Indie Business Interview: Zenitude Fiber Arts

Today we have another Indie Business Interview, this time with Lise, of Zenitude Fiber Arts!

Q: How did this journey start? 

I was always very creative, even as a young child. I preferred reading and drawing to sports of any kind. My mother was an excellent sewer and she taught me to sew when I was 10 years old. I started knitting not long after that. There was no craft I wasn’t willing to try…making jewelry, candles, stained glass, decorative painting on furniture, woodworking. It all appealed to me. Today, I am a dyer, a spinner, a weaver, a felter and knitter. Fibre arts allows me to express my creativity in so many ways.

 Q: Why did you decide to start your own shop?

Knitting was very intense at certain times in my life and would wind down to nothing at other times. I remember loving it intensely as a teenager then as a young mother. But eventually, family life and career took the main stage and knitting was set aside for a while. In 2008,when I was doing a lot of travelling, I stopped in a knitting shop on one of those trips. I purchased a skein of hand dyed yarn, a pattern and needles– and knitted the whole way home. I was hooked once again but this time, it was the beautiful yarns that were my obsession. I became so infatuated with hand dyed yarns that eventually I had to experiment with dyes and try it myself. As you can probably imagine, this lead to a having a huge amount of hand dyed yarns in the house that I would never be able to knit by myself! The idea of opening a shop on Etsy  was born in 2009.

Q: Is this business your full time gig,or do you have another job as well?

 In my previous life I was working as much as 60 hours a week. It was very intense work and I felt I had very little time for creativity.  I realized that I not only missed being creative but I actually needed to be creative. It was good for my soul and most likely for my health as well.  I ‘retired’ in early 2011, but I really don’t feel this is the right way to describe my life at the moment. I wonder if I will ever describe myself as being ”retired”. I don’t really like the word because all sorts of stereotyping comes along with it.
So in 2011, my husband and I realized a long time dream and started an alpaca farm with four females and two crias (baby alpacas). We now have 22 animals with more births expected next summer. Alpaca farming goes hand in hand with all fibre arts, don’t you think? Now, I have a whole new source of fibre to work with!

Q: What is the most difficult part of running your own business?

When you work for yourself the rewards are immense but so are some of  the challenges. You wear many hats from being creative director, photographer to being in charge of marketing and bookkeeping. You need to be organized and willing to strop creating from time to time to take care of business. (Not to mention the other household chores such as cleaning, cooking and getting the groceries!) As far as I am concerned, I really enjoy most aspects of my business. I sell online but I do markets and shows as well. I love meeting clients and getting their feedback. I enjoy seeing their finished projects or hearing how someone enjoyed the products or garments they purchased from me. I enjoy sharing ideas and helping other discover the joys of the fibre arts. I even enjoy the role of photographer and the marketing aspect of the business. Keeping track of the inventory and bookkeeping…well that is another story!

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of turning their hobby into a part time (or full time business)?

You MUST do what you love! When you work on your own, your product is an expression of yourself and it comes from the heart. People should feel your excitement when you talk about your products. Certain marketing skills will help get your products out there; you might consider publishing a pattern for a certain yarn in your shop. You might need to offer a class or advice on how to use your fibre to felt or spin it. I find that having samples on hand such as a knitted, woven or felted items are a great way to promote what you offer.

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your business?

The satisfaction of being creative is what it’s all about for me. I love to play with colour and texture. Being an introverted type of person and feeling very happy to work on my own, I was very surprised to see how much I enjoy the social part of my business when I set up at a market or a show. Meeting other women and men that are into self expression through the fibre arts is always a pleasure.

Q: What sort of goals can you share with us about Zenitude in the coming year?

Because I don’t solely rely on Zenitude Fibre Arts to pay my bills, I don’t have the pressure of making this business become more than what it is right now.  But this doesn’t mean I don’t put time and effort to make it successful. In order to continue to do what I love to do, I must have clients that enjoy my products. 2015 might be a year of redefining what Zenitude Fibre Arts is all about: I enjoy dyeing yarns and fibre for knitters, spinners and felters. I enjoy blending fibres to make batts and rolags to spin. But I now make and sell a lot of finished garments at shows and markets. I love spinning yarns and hope to add these to my product line this year. I also love using those handspun yarns in my knitting and weaving and creating one-of-a-kind items. Wet felting and nuno-felting is also very high on my list of interest and I still have a need to explore this type of art further.

And there is also the wonderful pleasures of alpaca farming. Their fibre is outstanding. It is extremely soft and warm. It dyes beautifully. My intent will surely be to work more from the alpaca fibre produced here on our farm. I might decide to continue to offer both the supplies to fibre artists and the finished garments or I might decide to let go of one for the other. Either way, I will continue to nurture a creative lifestyle and hopefully encourage others around me to delve into the world of fibre art in one way or another!

Modification Monday: Sally Donovan Pupster

Modification Monday: Sally Pupster|

Original Pattern: Pupster

Knitter Extraordinaire: Kat (Ravelry ID, Tumblr) – and if you at all like BBC Sherlock or The Hobbit, then I really insist you check out her Tumblr, it’s amazing.

Mods: Changed the colouring of the dog pattern and the ear shape to make a customized Bernese mountain dog variation. For more details, check out her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: This isn’t a typical modification- Kat has created knitted characters for Sherlock Holmes (see her Tumblr for hilarious photos of her knitted Sherlock cast), and has knitted the Scotland Yard characters as dogs. This one is meant to be Sally, represented by an adorable Bernese Mountain dog.  What I love about this knit is that it opens up the door for this knitted dog pattern to be customized for a wide variety of dog breeds- maybe you know someone who would like a knitted replica of their favourite pup? Knitted toys are often one of my favourite things to knit as a gift- they are impossibly to resist, even by people who don’t typically appreciate hand knits.  And seeing this cute little pup has me itching to knit another stuffed animal soon.

Modification Monday: Sally Pupster|



Pin Ups: My Favourite Things on Pinterest This Week

Pin Ups: Braided updo |

This beautiful braided updo is much easier than it looks, and works for even shoulder length hair (although your braids will be a bit smaller, of course).

Pin Ups: Marry Me Cookies|

These cookies will supposedly inspire offers of marriage,  they are that good. I bet they work on friends, too- you will be friends forever, once they know you can make these to-die-for cookies!

Pin Ups: Crustless Quiche |

Crustless quiche is one of my go-to weekday dinners because it’s fast, full of protein, and I can put in whatever vegetables we have kicking around (although if they need to be a little softer before going into the oven, I pre-microwave them a bit before adding them to the eggs).  This one features mushrooms, feta, and spinach (and I love all those things!). Have the quiche crustless also helps reduce the fat from a typical quiche.

Pin Ups:  Knitted Valentine Coffee Sleeve |

There’s still time to knit up a  valentine-themed coffee sleeve or tow, for your favourite cafe-loving person. This one is worsted weight and a free pattern- so it will knit up i no time!

Pin Ups: How to Choose  Wine you will Love |

I love this article on how to choose a wine you will enjoy, by basing it on other flavours you already know and like. Sometimes we end up only buying the same few bottles of wine over and over again because they are a sure thing; this pin will help you get out of your wine rut.

February Edition: Meet the Sponsors!

 It’s a love month for the sponsors here at KB, and I’ve been scanning through and admiring all the pretty, trying not to spend all my money buying everything.

 I hope you enjoy!

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe |

Name: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe

What She is All About: Alicia makes luxurious all-natural lotion bars and lip balms using skin-loving ingredients like lanolin, cocoa butter, almond oil, and vitamin E and mango butter. Just reading that makes me want to slather myself in all the good stuff she has in her shop.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: Down by the Bay lotion bar is a citrusy and leafy scent with a hint of sea salt, perfect for pretending that winter isn’t happening. Vanilla Mint lip balm has peppermint oil, which  is thought to increase alertness and relieve headaches; and Winter Gardenia lotion bar is a pretty white floral with hints of lilac and jasmine.

Zenitude Collage |

Name: Zenitude

What She is All About: Lise  weaves, felts, dyes her own yarn and roving, and specializes in bright and happy thrummed kits and self striping sock yarns. And she has an alpaca farm!

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: I love this bright pinkish red and blue striped sock yarn, in ‘You Attract What You Are, so Be Your Best!‘ I also think they have some spiderman coolness going on with them, as well. This thrummed mitten kit pairs a lovely bright tortoise roving with a leafy green, and they look so pretty together. Then there is  this gorgeous bright roving in gradient orange-lavender- bright pink, which seems like the perfect antidote to a dreary winter.

Tanis Fiber Arts |

Name: Tanis Fiber Arts

What She is All About: Tanis has an amazing range of hand dyed yarns in tonal and variegated colourways, all available in a variety of bases and weights. She also has lots of great patterns, and beautiful notebooks and totebags.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: That lovely yarn is the ‘Dove’ colourway, which is a smokey pale grey with shades of lavender and blue; her annual Year in Colour Club has a patterns-only option that just became available (And you can peek at the first pattern of the year!).  The Ombre Cardigan is knit with laceweight held double, so it knits up surprisingly quickly and allows for the colours to blend.

  Andrea Sanchez Designs |

Name: Andrea Sanchez Knits

What She is All about: Andrea specializes in a wide range of  beautiful, flattering-on-everyone patterns for the whole family, and all patterns have a great size range.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: The adorable Tide Pool pullover is great for little ones from sizes 6 months to 12 years, and is also part of a collection that she put out of 5 adorable kids patterns bundled together for great value, if you like to knit for little ones. The Plum Blossom tee is flattering for a wide range of figures, and is the kind of top that I would wear all year round- underneath a cardigan or a blazer in the winter time, and as a tee in the summer time.  Short sleeves aren’t just for summer! Or if you are feeling adventurous, you could add sleeves. The Pugsley hat comes in sizes for babies, toddlers, kids and adults- so if you know anyone who would look this cute in a pug hat, you owe it to them as a gift!

Fuzzy Mitten Collage |

Name: Fuzzy Mitten 

What She is All About: Barbara designs some of the cutest stuffed toy patterns around, and has patterns for all sorts of clothing for them, too! They are great value, as every pattern comes with instructions for more than just the animal- there’s always something for them to wear, or an accessory or two.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: The adorable Pug with Anorak, which I knit for Lila when I was on maternity leave and is still one of the cutest little toys I’ve ever made.  My latest obsession is her Savannah Chaps collection, which includes the patterns for all three animals ( Zebra, Rhino and Elephant) in one.  Then there is the supercute Panda with a t shirt and cape- who says pandas can only be black and white? This adorable little dude would be such a great stash buster for smaller leftover skeins, for the t shirt, cape, and possibly even if you made him a non-traditional colour like blue or purple!

  Knit Circus Collage |

Name: Knit Circus

What She is All About: Jaala specializes in extraordinary long gradient colours, which  can be customized for whatever pattern you are thinking of (perfect for sweaters, shawls, or cowls). She also has genius striping gradient sock kits, and  some gorgeous cowl and shawl kits in her Etsy shop. 

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: I love ‘greyellow’ together, and this custom gradient ‘Brass and Steam’  is perfect- plus you can get it in variety of bases, weights, and yardages. That kind of customization is pretty special.  These custom gradient striping socks in the Cunning Folk colourway are dyed to match, so both socks come out the same! That’s pretty impressive. you just have to decide if you are starting at the outside or the center of your yarn cakes- you get two, one for each sock. And then the are her lovely handpainted skeins-  This is Tiny Princess, a lovely pale lilac to deep purple skein. And because this is Knit Circus, you totally get to choose your base/weight yarn, like always.

There you go- a lovely round up of the latest and greatest in their shops- Please check out the many beautiful things they all have on offer! Do you have any favorites that you see?

Modification Monday: Merry Stella

And the winner of the copy of Arm and Finger Knitting: 35 no-needle knits for the home and to wear is… Cassandra! Congratulations, Cassandra!

Modification Monday: Merry Stella |

Original Patterns: R&R Hoodie and Talia 

Knitter Extraordinaire: Laura (Ravelry ID) You might remember her previous amazing Mod Monday here, which then inspired this grown up version, here!

Mods: Changed the gauge from Aran to Fingering Weight, eliminated the pockets, and changed the solid colour of the R&R Hoodie into the colourwork charts of Talia socks. More photos and details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Laura has a knack for beautiful colourwork, and this sweater is no exception. I love the colours chosen, it is well balanced and the challenge of working the yoke and hood is  sorted by having this section in a solid, with the detail of carrying the colourwork up the center back of the hood. the Let’s take a look at how it looks with the hood up, shall we? Prepare yourself for some epic cuteness:

Modification Monday: Merry Stella |

Pretty freaking adorable! And let’s face it- I’d wear this sweater. It’s beautiful, for a baby or a grown up.