If you’ve ever been lucky enough to have something knitted for you. You’ll know how wonderful it is. Over the years I’ve had a few hand knits and I appreciate the time and craftmanship that goes into them. This weeks creative corner interviewee is certainly a highly skilled craftswoman. So please read about Scottish Knitwear and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Hello, I’m Sandra Bean and describe my self as a lover of wool! I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful Scottish Borders which has a long history rearing sheep, spinning their wool and using that wool to produce everything from sweaters and shawls to tartan!
I actually trained as a Registered General Nurse and worked away happily until in 2014, I had my Epiphany moment that changed my life one cold, Winter’s morning at 5.30 am when I was sitting freezing in my car on my way to work…….I AM GOING TO WORK FROM HOME!!
Tell Us About Your Business
I had always knitted for as long as I can remember. I started off knitting scarves for my dolls – these garments got wider and wider as they grew longer and longer!
My business is hand knitting very high quality garments for Adults and children of all ages. The sweaters and cardigans for adults are worked in Pure Scottish Aran Wool, Pure Wool, Shetland Wool, Alpaca and occasionally, Cashmere.
For the little people, I use yarn that has been mixed with Acrylic for easy care.
I knit Hats, Sweaters, Cardigans, Shawls, Wraps, Neck warmers, Mitts, Cowls and knit Custom Orders at the request of clients – many of whom send me a commercial knitting pattern to be knitted in their size and colour choice.
What Made You Start Your Own Business?
I started knitting for family and friends, but there were just so many hand knits my family and friends could cope with!
As I said before, I was a hard working nurse who used to come home after a long day at work and sometimes felt I was on a treadmill of work and sleep!
I had always knitted so I decided to see how selling to others would go. I very timidly crept into a small shop in my local village that sold everything from newspapers to toys and Christmas trees.
Even more timidly I approached the shop owner and asked if they would take a few hand knitted items – we struck a deal that 10% of anything I sold would go into the charity box sitting on the counter….deal done! I sold every single item within two weeks and the shop keeper asked if I had anymore. The feeling from selling something I had done was quite a buzz!! This made me want to go on and do more and to a wider clientele.
It was a young relative who showed me Etsy – the die was cast!! – I had found my business.
Did You Have Any Formal Training?
It was actually my older sister who taught me my craft.
She had been knitting a cardigan for herself when 6 year old me insisted she taught me to knit and taught me right now!!
A ball of old wool and two large knitting were produced for my lesson.
Many tears and tantrums later, I had knitted a squarish “thing!” but the seed had been planted of my future business.
Explain Your Creative Process
For the sweater patterns I design myself – the whole process starts off with a sheet of A4 paper, a pencil and a lot of rubbing out!!
I draw a design, usually cable twists. I then work out what type of stitches I plan to put in between the cables, then the type of stitches I plan to put down the sides of the cable design. The next stage is to use odd wool and knit just this pattern – usually I knit it for 30 cms or just a little over.
Once this has been done, I then decide what size the “prototype” sweater will be knitted for.
I knit squares in the pattern with varying sizes of needles so I can get the right tension – how many stitches I need to cast on to get a certain size eg., 20 stitches and 19 stitches and 24 rows for 4″ (10 cms) in Pure Aran Wool – this means I have to work out the center design then the amount of stitches at both sides of the design to get a sweater measuring say, 36″ (91 cms) Then again, I have to work out the same tension for the sleeves.
Describe Your Typical Day
Although I work from home I try to plan my day as any other worker would.
Usually first thing is to check my computer for any orders or sales that have come in overnight from outwith the UK. This is done with a cup of coffee at my side
After this it is my fresh air time – walk the dog along the riverbank then back to work! I have a little room in the house which is mine to get peace and quiet to either design in or to knit in. I also in summer sit out in the garden and knit, but in winter – I draw my chair up to the fireside and work there – better than a long drive to work!!
My afternoon is much the same but I also knit in the evenings watching my favourite TV programmes. I actually don’t look upon my business as work – just something i enjoy and make a wee bit of profit with at the same time!
What’s Your Biggest Seller?
Must say the my biggest is Men’s Aran Wool Sweaters – I get orders from China, Japan but mostly from the USA. I use wool spun and dyes here in Scotland and the quality of the yarn is second to none
What are The High And Low Points of Running Your Own Business?
My high point was to be invited to knit for the major TV series “Outlander!” and to knit Special Orders for a well known clothing store in Oxford Street London!
Low points? Not too sure about these but perhaps I could say that sometimes I don’t spend enough time with my family. As I have to spend so much time on my business – I wear all the hats from worker on the shop floor to Advertising Manager and being General Dogsbody!!
What Would Be Your Top Tips For Running Your Own Creative Business?
Possibly, try, try and try again! Don’t expect immediate success.
Try to divide your day up into work time and down time.
Find some good friends on FB who are also crafters. Be honest with each other – you can bounce ideas off of them and get and give constructive criticism
Continue to work for TV. The buzz of seeing a famous actor wearing something you have knitted just can’t be explained!!
I also want to expand my business. More designs, more items in my two shops but mostly, just to continue to enjoy what I’m doing
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