Craft Britannia Shop of The Week #16, MerryGoRoundUK
This week’s CraftBritannia Shop of the Week is MerryGoRoundUK, a range of handmade crafts including knitting, crochet, sewing, spinning and embroidery! It’s creator, Julia, tells us us more…
Describe your “typical” working day or week
I don’t think I have one of those…! I work as a part-time youth, children’s and family worker at my church as well as a part-time teacher in the local primary school teaching music. Working with children and young people is never ‘typical’ and I lead all sorts of clubs and courses through the week
My crafting business is a fairly recent addition to my working week and I fit it in whenever and wherever I can; at home on days off and any rare free evenings, on the bus on my way to meetings, during lunch breaks… I try to work on at least one project every day.
When you are not doing Etsy related things, what are you doing?
Working two part-time jobs equates to a pretty busy work schedule! When I’m not working or doing Etsy related things, the rest of my time is mostly spent doing something musical. I am in a ladies’ barbershop chorus, as well as a barbershop quartet with three of the other ladies from the chorus. I also sing in a gospel choir, and I play guitar and lead worship on occasion.
I love spending any free time in coffee shops drinking coffee with friends; or perhaps in the pub with a pint I love to play sports too, particularly football, hockey and rugby, but I don’t really have enough time to play them seriously any more.
What was the first piece you ever sold?
The first pieces that I sold were some of my hair bobbles and hairbands; I remember being shocked but so pleased that someone would want to wear something that I had made! It’s the same feeling that I still get now whenever I make a sale
What advice would you give someone taking up your craft for the first time?
Persevere! I taught myself to knit about a year ago and to crochet around 7 months ago. I still remember the frustration of trying to hold everything right and think of all the steps I needed to complete to create just one stitch! It all seemed a bit overwhelming and slow, but I’m so glad that I kept going and didn’t stop practising and learning. Since then I’ve also started spinning and I was given a sewing machine for Christmas; I just want to keep learning new techniques and crafts.
What material do you most enjoy working with?
Obviously, I’m a fibre addict! I think anyone who knits and crochets can’t help but become a little bit addicted to buying yarn. But I would say that there’s nothing quite like working with handspun yarn. It’s so much more unpredictable and the range of different textures and colours never ceases to amaze me. It’s even more of a treat if it’s yarn you’ve handspun yourself.
If you could try a new craft, what would it be?
Probably ceramics and clay. I love buying ceramic buttons, and I like the fact that you can imprint images and textures onto clay to make each piece different and individual. So, if I had the patience and equipment, I think that’s what I’d try.
Which piece of equipment would you be helpless without?
My hands! I only remember how valuable they are when I’ve been crocheting for a whole evening and they start to ache or cramp up. When you knit and crochet and sew it’s all about using your hands; holding things in the right way, wrapping and pulling… though a crochet hook or pair of knitting pins are pretty essential kit, they wouldn’t work without my hands to guide them
Tell us about what inspires and motivates you
I love to be inspired by nature as I think all the shapes and colours you could ever imagine can be found there. My friends are also a brilliant source of inspiration; a lot of my new ideas have been developed from throwaway comments and suggestions that they have made But, as a Christian, most of my inspiration and motivation comes from my faith. Those days when you feel like giving up or you aren’t sure whether it’s all worth it? I rely on my faith to get me through and trust that God will encourage me in all I do. I believe that all gifts of creativity are gifts given by a creative God; you just have to look at nature and the world around you to see how creative He is!
Tell us about one handmade item that you own and love
I have a really beautiful friendship globe (a large glass ball) that a good friend of mine gave to me; it was handmade in Romania. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of colours in the glass, and it reminds me of her and how much she cares about me so it holds a lot of sentimental value too.
What plans do you have for your shop in the future?
I have just recently split my stock and put all my buttons and supplies into a separate shop – CarouselUK – so that I can focus on adding more handmade items to MerryGoRoundUK. I want to add different kinds of keyrings, brooches and hair bobbles made from yarn, felt and fabric, as well as more hanging hearts and owls. Perhaps when I am better at spinning, some of my handspun yarn might make it into my shop too. This is all provided I can find the time to do it, of course!
Thank you Julia for finding time in your busy schedule to tell us about your love of learning and crafting!