18 Jan 2009

Artisan of the Week, Heather of Nifty Knits

Good Morning all! I'd like to introduce you to a lovely lady, Heather of Nifty Knits. I first noticed Heather's work in her Etsy shop. It was her Morris Dances that caught my eye, as one of my friend's father is a Morris Dancer and for some reason a knitted morris man made me giggle. Heather has taken so many items from my childhood and turned them into knitted works of art. I mean, who wouldn't want a knitted Clanger! As you can see below, her work is beautiful, so get a cup of tea and spend 5 minutes having a break and reading all about her.

1.Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
My name is Heather, I'm an ex-teacher who hasn't found a replacement day job yet. Consequently I have lots of time for crafting! I knit and/or crochet all sorts of weird and wonderful things but my favourites are my pots of flowers - I started with tulips and daffodils, then bluebells as they came into season, and more recently pots of poinsettias for Christmas time. I've also knitted fuchsias, but these were designed as earrings and pendants rather than in a pot. I like making something unusual, you won't usually find knitwear in my shops although I did bow to demand recently and made some scarves and gloves.

2.What led you to take up your craft?
I first learnt to knit as a child, and remember knitting clothes for my Sindy. I took it up again last year when I was off sick from teaching. Knitting stopped my thinking about work! Before long my house was beginning to be taken over by small knitted creatures, so I started selling a few on Ebay. My son's girlfriend told me about Etsy, and although at first I was intimidated by the quality of work there I decided (with her encouragement) to give it a go. I then taught myself to crochet using on-line tutorials...and the rest, as they say, is history!

3.Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I enjoy the creative process of trial and improvement as I persuade the yarn to become what I can see in my mind's eye. I often get swept up in the flow, for instance whilst working out how to knit flower pots seamlessly I managed to get right up to the point when I "sealed" the top of the pot closed...and then realised there was the small matter of weighting and stuffing to be done first! The other most enjoyable part of course is when the customer emails to say they LOVE my work.

4.Which part do you find hardest?
In the crafting sense I am not a big fan of "sewing up", which is why I taught myself to crochet, to try "amigurumi style" without seams. I'm transferred this to my knitting, and more and more manage to knit items which don't require sewing up at the end. In terms of running my shops it is definitely promotion that I find hardest. I try to always make sure I have business cards in my pocket, and during December I didn't leave the house without wearing my knitted holly earrings - but I don't find it easy to respond to compliments with "Here's my card". I'm working on it!

5.Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
I hope my photographs will be clearer, they're a lot better than they were but there's still plenty of room for improvement. I want to develop my range of flowers further, they're what I see as my "signature" pieces. I'd like to be more focussed in promotional terms. At the moment I flit between facebook, myspace, twitter....you name it...and I'm not at all sure much of it is productive! For the sake of the bills I hope I will have found a day job...preferably one which includes plenty of knitting breaks.

6.What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I will be eternally grateful to Lenny for telling me to "go for it!" and start up an Etsy shop. I wouldn't otherwise have found Folksy, and having just won free listings for a year in the Folksy Angels competition I am really looking forward to building up my shop.

7.Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
Wow - there are so many! I was astounded when I first joined Etsy by how many crafts and styles there were that I'd never even imagined. Steampunk was just one example, I'd never heard of it! I looked at Mad Art Jewelry so many times before I finally bought a wonderful necklace from her. She also introduced me to "custom" sales, as she designed and made earrings especially for me to go with my first piece. The necklace is called "Tempus Fugit" (time flies) and was so relevant to me at that time when I was ill and not knowing what direction my life was going in. Vicki Diane Designs is inspirational when I'm looking for encouragement with my photos! Hers are so vibrant. Bombus helped me enormously - not only did she buy my first listings on Etsy but she also staged and photographed them for me to show just how much difference a decent photo makes. Pennydog Accessories helped me out in a similar way by recreating my banner - using my idea but making it look infinitely better.

8.What is your favourite sandwich filling?
No thinking time needed here! Grilled crispy bacon in fresh white bread, with the crust to chew on while I'm waiting for my husband to finish making it. Sometimes I have Heinz tomato ketchup, but usually just as it is.

Thank you Heather for joining in with our blog. Your work gives me a warm smile every time I visit your shops. I also hate sewing up knitted work, hence I prefer crochet and have started to knit much more on the round than straight needles. Good luck in you job search. I hope you find the perfect position. So dear readers take a look in Heathers shops for more gorgeous woollen masterpieces.

written by Lynne from Hyperloop Hoops and PiratePixieCrew


  1. Googlealert is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I'd forgotten all about this interview! Many many thanks for the feature :-)

  2. Nifty's knitted pieces are instantly recognisable - she has a definite style and I love the clangers!

  3. brilliant feature, love the clanger!

  4. Those flowers are lovely. Well done Nifty

  5. Interesting artisan article. Lovely items. Thanks for sharing.- CT

  6. The braclet with the pink flowers looks really good. Its something that I have never seen before.

    Be sure to protect your work also!! There are always copycats around who look out for those really good designs. (Meant as a compliment, as I really think your designs are excellent work.)

    Great interview ladies!!


  7. It's really nice to find out more about our fellow Etsyians and Folksians. I wish I could sew because I'd be more inclined to knit if I didn't have the hassle of sewing things together. Best wishes for 2009 Heather, (BTW, love your clanger!)

  8. Really love Heathers work. It's so fun. I really like those flower pins at the end of the article. Really love hearing more about fellow folksy/etsy artists and designers.

  9. Great interview and lovely to find a bit more out about Nifty! Am loving the licorice allsorts bracelet . . .yum!

  10. Great piece. I love Heather's stuff. :)

  11. Fab interview, Heathers' work is lovely. The clanger is great but I especially like the morris dancers!

  12. Great interview. I love the bracelets. Thanks for introducing me to Heather.

  13. forever foxed - it's because I don't like sewing that I tend to knit "in the round" - why not try that?

    thanks for your lovely comments everyone, I'm looking forward to skully's next interviewee.


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