moms in the mommyhood - lucy sweetland

we have a new "moms in the mommyhood"!

let's all say hi to lucy from the etsy shop {a black pepper} and blog of the same name! i've been a long time reader (and drooler) of lucy's blog and her hand knits and was super excited when she agreed to be part of the "moms in the mommyhood". i find lucy's knitting so clean and modern, but also classic at the same time. her photos are stunning and so her is her work.

lucy is a busy stay at home mom to two little ones, a girl and a boy, who knits and runs her etsy shop while parenting and doing all the other things us moms do. it's been fun getting to know lucy and having an excuse to spend a lot of time just ogling her lovely knits and wishing i had the time to make every single one of them. you can read more about lucy on her website, where you can join her on ravelry, flickr, facebook, check out her photo blog and design page as well as on tumblr - this talented lady has got it all.

so let's all welcome this fun loving momma to the mommyhood, feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. come sit on down and join us for a cup of coffee, put the kids down for a nap, take a breather and let's chat!

if you are new to the
mommyhood, our "moms in the mommyhood" features a new mom monthly who currently has their own business (doesn't matter what kind). we try to sit down and have a virtual cup of coffee and ask them all the fun, little questions that we are dying to know. we also try to get a glimpse into their lives and what it's like to have your own business and be the boss of your kids at the same time. we are always on the lookout for new moms to feature. if you know someone or you would like to be featured in this spot, please send us an email at don't be shy - we can't wait to meet you!

now, let's get sipping our coffee, heck grab a yummy treat if you so desire, pull up a chair join in on the fun with me, have a few laughs and get to know lucy:

Ok, you know I’m going to ask you - when did you first start knitting & how did you learn?

I was knitting pretty early since I was a little, around 8 or 9 years and continued to knit through my teens. I just picked it up from friends then, who really taught me the first knit/purl basics (aka garter stitch) and then later, taught me how to knit baby booties, sweaters and shawls etc. Then I took a break for a long time and started again 12 years ago, during a visit to my in laws in the US. My mother in law is a knitter and she started me up again by taking me on a trip to Michael’s to buy some yarn. I haven’t stopped since.

What eventually led you to start designing patterns? What was the first project you designed and sold?

Well, that just came naturally as I continued to knit. I always had this great need to wear something hand knit that fit my taste and style which I could never find in the store. That coupled with my own creative desire to express myself independently though knitwear led me on the designing journey. I never initially planned to design for others, but just for myself. Still, I design for solely for myself in mind (selfish, I know), but that’s just how I work.

The first project I ever designed and knit was a Merino sweater with a lacy pattern which fits me no more, but my daughter will wear it when she grows. I never really sold any of knitted designs from early on although; I have knit a few of them for friends and just charged them for the labour.

Your website {a black pepper} is gorgeous and I love stopping by to sit and drool all over my monitor. When did you develop your site and how long have you been blogging for now?

Thank you! “a black pepper” started in early 2009 when I decided to switch from my first knitting blog which was limited to knitting only. I wanted a newer and fresher place to document a much broader view of my life. Three years prior to that is when I started blogging.

What’s the story behind the name “a black pepper”?

Ironically, there is no hidden meaning to the name at all. I just went around in circles trying to find a name that defined me and what I wanted to do and somehow, “a black pepper” was befitting. Really, it just means one tiny little black pepper which when used to spice up food, can have a dramatic effect on the overall taste of the food.

What is your all time fave thing to knit?

Sweaters are probably my ultimate favourite. I am also a winter accessory fanatic so I fill in the gaps between sweaters with lots of hats.

What yarn do you find yourself using over and over again?

I am only drawn to wool of different kinds, ranging from scratchy virgin wool with a character like Rowan Scottish Tweeds to the softest of alpacas, merinos and recently, some llama.

Your most indulgent knitting notion/supply? If you don’t own it yet, what would it be?

I would have to say my large collection of Addi Turbo circular needles, which I seem to collect in every size with different lengths. In some cases, I have multiples of the same sizes that I use the most. Yarn is a necessity. No matter how much I have, it doesn’t bother me at all because I always have something I can create with whenever needed.

I’m not a big fan of intarsia knitting, it stresses me out, do you have a style of knitting that is your nemesis?

Yes, I am with you on intarsia and fair isle knitting. I love the effect it produces but unfortunately, I have little or no patience for it.

When do you find the time to knit while being married to hubby (Spike) and raising two active kids (Big T. age 9 and Little T. age almost 4)? I’m mostly a night time knitter, what about you?

The majority of my knitting takes place at night over a movie or an audio book. A few days a week when Little T. is at preschool, I absolutely rush home (no house work whatsoever takes place during this time) and use that time to knit or finish a project I am working on.

I know that you are quite the creative lady. You crochet – I love the granny squares, sew quilts with stunning African fabrics, clothes for your family and you, adorable bedding for your little ones and you take the most breathtaking photography. What’s next on your list? Is there anything you have always wanted to learn that you haven’t attempted yet?

Oh, there are quite a few things on the list. This year I plan to make a crochet granny square blanket once I have accumulated enough leftover yarns; finish a vintage quilt that was given to me; work with some silk fabrics I brought back from Thailand and I guess, work on my little collection of hand knitwear for my store.

You sell your patterns on Ravelry as well as in your etsy shop. How have you found both sites for aiding you in sales? Have they been assets?

Yes, both have been great to places to start selling my patterns. I love the Ravelry knitting community and the feedback I've received. I am still learning about Etsy where my patterns have been considerably well received amongst the multitude of sellers there.

Do you have a craft room or are you like me and stash your wool everywhere and anywhere? Where would we most commonly find you knitting?

No, I don't but I seriously dream of my very own craft room neatly arranged and decorated but in reality, I have two shelf corners in our basement – one corner stashed with fabric and sewing stuff and the other, stashed with clear containers each containing one type of yarn (colour), neatly stacked.

I knit in the family room where the side table and the area around it is usually strewn with baskets of yarns and projects etc.

I’ve mentioned that you take wonderful photography. I can tell this is a passion of yours. It caught my eye and I have been a faithful lurker of your site ever since. What kind of camera do you use? Are you self taught or did you take classes?

I have a Nikon D80 with three different lenses. I am a self taught photographer by far and I generally lack ability to read instruction manuals and technical books (mind you, I know how to read, in case you wonder!). I am more of a trial and error kind of individual.

What inspires you? Which designers work do you find yourself drawn to the most?

I love texture, color, detail and all sorts of shapes in a knitted garment that flatters my personality. I love creating something challenging, either in technique or detail. Also strangely if I may say, the yarn itself inspires me to create something – it’s almost like it tells me what it wants to become.

To be honest, there are many designers out there that are very talented and their work is admirable. Long ago, Debbie Bliss and Melissa Leapman were a few whose work I knew and admired. Now, there is a growing number of new independent designers, including Tikru and Villapeikko (both on ravelry) whose work I like.

Most of us have a hard time finding that perfect pattern for our hubbies or little ones that tend to be a bit picky. Have you made any that you recommend? I know I could use some tips!

I probably have made a lot of kids knit wear from Debbie Bliss books and you can’t go wrong with her designs. I think a classic Tomten jacket by Elizabeth Zimmernann can take it’s own individual character depending on the knitter. Right now, I don’t knit much for my kids because they refuse to wear knits, so it’s frustrating not to be able to pick the cutest patterns I see out there.

Do you have any tips/advice to other moms looking to branch out into selling their own knitting and patterns?

*Sigh*! I am such a novice at marketing my own stuff so I'm probably not very versed at giving someone else advice. However, it took me a long time to get started and take the plunge, but once I started, it became a little easier the second time around. So I would only say, don’t be afraid to start your business, whatever it is.

Where do you buy your wool? Are you more of an online shopper or a brick/mortar kind of girl?

Online, unfortunately. It’s easier that way since I know the yarn brands that I like. Lately, I have been trying some hand dyed yarns from independent smaller vendors.

I see that you are a fan of English Classics and I, being a book hound myself, couldn’t resist asking you what your favourite classic is.

It’ll probably sound corny but Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourites among others of her books (which I love too). Additionally, Wives and daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell) and Daniel Deronda (George Eliot); Jane Eyre (Bronte) are my favourites as well.

From reading your blog I know you are an avid tea drinker. What is your all time, love it the most, drink it whenever you can, would buy it in case lots, tea?

Tea to me is like yarn. You gotta drink in different flavours, blends or even colours (black, red, green etc). It’s hard to choose my favourite because I like variety. I drink less of the caffeinated black teas (like earls greys, Ceylon, assam etc) usually in the mornings, fruity teas for the afternoons and/or green teas for the evening. My local Wegman’s has a teashop and try all kinds of teas from Japan, China and India to Egypt, Brazil or South Africa. I’ll have to share some of the recent flavours I like on my blog soon.

What’s the next step for “a black pepper”?

Hmm, you know the people in your life that are non committal, indecisive, or a little less goal oriented....I am one of those. I have at least an idea (or two) of what I want to do but am a bit fuzzy on the rest of the details. As with a lot of things in my life, I tend to just flow with the waves, wherever they take me. That’s how I like it.

thanks so much for being part of the mommyhood lucy, it's been so fun getting to know you! oh, and i'll be right over for a giant, warm cup of tea and a chat about our fave jane austen books! i think you should design a jane austen inspired pattern, now that would be a must knit in my book!

you can find lucy on her blog, etsy shop, ravelry, tumblr page, facebook page, flickr group, design gallery and photo blog.

*all images, unless otherwise stated are © 2009 {a black pepper}, all rights reserved. please do not use any photos from this post without explicit permission from {a black pepper}.*