What's the name of your handmade business and how did you come up with the name?
My business is called ilovetoknitbyjill. I don’t really know how I came up with the name to be honest I think it was because people asked why I was knitting and I would answer, why not I love to knit, its relaxing, so I guess it was the obvious name to call my business.
How did you get into crafting and how long have you been crafting?
My name is Jill, and I am a retired nurse, retired at the beginning of the pandemic, felt guilty for not returning when called back. Then one day when I was browsing on Facebook I saw this post asking for knitters or people who could crochet to make for charity pairs of hearts and small teddies which would be sent to families who had lost loved ones due to the pandemic. The pair of hearts, one to the family the other to lost loved one. The teddies were for young people who had serious illnesses and were isolated from their families something to hug.
So, I answered that post got needles wool and downloaded the patterns and off I went. Had not done any knitting for 20 years or more, but with the help of our trusty internet and YouTube I learnt the new stitches I needed and loads more. I’m left-handed so I always remember how difficult my mother found it to teach me, all my sisters were right-handed, but I had to be awkward, but I persevered and learnt to knit. From there I saw other posts on Facebook asking for other things for premature babies so more wool, patterns different sized needles and I was soon happily knitting cardigans, blankets etc.
Then came the day I was randomly browsing through Pinterest and saw my first pattern for a long eared bunny designed by Maria Ermolova@Polushkabunny. Fell in love with it and just had to knit it then there was the pattern for clothes for said bunny and I was hooked! So was I not only knitting these gorgeous toys with clothes and giving them away to family, I was still knitting for charity, time flew by.
What kinds of things do you like to make?
I love making my toys with removable toys and seeing my young relations happily playing for hours made me happy.
I also like knitting for charity particularly babies makes me feel I'm doing something useful and still helping people, remaining product of caring for people when I was nursing I just like to see people smile.
What kinds of materials do you use?
Wool, ribbons and buttons. When I started thinking about selling my toys I had no idea all the restrictions involved just concerning the yarns I used. The requirements for all the certificates I needed for the wool. I had all this wool that I used for my knits for charity and couldn’t legally use any because I couldn’t get a certificate to cover the safety regulations. So when I started to sell my toys I also had to buy a load of wool stock that was covered with a certificate.
What new crafts do you want to try?
No other crafts interest me like my knitting.
What is your favourite craft tool?
My knitting needles, I also have two favourite sewing needles that I use for sewing my toys and clothes up, have absolutely no idea why but I always swap them over if I pick up a different needle, they are all the same.
What is your favourite Tactile Treasures supply?
It has to be the buttons and ribbons and plus I purchased a much-needed certificate to cover them. I discovered Tactile Treasures on Facebook through a group I joined on my journey of UKCA CE marking.
What’s one of your favourite things you’ve made?
Whenever I'm knitting a toy a new one or an order for a customer the one on the needles is my favourite, so they are all my favourites, I get such a buzz when I've completed them makes me smile.
What are some of your favourite things to do in your spare time?
Walking my three dogs is always a favourite they get me out of the house and were a godsend when we were in lockdown. And reading suspense novels.
What advice would you give to people just starting out on the CE marking journey?
Read the paperwork thoroughly, join the group on Facebook called CE & UKCA Marked Soft Toy Support Network, the group gives you loads of valuable advise on the conformance pack, makes it less daunting. The group also guides and files that you have access to when looking for which yarns have the appropriate certificates and all haberdashery items. Its where I discovered Tactile Treasures!
Getting the prices right that will get people to actually buy from you. Trying not to undervalue your work. Keeping positive.
Share a success story with us..
Initially it was my daughters idea to start selling my hand knitted toys, because they were so good, her words not mine. My first sale was to a friend so I didn’t really count that as a success. Then I got my first real sale for not just ONE BUT THREE, one was knitted to order in the customers choice of colours, I did a happy dance around the kitchen screeching at the top of my voice, “I've sold one, I've sold one, NO I've sold three. WHOOPEE!!! When I'd calmed down I rang my daughter and had another little dance. My daughter said, Mum, MUM get knitting laugh out loud!!!
What inspires your designs?
I don’t design my toys myself I use with permission Maria Ermolova, Polushkabunny, who is also very helpful if you need any assistance with any of her designs, they are my favourite. When I send reviews to her, I often see my pictures of my toys in her adverts for her patterns. Big buzz!
Can you tell us about your design process?
I use already made knitting patterns with permission from the designers to sell the finished product.
What's ahead in 2022?
I hoping I'm still knitting my hand knitted toys with removable toys!
Lastly tell us something fun/interesting/unusual or just a great story about yourself.
When I started on the journey of CE marking I didn’t realise that one of the tests for my toys was the flammability test! Burn my toys oh no that was so not happening I loved them. Not only did I have to burn them but I had to make four of the same of each toy so that I could test and burn then unwashed, then go through it again with the washed one, using the wool that had the certificates. Expensive this hobby was turning out to be. My daughter just laughed and said get on with it mother.
Then came the moment I had to set light to my toy, well I held the flame the recommended distance nothing, no smouldering, nothing, so... I put the flame closer and closer until it finally ignited, slow or what then I poured cold water over it. I was in the garage doing this safe of course! Well had it passed or what, went on Facebook asked the group!
The reply I got was I was to hold the flame a certain distance away for 3 seconds then if it didn’t ignite it was a pass. WHAT you mean to say I didn’t need to BURN my precious toys completely after all. Having learnt that I mentally apologised to my toys that were now in the bin may I add and went and had a much needed coffee and cake I WAS TRAUMATISED! Actually joking apart I still burn them and bin them. Well I cant sell them smelling of smoke can I.
Where can we find out more? (Website link, social media links)
Soft handmade knitted toys by Ilovetoknitbyjill www.etsy.com