Thursday, December 5, 2013

Interview Series 2: Week 7.2 – Jen’s Tangled Threads

Welcome back!
Crocheting is so “common” that it’s often overlooked in the handmade world, just as much as jewelry is, as well as knitting or sewing.  The shop I present today proves that you can’t just look in one shop for what you’re looking for – just because it says “Jewelry” or “Knitted” or “Crocheted” doesn’t mean you’re going to find just your typical run-of-the-mill items. 

Each and every crafter has their own style to show, and each of their items, while they may be similar to what you see in some department store, have a huge difference – they’re handcrafted by different hands, with an individuality to their items that you just can’t find when they’re mass-produced.

Just like today’s artist, Jen, of Jen’s Tangled Threads!  As always, I could never tell a story as well as the artist, so I’ll let Jen take over!

Jen Anderson (Jen's Tangled Threads)
I crochet primarily, though I dabble in knitting and rug making and rhinestoning.
Favorite material (or medium, whatever you want to call it!):
Yarn. I love all types of yarn. I haven't found a yarn I don't like yet. And, as a secondary material - tv and wine. Wine is important in my work because I have beginning stages of arthritis in my hands. I type in my day job for 8 hours, then come home and crochet and knit. Pain medications don't work, so a little wine takes the edge off and allows me to work for long periods of time. And I can't just sit and crochet in silence, so I "watch" tv - meaning I have the tv on and every once in awhile I look up. I still get the gist of the episode.
Your Most Popular Seller (whether it be online or at shows you attend):
My Flip-Furs. They are a cross between a flip flop and a slipper, and my own creation. But lately my ear warmers, beanie watch caps and Cross My Heart scarves have been receiving a lot of attention.

5910039-original[1] Turquoise and Black Chevron Ear Warmer
I usually don’t think ear warmers are necessary, but I’d wear one like this!

DWJ(am!) What got you into your craft?

JensTangledThreads I watch a lot of tv, but I can't just sit still and watch. I have to be doing something with my hands, whether it is reading, computer work or (now) crocheting or knitting. I started my crafting by cross-stitching, but I wanted to make my own patterns. I can't draw to save my life and have no clue how to do color shading and things like that. I just have the crafting bug, I guess. My mom has always been a crafter and she's like me where she can't just sit still. She is a sewer, cross stitcher and beader.

DWJ(am!) How did you learn your craft? 

JensTangledThreads I taught myself. I wanted a way to put my spin on things, whether it be different colors or a different stitch. I felt cross-stitching was too restrictive (nothing against stitchers - just not for me). I watch YouTube videos when I want to learn a new stitch and the book doesn't explain it well enough. Love YouTube!

6517947-original[1] Shades of Blue Baby Blanket Afghan
I love this blanket’s design.  It’s ALMOST plain stripes, but not quite!

DWJ(am!) What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?

JensTangledThreads I am a single mom. I started crocheting not long after my divorce. At first I was just making things for myself or family. Then my son started dancing. I created the Flip-Fur for his "girls", his fellow dancers. I would see them walking around the competition venues and going into the bathrooms with very little on their feet, if anything. Sorry - that just weirds me out. So I created a slipper for them to wear at competitions in the studio colors.

I have crafter ADD. I keep telling myself that I'm going to organize all my patterns so they are easier to find. Then I find a pattern I NEED to try and all that goes out the window. I also have 2 unfinished projects in baskets. I start a project and when I get an order for a made to order product, I set it aside and forget about it. Happens more than you think.

I like making things that have purpose. Not just because they are pretty or whatnot, but because they have a purpose. My Flip-Furs are just that - they have a purpose. I have a line of re-usable grocery bags. They have a purpose. I live in an apartment with a walk-up and I hate taking multiple trips up and down the stairs to bring in groceries.

I am also a geek. I started crocheting not with making scarves and washcloths, but with lace. I love making lace. One of my first patterns was a lace shawl for a book series I love - The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Some of the women in this book wear these elaborate embroidered shawls of flowers and vines. Well, I can't sew and I can't embroider. So I made my own interpretation of the shawls and made my own. I've sold a few to fellow geeks and I love seeing pictures of them.

6527133-original[1] Olive Whimsey Cross Your Heart Scarf
Where was this when I lived somewhere cold? This would have been perfect to keep the wind out of the collar of my coat!

DWJ(am!) What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to? 

JensTangledThreads A typical work day for me starts at my day job. I'm a paralegal, so I type all day long. I check in mulitple times a day to either my Etsy site or my Zibbet site. I always respond to inquiries right away. Once the day job is finished, I'm rushing home to pick up my son for dance. He dances 4 days a week. I always have a bag with me with unfinished projects so while he dances, I crochet or knit. Then it back home for supper. My son does a lot of the housework for me so I can keep working on stuff for the shop. I can crochet up to 5-6 hours a night between studio time and home time. My weekends go way too quickly. I was working on an order this weekend. I looked at the clock at lunchtime, ate lunch and kept knitting. I looked up at the clock again when I was changing out laundry and it was already 4 and I hadn't picked up food for supper yet.

Facebook is a big distraction for me. Or my messy apartment. I always have bins of yarn lying around and hooks and needles scattered around my end tables. Sometimes I just have to clean it up or I go crazy. But I have to take frequent breaks because of my hands. I hate it, but I have to protect them.

What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end? 

I am such a perfectionist. If I find a mistake, even if it is in the beginning of the project, I will frog it and start over. I'm not very good with knitting right now, so if I do make a mistake, I frog the entire project and start over. if it is crocheting, I can usually just frog to the point of the mistake.

6520851-original[1] Purple Reusable Grocery Bag
I need a few (hundred) of these!  This one looks sturdier than the ones I have!

DWJ(am!) What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?

JensTangledThreads I usually follow patterns. Since my gauge is different every time, I make one using the hook or needle the pattern suggests, and if it doesn't work, I will change hooks or add rows. Usually I can get it right on the 3rd try for a new pattern. Then when someone orders that project, I have my notes in the margin that I follow so I can get it right the first time.

6540851-original[1] Neon Blue and Purple Double Ruffle Scarf
My UberAwesomeBoyfriend said this necklace looks unusual.  Lovely, fluffy, bright, and looks so warm!

DWJ(am!) What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket? 

JensTangledThreads Time. I never have enough time because I do have to sleep. I am always running around with my son to dance class and then school activities and orders that come in. I have 3 craft shows this month, and I was trying to get some display heads made. Then I started getting orders and I've had to put those on hold. I do have 2 cats, but I've trained them not to touch my yarn. My son stays out of my yarn, so no problems there. Another big obstacle is that I have to take care of my hands. I have to take a lot of breaks because they just hurt after typing all day and then crocheting all night.

All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices? 

I don't really have a formula. Just what I think it is work from the amount of time it takes and how much I spend on supplies. I do have to go through and figure out a proper formula. I also use my co-workers as a sounding board for a lot of my pricing. What would they pay? Does it cover the supply costs?  One thing that I have a problem pricing is my doilies. I should be charging about $50-$75 for one because of the amount of time it takes to make a doily (talk about perfectionism), but who will buy one for that price when you can get a lace doily for $12 at a department store?

6517745-original[1] Turquoise and Blue Striped Washcloths
Crochet Waschloths.  Need anything more be said?! They are awesome enough without words.

DWJ(am!) And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"? 

JensTangledThreads I love what I do. Otherwise, what is the point? I love seeing finished projects and bundling them up to new homes. Crocheting is also my stress reliever. It shuts my brain down from a hectic day at the day job and allows me to relax when I get home. My son loves it when I get the cha-ching sound on my phone from an Etsy sale.  So he is more than happy to do housework so I have more time to create.  I am currently moving all my listings from Etsy to Zibbet, so if you don't find it on one site, look for it on the other site. Or just email me. I love custom orders, too. I will work with you on yarn texture and color until we can both agree on the process.

I have to say that I absolutely love crocheted items.  Perhaps it’s because I grew up with my mother crocheting every chance she got. Everything Jen does is so beautiful, it was very hard to choose which ones to put up – so I had UAB choose some of these for me – and between us I think we managed to pick out one of almost everything Jen has to offer.

Make sure to visit Jen at these locations!

As always, thanks for reading!
Until next week!

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