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Featured Artist: Brittany Wilson of Boho Knitter Chic Spins + Giveaway + Coupon!

by EBlack on December 7, 2012

Publishers Note: This week, we have another one of our fantastic Leather and Lace Artists, the amazing Brittany Wilson of Boho Knitter Chic Spins who took the time to share her creative and whimsical style, and personality with us. This wonderful artist has traveled all over the country and absorbed the inspiration of many different regions to bring her customers a unique product. We’re so glad we had the chance to talk with her, and get to know her tiny, sheep logo a little better.

Spin Artiste (SA): Tell us about how you discovered spinning and knitting, and how your fiber story has evolved? 

Brittany Wilson (BW): I have the strongest memory of being in junior high, standing on top of a chair, spinning some white wool on a bottom whorl drop spindle in a summer school art class. That’s the way I spent most of my summers growing up. My mom didn’t believe that kids should just be let go from school for 3 months of the summer with nothing to do so I went to “summer school” where I took all sorts of art, music, sports and cooking classes.

Art classes and creative exploration quickly got replaced with college and career planning. Before college was over I knew that I would be traveling around with my husband, Brian, for his job and any career I wanted to have was going to have to wait (which was perfect because I still had no idea what I wanted to do), so I decided to look into things I could do as we were on the road. Knitting seemed like just the thing. I had a vague recollection on how to knit and it was a hobby that didn’t take up a lot of space.  Well, it didn’t when I started in 2007.  Now I need a room in the house and half of an airplane hanger to house my yarn and fiber.

SA: It’s amazing that in a few, short, years you took your knitting from “a vague recollection” to a booming business — very inspirational. Since your grandmother was a knitter and your mother was a weaver, coming from such a line of fiber artists, how has your family background influenced your work?

BW: I like to say that I have a special love for Romney wool because my mother had Romney sheep when I was a baby and I would “Baaaaaah” to them when we’d go out to feed them, but I was really too young to remember. We moved away from Montana when I was two. She had to give up a lot of her creative hobbies when we moved to California and she needed to focus on supporting her family, but she always wanted me to learn more about art and to be creative.

My grandmother influences me most through the things that she created before I was born. She taught me to knit when I was young, but as she got older she wasn’t able to knit anymore. I aspire to be as wonderful a knitter as she was and I love looking at the things she made. Many of the things she knit where simple and practical, like a simple hat that I wear of hers.  But my mom has a beautiful cabled sweater that my grandmother knit and I would really love to borrow it and try to create one for myself.

SA: Wow, we look forward to seeing your recreation down the road.  Aside from your family’s influence, what draws you to fiber?

BW: I’m not really sure why I enjoy fiber so much more than other things.  It just happened to be the hobby that was most convenient for my lifestyle. I really enjoy any art that involves using my hands. I like the idea of being able to take a medium (wool, paint, clay), create a concept in my head, and then manipulate it to create what I want.  It doesn’t hurt that fiber usually comes from an animal.   I like any excuse to go play with/pet animals.

SA: Your company, Boho Knitter Chic Spins, will be celebrating its 4th year this coming February. Congratulations! How has the company changed and grown over the years?

BW: Thank you! The first year I didn’t really know what my business was going to be. I just knew that I was drowning in projects and yarns and I needed a way to get them out of the house and find a way to support my fiber/yarn habit. I dabbled in selling hand knits, patterns, hand dyed yarn, stitch markers, but really seemed happiest producing handspun yarn and spinning fiber.

My batts evolved a lot at first as I learned what I like best, but once I realized that I’m a big ol’ fiber snob and want the softest fibers with boat loads of sparkle my batts became what they are today:  smooth batts full of merino, silks, bamboo and sparkle, textured batts full of soft squishy and curly fibers and sparkle. My yarns and dyed roving still show a wide range of softness and style because I enjoy trying new things as I come across them and I just can’t turn down the opportunity to try something new.

SA: Well, your experimentation has really paid off. I heard you say you’re never content with creating one style of yarn. What do you think drives your restless creativity?

BW: I really wish I knew. I’m that way with everything in life. I’m always trying new foods, clothing styles, hair colors, and we used to move every few months. I’m never content doing any one thing for too long. That might also be why I can’t ever seem to knit a full sized sweater. There are so many other things I want to try, do and see! Luckily, spinning and knitting are so diverse that I can jump from project to project, technique to technique, and there always seems to be something new to try.

SA: I read that you have moved seven times! How has your art and technique been influenced by your various environments?

BW: Brian used to work as a traveling physical therapist, filling need in various locations on a temporary basis, so we moved every few months. I didn’t start spinning until we stopped traveling because we lived with what fit in our truck, but my favorite parts of the places we lived have definitely popped up in my spinning. We spent a few months in Tucson, AZ and I love southwest colors:  lots of bright shades paired with earthy browns and greens. We lived in my hometown, Monterey, CA, and I collected seashells to spin into yarns and used lots of beach glass colors. I have a large collection of photos I’ve taken along the way that I look through when I need an inspiration boost.

SA: I heard you and your husband have finally put down some roots, at long last. And I also saw your new studio and it looks great! Can you tell us more about it?

BW: Brian and I recently bought our first home in Montana. One of the big selling points was a 2,000 sf shop on the property. Brian needed a place for all of his tools, hiking gear, and we want to set up a pottery studio and I really wanted a larger space for fiber production. I have a small studio in the house too, but I wanted to have a place to do all the messy business and Brian would really love less sparkle flying around the house. So far I have my carders and fiber out there but I really hope to expand. It’s going to take a long time but I eventually want to have sinks for washing, stoves for dying, and maybe even a small mill for roving processing.

SA: I can’t wait to see the finished product! So, speaking of your studio, what are you spinning on these days?

BW: I have three wheels now: an Ashford Country Spinner, and Ashford Kiwi, and a Babe Bulky Production Wheel. My Country Spinner, “Godiva” (because she’s naked and the size of a horse), is my baby. I love her so much. I broke her flyer earlier this year and haven’t had a chance to get her fixed yet so I’ve been using my Babe more, although my Babe is reserved mostly for travel or when I spin in the grease. I use my Kiwi all the time because I have the bulky flyer for it. I like to play a game called “Fill the Bobbins” where I will try to fill every Kiwi bobbin I have, something like nine, with different colors and textures and then use my Babe or Country Spinner to mix and match and ply the singles. It can be a lot of fun to try new color combos and see what I can come up with.

SA: What is your favorite time to spin? Are you a morning, afternoon, or night spinner?

BW: I’m a big time night spinner. I don’t know why but the darkness of night feels different than the darkness of the morning.  It’s calm and relaxing. I can focus so much better knowing that I’m done with the day and I can do whatever I want; that nothing else isn’t getting done because I’m sitting at my wheel. I also really enjoy seeing how much I can get done before I go to bed. I’ll stay up until I’m blurry eyed and yawning just to see if I can get one more yarn done.

SA: You are one dedicated spinner. When spinning, do you use anything to keep your fiber-flow going (coffee, music, complete silence)?

BW: I’m a pretty big Netflix and Hulu junkie. During the day I like to work and watch my favorite shows. I watch a lot of period piece shows like “Downton Abbey”, sci-fi shows like “Haven” and “666 Park Avenue”, and comedies like “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family”. Since I spin a lot in the evenings I like to pour myself a glass of wine and sit down with Brian and watch a movie. It’s nice to be able to spin and spend time with him at the same time.

SA: You seem to make a lot of cold weather wearables for the winter months. What is your favorite cozy creation?

BW: I do like to knit a lot of winter accessories. They’re fast, easy, and come in handy during the cold winter months in Montana. It also means that I always have a stockpile of gifts available for family members and friends. My most recent favorite knit was a pair of French Press Slippers. They took about a day to knit, only one skein of yarn, and they are super cute. I wear them every day and I want to knit a few more pairs for gifts.

SA: I’m sure anyone would be happy to get a knitted gift from you. I love the BohoKnitterChic sheep! How did you come up with your cute sheep logo?

BW: I went to visit a friend in California a few years ago and we decided that we needed to get sheep tattoos. I searched out images online to get inspiration from and took my idea to an artist who customized the perfect little sheep for my tattoo. I realized it would be the perfect logo for my business. I took a picture of it, made it look more like a cartoon, and added in some of my favorite colors. Sara (Savetheplanknit on Ravelry) named him Barnaby. I think he represents my business and personality perfectly; fun, bright, and quirky.

SA: You’re right, that sheep is a perfect fit for your company. Who is your favorite author, and what is your favorite book?

BW: I used to read a lot, but since I took up knitting I struggle to keep up with my magazine subscriptions, let alone a full size novel. I really love the Harry Potter series, but that’s no surprise since I have quotes from it tattooed on my arms. One of my favorite books that I’ve read several times since high school is “Miles from Nowhere” by Barbara Savage. It’s about a couple that ride their bicycles around the world over a 2-year period in 1980. It was such a fantastic adventure and so inspiring, and that’s what life should be.

SA:  That sounds like a great read!  Thanks so much, Brittany.

Readers…drum roll please…you know you want some of Brittany’s beautiful yarn to knit or crochet with!  And, yes, Brittany is going to giveaway a skein of her super bulky corespun yarn to one of you lucky readers — please comment on this post where you are with your holiday prep?  Are you making gifts?  Are you done (please say you’re not!).  Additional entries for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc..  Just leave a comment letting us know that you did. A winner will be drawn at random by this Sunday, 5 PM EST.   AND…Brittany has another present for us — a 20% off coupon valid for the next month in her Etsy shop.  I just took a look in there and it’s chockfull of fibery goodness! 

The Leather and Lace Challenge Yarn Collection is on the move!  The collection finished up its stint at Iron Horse Fiber Art and is headed to Madison Wool in Madison, Conneticut.  Keep your eyes on this page of Madison Wool’s website for a wine and cheese event with some of the artists they are having to celebrate the collection.  So.  Much.  Fun!

Chat with you again in a few days!  All my best, Arlene





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