater dresses.
There are so many wonderful spinners and dyers on Etsy, but I do love Pancake and Lulu’s wonderful colors. I’ve bought some yarns from her, and they’re just as gorgeous, if not more so, in person.
Also, I must mention niftyknits, because her store is completely unique and she really makes me laugh. I just love her knitted trekkie meerkats.
What do you do to relax?
Other than knitting, I like to cook, read cookbooks, and watch cooking shows on TV. I also love going to the museum, especially the Museum of Modern Art. I love playing music with my husband who is a wonderful bass player. We also love to check out the various good restaurants and jazz clubs around town.
If you HAD to choose… Eco-friendly and manufactured in a foreign country? Or handmade locally but not eco-friendly?
I would have to choose handmade locally.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I’ve never been particularly goal directed, and I’ve always just followed my heart.
Other than arts and crafts, my various ‘day jobs’ have always been in the helping professions, as a licensed massage therapist and as a social worker. For me, there is a connection between creativity and healing. Arts and crafts and my creative expression have certainly been my therapy.
It is my dream to one day be able to combine my love for creative expression with my passion for helping others in some kind of way. I believe there is something incredibly empowering about creating. It is a way of saying “I’m here.” It is affirming, often beautiful, and frankly, miraculous. This is where I believe the healing nature of creativity and arts and crafts lies.
Tell us an obscure fact about yourself.
I am half-Japanese and half-German and was raised in those two countries. I moved to the United States as a teenager. Not obscure to me, but it might be to others. ;-)
My parents live in Japan, and so the recent earthquake/tsunami there really affected me. Several items in my store are on sale for disaster relief in Japan; the proceeds will go straight to the Red Cross.