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An Interview With Emily Quinton

I have a bit of a special treat for you today. In tomorrow’s podcast I’ll be reviewing the book Maker Spaces, by Emily Quinton. Emily is the very talented photographer who runs Makelight Studios here in London (that’s one of her gorgeous photos above) and I’ve been lucky enough to attend one of her workshops, where she teaches photography to anyone who wants to learn to make beautiful images, using whatever camera or smartphone they already have.

Emily recently brought out her first book, which is focused on the studios and creative spaces of makers. As soon as I got my hands on it I knew I wanted to hear more about how it came into being, and Emily graciously agreed to talk to me about creating Maker Spaces, and the inspiration she found in the process. I’ve put my questions into italics to make it easy to follow along.

Emily Quinton Makelight Studios

Makelight Studios, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Since becoming a mother 8 years ago I have paid a lot more attention to creativity at home. I have always made things and so has my husband, so when we came parents we wanted to share our love of making and creativity with our children, and create a home environment that could enable them to enjoy art as much as possible. Becoming a mother also made me realise just how much I am affected by the space around me. I have had to put a lot of work into not getting too upset by all the chaos of my four children every single day.

I was really intrigued to find out whether other creatives were so emotionally connected to their spaces. In addition to this I am fascinated by the modern maker movement and the combination of a return to traditional crafts alongside modern techniques like 3D printing and laser cutting.

How did you choose the makers to feature in the book?

This was the hardest task throughout the whole process. There are so many amazing makers out there and there were so many that I wanted to feature. I found most of them through social media, blogs and my online network. They all had to make amazing things and have wonderful homes and studios. They couldn’t be too similar to any of the others in my list and needed to live and work in one of the places on my locations list.

Did you do all the photography for the book?

Sadly not. My publishers decided I couldn’t write and photograph the book by myself. I will argue otherwise for future books!

What inspiration did you take from the makers you featured?

They all inspired me with their incredibly attention to detail in their spaces and their understanding of the importance of letting a space grow, develop and change as you and your work do. All the spaces had a great feeling of flow and positive energy.

Kimberly Austin Maker Spaces

Kimberly Austin’s studio, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

Did visiting these amazing makers’ spacers make you want to set up your own Makelight studio?

Definitely! My studio has been a dream for a couple of years now and seeing other makers’ spaces really encouraged me to make it happen. It also made me determined to create a space that other makers can come to help them with their own work.

Any tips to share for setting up a really inspiring maker space that you’ve picked up from doing this project?

Create the space you want and need for your work. Create a space from your heart and not just from a Pinterest board! Make a space that is beautiful and reflects your work. Create a space that feels like an extension of your work and consciously realise how closely connected the two things are.

How long did it take for you to write and photograph the book?

The whole process from signing the contract to delivering the final manuscript was 7 months.

What is next for you? Any more book ideas in the pipeline?

I have a few more book ideas, which I hope to start exploring next year but for the rest of 2015 I am focusing on the Makelight Studio and to my online photography courses.

 

Teresa Robinson's Studio, from Maker Spaces

Teresa Robinson’s Studio, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

I’d like to thank Emily so much for coming on the blog and sharing her journey to Maker Spaces with us.

Be sure to tune in for tomorrow’s podcasts for more about the book and info about how you can win a copy for yourself!

As we continue to go deeper into the theme of creativity this month, I’ve made a point of celebrating the yarns I’ve been working with on my recent projects. Whether we’re talking about a painter and their paints, a sculptor and their clay, a sewist and their fabric, or a knitter with their wool, the role that materials play in any creative person’s work is hard to overstate. The nature of your material, its qualities, character, and even personality can absolutely transform the way you create. Materials can provide the first seeds of inspiration for your work, and they can surprise you, delight you, and even take you to new heights of craftsmanship and originality. I’ve certainly found this to be the case with the wonderful yarns I used for all of my Whispering Island shawl samples.  Knowing the story behind the yarn has added so much to my creative process. I’m excited to share this post by Sonja from Blacker Yarns on how the wool that goes through their mill is farmed, sourced, and spun into some of the finest yarn available today. Enjoy!

– Helen 

Woven Shetland throws in a wonderful array of natural shades

Blacker Yarns is quite a special yarn company because it is one of the only British yarn companies to come with its very own mill attached – The Natural Fibre Company.  NFC not only process Blacker Yarns, they also work with farmers and small business owners to create unique and special yarn, spinning fibre and woolly delights.  Our mill has a small minimum quantity, which is ideal for farmers like Ben Hole of Hole & Sons who are looking to do something more with their fibre.  I know Ben was keen to emphasise the wonderful story behind his yarn and we were happy to help him.

Shetland Sheep 2

At Blacker Yarns, we have a very strong relationship with our suppliers. We try to find the best quality fibre available.  We support British farming by paying fair prices for the best fleece and building long term relationships with these suppliers.  We care about what we do – by using traditional low impact methods to produce our yarns, we are able to do our bit for the environment, rare breed preservation and sustain our local communities.

I am so thrilled by the growing awareness of buying local. We’re entering such an exciting phase in the fibre industry.  Increasingly knitters are starting to ask questions about the stories behind their yarn. This awareness is perfect for us!  We love inviting people to visit the mill (see the website for this year’s dates) and inviting them to explore our production process.  As a knitter myself, I think that sense of connection with real animals – and the people who raise them – can do so much to enrich one’s crafting experience.

Some of the yarn we produce, like our Blacker Swan Merino, is farm assured which means the fibre comes from one particular farm.  Other yarns, like the Shetland used for Helen’s gorgeous shawl, come from a number of small farms up and down the UK.  We record where the fibre for each individual batch comes from, so we are often able to let people know the source of their fibre if they email us directly.  This is something rather unique and only possible when buying direct from farmers. Currently most of our Shetland yarn comes from farms in Wiltshire and Somerset.Shetland Sheep

Shetland fleece is matt and one of the finest of all British breed wools.  These hardy little sheep date back to the 8th century and the Viking conquest. Their fleeces come in a vast array of natural shades the names of which can be found in Norsk nomenclature.  These magical words like ‘Katmogit’, ‘Moorit’ and ‘Gulmogit’ are all centuries old and filled with a wonderful romance.

Shetland DK shades

The north of Scotland has always had a difficult climate and the people living there would have needed warm garments to protect themselves.  So it is likely that Shetland sheep have always been bred with a mind to the quality of their fibre.  From the 17th century onwards, Shetland islanders’ have created high quality knitted goods for export across Europe and the world. For this reason the breed has a few distinctive qualities. Shetland sheep come in a vast array of natural shades from white, through to fawn, chocolate brown and black.  These shades can be blended or dyed and then used to knit those distinctive Fair-Isle patterns we all know and love. The fibre also works wonderfully for lace work, creating a light and airy fabric which holds its block wonderfully. Shetland yarn will felt well and is highly resistant to the tendency that some softer fibres have to pill.

Our Shetland yarn is available in both 4-ply and DK. We select the finest fleeces we can find, so this breed is a wonderful place to start if you’re thinking of delving into breed specific yarns. We offer a wide variety of natural shades which are complemented by a few dyed shades in the 4-ply only.

Both weights retail at £5.70 a ball, but are currently on sale for £5.20 a ball until 22nd June.

Thank you to Sonja from Blacker Yarns for this guest post.

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