AREtsy Featured Member: IdyllHands/WoolyHands

It's been too long coming but this week we are finally featuring the fearless leader of AREtsy herself Erin of IdyllHands and WoolyHands on etsy! Not only does Erin work long and hard at a full time job out there in the "real" world but she runs this street team and has two etsy shops, she's amazing!

Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.

I’m Erin, the creator and artist behind IdyllHands and WoolyHands. I’m a Production Manager by day (and some nights… and some weekends) at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I have the chance surround myself with artists and performers while earning the money to support my bead filled and wool surrounded habit. By night I slave over the dye pots to create colorful roving to fill WoolyHands with and hunch over my beading table coming up with new knit bracelets and necklaces to adorn IdyllHands with.

When I’m not working or crafting, I’m spending time with my sweet boy, Rocky, and my Schmoo cat. Rocky loves showing off my crafting but isn’t one to help. However, the Schmoo cat would love to get her paws into my wool and she says she’d like to help, but I think she has other motives and I have to keep her away from the yarn and beads. Cats really aren’t great helpers.

I’m slightly embarrassed with the lack of affiliations I have. I used to be a member of almost everything within my reach, but currently I’m only a member of the Longhorn Alumni Band (yes, I’m a University of Texas Alumni). I would say that I might geek out just a bit more about marching band than I do anything else. I cry when I hear a good drum line or trumpet section warming up and my heart beats just a little bit faster when I hear any school fight song as a band approaches the football stadium on game day. I suppose that is my only “active” affiliation that is not Etsy related. Yeah, I’m a bum.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Besides working in the performing arts and working for myself with my Etsy shops, I garden. I love to get my hands into the dirt and dig around. I had a wonderful herb, veggie and flower garden at my last place, but not a wonderful landlord, so I had to move. That just gives me the chance to build new gardens this year.

Oh wait – I’m also a musician. I actually have a degree in music with an emphasis in musicology. I suppose I’m committed. I love playing piano and used to play the bassoon a lot. I bought one last year after Yo Yo Ma told me to (he really did, I can tell you the story if you ask me nicely) so I suppose I should pull it out once in a while and serenade everyone with some lovely bass lines.

And, last, but certainly not least, I’m a self-proclaimed foodie. I love to cook, buy food, look at food, dream of food, and eat food. I even applied for culinary school at the end of college when I didn’t know what I would do after graduation. Upon finding out that 15 months of culinary school would cost the same as 5 years of college, I abandoned my dream of being a fabulous restaurant chef. I’m thankful for that, now I have time to cook at home and time to craft… 2 things I might not have had time to do if I was living in a restaurant kitchen for most of the day.

What first made you want to become an artist?

I honestly do not know. I’ve always made things here and there while growing up, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007 that I started making jewelry that I wanted to share with others. My mom did wire wrapped glassware and the wire and beads were available to me to play with and I started with my knit wire bracelets and that led to earrings, then necklaces and somehow handspun yarn (explain how jewelry goes to yarn – I haven’t figured that one out yet) and then onto hand dyed wool. Even then, I didn’t sit down one day and say “Self, I want to be an artist”… heck, I’m not even sure I’m an artist. I’m a creator of colorful things. How is that for an answer?

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

My creative process might be different than most. I don’t get ideas throughout the day and write them down to create later. I usually sit down with my jewelry supplies or wool dyes in front of me and come up with stuff then. When working on bracelets or necklaces, I set the beads, vintage findings, pieces of hardware, etc out in front of me and stare at them (sometimes for a very long time) until the colors and objects come together and I get a design going. Sometimes I even come up with a name for the piece I’m going to make before even designing it and design it around the name. Dyeing wool is similar, but not quite as easy to place all of the colors in front of me and running with it. With dyes I have to mix some colors so I have to have some idea of what colors schemes I’m going with that day. This is a hard question… can I start over?

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

My Grandma (on my mom’s side) made me a quilt when I was younger. It was a twin sized quilt and had the 12 Days of Christmas on it. For many years I was bummed that everyone else got a larger quilt in a more traditional and year round friendly pattern. However, now that I’m older, and wiser, I wouldn’t trade my 12 Days of Christmas quilt for anything in the world. I also have a water color painting that my mom painted a few years ago. She framed it and gave it to me for Christmas and I absolutely love it. My mom worked forever in various jobs that didn’t allow for a ton of creativity, so it always amazes me what a wonderful artist she is. All along she’s been this artist who created for fun, for herself, not for the approval others. I truly love that about her.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella (I’m a girl after all)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Shawshank Redemption

Benny and Joon


Mr. Holland’s Opus

Waiting for Guffman


Dave Matthews Band (and Dave Matthews solo work)
Elton John

Barenaked Ladies

Jack Johnson

Amos Lee

Ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com)

Craftster (http://www.craftster.org/)

Flickr (http://www.flickr.com)

You Grow Girl (http://www.yougrowgirl.com)

I Can Haz Cheezburger (http://icanhascheezburger.com/ - I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it)

How do you promote your work?

I’m not great at this part (I know, shocker). I have business cards that I sometimes hand out and signature lines on my emails telling people that they must shop at my site, my blog at http://knittinghands.blogspot.com, and I participate in the Phat Fiber box each month (http://phatfiber.com/) but that is about it. I’ve been lucky that my sales are pretty consistent with what I do. I do post pictures to Facebook – but I really doubt if I get any business that way.

What are your favorite things about belonging to AREtsy?

I love to know that there are quite a few people just like me across the state. It’s a great group to share ideas with, to help promote each other, and just to have a community of crafting/artist friends who are there when I have a question about a local craft fair or need tips on yarn stores to visit when passing through Hot Springs or Little Rock.

In ten years I'd like to be...

Crafting, gardening and raising a few sheep – full time. I think I can get there and have a PayPal account where I’ll gladly take donations to help me achieve my 10 year goal *winks*


Tutu Cute and Moore! said...

Erin, fearless leader, I feel like I've know you for years after reading this. I know your creations are wonderful and it sounds like your life is the same. Best wishes for getting those sheep some day! Oh, ever think of writing a novel? Your skills are obvious and you already have it started!

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Wowzer! I don't know how you fit everything into a day. Although you didn't mention any sleep time, so...
Hooray for Benny and Joon!

TSmithDesign said...

Wow! Great article. Erin it is great to get to know the artist behind Idylhands & Woolyhands.

Denise Felton said...

You rock, you rock, you rock! I'm so glad the team sat on you till you agreed to this profile.

idyll hands said...

Denise - it was like pulling teeth to get me to talk about myself (which is odd, because I love to do it!)

Ahem - really, I'm quite modest.

Punkinhead said...

Gorgeous girl, gorgeous art, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!!! (and yes, Erin, you are an ARTIST)

And I'm inspired!