This morning, I am delighted to welcome the lovely and talented Emma Lamb. As soon as I spied her beautiful handmade goods I was completely smitten and she has been kind enough to grant us a peek into her life and work in beautiful Scotland. So grab a cup of something warm, get comfortable, and prepare to be inspired!
Emma, tell us a bit about your family and your home.
I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a wee tenement flat that is over 110 years old. I share it with my man and my wee man Spanner, a five-year-old cheeky Cocker Spaniel. I’m originally from the Northeast of England but moved to Edinburgh to join the art college nearly fourteen years ago. I love it here. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city and there is so much history and character in the surrounding towns and villages. I really should photograph more of it!
How did you learn to crochet, embroider, and knit?
I’ve been knitting and crocheting for as long as I can remember. My mam taught me the basics when I was about six years old, and I have clear memories of us sitting together crocheting wee squares for traditional, multi-colored granny blankets. Embroidery was something I taught myself when I started my career as a textile designer. I just picked up the needle and thread and made the stitches I wanted. I don’t recall consulting any books for techniques.
Your shop is filled with so many unique designs. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Oh, inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m mostly inspired by beautiful color combinations and I spend hours on Flickr searching out gorgeous images to make up color themed mosaics for inspiration. It’s almost an addiction! I also love to browse the local charity (thrift) shops for interesting color combinations in vintage pieces. The vintage stores on Etsy are great for this too. Quite often when I’m working on a new cushion I start with an idea of the colors I want to use, but as it grows and develops it takes on a life of its own. I love this organic and spontaneous approach to crafting. It’s very satisfying for me.
How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has that been a positive experience?
My wee Etsy shop has been open for over a year now and I’m really pleased with its success, and with all the wonderful feedback from the online community. It has given me confidence in my creative skills and it’s been quite liberating too. I feel like I have full creative control (unlike my day job) and I love it!
Judging by the beautiful images of your studio, I imagine you’ve always got a project or two waiting in the wings. Anything special right now?
I have a pile of things on the go just now: some new garlands and dish cloths, a couple of cushions and a few of my own knitting projects that are still waiting to be finished properly. There’s also a ripple blanket waiting for all the loose ends to be finished before I can use it. I love having lots of stuff on the go at once, so depending on my mood and level of motivation I will have a project that will suit.
Do you have another job, apart from selling on Etsy?
Crafting is a huge part of my life. For the last ten years I have been designing commercially for the textile industry, particularly women’s and children’s wear. All of my designs are fabric-based with lots of embroidery and appliqué, but at the moment I’m taking a wee break from that to explore those sewing skills in a less commercial and more personal way. I suppose this is my main New Year’s resolution. Once I get a few of those crochet projects finished I’ll be able to start experimenting. Kind of exciting!
You also have a beautiful blog. How has blogging influenced your creative process?
I’ve been blogging for just over a year. In fact, the blog came before the Etsy shop. Some very lovely blogging friends encouraged me to set up my wee shop, particularly the lovely Tif Fussel (dottie angel), who gave me my first commission and sale. I owe her an awful lot! Blogging has really helped my creative process. It’s great motivation. If I say I have a new idea or I’m thinking of making something, I really have to get on and do it. I can’t disapoint my readers. But it works the other way too. When I’ve made something I’m really excited about, it makes for a great blog post. Blogging about my work is also great for generating fresh ideas, either through lovely comments and feedback from my readers, or by the simple fact that I don’t want to repeat myself too often. I want to have new things to talk about to keep both my readers, and me, interested.
My own knitting skills are pretty limited and I’m about to try crochet for the first time. What advice would you give to someone who would like to learn to knit or crochet, but finds it a bit intimidating?
Really, there is no reason to be intimidated. I highly recommend diving in and having a go! The best advice I can give is to start by finding fabrics or yarns that you really love and enjoy working with. Make something you will want to use, such as a beautiful scarf that you’ll love to wear, or a handy pincushion that you’ll use again and again. The first thing that will turn you off to any craft is making something you have absolutely no use for. There are great resources in the form of tutorials on blogs and YouTube. A great place to start for knitting and crochet would be Ravelry. It’s a huge supportive community with lots of free patterns and advice.
Just for fun, what are you reading, watching, and singing along to these days?
I’m not really a big reader to be honest. I much prefer TV, film and cinema. Lately we’ve spent a lot of cozy nights working through our DVD collection. The last film we watched was Belleville Rendezvous, a gorgeous French animation. In my studio, I permanently have my iPod on shuffle so there is always a good mix of Josh Ritter, Josh Rouse, The Kinks, The Killers, Queen, and Adele amongst others. The last two albums I’ve added were Alexi Mudoch’s Time Without Consequence and T.Rex’s Greatest.
Emma, it’s been such a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for taking time to introduce yourself and for sharing your creative process with us. Your work is certainly inspiring. I wish you all the best!