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Friday Interview with BurryBabies

Natural Kids: Friday Interview with BurryBabies

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Interview with BurryBabies



1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

I actually have been knitting and crocheting since I was 4 years old. My mother taught me and she had learned from my grandmother, so I really come from a long line of knitters and crocheters. My mother was a very good knitter but until late in life, she followed patterns. I am constitutionally unable to follow patterns. I remember as a child making knitted squares, each with a different stitch, for a supposedly future blanket for my doll. The blanket never got finished for two reasons:
1) I spent a lot of time examining each stitch pattern to see how it developed. This was am
azing to me since I knew that there were basically only two stitches used - knit & purl. My mother would scold me saying, how will you ever finish this if you keep on staring at it instead of knitting? Of course, this close examination of stitches and patterns is how I became a knitwear designer.
2) I spent considerable time purposely dropping stitches so that I could work out a way to pick them up, even over several rows. Naturally, this drove my mother crazy! However, learning to reconstruct and remedy our mistakes is what makes for gre
at knitters, so I just continued dropping and picking up until I had mastered it. Such an irritating child!

I learned to crochet after I learned to knit, but in the same year. Many hours of my childhood were spent designing and crocheting clothing for 10 inch plastic dolls that could be bought inexpensively in the 5 & 10 store (Woolworths) - anyone else remember those wonderful stores? I made my costumes for the dolls in styles from the fairy tales I loved, so they tended to be formal fitted dresses with pantaloons underneath crocheted in medium fine threads.
Later, I started to crochet edgings for linen hand
kerchiefs. These edgings were done in the very finest cotton crochet thread and each one was different. My mother saved those, and I still use them today for formal occasions where I might start tearing up - weddings, classical music concerts, operas, etc.
I am also a self-taught weaver who no longer weaves because of the strain on my back. Weaving was my passion for many years and taught me a lot about fibers and the interaction of colors and textures. I eventually became Vice-
President of the New York Guild of Handweavers. I miss weaving all the time, but returning to my first loves of knitting and crocheting has helped to make up for it.

2.What is the main thing you make and sell in your shop? What else do you make or sell?


In my BurryBabies store I, of course, make baby clothing and accessories. For some reason, my Custom Made Newborn Pixie Hats and my Custom Made Tasseled Baby Hats are my biggest sellers. Mothers love them, but most of my customers seem to be baby photographers. I have to say that some of these photographers have become great friends of mine online and I truly wish we could meet in real life. Many of these photographers have sent me pictures to use in my advertisements and for that I am eternally grateful. These baby hats have been featured in many blogs.
My true joy in life, however, is designing sweaters and dresses for new babies. There's such a creative challenge in making pretty things that will be both comfortable for babies and pleasing for the adults who see them. Most recently I was thrilled to have my Bumble Bee Baby Sweater Set feat
ured on http://bobble.com - a great site for parents.

3.Where do you get your inspiration?


Babies themselves are my biggest inspiration at BurryBabies. What is there in life sweeter than a new baby? I had 3 of my own and was a stay-at-home-mother for many years before I resumed my professional work outside the house.
For both my baby clothing and my adult knitwear, I also derive enormous inspiration from color and texture. Yarn stores and online yarn shops send me into a state of ecstasy - I'm not exaggerating. Unfortunately, New York City where I live has lost it's wonderful yarn discounters. There used to be many stores where yarn could be bought by the cone at a fraction of the normal price. These stores no longer exist and I miss them enormously. Similarly, many of the wonderful Southern cotton merc
hants have gone out of business.

4.What are your favorite materials?


I am devoted to natural yarns and only infrequently will use a novelty yarn as a trim. My very favorite yarn is Merino wool; it has all the softness and loft of cashmere, but the price is a bit lower, it's a stronger yarn, and it pills much less than cashmere which is especially important for baby wear that I intend to be used by many babies and passed on as family heirlooms. I also adore fine hand-dyed and handspun wools, alpaca for its warmth and softness, and high-quality cotton yarns.
I would like to take the opportunity of this interview to say that I find acrylics to b
e actually immoral. They are made from petro-chemicals which are, of course, what the gas you put in your car is. With the worldwide shortage of petroleum and the ensuing international conflicts over it, I find it hard to justify using a product like that. Also, acrylics, like all plastics, remain in the environment forever, causing tremendous pollution and environmental problems. In addition, acrylics really aren't warm, they make your skin feel clammy, they don't wick moisture, and they're highly flammable. If you hold a piece of wool over the kitchen sink and put a match to the end, the flame will quickly go out and a soft ash will form that easily disintegrates. On the other hand, if you do the same thing with a piece of acrylic yarn, the flame will last for a long time (until you blow it out), and a hard plastic bead will form. I don't like to wear acrylics myself and I certainly wouldn't put them on babies.

Baby clothes are easy to wash by hand, and there are machine washable wools too. High quality wool almost never causes an allergic reaction. If your baby happens to be one of those rare individuals, please use cottons and avoid acrylics.


5.What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

Just do it! There's really nothing much to lose and a lot to gain. Your store can be large or small, you can specialize in just a few things, or you can make only one-of-a-kind items.
The one warning I have for new sellers is to be sure to design your own products. Sellers who use other artist's ideas are not getting the pleasure they could from having a shop. After all, this is not only about making money, though that's nice; it's really about the enjoyment of creating something that's your own original design and interacting with customers to refine that design to meet their needs. I have al
ways kept the design process and my craftsmanship uppermost in my Etsy shop, on my websites, and in all other places that I sell my work.

6.What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

* My baby knitwear and crochet shop on Etsy is http://BurryBabies.etsy.com
* You can also see my custom work at my website http://BurryBabies.com
* My adult knitwear and crochet shop on Etsy is http://KnittingGuru.etsy.com
* I have had a website for years where I sell clothing and knitting kits, and also offer free advice and tutorials http://KnittingGuru.com
* I have just started a shop at Artfire a http://KnittingGuru.artfire.com and will soon be opening http://BurryBabies.artfire.com
* In addition, I have a blog (much neglected because of time constraints) where I try to take readers inside the mind of a knitwear designer. The blog has the unfortunate but unavoidable name http://KnittingGuru-Blog.blogspot.com You'll get to know me a lot better if you read it.

* I am on Twitter as http://BurryBabies.twitter.com and as http://KnittingGuru.twitter.com
Whew! Can you see why I have trouble keeping up with my blog?

I would love for you to take a peek at all of these sites and let me know what you think. I'm always open to suggestions and questions.


7.How did you come up with the name of your shop? What does it mean?

Well, my name is Veena Burry, so the shop is BurryBabies. At one point when my middle son helped me get my BurryBabies website up and running, both he and my daughter had me make them sweaters that said "I'm a BurryBaby" on the front and "BurryBabies.com" on the back. I wonder if they still wear them? My oldest son, being a college professor, never did ask for one of those sweaters which made a lot of sense to me. It surely would look odd to his students!
As far as my adult website and other shops, the name KnittingGuru just came to me because my initial goal was to mentor new knitters and help them with their questions. I established an A
sk the Guru section and included many knitting tips to aid readers. My most popular essays were the two I wrote on Knitting Ergonomics and Knitting Exercises, and also a tutorial called "Bigger Better Bobbles" which for some reason was on page 1 in Google for a long time.

Finally, I am proud to say that my knitted and crocheted jewelry wa
s featured in two books in 2008 a Jewelry With a Hook (Lark Books) and 1000 Jewelry Inspirations.


Prepared by
Tricoteria

6 Comments:

Blogger FairiesNest said...

Great interview!

January 9, 2009 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger KnittingGuru said...

Anna - Thank you for doing such a good job on this interview!

January 9, 2009 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Great interview...I hear you so much about yarn stores causing ecstasy!! ME TOO, ME TOO! :0) I love to sniff wool, too...yeah, I'm a freak!

I am SO glad you spoke up about acrylics also...it is absolutely horrible stuff that I despise!

Great getting to know you better! :0)

January 9, 2009 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger BirchLeaf Designs said...

Awesome interview! So in depth - can't get over how many websites to keep up!

January 11, 2009 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous BurryBabies said...

FairiesNest, Jenn and BirchLeafDesigns -

I'm so glad you liked this interview. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to talk about my knitting/crochet/natural yarn passions!

January 15, 2009 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger TheSingingBird said...

Thank you for letting us get to know you better Veena, and for sharing a glimpse into your creations and process. :)

January 16, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

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