Briefly describe yourself and what you make: I’m Susie Ziegler. Once I was an elementary school teacher, but 10 years ago when my son was born, my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our kids. I like to do needlework, sewing things (not clothes), crochet and a little bit of knitting. Lately I’ve been making lots of things with felt and embroidery floss, but a year ago it was all about crochet… While I am super crafty, I’m flirting with the idea of going back to classroom teaching.
Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by all the wonderful things people make. I am also very inspired by color. I think I experience color more intensely than other people who aren’t arty/crafty. I see marvelous things every day on the internet. It’s great the way people will share their techniques and patterns sources.
When / how did you learn? In my family, craftiness was highly valued. My grandparents were not wealthy, but they could make lovely special things to hand down to the next generation. My mom taught me my first needlework when I was a child and every year at every gifting opportunity, I made little things for my grandmothers. Mom first taught me needlepoint with a kit and I also remember doing tatting very early on. I begged my mom for years and years to teach me how to use the sewing machine. She finally taught me how to do a pillow and that was the end of it until Grandma gave me her old sewing machine when I was an adult, and I could work it out on my own
I am honestly mostly self-taught. I taught myself to machine sew, quilt, knit, crochet, and embroider. I am very good at following directions and I am determined to get new skills “right”. I love watching craft shows on television too.
Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand? Making things gives me something tangible to show the passing of time. Too much is disposable in our culture. Because I haven’t worked for so long, we’ve also had to be thrifty. I like to decorate my house for the seasons, but I can’t afford or am unwilling to buy things. Making things is good for the soul, my soul anyway... Each person has particular talents that they feel they must pursue or they feel as though something is missing in their life.
What is your craft "philosophy"? Don’t craft it if it isn’t fun. Think long and hard before starting anything “big”.Fondest craft-related memory? Bonding with my Grandmother every Thanksgiving over her fabric stash. She was planning projects until the last couple days of her life.
How do you deal with crafty mistakes? Several ways: I pull them out and re-do them correctly. If that is impossible or too much work, I fudge and try to make it work. I do feel that other people don’t see our own mistakes and I assess if that is the case. Finally if something is totally hopeless, I get rid of the evidence and don’t look back.
Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)? Right now I’m loving all the craft books from Japan. I order from YesAsia and cross my fingers that I’ll like what I get. I’m very seldom disappointed. (Here is the link to my Flickr photoset of my Japanese books) I also love the embroidery designs from Sublime Stitching.
Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you? I wish! I have 3 designated areas. I have what I call “cold storage” in our unfinished basement. This is a larger space where I keep the loads of fabric and supplies I’m not currently using or planning to use in upcoming projects. I’d craft down there if it wasn’t so dreary, and if the TV worked…
The second space is the corner of the dining room. This is where my sewing machine and rotary cutting mat are set up. I have some messy piles there too with the apron sewing patterns I want to make and fabric scraps waiting to be stitched into something.
Finally, at my husband’s suggestion, I put in some wire basket shelves that I use as my bedside table. This is where all my active supplies go. Almost as soon as I wake up, I want to get stitching and I have my felt and embroidery floss neatly sorted and ready to use. I do most of my hand stitching up in my bedroom with movies or documentary television playing in the background.
If I have all my craft stuff put away, I like the neat house, but I feel lost and I can’t wait until I can get it all out again and start something new. My husband is very supportive of my projects. I wish I had my own work area, but crafting is an extension of myself, so it permeates every area.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? No… I am bad at keeping journals… I did not even make baby books for either of my 2 darling children.... I do not consider myself artistic, only crafty, so I don’t sketch. It was recently pointed out to me that a blog is a journal, and I guess it is, so I do blog, but at the moment, I consider that an archive, not a journal...
Is your craft a business as well? Any advice on running a crafty business? It’s always been my thinking that selling crafts would be a sure way to get sick of making things real fast… I do have an empty etsy shop, and I’m going to give a local craft fair a try in a few weeks. I have no advice, but we talk about business all the time at my MeetUp group.
What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft? Tons! If you look hard enough, there are endless free patterns available for all kinds of things, particularly the small quickie things I like. The online community is very supportive and the inspiration is endless. I help to organize swaps over on the internet site Craftster. I am a charter member of The Chicagoland Craft Collective and we network through the internet. Those women encouraged me to start a blog and it was through the internet that I found that other people all over the world really are craft obsessed like me.
Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference? Oh boy.. I don’t want to get into this controversy! I consider myself a talented craftsman, not an artist. I am the type who prefers to follow patterns. I get great satisfaction seeing something in a pattern book and then making my very own version of it. I was the kid who made the little Lego town just like in the picture on the box…
If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be? Designer fabric quilts of all styles and patterns.