Who is a Black Brown Indigenous Melanated Person (BBIMP) who has inspired you or your work?
Janet Douglas (@feedmycreativecic and @jdouglascreativegroup), Chanelle Nesmith (@channypeascorner), Frances Moore (@lefranceshandmade), Adiaha (@ancestral_fiber_co), Terra (mitchellscfiberarts), Adria Forby (@onyxfiberarts), Amanda Solomon & Alex Reynoso (@melanatedhausofcreates), Lorna Hamilton-Brown (@lhamiltonbrown)
How do you find inspiration?
LIFE!! Music, art, colours, the sky, people, clothes, food…there’s colour in everything and we all see and interpret it differently. The simplest of things can spark so many tangents of ideas!
Share your maker journey. How did it all begin for you?
I started dyeing in the midst of Lockdown 1.0 with a turkey baster and two roasting tins in the tiny kitchen at home. A friend had sent me some cotton fleece yarn from the US and I’d invested in a small dye kit from WAK, so to alleviate boredom and de-stress I played around with those skeins and was pleasantly surprised that they turned out okay! By June people started to ask if they could buy my yarn, so I rebranded my Etsy store and crowdfunded for my girl (Bain) Marie, I was blessed with the gift of a clothes spinner (affectionately named Spinderella) from another UK dyer, and now I’ve taken over one end of my Dad’s shed at the bottom of the garden, have my own website, and handed over my first wholesale order to a local craft store!
What is your favorite creation?
My absolute favourite thing that I’ve made EVER has to be my Ada Shawl by Toni Lipsey (@tlyarncrafts), closely followed by the My Boy Lollipop Sweater by Nancy (@gettingpurlywithit) which is my first ever proper knitting project. I have a lot of respect and admiration for both of these Makers – their work is amazing, their designs are simple and yet so creative, and the way Toni and Nancy write their patterns – whilst so different – both are clear and easy to follow whatever level of crochet or knitting you place yourself at.
Who taught you, encouraged you in your craft?
My Grandma Pearl Kitson was the dopest seamstress I have ever known – seriously I grew up playing in the middle room where she sat at her machine making lingerie, bridesmaids dresses – Grandma hooked me up with a collection of shorts suits for our trip to Jamaica when I was six!! Grandma taught me to knit a little when I was young, but I remember her saying that it wasn’t something she was very good at. I taught myself to crochet a few years back and whilst I feel like I’m cheating on it at the moment, it will always be my first love! My Maker family on IG are the greatest cheerleaders! A few have become friends that I talk to in the real world (!) and there will be huge plans in the making for a huge meetup when the world is fixed! The award for my biggest fan has to go to my nephew MoonPie! He likes to help me out in the shed, gives me the best ideas and comes up with some brilliant names!
As a BBIMP, in your line of crafting, what steps do you find you need to take, to promote and share your creativity if any?
I don’t show up as a ‘marginalised’, ‘person of colour’. I am a FAT BLACK WOMAN and that’s what you see when you look at me – how can I show up as anything else but me? Marginalised is a term put on to people who look like me (and others) to box us in, and I refuse to buy into that.
Do you feel being a BBIMP has an impact on how your creativity is viewed/received?
There’s always that niggling thought that adding the ‘Buy Black’ or ‘Support Black Business’ tags will eliminate me from people’s feeds and ultimately their yarn stash, and I hate that it feels like a choice/dilemma to show up… At times it feels like the world of Indie Dyers is heavily saturated, but then I remember that the table is big enough for all of us, and if there isn’t a seat for me then I’ll bring my own, sit on someone’s lap awhile, or get on the damned table! I’m gonna be here and I’m gonna show up and I’m gonna make you see me!
What suggestions, other than your tools, that you would recommend to makers?
It’s always good to see what and how others are doing it, and find a style that works for you – I’ve picked up a lot of information and techniques from watching IG reels and stories. The Melanated Haus of Creates mentorship programme was so good for me – I got to learn from and alongside some really amazing Makers, Designers and Dyers right at the beginning of my journey as Wolverhampton’s first Black Indie Dyer. Learning your craft, asking questions and seeking help and advice when you need it IS SO IMPORTANT! Talk to other Makers who do what you do. Investing time and money in what you’re passionate about, will pay off in the long run, trust me.
What are you working on right now?
I’m taking pre orders for my first ever collection on my website – five themes based around Summertime (remember that?!), that come with yarn and some pretty cool goodies! I’m also working on my first collaboration with another UK based Black Maker for Christmas which I’m really excited about too!
How does your creative work| craft help you?
After a long week at the 9-5, making a pretty mess with dyes and yarn is THE best stress buster. I love nothing more than shutting myself in the shed and getting lost in it all. It’s the thing that I work up to all week and it’s never far from my mind.
Tell us a little bit about your practice or the steps you take to create your work.
As organised as I am, I don’t plan my dyes! My specialty is OOAK One Skein Wonders – I’m a small batch dyer, so you might get two or three of any colourway and they won’t be repeated. My motto is keep it simple, and I don’t keep recipes – the closest I’ve come is writing down which dyes to use for each theme in my Summertime collection!
What’s the overall message you want your audience to take away from your work?
That it’s DOPE, different, and created with a whole lot of love and a little bit of cussing!
What is the most helpful resource for your business that you can share with us?
Why am I struggling with this question?? IG is the place I hang out pretty much all the time. It’s where I share with other Makers, it’s where I learn and gather information – whilst some might say it’s not a great or worthy resource, it’s proved invaluable for me in getting to know, linking up and working with like-minded people who have a love for fibre and crafting.
What is a personal habit that has helped you significantly in your business?
I’m a HUGE procrastinator, but dyeing is one thing that’s gonna stick around! I do something FLYY Dyed related every single day – there are no days off here! If you love something it’s not a chore, it’s not work, and this has definitely clicked for me in a major way.
Where do you see your business|Crafting in 5 years?
The dream is to have a dedicated space just for me that I don’t have to share with power tools! In five years I still want to be dyeing my OOAK One Skein Wonders. On a larger scale, more than just at the weekend.
What is a lesson learned for being an creative that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
You will mess up and get it wrong, and that’s okay. Don’t give up. TRY!
What is something that you’re passionate about and why?
I’m a huge fan of following the rules in my own way!