Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Designer Sweaters for Man's Best Friend

Puppy Love
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

~SchulmanArt speaks with Emily of Elsa & Em~
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SchulmanArt: How long have you been knitting?
Emily: My grandmother taught me to knit when I was young, so I have been knitting off and on for over twenty years. For a long time, I was a seasonal knitter -- cozy hats and sweaters in the winter, and sewn garments in the summer. I rediscovered a passion for knitting a few years ago, and opened my ETSY shop shortly thereafter, in September 2008. The shop was sort of an accident, which started with my knitting sweaters for my own dog, Elsa. After enough comments from friends that I should start selling, I did just that.

What is your favorite material to work in?
I lean toward natural fibers when knitting for myself and my own dogs. I just love a good wool that knits like a cloud. A knitter has to love the materials they work with, or it just isn't enjoyable.

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How do you come up with your designs? 
Most of my designs are the result of finding a yarn I love. Sometimes it's the feel, sometimes it's two colors that just work together, or the variegated shads of a hand-dyed yarn. It sounds silly, but when I feel connected to a yarn I am inspired. All of my sweaters start out as a design for one of my own dogs, so each one is truly personal. When I come up with something that works, it makes it into the shop.

What do you enjoy most about your experience selling online?
It's easy to think of selling online as an anonymous experience, but for me it's just the opposite. Custom orders often result in a fair amount of conversation back and forth, and it always makes the sale feel more personal. I love hearing about and seeing pictures of the dog I'm knitting for.

Check out all her hand knitted dog sweater in her etsy shop!
Do your dogs keep you company while you create? 
Luccia is often snoozing on the couch with me. I think she secretly enjoys the rhythm of my arm bumping her as I knit. And although I spending an embarrassing amount of time on my couch, working my way through reality TV shows while I knit, I'll knit pretty much anywhere. Dog sweaters are such portable projects, that I almost always have one stashed in my bag.