Friday, October 15, 2010

"A Day in the Life" with Valerie”

I love my blog job.  Getting to know some really cool people, and sharing that info with you, our readers, is a blast.  This week, I met someone that I didn't know before.
And after visiting her shop and sharing emails back and forth, I just know you'll like her too.
So grab your snack, get comfy, and let's take a journey to:

"A Day in the Life with Valerie, owner of
Valerie's Gallery"

(click banner to enter her shop)

Duuuuuude:  How long have you been creating handmade products?  I see you are a fiber "junky" (and I mean that with the utmost respect as I can't do a thing in that arena).  Is that your passion

Valerie:  I have been creating handmade just about all my life, but only recently (three years ago) decided to open a business.  My passion is fiber arts and I have always worked with fabric, fiber and yarns.  I don't think there is any other medium that gives the warm, fuzzy and cozy feeling that working with fiber provides. Whether it be quilting, sewing, knitting or felting, the end result is not only beautiful, but practical as well.
I remember my very first hand-knit gift was a very crooked headband for my best friend in 6th grade.  Looking back it was pretty pathetic, but I was ever-so-proud!

Duuuuuude:  What inspired you get into this area of crafting?

Valerie:  I have always been a knitter, but it wasn't until one of my daughters went to college and started a fiber arts club, did I learn about felting.  My Mom taught me to knit and my daughter taught me to felt.  I love the fact that I am combining old and new and coming up with something original and fresh.  I also like to take ideas from nature, such as colors, shapes and textures. 

Duuuuuude:  Tell us a little bit about your process for creating.  
Valerie:  I absolutely love felting.  For me, it is very exciting because once I make the item I close my eyes and throw it in the washing machine to do its magic.  I never know how it will turn out and it is always a surprise.   Because of the differences in yarn content, weight and color dyes, everything takes on its own life during the felting process. 
I basically start the process sitting in the living room chair watching movies or as a passenger in the car.  Once the item is done, I use an old washing machine that I bought second-hand.  (Agitation is the key to felting and the new models just don't agitate enough!) Then I shape them and let them dry.  The process to make one bowl can take up to a week to complete from beginning to end. 
I will say that not everything comes out as anticipated.  As I mentioned above, each piece is a surprise no matter how much I try to calculate. I have discarded a few failures, but I have also had a few positive surprises as well!

Duuuuuude:  Where do you typically get your supplies? (handmade, online, craft shops, etc.
Valerie:  Right now, I use commercial wools that I purchase from yarn shops or order on-line.  I just ordered a spinning wheel after having a few lessons and I can't wait to start spinning my own yarn. My daughter raises sheep and Angora bunnies, so I hope I can have a direct supplier soon.  Think I should get a discount?  (Duuuuuude:  absolutely!) 

Duuuuuude:  Where do you get your ideas for your items? 

Lavender Felted Pansy 
Valerie:  My ideas come to me from nature for the most part.  I am lucky enough to live in the country in Upstate NY where we are surrounded by colorful beauty.  I look at something and say, can I felt that?  Recently I have been picking up interesting pebbles while going for walks and felting them.  How crazy is that?  Good thing I have a used washer!  Anyway ... I love playing with color combinations for felted items and I love mixing up textures in my knitted work. 

Duuuuuude:  Where do you sell your items?

Valerie:  Currently, I have two on-line shops - and  I also do several fairs and festivals each year.  This year I went to 8 and I have 3 more planned for the remainder of the year.  I really love being a vendor at the festivals because I get to meet and talk to people about the process.  It is incredible to meet others that really 'get' your work.

Duuuuuude:  Anything else you'd like us to know?

Valerie:  My husband and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and although we are now empty-nesters (we have 4 grown children), we keep busy renovating and old farm house that we bought 6 years ago.  It seem that this is a never-ending project, but we are finally seeing some of the results of our labor.  I love decorating our home with handmade, whether the items are some cherished wood pieces made by my father, a doily or two made by my grandmother, a table scarf hand knit by my mother, or something I pick up at the festivals I attend.  I don't think I would be so committed to working on such a large project without the handmade treasures to decorate with   (Duuuuuude:  Congrats on that)
Duuuuuude:  Do you have a blog or any other sites that you are involved in that you would like to share with us, and we can link in our article?

Valerie:  My blog: where I have a Sunday Morning Knit Wit article each week.  I try to feature a different knitting stitch or just talk about knitting.

I want to thank Valerie for taking the time to share her passion with us and for sharing some cool shots of her renovation.  Now go visit her shop, show some ACJ love.  J
Until next week ... "duuuuuude"


goodgosh said...

Just checked out Valerie's shop and some really cute things!
Nice to meet you Valerie! :)

Runs With Scissors said...

I've known Val for some time now and her work never ceases to amaze me! You've seen some of her bowls and flower pins in many of my photos.

Thanks for doing the interview and great job, Julie!

jj said...

Great job and very nice interview!
These are so much fun to read and check out.

Valerie said...

Thanks so very much ladies! I really enjoyed doing this interview

nomadcraftsetc said...

Beautiful home! I loved reading this!

Doodle said...

Thanks everyone, and thanks to Valerie for sharing with us!